When the chance comes along to see one of your favourite author / illustrators at a location nearby, you don’t say no. Unfortunately I worked out my finances and it couldn’t be done. I also had to cancel four other planned bookish events in London. With fortuitous timing, a BritMums offer of complementary tickets to Henley Literary Festival popped up and I was lucky enough to get two.
The lovely @chaletfan from DYESTTAFTSA had alerted me to the event in the first place, and kindly offered a lift part of the way when public transport failed me, and it was great to meet up with her again. She is as lovely in real life as you’d imagine, you can read her review of the event here.
I don’t know Henley at all but fortunately had @chaletfan as a guide. The train station was right by the venue (if there’d been a train on time!) although you’d then have to go into the town centre to find the ticket office if you didn’t have tickets. We parked near the centre and the ticket office and venue seemed easy to find with a short walk between.
The room for the event was set out well, with tables for the craft session ready at the back of the room, plenty of chairs for grown ups and lots of floor space for children. Clara was ready at the front as everyone arrived, and all the elements ran smoothly. Huge thanks must go to Clare from Random House who made it run like magic.
When the event started, Clara talked through some of the story of Dixie O’Day and showed some of her favourite pages. She then did a live drawing whilst reading part of the first chapter. This was amazing. Seriously amazing. The complexities of two different classic cars plus drivers plus following the story including a very clever ninety degree twist of the paper near the end was just breathtakingly good. I may have had minor heart palpitations when she scribbled over Lou-Ella, but it was all part of the fun!
The model car with felt Dixie and Percy made by the awesomely talented Josie was also on display and wow, it is as great in real life as you would expect. I am thrilled I got to see it.
The creative part of the event was for the children to design their own cars. Clara encouraged the children to use their imaginations to create any kind of car but also supplied a brilliant sheet of kit for inspiration. The pictures will be up on the Dixie O’Day website.
I was really impressed with DG’s creations. She made three using all the bits supplied, but spent longest on her first one. She coloured the taps in red and blue for hot and cold water, and put poor Dixie and Percy in a cold water bath! The ice cream is blue because it is blueberry flavour – DG loves blueberries. Mmmm…
We all had a wonderful time. DG loved making her cars and seeing Clara again and meeting @chaletfan. I geeked out on the model, listening to Clara, meeting Clare, and chatting with @chaletfan (including discussing how embarrassing it is to introduce yourself in real life by your twitter name!) Then we all relaxed with a drink and cake in the hot October sun (what is with the weather at the moment?!) and all was good with the world…
Disclaimer: I received two complimentary tickets to this event from the organisers via BritMums in exchange for a review, travel not included. I loved the event we went to, thought everything was organised brilliantly, and will be looking out for it next year. Thank-you, Henley Literary Festival and BritMums.