The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Worcester on Thursday afternoon wasn't the bees, it was the swans. SO MANY SWANS.
On Friday morning, schools bused in children from nearby towns to join me for a big rollicking Grumpycorn session. Here's a photo tweeted as the children were arriving by Mrs Beasley from Somers Park Primary (@SomersPark2LE):
I always get kids drawing in my events, and I started them off designing their own books, taking inspiration from the Grumpycorn cover.
Here's a photo tweeted by Mrs Marsh from Somers Park Primary (@SomersPark2AM) where you can see some of the children's favourite foods, which we used to inspire titles: Carrotcorn, Bananacorn, Pizzacorn, etc.
And here's the fab team that made both Grumpycorn events that day run smoothly - thank you, team!
My Roly-Poly Flying Pony books co-author Philip Reeve arrived on Friday afternoon - here you can see him on the right with chief festival organisers Steve Boffy and Annabel Collins:
We headed over to The Hive to check out the space for Saturday's public festival events, and gosh, is it beautiful. The Hive is both a university library AND a public libray, so everyone can use it, and it's usefully open quite late. At the moment they're hosting the lovely 'Picture This!' exhibition from the winners of the 2019 Picture This! international illustration competition, which you can glimpse here:
Here's a closeup of some of the pictures, these by Hamburg-based Pauline Pete for a story called 'Bird Home':
That evening, we tried out a burger place called Hanbao which did not disappoint; Philip described it as being 'exactly like people in the ‘80s imagined burger joints would be like in 2019'. This menu burger description sounded so uniquely awful that I had to try it:
And yes, with its Pop Tart and Lucky Charms on top, it was utterly ridiculous, but also AMAZING.
One other thing I really wanted to do in Worcester was check out its famous cathedral. I'd had a glimpse at the exterior, walking around town on Thursday evening:
But on Saturday morning, Philip and I had enough time before our event started that we were able to rush over after breakfast for a peek. You can see a video Philip shot of it here, with the big organ fired up. It's one of the most interesting cathedrals I've visited, with so many unexpected and wonderful details. Oh look, more swans:
There was a real theme of faithful dogs (and some lions) lying at the feet of their masters in life, which was very sweet:
Here's another carved dog I absolutely loved:
Aw, just look at it...
I do so wish we could have been there for a full day; I really want to go back and draw a lot of these characterful features. But we had a Roly-Poly Flying Pony event to go to - here's a much more svelte cathedral version:
I didn't actually get any photos of my event with Philip, but huge thanks to everyone who came along! If you'd like to find out how to draw more of our characters, do go have a look at some of the step-by-step tutorials on my website. After the book signing, I got to meet a longtime Internet friend, comic creator Nigel Auchterlounie (also known as Spleenal). We ate some companionable Colin the Caterpillars together.
And on Thursday night, I did a bit of catching up over dinner with Cathy Spence, a fabulous teacher from nearby Great Malvern Primary who had hosted Philip and me for a school visit that day when the Beast from the East snowstorm blew in. (That was an epic visit!) It was great getting to see some of the Year 2 children from her school come along to my Grumpycorn events on Thursday.
A huge thanks to The Roving Bookshop, who did an amazing job stocking our books!
Thank you, Annabel Collins and The Hive!
And thank you, Steve Boffy and Jane Churchill - we hope you get lots of great festival feedback! Big thanks to everyone on the team who made this happen.
I'll miss you, Worcester! I hope I can come back and do even more exploring.