If I could have attended all of the events on the programme, I would have done. I was lucky enough to get to three of the Hungerford Literary Festival events and without exception, each was exhilarating.
The theme of the festival was ‘journeys’ and these ranged from the local to the far-flung. The first I saw on the Saturday morning was travel writer and journalist Tom Fort who gave a light-hearted talk on village life.
“You may be expecting a jolly jaunt in the style of Penelope Keith meets Bill Bryson, but this book is about something completely different,” he said.
The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to preserve their village’s life while remaining modern and vital. This is an author who has written entertaining books about the A303 and also on lawnmowers, so it was great to see his equally witty, but forward-thinking take on development.
The next event we attended was travel supremo Alastair Sawday who talked on his new memoir Travelling Light; Journeys among special people and places. And while there were occasional references to his highlights of a career in globe-trotting, the talk focussed mainly on responsible tourism; highly topical in light of the recent backlash against tourists in Barcelona and Venice.
Last, but definitely not least was Jules Mountain who provided the finale to the Hungerford Literary Festival, with a nail-biting talk on his book Aftershock.
This was a fascinating, yet understated talk from a man who has cheated death on more than one occasion. After undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, the plucky engineer decided that he would put his physical ability to the test with an attempt at climbing Mount Everest in 2015. Midway through the expedition’s ascent, an avalanche hit, triggered by the infamous earthquake that devastated Nepal. He returned the following year and this time successfully reached the summit.
Armed with a slideshow and the actual suit and oxygen tank he used, this was an exhilarating talk. It would have been hard to exit the Town Hall on that Sunday night without being inspired by this extraordinary story of survival and resilience. Profits from his book go to a cancer charity.