Main Street Trading Company Books, travelling editorEvery time I go to Scotland on the sleeper I’m a bit The Lady Vanishes and The Thirty Nine Steps about the train, always expecting something dramatic to happen (still living in hope…).

Driving down south from Edinburgh to St Boswells with Jack (our legendary Hodder man in Scotland) took us through the spectacular Scottish Borders to the very pretty village of St Boswells. It clearly does rain in Scotland but whenever I go it’s sunny and spectacular with added rainbows, the whole country looks like it’s prepped for a calendar shoot.

Main Street Trading Company Books, travelling editor

Roz multi-tasking, writing her newspaper report during the book group meeting

Main Street Trading Company Books, travelling editor

Mainstreet Book Group - class of October 2011


The Mainstreet Trading Company was our destination, a fabulous award-winning emporium which is clearly the go-to place on the village street. Beautifully renovated, it was packed with people and very very welcoming. Coffee, cake, books, gifts, events – everything one could want. Like all good bookshops it’s a place to linger and discover (and of course spend money, as I did). Ros DeLaHey and her husband Bill, who is responsible for the cafe, have created a buzzy book-centred community. Lovely to see and experience.

The Water For Elephants book group were, as all the book groups have been, a spirited group. We talked a lot about the research Sara Gruen had done on the circuses in the US during the Depression, and the incredible role they played in the lives of small towns, where their stars were the ‘superheroes of their day’. Take a look at this video clip: Circus 1870-1950 and The Ringling Circus Museum (links are here) it’s a fascinating period. Quite a few in the group were moved by its depiction of old age and made some points about the similarities between Jacob’s keepers in the nursing home and those in the circus that hadn’t really occurred to me before. And yes, there is a lot of talk about food in the book!

Lisa Highton at Mainstreet Trading Company book group

Lovely old Glass and China Furnishings signage still left on the shop

I’d brought a selection of other publishers’ jacket for the book – which are amazing in their variety – we’ll post these on our website soon, along with a selection of circus photos. It was interesting to talk about why publishers choose the jackets they do (and am now fully aware that our cover has a girl in a green dress when it should really be pink! – let’s call that artistic licence and speak no more of it). Thanks to all the group for being so engaged and welcoming.

Mainstreet Trading Company

Mainstreet Trading Company street front

Roz was writing the discussion up for the local paper, like a court reporter. Most efficient and prof. Here it is. Their next book group will be Salley Vickers and Jane Eyre – I did try and put the Julian Barnes forward but he won the Booker that night so he can cope with disappointment.

Lovely lunch afterwards courtesy of Bill’s cafe and cake courtesy of the angels. On our way back to Edinburgh Jack showed me the Tweed in full roar (apparently when I am not in Scotland, it rains a lot) and we

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met the ghillie. As I’d never seen one outside of Monarch of the Glen or Mrs Brown, I was extremely chuffed and my cup, not unlike the Tweed, ran over.

Main street Trading Company, travelling editor, river Tweed

Beautiful Scotland's River Tweed - never rains but it pours

River Tweed October 2011

in full spate

Here comes the ghillie - River Tweed

The Ghillie on approach

Thanks so much to Jack for driving and to Roz and her group for their hospitality. Next stop for The Travelling Editor, Simply Books in Bramhall on November 1st. Back in Scotland on the 29th of November in Milngavie.

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