I have just returned home from a two and a half week trip to England where I was part of a children's literary ramble (pilgrimage) and in Scotland where I was on a writer's retreat. My journey began in Edinburgh were I met up with eleven other children's writers from the US and Japan. On the first day, we visited Seven Stories in Newcastle Upon Tyne, which is the national center for children's literature. After lunch, we drove to Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame, and though we arrived after closing, we walked along the muddy paths to see the 1000 year old tree. The curled branches of the ancient trees do give the forest a mystical feel. That evening we lodged in Stoke Rockford Hall Castle in Grantham, which was just stunning (see photo).
The second day, we had a private tour of Lucy Boston's Hemingford Grey, Green Knowe who wrote The Children of Green Knowe, The River of Green Knowe and numerous other books inspired by her environs. She was a master patchwork craftswoman and we were able to see rare patchwork "quilts" that she created.
Next, we visited Leighton Buzzard to walk a children's path and see the home of The Borrowers. Afterwards, we drove to Great Missinden to visit the Roald Dahl museum. Though the museum is small, it is rich with information and artifacts. We relaxed and had high tea in the Missinden Abbey where we spent the night.
The third day, we went to the Rivers and Rowing Museum at Henley on Thames to see the Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows exhibition in a lovely diorama. Next we drove to The Kiln's outside Oxford to visit C. S. Lewis' house, and we stayed in the dorms at Oxford University. I had forgotten what it was like to be in a dorm! We had a free afternoon to roam around Oxford which was beautiful and we were able to see students dressed in their caps and gowns and covered in whipped cream, which apparently is a ritual used to celebrate the finishing of exams.
Next up, Harry Potter!
Stay tuned for the other stories of our trip. I need to get catch up on sleep and paperwork now!