This morning we met publicist extraordinaire Stephie at our hotel and drove across to Euston Station (which is rather nice – and much warmer than Waterloo) where we caught a high speed Virgin train to Preston in Lancashire. I wish we had the same sort of high speed rail network at home – fast, friendly and efficient – it’s fantastic. We arrived at the station and were greeted by Mike, the Random House rep for the area. I don’t quite know how to explain Mike, except to say that he looks like Elvis (only better looking) and he made me laugh from the minute we met. He is completely adorable, generous and extremely witty and I can’t wait to do more events in his area next time we’re in England.
Mike drove us to Rufford Primary school, about 20 minutes out of town where once again we were greeted so warmly. Miss Farrington, the Head teacher and Mrs Highton (I have never met anyone called Highton before and thought it was fitting, given I was talking about Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones) had arranged everything including a delicious lunch with home made sausage rolls that Mike and Ian were definitely going to fight over. There were cupcakes too.
I spoke to the Rufford KS1 students (which is the equivalent to the Infants K-2 in an Australian school), introducing them to Clementine Rose. It was great fun talking to them about Clemmie and her upcoming adventures and we had a couple of stars partcipating in the drama activity.
Afterwards we headed to the hall where I spoke to the 3-6 students from Rufford and several groups of students from neighbouring schools too. It was great fun meeting them all. This time we acted out the scene where Alice-Miranda meets Jacinta Headlington-Bear, the school’s second best tantrum thrower. I hadn’t expected such a terrifying tantrum thrower – great actor! The little girl who acted the Alice-Miranda part was brilliant too.
At the end of the talk I signed lots of books (which had been supplied by ‘super Tony’ from Formby Books – who was two staff down and trying to move into a new shop and still managed to get to my event!) and then made sure we had plenty of photos with the staff. Miss Farrington took me for a tour of the school, which is small and perfectly formed. Great classrooms and such a warm and caring staff. Every school I have visited has made me proud to be an educator. There are so many good things happening in schools here in the UK. To see happy children who love learning and dedicated teachers who take pride in their profession is seriously uplifting.
Mike then kindly drove us through what seemed to be pretty busy peak hour traffic to our hotel in Preston. As we passed the courthouse we were surprised to see lots of heavily armed police, police cars everywhere and some serious police vans. Later, on the news we learned that a fellow who murdered two policewomen is on trial in Preston, hence the heavy police presence.
We bade farewell to Mike who had quite a drive back to Shropshire and settled in for an early night (and maybe a little bit of champagne to celebrate a great week).