On Wednesday Ian and I travelled from Preston to Tamworth where we were meeting Charlotte. We were fortunate that our trains were on time but poor Charlotte was at the mercy of signal problems and then a missing train driver. At least here in the UK the train companies tell you exactly what's the matter - later in the week we were delayed because of trespassers on the tracks. After some anxious moments, Charlotte ended up making it in time for us to go to the school together. It was lovely to see her again.
The reason we were going to Donisthorpe Primary in Swadlincote is that two of the girls in Year 6, Holly and Paige had won a writing competition with a magazine and their prize was for an author to visit their school. I had the pleasure of talking to the whole school before spending about 45 minutes with the Year 6 class talking about writing and giving them some short activities. It was great to see children who initially said that they didn't enjoy writing particularly much, sharing their work so enthusiastically. We had some funny false starts with the drama when the boy wearing the wig leaned back and it fell off his head exposing his bald head well before the punch line. Then he refused to snore so the guy behind the chair is a snoring double. At least the children roared with laughter.
Swadlincote is a beautiful little village amid rolling green fields and picture postcard cottages. I would have loved to have spent more time there- the afternoon was over all too soon and we had to catch two trains to Shrewsbury. Our taxi driver apparently thought he was Jensen Button - overtaking everyone in sight. We were all relieved to make it to the station in one piece.
We had a far less exciting ride to Shrewsbury and then a lovely lady taxi driver took us to Oswestry. Ian and I spent a lot of time in Oswestry when we were here last year. It's the home of Brogyntyn Hall - the house that inspired Caledonia Manor in the Alice-Miranda series. I was very excited to be working with Carrie from Booka Bookshop - which has to be one of the most beautiful independent bookshops in the whole country.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner with Charlotte in the hotel restaurant. There was a long table laid for dinner and when I enquired with the waitress about the big group she told us that it was for a shooting party. The hunters arrived just as we were finishing our meal. There was one fellow carrying about four rifles, they were dressed in tweeds and were in a very ebullient mood. It was such a quintessential English scene.
A Bookish Adventure
I started this blog to document an extended trip to the US and UK in 2012, introducing children to my Alice-Miranda series. It's hard to believe that it's just on four years since we launched the first Alice-Miranda title - and now there are nine books out in Australia with another five still to come. When I first came up with the idea of this precocious seven and a quarter year old, I had no clue that she would take me on such an amazing journey, not only in Australia but also across the world. I visited 37 schools while we were away in 2012 and gave over 80 talks - it was fantastic. In 2013 I've been on lots of new adventures in the UK - visiting schools from London to Southampton, Lancashire, Scotland, Newcastle and back to London again. After that I headed off to meet readers in Singapore. In Australia I've been to Melbourne, Perth, Albany, Alice Springs and Brisbane. There's a new series too - about a gorgeous little girl called Clementine Rose. She and Alice-Miranda don't know each other yet, but they will soon.