Monday, 22 August 2011

Do Umbrellas Grow on Trees?

We'll return to the cryptic title of this blog later, but first things first! It was FESTIVAL weekend!
We'd been lucky enough to receive an invite to perform at the Just So festival, deep in the heart of the Peak District. With Lorenzo still recovering, only I was able to attend but anyone who's met us will know that either brother has the ability to talk for TWO. Ahem.

Our ever magnificent publicist, Lauren Bennett, was looking after me for the weekend and she has an unerring ability to put us up in great hotels! The Three Horseshoes Inn was another gem, and - after a great dinner with children's book author/illustrator Mini Grey and her husband Tony (both awesome) - I retired to my bed. To THIS bed...

Important note: I like four poster beds. They are cool.

Continuing our tradition of snapping every breakfast we eat on tour I've included a pic of my morning fry-up. Interestingly there was an ingredient on the hot plate selection that I had NEVER seen before, and have been unable to discover on the web. It was a sort of melted cheese pancake roll.
I'm guessing it was a local specialty and I'm dying to know what it's called! Answers on a postcard please...

The Inn was located in the heart of the Peak National Park and featured some amazing views of the Staffordshire moorlands. The hillside seen below is covered with fantastic Roach rock formations...

...which is cool, but NOT as cool as UMBRELLA TREES!!!!!!!!!
I told you we'd get back to that cryptic blog title. This was the colourful entrance to the festival. Thankfully the weather was lovely and there was no need to pick these strange wild flowers.

Located literally in the midst of Barnswood, the show organisers had worked ridiculously hard to create an utterly unique experience for kids and families. There is nothing quite as awesome as discovering a bookshop nestled in the trees. Especially a bookshop with a brilliant graphic novel section!

A vibrant writing and drawing theme ran throughout the site with so much to do that children could barely contain their excitement as they ran from one area to the next. I was delighted to overhear two boys discussing the comedy merit of trying to bring one of these giant pencils into school.

I was performing on the Jitterbug stage. It was a fantastic space inside a giant tent with a ceiling lined by dozens of dangling light shades. Highlights from this workshop included the discovery that I am able to do a rather convincing Voldemort impression, and this Q&A with a young audience member:

Robin: How could a dragon hurt me?
Boy: It could kick you in the widge.
Robin: It could do what?
Boy: Kick you in the widge.
Robin (pointing to crotch): Is this my widge?
Boy (giggling like mad): Yep!
Robin: Fair point. A dragon could kick me in the widge and that would be a bad thing!

It was a great show and during the signing session afterwards I had the opportunity to meet lots of Monkey Nuts and DFC fans and share with them the first preview of Baggage (which was rather well received!).

Once I'd finished there was just enough time to grab a drink with Lauren (who was working ridiculously hard and still had two shows to organise with Mini Gray and the mighty Steve Cole) before heading home.

Lauren took a snap of me looking about a hundred years old and then instantly tweeted it over on the Random House children's blog. I thought about ignoring it, but it's worth a laugh - click HERE for the horror.

It was a memorable time but the best ... the VERY best moment of the weekend was the fact that Lorenzo managed to JOIN ME!!!!!!!!! Yes indeed, my brother's head on a stick became the grand prize in a colouring competition that resulted in this dandy gent.

For those of you visiting the Edinburgh festival this coming weekend I'll be taking a blank version of this new improved Lorenzo with me to see if anyone can do better. Who hasn't dreamed of scribbling on an Etherington? See you in 5 days!

Friday 26th August, 12:30-1:30, RBS Schools event at the Peppers Theatre.
Saturday 27th August, 10:30-11:30, open event at the RBS Imagination Lab - grab your ticket HERE!

- Robin