On Thursday we visited two lovely schools in Oswestry. This is a village close to my heart as we stayed here for three weeks in the summer of 2012. I first met Carrie who with her husband Tim owns the beautiful Booka Bookshop when we were here then and had been hoping that we could do some events together in the future.
We walked from the hotel to the shop and then around to the first school, Our Lady and St Oswald which is right in the heart of the village. We couldn’t have had a warmer greeting – the staff were absolutely wonderful and I must apologise that I haven’t been able to remember everyone’s names. The school is gorgeous – small and perfectly formed and I was directed to the hall to set up for the talk. The children filed in and were so quiet and settled. But they soon came to life and were laughing and answering and asking questions. We had a terrific time with the drama activity.
Afterwards I signed the children’s books and was shown the lovely display all about Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose in the library nook. There were lots of book reviews (pleased to say I think all 4 and 5 stars) and it was clear that the children had been anticipating the visit for a while.
We left the school and walked back to Booka for a coffee and a good look at the shop. The café was full and I imagine that it’s a wonderful haven for people who live in the village. If we lived here I’d be there everyday – having my coffee and working on books. Carrie’s cupcake lady had baked some very beautiful Clementine Rose cupcakes – you can see here how gorgeous they looked and I can tell you they were delicious. Carrie presented us with a box of six. Charlotte, Ian and I ate some on the train that afternoon.
Our second school was Woodside Primary which is the largest school in the area with over 600 students. They had a very fancy sign in system which involved having a photograph taken and printed which is then worn around your neck on a lanyard. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite as good at that anywhere in the world.
The children filed into the hall and again they were very excited and enthusiastic. It was wonderful to meet them all and we had lots of laughs. The local newspaper photographer came along so I’m hoping we see some pictures in the paper later this week.
After the book signing we headed back to the hotel to meet the taxi that was taking us to Shrewsbury for our three train journey to Newcastle Upon Tyne. Charlotte had booked and checked and rechecked the taxi and of course, probably because she was so diligent, it arrived about 20 minutes late and the fellow said that he’d only just been assigned the job. I think Addison Lee are not doing themselves any favours with their regional taxi bookings (and come to think of it, the fellow in London who was unaware of the Korean President’s State Visit on my first day of school talks was less than impressive too).
The road was wet and we weren’t keen to repeat our pervious day’s experience with the Formula One taxi driver so Charlotte quickly checked to see that if we did miss the train there were others we could catch. Better to arrive in one piece than not get there at all. As it was, this chap seemed to know quite a few good back roads and we made it with minutes to spare. Sadly the train was then delayed on the tracks (that was the day they had trespassers) so Charlotte was worried about missing her connection to London. Fortunately luck was finally on her side and she made it. Our connection to Manchester was tight to begin with so we didn’t stand a hope on that one. There are lots of trains though and we caught the next one – and picked up a new friend. A lovely lady called Margot who was travelling from Cardiff to Durham. We were going on the same route but just a little further so we had a great time talking to her (she’s a keen golfer and plays at least three days a week). We lost our reserved seats though and spent the best part of two hours standing up in sardine tin conditions. Never mind, the next train from York to Newcastle was much less crowded and we arrived only about half an hour late. I have another Addison Lee gripe though as they kept me on hold for half an hour and by then the driver was waiting for us at the station. There was no mobile number for him on the text so I felt really bad that I hadn’t been able to let him know – but clearly the AL systems are a little bit dodgy at the moment.
Our hotel was right on the Tyne opposite the Millennium Bridge which is gorgeous – a constant changing light show. I was looking forward to the school visit and being able to see a little more of this beautiful city.