Weardale Book Fair


SATURDAY, 24 OCTOBER St. Thomas Church Hall, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Book Fair ran along the same lines as other events in the Church Hall, such as craft fairs and markets, socially distanced and carefully regulated. Individual authors managed their own bookstalls and it was a lovely opportunity to meet them and talk about their work. Twelve local authors set up their stalls alongside NorthPens. You could find a great range of styles and subject matter: local history and exploration, crime fiction, memoir, photography, poetry, literary fiction, anthologies, cycling adventures, romantic fiction … The event was a great success, well attended, convivial and it was just great to see everybody!


Terry Ashby, Jo Cundy, Carol Graham, Avril Joy, Mike Kane, David Mark, Pauline Messenger, Paul Parsons, Wendy Robertson, Martin Rogers, Chris Ruskin, Wideyed Photography, NorthPens Writers.

Terry Ashby is a proud Yorkshireman but based for the last eight-plus years in Weardale.  A lifelong interest in history, geography, the natural world and exploration on foot has led him to wild and remote places in Britain and on four of the seven continents, taking in mountains, deserts, jungles and exotic, far-flung cities. Why hasn’t he written about Weardale? “I love it,” he says, “but I’m still a stranger.  There are others much better placed to do that.”

Carol Graham is a retired Special Needs teacher, who feels privileged to have lived in Upper Weardale for the last twenty years. Her third book, A Shoulder on the Hill – a  gentle, humorous  and sometimes poignant memoir of her life in the Dale and running a Country B&B – is to be published soon by Wagtail Press. Previous books, Driving Force and Driving Finish were published by Robson Books and were autobiographies of the Carriage Driving world.

Avril Joy is a novelist, short story writer and poet. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked for twenty-five years in a women’s prison near Durham. Her current poetry collection Going in With Flowers, including her prize-winning poem Skomm, reflects on these years. In 2012 she won the inaugural Costa Short Story Award, with her story Millie and Bird,and her novel, Sometimes a River Song, won the 2017 People’s Book Prize Outstanding Achievement Award. 


Martin Rogers is a freelance photographer and occasional writer. He has recently (May 2020) self-published Essential Teesdale – ‘an affectionate portrait of the dale’, in which he has lived for 10 years. The book is primarily a collection of photographs, but with more text than originally planned! 

www.martinrogersphotography.co.uk. www.essential-teesdale.co.uk

Agri[culture] – published by Wideyed Editions – celebrates the culmination of a 2 year project by photographers Lucy Carolan, Richard Glynn, Louise Taylor and Nat Wilkins, that focussed on the culture of agricultural shows in the North Pennines. It features work by the four photographers, archive material donated through the touring exhibition of Agri[culture], creative writing by NorthPens Writers and essays by Dr John Darwell and Jill Cole. The design reflects the size and style of the show catalogues and comprises 5 separate booklets in a sleeve

@wideyedphotos (Facebook, Insta, Twitter)  wideyed.org  /  info@wideyed.org

Mike Kane wrote the original version of The Ghost of Christmas Past, an early attempt at romantic fiction in 1967. Forty years later, on moving to Weardale, it was re-discovered in a dusty box. He reworked it, and, taking a deep breath, published on Amazon. Once published, Michael began to wonder what might have happened to the hero and heroine. The result was The Tangled Web, the second book in what has become the Abbey Grange Saga. Michael is a member of NorthPens Writers.

Travel anywhere in Weardale and you will notice remnants of by-gone farm buildings. Chris Ruskin’s book The Disappearing Farms of Weardale provides a poignant photographic record of a lost way of life alongside enthralling stories and snippets of information. The Disappearing Mills & Bread Ovens of Weardale is the second book in the series. Carefully researched and beautifully illustrated, Chris has put together a fascinating account of these once vital features of the landscape. Originally from rural Cheshire, Chris has lived in County Durham since 1971.

Some of Wendy Robertson’s many novels – such as Riches of the Earth and No Rest for the Wicked are inspired by South Durham and the historic town of Bishop Auckland where she lives. Other novels are inspired by her travels in Britain, Ireland and as far afield as Russia and America. The Languedoc region of south-west France is the setting for two of her novels: an Englishwoman in France and Writing at the Maison Bleu. Her work as Writer in Residence in A Women’s Prison reinforced her commitment to women’s issues. She has given well-regarded writing workshops across the North and has judged and assisted in judging national writing competitions.

NEW: Kaleidoscope. http://tiny.cc/r0lzsz  BLOG:  http://lifetwicetasted.blogspot.com/

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  https://tinyurl.com/y58asmyu

Pauline Messenger’s aim in life is to help as many people as possible turn their lives around and find a healthier way of living. She qualified as an Angelic Reiki Grand Master in 2007 and An Angel In My Pocket’ tells the reader how to connect to the Angelic Realm by giving up anxiety, stress and fear. It fits in your pocket and is a must go to, in any situation! Pauline’s first book, Only Dead Fish Go With The Flow describes her journey through tragedy and heartbreak.


We’ve re-imagined the WordFest several times recently in an attempt to find a format that would work in the current climate. However, we have come to the reluctant conclusion that, in light of the current restrictions in place in County Durham, we can’t be confident of running events safely and within the Covid-19 guidelines.

So, we have decided to postpone the festival until April 2021 when, hopefully, we will be able to run a full programme and our audience will return. We have been guaranteed an extension of funding until next April, so are keeping everything crossed!


Inevitably, this year’s WordFest will be rather different because of covid-19 restrictions and precautions and our communal need to stay safe. Who knows what October will bring … However, we do think it will be important to host at least some of our planned events; the arts generally and community arts in particular are suffering, we can’t take part in many of the things that are essential for our well-being and sanity and practitioners have seen their livelihoods drain away. They really need our support to re-start the arts economy. So, we are looking at ways of adapting our WordFest activities. It may be that a more interactive approach will work better, for example, where we have planned one writing workshop we could split it and put on two so that we have fewer people in a space at any time and can maintain the necessary distancing. Events can be spread out over a longer time span if need be. All of this will mean additional expenditure (extra fees, venue hire etc.), we have applied for more support funding and are keeping everything crossed.