The new Escape! festival is offering two workshops - but you'll have to be quick as tickets are likely to be snapped up and places to both are limited.

Dame Fiona Kidman will tackle the tricky business of writing from memory in a full-day workshop.

"I run courses like this in Wellington and it's funny how everyone thinks they are for older people," she says. "Young people have histories too, and a memoir might be of a specific time or subject - for instance, travel, food or sports.

"Some people want to record their own stories, or those of others but whatever the objective, it's important to shape the story for good reading."


Dame Fiona, who has published two volumes of memoir and last year's The Infinite Air, a fictional account of the life of Jean Batten, says the workshop will look at ways of sharpening recollection, researching material, as well as some writing exercises.

Jo Crabb, owner of Careme cook school at Palliser Estate in Martinborough, has a second home in France where she spends a couple of months each year, immersing herself in the food culture and traditions of the Midi-Pyrenees region.

"My favourite food style is French," she says. "I like their timeless, classic use of regional resources and ingredients. We always come away fatter than when we arrived because we want to try everything."

Her food memoir My Two Heavens was published last month, an account of her travels, her home in France and her food.

"About half the book is recipes, Jo says. "Which might seem unbalanced to some but makes perfect sense to me."