Sunday, 23 June 2013

Birthday, Books, Bloggers and The BFG

I want to warn you before I start that this post may contain a lot of exclamation marks and photos.

With that out the way, I have had an incredibly epic last few days. Thursday was my birthday and I kind of just hung out at home with Benji and Rhys and made cake and had presents and it was lovely. Then on Friday I took Benji and my very warm and exhausted self up to London to finally meet Hanna and Laura! I seriously thought I would be really nervous about it (remember a few weeks ago when I got invited to a book launch and wrote a whole post freaking out about it? I ended up not going because my sister's plans got messed up so I took it as some kind of sign that I wasn't meant to go, because I am a total wuss) but I absolutely wasn't. I was visible in the station first, although Laura actually got there first but had to defect to Starbucks for a while, and I thought I'd be standing there and not notice either of them at all. As it happened, I recognised both of them pretty much straight away and I seriously can't tell you how awesome it was to finally meet them both in person! We ate a lot and we walked a lot and we (especially me!) talked A LOT and they gave me amazing birthday presents and it was just generally great. Sadly there was no book buying involved, as it appears that there is not a single bookshop in Chelsea (but there are two Chanel shops...) but it was epic nonetheless. After we'd walked round in a massive circle, through a bit of a rainstorm in Hyde Park and countless cyclists had dinged their bells at Hanna for walking right on the very edge of the cycle path - seriously, her foot was just about touching the white line at the far edge - we ended up on rush hour trains to our respective homes/beds for the night, having entirely forgotten to take any photos at all, with me overanalysing my behaviour all day, deciding that I'd definitely behaved like a total idiot and not listened to anyone and just talked about myself all day and that they both hated me, but still super excited that we met up. Having established that (hopefully) they probably don't hate me, more meeting up must be done in the near future, with the taking of photos and the buying of books and the meeting of Ellie.

So, that bit there are no pictures of, but then I went to my mums for a couple of days, had a lovely day on Saturday hanging out with my London friends, and today Rhys came to pick us up and we came home via The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre in Buckinghamshire.

It's seriously awesome. It's just a little museum with two galleries which are full of information about him and the letters he wrote his mum from boarding school and interactive things for kids to do, and then there's the story centre, which I am going to take Benji back to when he is bigger, because it's full of different activities and story sacks, where you could read the story while pulling all the different items from the story out of the sacks and learn things about them as you went, and a massive dressing up box full of crazy things. They also have regular storytellings and craft workshops and all kinds of other awesomeness. If you haven't been and you like Roald Dahl or have any children in your life, you should go. Seriously.
This is a picture of Benji wearing a hat from the dressing up box. There's also a picture of him wearing a replica of Roald Dahl's pilot hat but it came out a bit blurry. After we finished at the museum we had lunch in Café Twit which was also great. They have 'Bogtrotter Cake' (massive, incredibly chocolatey) and 'Miss Honey's Scones' among other such stuff.
Once we finished there we went for a walk (there's a little 'town trail' walk you can do around some Dahl-related places) and visited his grave. The memorial to him there is lovely. A memorial bench has been put in with the name of one of his children on each bench and a quote from The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me around the bottom and then there are three giant footprints leading down to his actual grave itself. By the gravestone there's a collection of pencils and pens and pieces of paper where people have left their own little messages and tributes to him. It was really beautiful and awesome. Here are some pictures:

Memorial Bench, BFG footprints, Roald Dahl's headstone (with notes from admirers at the top).

Next time we go we're going to make sure to wear sensible shoes for walking in because there's also a walk you can do around the countryside, which is beautiful.

