Sunday, November 30, 2014

Books and high places

Today (30th November) is not only the last day of Book Week Scotland 2014, it is also St. Andrew's Day, a day on which Historic Scotland properties across the country are thrown open to the public free of charge.*

Last year my family and I visited Stirling Castle thanks to this offer; this time we decided to visit Doune Castle. We chose Doune because it is not very far away from us. I also thought that it might be fun to finish my reading pledge for Book Week Scotland (which was to read a piece of Scots literature to my family every day) by reading an excerpt from Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe in a genuinely mediaeval setting. I was delighted therefore to discover from a display in the castle that it was used as one of the locations for a TV adaptation of Ivanhoe! Actually, Doune Castle has been used as a film location a number of times, the most famous being for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I have to admit that I did succumb to temptation and lean off the battlements to shout, "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" at some baffled-looking tourists ("What did she say?" asked one of them, shaking his head). I won't have been the first person to do that; it's practically de rigeur for visitors to the castle...

The excerpt I chose to read was part of the scene in which Rebecca (my absolutely favourite character in Ivanhoe) is imprisoned in a turret room, and the evil Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert comes up to have his wicked way with her; she successfully holds him off by climbing onto the balcony and threatening to throw herself to her death if he comes one step closer. Impervious to pity, he is however impressed with her courage and self possession.

We sat by the window in the upstairs room pictured in the photo above. I read from the book whilst my daughter looked at the drop and considered how very unpleasant it would be to throw yourself out! I absolutely loathe heights so I must say it certainly brought the scene to life in a very visceral way...

I'm thrilled that we had such a dramatic end to our week of readings for Book Week Scotland. Over the course of the week we have read from the works of Burns, Scott, Stevenson and Conan Doyle as well as a contemporary poet, Kona MacPhee. I'm very aware that we have only scratched the surface - I for one will certainly be reading more Scott in the near future. Recommendations from Scott fans welcomed!

As this is the seventh and last day of Book Week Scotland, I'd like to thank everyone who has followed this blog, and also everyone who has retweeted or otherwise shared my posts about Book Week on social media.

Above: Doune Castle 

* The free tickets have to be ordered in advance, so be sure to look out for this offer next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment