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It’s a long way from Fife to Brighton – 380 miles as the crow flies.
Unfortunately we weren’t travelling by crow, we were travelling by people carrier, so it was closer to 515 miles.
The other problem with non-crow based transport is that someone has to drive. Thankfully – for me at least – I wasn’t allowed behind the wheel (they said it was for “insurance reasons” but I think they’d probably just heard about my legendary sense of direction malfunction).
Having made the journey south on Sunday I can now vouch for the fact that not driving is by far the best way to drive to Brighton. I plan to do as much not driving in future as possible.
After being collected from my house by Beth and Antonia from the Scottish Book Trust – my chaperones/guides/babysitters/fixers/drivers for the week – I spent the next 13 hours eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, drinking fizzy juice, talking nonsense and reading the paper. A great help, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Once we’d finally reached Brighton and Hove – my first time there – we checked into the hotel (clean, comfy and central), descended like a plague of tired, freakishly large, clothes-wearing locusts on a local eatery then turned in for a relatively early night.
Today we were up at the crack of dawn – well, 8am, which is as close as I get, thanks very much – to make the short drive to our first school visit, Westdene Primary.
We were shown to their lovely “small hall”, set up the props (Magic story hat? Check. Banana? Check Smelly sock? Check) and were then joined by a group of little Year 1s (equivalent in age to Scottish Primary 2 children).
They were as lovely and lively as you could hope for – up for a giggle, but happy to sit and listen peacefully when I was reading the books. Our “homemade Jumblebum” ended up with pants for a body, a pizza slice nose . . . and a head made from a skeleton’s skull! Just your average part comic/part terrifying J-Bum. What imaginations kids have.
Despite my guitar being woefully out of tune due to a dud tuner battery (children’s authors have to think of these things, you know) the event was a blast and I think the children had fun – I know I did.
After a swift bite for lunch on the hoof, we rocked up at our second school of the day, St Nicolas CE Primary School.
A large group of Year 1s and Years 3s boomed along to Loon on the Moon and snorted like pigs to soundtrack Jumblebum. They sang their little hearts out to both songs, with some top-class clapping action for the Jumblebum number. It’s a shame BGT is over because we would have been a shoo on for the crown, I’m telling you.
My favourite moment right at the end, while signing books provided by Vanessa from the fabulous Book Nook bookshop, was when a little girl came up to me clutching Ping. I asked her name and she said Evie – and who is the little girl star of the book? Why Evie, of course. She had no idea when she chose that, it was just a happy coincidence. But her delighted wee face was a treat. The word “awwww” doesn’t do it justice.
Then it was “home” to the hotel . . . and now? Now to discover the delights of bonnie Brighton!
Two more schools await tomorrow, so I’d better brush up on my singing. Altogether now: “Jum-Jum-Jumblebum, he eats stinky stuff, so tidy up your smelly socks and don’t be such a scruff.”
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