So that's been my amazing birthday weekend, and finally here's a picture/list of the seriously awesome things I got this year:
On the far left is an awesome bookmark pad, got for me by the lovely Hanna, which you can write stuff about the book on and which is super helpful to me because I have as yet failed to keep any kind of review notebook.
On the far right is three volumes of Tank Girl from my friend Alex and her family. I've started reading it and there are deranged kangaroos in it. What more could I ask for?
The book pile is thus:
  • Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck and
  • Crazy Salad & Scribble Scribble - Nora Ephron from Laura :-)
  • Wallflower at the Orgy - Nora Ephron from Ellie (without any kind of conspiring with Laura, apparently and along with some Thorntons' Chocolate Buttons I'd eaten long before I got around to this photo!)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman from Hanna, which I have already finished and will be reviewing this week.
  • House of Secrets - Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini which Rhys got me to help with my/his reading of YA...
 I promise I have now finished with both the photos and the exclamation marks :-) But you can see how it needed to be blogged about because it was epic!


  1. Wow, super jealous of the Neil Gaiman book! And the Nora (even though I bought one of them). And VERY glad I didn't buy you the Steinbeck, which I NEARLY DID in the bookshop across town, because that would have been an Ellie/Laura spooky coincidence too far. :D

    And I'm jealous of the Roald Dahl awesomeness, especially getting to see the memorial bench and his grave, and Benji looks SO SCRUMMY in that hat, and OH MY GOD Miss Honey's Scones and Bogtrotter Cake sound amazing. Well, the first one sounds a bit rude, but that's probably just me and in no way appropriate for discussing a beloved children's book character.

    And I'm also jealous that Hanna got to meet you both and you got to meet Laura, though clearly Chelsea needs to be exchanged for Charing Cross Road and/or Soho next time for some proper shopping. :)

    1. I thought that about Miss Honey's scones as well! Glad it wasn't just me! I totally read Benji Fantastic Mr Fox in the car on the way home though, he seems to be a fan :-)

      Charing Cross Road would have been so much better for books!! Plus that's the bit of London I actually know. In Chelsea we were just getting to junctions and taking a vote on which way to go next. Clearly the best way to navigate London...

      I'm jealous that Hanna's got to meet you loads and Charlotte! Next up needs to be a big meet up I think so we can all stop being jealous of each other!!

    2. Oh, good, it wasn't just me! I'm sure Roald Dahl would have been proud, he clearly had a good sense of humour... ;)

      We did pretty well in Leeds, so it's a good place for a meet-up I reckon. We hit The Works, the huge book section in HMV (good for classics/cult novels/current bestsellers/music memoirs) and a bunch of charity shops - we didn't even make it into Waterstones! Oh, and WHS in the station, which had a sale on. :D

  2. Gaaaaaasp, that Roald Dahl place looks so so excellent! (BOGTROTTER CAKE!!!! Actually... that's kind of a gross thing to say about cake. Hm.) I still can't believe that Ellie and I managed to basically get you ALL THE NORA without getting THE SAME NORA, it is both ridiculous and excellent.

    And OMG we must be the same person because *I* was like 'Omg, have I been really quiet and loserish and they think I wasn't enjoying myself and ARGH?!' So basically I think we both need to stop thinking and stuff? Yeah, that. And anyway, after that I was just like meh, I had a LOAD of fun anyway, so who cares?! :) :) :)

    1. I always worry that I've talked too MUCH and maybe accidentally said something stupid at some point. I always talk more when I get comfy and a bit giddy... :)

  3. Wow - you did have a great birthday weekend! The Roald Dahl museum is wonderful; what a treat to have it close enough to visit.

  4. The Roald Dahl museum looks amazing - I've picked a leaflet up for it before, but it looked like it was difficult to get to by public transport - I'd love to go though, I love his books and it looks like it'd be fun to see everything else, too. Glad you had a good birthday!

  5. After we'd walked round in a massive circle, through a bit of a rainstorm in Hyde Park and countless cyclists had dinged their bells at Hanna for walking right on the very edge of the cycle path - seriously, her foot was just about touching the white line at the far edge...

    I swear I went home and had nightmares about ringing bells... *twitches uncomfortably*

    I know I've said this to you on a million different formats now, but I had a GREAT day and you DO NOT talk too much. I can't wait until you and Laura come to Leeds :)

    The Roald Dahl place looks amazing. Heck, even the outside of the building looks Dahl-y! (as an offside, I swear I've never said the word 'heck' before in my life...)