Author Archives: Katherine Dixson

A beginners’ day out at the Birmingham Literature Festival

‘The Call of the Wild’ with Katharine Norbury, Abi Andrews and Alys Fowler

How can I not have been to the Birmingham Literature Festival before now? Ten days of events around writers, books and ideas, virtually on the doorstep – well, better late than never, I suppose. Nor had I been to the newly-built Birmingham Conservatoire, and I would have expected my first encounter with that impressive space to be for a musical performance, but the Recital Hall was the location for the Sunday word-laden events that I’d chosen.

The Fish Ladder at my Tŷ Newydd bedside

My choice was influenced by already knowing one of the speakers, Katharine Norbury, as she’d been a tutor on my recent writing residential at Tŷ Newydd. For ‘The Call of the Wild’ she shared the ‘stage’ in the pale wood-clad theatre with Abi Andrews, discussing women’s perspectives on writing about nature and travel, chaired by Alys Fowler. Illustrated with readings from Katharine’s The Fish Ladder and Abi’s The Word for Woman is Wilderness, the chat covered such interesting topics as the bravery of writing about failure, coming to terms with the idea that you might not achieve your quest, questioning boundaries and challenging traditionally male preserves, consideration of who your reader is, and dealing with that ‘conflict’ ingredient – so essential to all good narrative – that disturbs the equilibrium of your literal or emotional journey. There was also a health warning: memoir may be painful to write!Continue Reading

Looking after the semitones with Run By Singers

During a week of singing in southern Spain I lost count of the times maestro Jeremy Jackman exhorted us to look after the semitones. There were plenty of other musical elements to look after as well, of course: timing, rhythm, articulation, dynamics, balance and diction, especially bearing in mind that the programme dictated getting ourContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Mass Tango in Husum and the kindness of strangers

If people sing together, it’s good for them. If people enjoy the hospitality of strangers, it’s great for body, soul and mutual understanding. Imagine how doubly beneficial it was, therefore, to be welcomed into the home of a fellow singer during my choir’s recent visit to make music with our German counterparts, the Theodor StormsContinue ReadingContinue Reading


Just like my own offspring, the ducklings were late arrivals. And they’ve also now flown the nest. Or waddled, rather. Having calculated, with the help of my RSPB guide, that their hatching date should be 3rd May, we were relieved to return on the 1st from a week in Yorkshire to find that all wasContinue ReadingContinue Reading


The start of the new financial year puts me in mind of the expenses scandal, whereby an esteemed MP considered it perfectly legitimate to claim the cost of his duckhouse against taxes. In early April this year, our own humble garden is the scene of an unusual occurrence. A favourite jaunt of ours is toContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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