‘Magical’ festival at Traquair

The Beyond Borders International Festival returned to Traquair House at the weekend with a wide-ranging programme of debate and discussion, music, poetry, photography, and walks in the beautiful Borders countryside.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 10:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 10:16 am
Lady Anne Glenconner chats to the audience.
Lady Anne Glenconner chats to the audience.

In a packed programme, audiences joined a walk and interview with Alasdair Allan and Catherine Maxwell Stuart, focusing on Allan’s book Tweed Rins Tae the Ocean, as well as a poetry walk led by local Elaine Heron as part of the Youth Climate Summit.

Writers Elif Shafak and Sarah Helm joined Allan Little in a discussion looking at division in the modern world and the importance of stories.

On a national level, the programme featured a panel chaired by Professor Sir Geoff Palmer with William Dalrymple and Alex Renton looking at the role of the Scots in the British Empire, and an interview with Lady Anne Glenconner about her time as Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret and her marriage to Lord Glenconner.

Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes

Stephen Gethins, Mariot Leslie, and Allan Little also discussed Scotland’s foreign policy footprint and its future.

Allan Little chaired a session with Afghan rights campaigner Samina Ansari, William Dalrymple, and the Folke Bernadotte Academy’s Eldridge Adolfo, and included a live video link appearance from Afghan journalist Ogai Wardack, who has just managed to leave Kabul. BBC broadcaster Razia Iqbal also dialled in from the USA, taking part in a session with writer Aminatta Forna, social entrepreneur Tim Phillips, and philosopher Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, chaired by Jim Naughtie and examining whether this is such a thing as American Exceptionalism.

Catherine Maxwell Stuart said: “It was a magical weekend with Traquair being able to host our first large event for over 18 months. We took every precaution to make people feel as safe as possible including restricting numbers in the marquee. It may have been a smaller event than usual, but the atmosphere was amazing and everyone was delighted to see the festival back.”

Elsewhere, Traquair House and the Beyond Borders International Festival hosted the exhibition ‘Scottish Women Can Paint’, which will be on display at Traquair House until September 15, and showcases the work of remarkable Scottish women artists, including Joyce W. Cairns, Fionna Carlisle, Margaret Hunter, Lys Hansen, and Sheila Mullen.

Poetry walk.

Beyond Borders Founder, Mark Muller Stuart said: “We took the chance and decided to put the festival on. It sold out in five days and all the participants we asked to appear agreed to come. It was like a clan gathering.

“People wanted to come together, whether to discuss the pressing issues of our day from Afghanistan to climate change or to enjoy hearing about the extraordinary life of Lady Glenconner.

"The festival had something for everyone and our faith in our audience to turn up was paid back in spades. It was a most special event.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​