Cicerone were delighted to welcome over 50 people to Wilf's Cafe in Staveley for their first Meet the Authors event. For those of you that missed it, here is a quick summary of the evening.
Lesley, Hannah and Clare from Cicerone were busy pouring wine and beers as the guests started to arrive from 6.15pm. Settling into the chairs upstairs we prepared for a fun, informative and inspirational evening. Lesley firstly welcomed the guests to the cosy little cafe before introducing Ronald Turnbull to the 'stage'.
Ronald is a well-established author having written guides to Highland Perthshire, the Cairngorms and Bivvying to name just a couple. However, this evening his contention was that "The Southern Uplands are Better than The Pennines". A claim as bold as this deserves bold type!
Speaking to a startled but curious crowd, Ronald began to explain why he believes that "every lifetime should contain at least 43 days walking in the Southern Uplands' using pictures from his recently published book for the area.
By the end of the 'Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Southern Uplands' I think most people were convinced and, had Ronald been selling guidebooks he may have shifted a fair few. However, we moved on to a short technical-hitch-break and then resumed with a brief history of Mark Richards.
Mark began by explaining, in his usual exuberant fashion, how he got into fellwalking. This turned into a potted history of his entire life from his 'previous life' as a farmer, his friendship with Alfred Wainwright and his television sideline. His passion for writing guidebooks was abundantly clear as he claimed that the best part of his job was being able to "connect with [his] readers and inspire them."
Suddenly smells of food starting wafting up from the kitchen but we sat patiently and waited for the next speaker. This was Paddy Dillon, author of an incredible 40 Cicerone guidebooks and sufferer of Islomania (an obsession with walking on and writing about islands). Paddy had chosen Iceland as his subject for the evening and spoke alongside a backdrop of dramatic and beautiful photographs. There were plenty of laughs as Paddy described some of his adventures and mis-adventures on this geologically new island including the time when he nearly melted the soles of his shoes exploring a mountain that had only appeared a couple of months before his visit. Paddy's over-riding message was that "anything is possible in Iceland... take a bag and the food you need and go walking". He did however mention that one of the walks was 'one of the most God-awful paths I've ever done' and that 'if you're into walking then Reykjavik has nothing for you - half an hour is all you need'. Overall his appraisal seemed very honest and once again everyone in the room suddenly seemed to want to buy his book and get on a plane!
We then helped ourselves to some delicious food from Wilf's (thanks again chaps) before finding a table with one of our favourite authors so that we could chew their ear at the same time as chewing our meals. As well as the three speakers we had the company of Vivienne Crow, Loraine Wilson and John Gillham. The dining room was buzzing with excited chatter and, although we couldn't listen in on everyone, there seemed to be some diverse conversations happening.
After the meal we headed back upstairs for coffee, cake and more conversation. Clare from Cicerone gave people an insight into the technically challenging and painstaking mapping, design and editorial work that she is involved with. Some of the materials from the various stages of production were laid out on a table for people to marvel at and ask about - it was a real treat to see 'behind the scenes'.
Finally we had a raffle draw with some prizes generously donated by The Body Rehab, Pure Lakes, More? Artisan bakery and Hawkshead Brewery. The Cicerone team felt like they could have used a 30 minute massage, some gorgeous body creams, some cakes and some beer after their evening but sadly it all had to be given away.
Finally, finally, after all of the giveaways, food and entertainment we surprised our guests with some free books and a goody bag and bade them goodnight. It was a wonderful evening and we hope to be able to run similar events in the future in locations around the country. If you'd like us to bring some authors to your neck of the woods then please do let us know! You can tweet us @ciceronepress, message us on facebook, send us an email (email@example.com) or pick up the phone: 015395 62069.
About our authors:
Ronald's latest Cicerone guide is Walking in the Southern Uplands and you can see our blog post about 10 reasons to love the Southern Uplands here. He is also currently working on a brand new guide to Broadchurch country, Walking the Jurassic Coast which will be published in June.
Paddy is constantly researching, walking or writing. His updated Iceland guidebook will be out in May and in the meantime he has new Cicerone guidebooks on Tenerife, Durham, Jersey, the Wales Coast Path and the Isles of Scilly.
Vivienne's latest guide to Lake District High Level and Fell Walks was published in February. This is a counterpart to the Low Level and Lakes Walk which was published in 2014. She has also written a guidebook to Cumbria's Eden Valley for Cicerone as well as many books for other publishers.