TV star Clare Balding wows fans at Milngavie Bookshop

27.9.12 Photograph Jamie Forbes .Milngavie Bookshop, tv presenter Clare Balding doing a book signing. Clare with book shop owner Susan Frize and shop manager Niki Cleary.
27.9.12 Photograph Jamie Forbes .Milngavie Bookshop, tv presenter Clare Balding doing a book signing. Clare with book shop owner Susan Frize and shop manager Niki Cleary.

COPIES of Olympics TV presenter Clare Balding’s autobiography were flying off the shelves last Thursday when she visited Milngavie Bookshop.

Clare, who wowed the nation with her handling of presenting duties during the recent Londond Games, made an unofficial visit to Milngavie during her tour of Scotland to promote her new book ‘My Animals and Other Family’.

It was the first time the bookshop has sold out of copies at a signing - with 51 books snapped up on the day by fans.

Clare was staying with an old school friend, Annabel Struthers, in Milngavie last week, who suggested that they paid a visit to the bookshop.

Clare and Annabel became pals when they were pupils at Downe House, a girls boarding school in Berkshire, and have remained in touch ever since.

Annabel, who grew up in Craigmaddie, Milngavie, got a mention in the TV presenter’s book.

She said: “Clare often came to visit me in Milngavie during school holidays.

“She used to ride my pony - much better than me!

“We also put her up when she raced in Ayr.

“When I was younger I stayed with her family in Hampshire, so that I didn’t have to travel back to Scotland, and now I stay with her when I go to London.

“She has done really well for herself, I’m really proud of her achievements and it was great to catch up with her again last week.”

The owner of Milngavie bookshop, Susan Frize, said: “We were delighted that Clare found time to come in to the bookshop.

“Her book has been really popular - we had people travelling from all over Scotland to meet her.

“She was very friendly and approachable and everyone had a great time chatting to her.”

My Animals and Other Family is a funny, brave, tender story of self-discovery.

Clare Balding grew up in a rather unusual household.

Her father was a champion horse trainer and she shared her life with more than 100 thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals and ponies.

As a toddler she would happily ride the legendary racehorse Mill Reef and take breakfast with the Queen.

She and her younger brother came very low down the pecking order. Left to their own devices, they had to learn life’s toughest lessons through the animals, and through their adventures in the stables and the idyllic Hampshire Downs.

From the protective Candy to the pot-bellied Valkyrie and the frisky Hattie, each horse and each dog had their own character and their own special part to play.

The running family joke was that “women ain’t people”. Clare has to prove them wrong, to make her voice heard - but first she had to make sure she had something to say.