Hay Festival & Exeter Library

Caban Coch dam, Elan Valley.

Just back from a week in mid-Wales, during which I popped into the Hay Festival for a day to join celebrity hatstand Sarah McIntyre for a couple of events – details on Sarah’s blog.

We haven’t been to Mid-Wales before, although I know the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia fairly well. It turned out to be beautiful. The towns aren’t up to much – charity shops and convenience stores inhabiting the decaying grandeur of once-popular Victorian resorts (Aberystwyth feels particularly post-apocalyptic)  but the surrounding country is beautiful, with mountains, gorges, waterfalls and lots of dams and reservoirs, which were looking very impressive after the recent rain. It reminded me a lot of the Wicklow Mountains, and also parts of the Lake District. We stayed at Pwllgwylim Cottages in Cilmeri, just outside Builth Wells. The owners, Richard and Jill, also do B&B, and were very welcoming and helpful. I’d recommend it if you’re thinking of visiting the area.

I was also very taken with the Hafod Hotel at Devil’s Bridge, which has exactly the sort of a big, comfy, friendly tea room you want to find if you’ve just been on a wettish hike to the bottom of the spectacular Devil’s Bridge gorge. And the drive back to Climeri from there over the mountain road was glorious…

I came home to find my first advance copy of the new Goblins book, Goblin Quest. It’s published this week, so I’ll be blogging about it in the next couple of days.  And if you’re in Devon, I’ll be doing a Goblins event at Exeter’s snazzy new Central Library on saturday 21st June at 2pm. Tickets are free, and can be reserved in advance (though you can just turn up on the day, if you prefer).  It’s so long since I’ve done an event without Sarah M that I can’t remember how, but I expect I’ll do some drawing, and read a bit from the new book, and I may even dust off the Bratapult…

Lambs, Forthcoming Events, and a Good Cause.

Hope you all had excellent Easters (if you go in for that sort of thing) and ate too much chocolate, as I did. Spring has come to Dartmoor and, thanks to the hard work of all our farming friends and neighbours, the hills are alive with this sort of thing…

Ahhh, etc. Photo: Sarah Reeve

Meanwhile, I’ve just written my final guest post for the ever-excellent Girls Heart Books blog. It’s called Get Ahead – Get a Hat, and it’s about ways to overcome shyness when, as a writer, you suddenly find yourself called upon to get up and be performer too…

‘Make the scary people go away!’ etc. Photo: Jo Cotterill

It also seems a good moment to mention that Sarah McIntyre will be performing, hats and all, at the Hay Festival on 29th May. We’re taking part in an event called The Big Draw, with Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown (we did this once before at Hay, and it went really well, so fingers crossed that we can repeat it this year).  And we’ll also be doing our Oliver and the Seawigs event, which, after many months on the road, has been honed to something like perfection, hem hem – there’s even an outside chance that I might remember the chords in the Sea Monkey song.

And we’ll also be appearing at Manchester Children’s Book Festival on June 28th. Sarah’s Sea Monkeys crop up all over the festival website, and there’s even going to be a Grand Parade of Seawigs. I’m not entirely sure, but I think this might be the last completely Seawigs-themed event we do before we switch into Cakes in Space mode for the late summer and autumn festivals. So if you’re in or near Manchester, do come along! (There are loads of other things going on in the festival, too.)

Lastly but definitely not leastly, Tim Knight (who runs ace gaming/comics/TV/general geekery blog Heropress and has been a great supporter of my books over the years) will be doing a sponsored walk next weekend to raise money for the Stroke Association. Tim’s wife Rachel gives a sobering account of some of his reasons for doing so here. If you’d like to contribute, donations can be made here. Best wishes on the walk, Tim, from all Goblins, Sea Monkeys, Traction Citizens, and me.

Brecon Beacons to BGS

Well, the Hay Festival went well, and here’s a link to Sarah McIntyre’s account of the events we did together. there didn’t seem much point in me blogging about them because I didn’t get back to my computer until a week after the festival finished, having stayed on for a holiday with Sam and Sarah in the nearby Brecon Beacons.  We had a great time, avoided the rain that seemed to be lashing the rest of the British isles, and got Sam up his first two mountains, Carn Du and its near-neighbour Pen y Fan – a bit of a cheat, since the route we took starts from a car park half way up, but still a good long walk.

The conquest of Pen y Fan

We also visited some fine Welsh castles, and had a lovely evening with Jasper Fforde and his wife Mari, who live near Hay (I’m currently reading Jasper’s novel Shades of Grey, which is very strange and ingenious and extremely good).  And on the way home we stopped off at Caerleon to look at the Roman remains.  There is a well-preserved amphitheatre there, as well as a small but fascinating Roman Legions museum, and a Roman baths, very beautifully displayed and far more atmospheric than the ones at Bath (also free!).

This week I’ve been (very briefly) in Bristol, as a guest of the wonderful Bristol Grammar School.  You can read about my visit here.

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