Laura Ellen Anderson, her publicist Siobhan McDermott, Rosie Hudson (aka Rosie Tells Tales) and I were all thrilled to be invited to the Isle of Man for their third Cyclefest family festival. Here we are, getting all glammed up:
Tweeted by Siobhan McDermott
I'd been to a festival once before on the Isle of Man - the Manx Lit Fest - but that was in Douglas, in the south, while Cyclefest was further north, in Ramsey. Here's a peek at Ramsey harbour, which is a lovely place for a little stroll and a drink on the dockside.
My husband Stuart and I got collected by the airport by Jackie, who gave us an amazing driving tour around the island. We loved this little fishing cove:
Back to the festival and the big teepee: One of the fun things about sticking around for a few days was getting to see other people's events. Here's Laura Ellen Anderson talking about Amelia Fang, in full Amelia costume:
I couldn't resist doing a drawing of her:
Meeting Rosie Tells Tales was great fun, and seeing her approach to getting kids engaged in stories.
She does a lot of events using Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury's We're Going on a Bear Hunt, and the kids all made binoculars. (I had to draw that, too.)
And Laura (or 'Lil') drew me!
Lil's done a terrific Cyclefest blog on her own site, if you want to pop over for an in-depth experience of the festival.
Big thanks to Angela and Harry from the Bridge Bookshop, who did an amazing job stocking books all weekend! They even had copies of my Dinosaur Firefighters, which isn't even out until May 3rd!
I drew quite a few portraits over the weekend, including two of them:
The signage for my event made me howl with laughter; see if you can spot the slight change of name that makes everything much, much funnier. Stay tuned for our follow-up book of canine cryonics.
Here I am, talking Pugs of the Frozen North:
Tweeted by Laura Ellen Anderson
And I got to see some fab drawings! Here's a Sea Monkey from a fan of Oliver and the Seawigs:
And an excellent tower blog drawing by Benjie from my event featuring The New Neighbours.
One of the best things about the festival is that the organiser Pete Jones encouraged me to bring Stuart along, and even said he could borrow a bike while he was over there! Stuart's a keen cyclist, so this was absolutely brilliant.
Here's Stuart waiting for his race to begin. There were three races: the Gran Fondo, Medio Fondo and Piccolo Fondo. Stuart thought he'd do the Medio, but Pete advised him to start out with the Piccolo (which is more of a ride than a race) since he'd never done it before, which turned out to be good advice. I loved the bright colours of the Manx youth cycling club kit:
And they were off!
While Stuart was cycling hard, I partook of jerk chicken from this friendly team:
Another fab person we got to meet was Megan from Bright Bricks. She organised the kids into making this giant Lego mural!
It was so fun getting Megan to talk about her work: who wouldn't love a job dealing with Lego all day!
In some ways it's not that far off from working in Photoshop, except the pixels are much larger:
The festival took place in the grounds of Milntown, a stately home with beautiful gardens. Stuart and I loved exploring it after he got back from his ride.
A few more peeks at Manx life: here's the Port Erin branch of the Bridge Bookshop, where Stuart and I popped in to see Angela on our first day.
We also stopped by the Ramsay branch and met their new employee, Anna.
Yay, our books in the window!
Last time Philip Reeve and I were on the Isle of Man, we were so taken by this Kippers by Post sign that he came up with a whole song about it.
So I brought back some kippers for him (but Stuart and I ended up eating them).
Another lovely island view:
Stuart LOVES riding on trams, so on our last day, we made a special trip to go on the Ramsey to Laxley stretch of rails.
Rosie and her partner Alex came along, and we had a great time riding in the beautifully old-fashioned carriages.
Check out this tiny little station!
We miss everyone already, it was a great gang! Thanks so much to Pete for organising, and a big wave to Megan and Rosie; I hope we run into each other again.
I didn't get a lot of time to listen to the music concerts, but I heard snatches of good stuff coming toward the family tent, and it was fun meeting musicians, such as Kelly Oliver:
And Yola Carter:
Where we stayed, the Baie Mooar Guesthouse, was the perfect place to have a very comfortable flop. Thanks, Jenny and Simon, for looking after us!