Getting to Know You - Sarah Boyack
Looking back at more relaxing and less stressful times, what was your best holiday ever?
That’s quite a difficult one. Cycling from Bangkok to Saigon was pretty good, because it was through Thailand and then Cambodia and then down through Vietnam. That was really interesting because of the differences. The politics of each country was interesting, but the landscapes, the people I met – that’s probably up there as one of my best ever.
You must be fit.
It sounds like that, but actually, if it’s not all uphill, it’s fine for me. It is one of those things where you do make a bit of an effort in the month before you go. But it’s really not difficult. I think there was a couple of people late teens and then there was a few people older than me, in their mid-70s. It’s probably just about taking it easy. There’d be some days that you’d be touring the Angkor Wat temples, for example, you’re walking around the buildings. It’s not like cycling through the Alps, which I’ve not done and will never do.
Would you imagine doing a similar thing ever again?
I have done. A couple of years ago I did southern Italy. That’s fantastic because you cross from one side of Italy to the other. It includes all the really interesting Italian hilltop towns. The design of these small cities built on hills, obviously fortified in the early days, and they’re now massive tourist attractions. The different dynamics from one side of the coast to the other… and then stopping off on a farm halfway through with an amazing swimming pool.
And lots of great Italian cooking.
Amazing Italian cooking. We even had a guide to Italian olive oil. You’d have thought it was a guide to Italian wine, but it was olive oil, which was really interesting.
What’s your favourite movie?
If you were asking me the top ten movies, that would be easier. In terms of movies, what do I like? Quite a mix actually. I’m trying to remember what they would be. I quite like a mix of sci-fi movies, so I enjoyed The Martian when that came on. It’s a really good film. I read the book first. It’s quite a good one. Quite into crime and occasional romantic comedy. Quite a range of different types of movies.
I like movies to switch off to. I like the experience of going to a cinema. Sometimes just going to a commercial cinema, but other times I go to the Cameo, which is slightly more arthouse, or the Edinburgh Filmhouse, where you go and see something you wouldn’t have thought of.
Movies are fantastic. I have missed the last few months of not having lots of movies coming out. Even the James Bond film, I’d have been going to see that – for the grounds of research, obviously!
What’s your most treasured possession?
I don’t know if it’s one thing. For me, probably the thing I love having is books. I’m a massive book reader and I have about four piles of books that I work my way through. When the charity shops were open again in the summer, that was fantastic because I was able to go out and stock up on lots of books. I just recycle my books. Buy new books, send them round the family and then take them into another charity shop. It’s a kind of win-win, because you’re raising funds but you’re also reading books and spreading them around your friends. So probably books more than any one thing. I couldn’t go without books.
So, it’s more of a rotating collection of books than a stagnant library?
No, I do have several bookcases as well. Those books have followed me from house to house for some time. I moved house last year and I got rid of over 600 books because I was moving to somewhere smaller and I thought, you need to prioritise here. I’ve still got a big pile of books I haven’t read yet. But in terms of novels, I recycle a lot.
How many do you get through in a month?
Usually up to two a week! So probably be about six in a month. We’re not talking 1000-page tomes, we’re talking 350, 400-page books.
That’s still quite a lot.
Well… I’m a fast reader.
What were you like at school?
I loved school. I loved both primary and secondary school. I was probably a very enthusiastic pupil. I was very lucky because I got to play the trumpet at secondary school, and that got me into the orchestra, the jazz band, the wind group. I was also involved in the choir as well. And the school I was at in Edinburgh, we were twinned with Florence and Munich, so we were very lucky. We got to take the choir and orchestra, the jazz band, to Munich and Florence a couple of times, which was fantastic.
I also did fencing at secondary school. I was always really interested in it and a group of us went along to ask if we could do fencing and we were told, no, you don’t get taught, you’re girls. I took that to the school council and then got sent to a Scottish coach at Meadowbank, so it was a good outcome. Quite a good lesson early on in life.
A first act of feminism?
Probably not the first act of feminism, but an early one.
Do you still play a musical instrument?
That’s one of the things I keep meaning to do during the pandemic, but I’ve just not got around to it as work has been really busy. I have a guitar, but it’s not been played very often. I know I should get around to it.