Somaliland celebrations, Police, Crime and more at CrimeFest 2014

My annual appearance at CrimeFest 2014 this year on Friday 15 May, coincided with the celebrations for Somaliland Independence Day on the College Green at Bristol. Not that I was aware of that when arriving at the Royal Marriott Hotel, Bristol where CrimeFest is held.

The hotel faces onto College Green and here I was met by a crowd of men, women and children   decked out in white, green and red, music playing, people talking on loud speakers and everyone having a really good time, and helping to raise money to build and improve Somaliland’s national road system as they celebrated Somaliland Independence Day.  

While sitting on one of the benches eating lunch I chanced upon solitary police office and asked him what was going on. He told me about the celebrations and that he'd been sent along to keep an eye on it in case others opposed to it took it into their head to cause disruption. He said he sincerely hoped no one would because there was only him to handle it! This could only happen in Britain!  One solitary (and rather nice looking uniformed officer), patrolling a park full of people. I felt proud at that moment of tolerance in Britain to others and wished it could be replicated the world over.  But sadly not so it seems.

Somaliland Independence Day Celebrations, College Green, Bristol

My panel appearance was later Friday afternoon. I spent some time catching up with some of my fellow crime writers and my publisher before taking tea and a delicious slice of Bara Brith Cake  in the cafe in Bristol Library where I chatted to the librarians, delighted to hear that my crime novels are very popular with their readers.

It is the first time I have ever eaten Bara Brith Cake, and it was absolutely delicious. It is a traditional welsh fruit loaf made with tea, and seeing as I am half welsh, I should have known this and eaten it before but if I have I can't remember and I think I would have done. "Bara Brith translates to ‘speckled bread’ it is produced all over Wales and is delicious when spread with salted Welsh butter."

After fortifying myself with Bara Brith and freshly squeezed orange juice it was time to head for the Green Room in the hotel in prepartion for the panel.

Elizabeth Haynes, Pauline Rowson, Lesley Thomson, Chris Longmuir

 Here I met up with my fellow panelists: Elizabeth Haynes, Lesley Thomson, Chris Longmuir and Felix Francis. I briefed the panel about the format and before we knew it we were on stage.

Crimefest 2014 from left to right: Felix Francis, Elizabeth Haynes, Pauline Rowson, Lesley Thomson, Chris Longmuir

 It was the last panel of the day and a fantastic audience.  I was acting as participating moderator, so got to ask the questions. The title of the panel was, 'So what's good about crime?' We discussed how and why we got into crime writing, the importance of authenticity in our novels, the entertainment value of  reading a good mystery and how our own experiences have influenced our writing.

The audience attending the panel - CrimeFest 2014 - What's so good about crime?


Crimefest 2014 panel Pauline Rowson, Lesley Thomson, Chris Longmuir, Felix Francis

CrimeFest continued on the Saturday with more panels, and a gala dinner but I was only able to attend on the Friday. It was an enjoyable event and great to meet many crime fiction fans who had travelled not only from other parts of Britain to be there but from as far afield as Canada, America and Australia. 

CrimeFest 2015 takes place from 14-17 May 2015.

If you like crime fiction and crime fact then you'll love CSI Portsmouth, an annual one day event where best selling crime authors meet police, forensic and crime experts in two panel debates during the day.

CSI Portsmouth 2014 - 8 November 2014 - National Museum of the Royal Navy - Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  Tickets on sale 29 September 2014. Click here for more details.


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