THE biggest and best Appledore Book Festival yet is in full swing and since Saturday the small fishing village has been awash with a host of A list writers and poets. Venues around the village have been preparing to welcome household names such as murder

THE biggest and best Appledore Book Festival yet is in full swing and since Saturday the small fishing village has been awash with a host of A list writers and poets.

Venues around the village have been preparing to welcome household names such as murder mystery writer PD James, former MI5 Director General Dame Stella Rimington, the Right Honourable Lord Tebbit and General Sir Mike Jackson. Local authors such as Peter Christie, Pat Slade and Liz Shakespeare are also appearing.

As festival director and author Nick Arnold relates, four years ago the village faced the loss of its library and the festival was born from the spark of that successful battle.

"It's not rich or grand but it's got a big heart - that's why authors and audiences call it 'the friendly festival,'" he said.

"And the story isn't over yet - the festival just goes on growing."

The festival opened on Saturday as bestselling author Babette Cole was escorted to St Mary's Church by a procession of Appledore schoolchildren, Appledore Band, clowns, jugglers and of course a unicorn!

Appearances so far include playwright and actor Terence Frisby plus well known "daredevil" BBC correspondent and author Kate Adie.

The festival continues today (Wednesday) and tickets are still available for a number of events including Sacred Treason with scholar and historian Ian Mortimer at the Baptist Church from 8pm, plus crime writer Kate Ellis at St Mary's Hall from 6pm.

Tomorrow there are tickets for an evening with veteran politician and author Lord Tebbit at St Mary's Church from 6pm.

On Friday at 2pm in St Mary's Hall Liz Shakespeare presents The Turning of the Tide, the story of a young local 19th century woman drawn from historical documents.

The popular Gardener's Question Time is at 6pm in the hall and followed at 9pm by Colin Shaddick, performance poet and musician.

On Saturday at 6pm, St Mary's Church hosts June Spencer, the only original member of The Archers still in the show. Alias Peggy Archer, June takes her audience back to "the slower pace of childhood" and reflects on life during the Second World War, as related in her book The Road to Ambridge.

The festival closes on Sunday with a family service on the quay from 10am, at St Mary's Church if wet, plus a Book Fair at Appledore Hall from 10.30am-4.30pm.

Tickets are also still available to hear festival regular historian and author Peter Christie at 11.30am in St Mary's Hall as he relates The True Story of the North Devon Savages.

Festival brochures are available around Appledore and the surrounding area. For information and tickets contact the box office at Docton Court Gallery in Myrtle Street on (01237) 424949 or view the programme online at www.appledorebookfestival.co.uk.