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Posted by Kate, October 1, 2012

Busy weekend: Bath Festival of Children’s Literature, Mumpreneur Conference… and the German exchange student

The weekend started early.

If it’s Saturday, it must be Bath

On Saturday morning, I was on the 6.50am train from London to Bath Spa for an event at the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature. I have somehow managed to wangle myself a new position: I have become Axel’s storytelling sidekick at what have become rather nifty Pip and Posy events, while he draws the pictures that the audience requests. Dom had driven up the day before with the Pip and Posy costumes so I had the train ride to perfect my rodent impersonations. I love these events. We try to make them as interactive as possible, and I really enjoy the random nature of children’s responses. When Posy snatches Pip’s scooter in Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter, I asked the children whether that was a good thing to have done. We broadly agreed that it was not, but, when asked what Posy should have done (say “Please”, of course), one child suggested that she should just have asked where he got it, and bought one of her own. At the end, we asked if there were questions because there was a microphone being brought down. After some hassle, we got it to one of the children in front whose question was… not a question at all, but the announcement, “I got a microphone!”. The best picture request was for the gruffalo in a bath with Pip and Posy. I thought I did rather well in my part-time storytelling role… but perhaps not quite as well as I did at the Hay Festival, where two people asked me if I was Julia Donaldson.

The signing queue was huge (and not the swiftest moving of queues, because Axel draws a little picture in every book he signs), and then Pip and Posy went off to Bath toyshop My Small World. The photo shows them outside Bath Abbey.

If it’s Sunday, it must be Warwickshire

On Sunday morning, I took the slow train to Warwickshire to the Mumpreneur UK conference. On the one hand, the slow train meant that I knew I’d miss the beginning of the conference, but, on the bright side, it enabled me to knock my presentation on our experience of setting up a business into some kind of shape. I was privileged to win the top Mumpreneur award last year, just nine months into our publishing, so they’d asked me back. I hope it was useful to the assembled mumpreneurs and mumpreneurs-to-be. They laughed a lot, anyway.

Many congratulations to the 2012 Inspiring Mum of the Year, Rena Nathanson of Bananagrams.

It was interesting to have the opportunity to listen to Claire Young (nicknamed “Rottweiler” when she appeared on The Apprentice). She’d left her 12-week old daughter to attend the conference, and I guess I was struck by what an early stage she was at in her working mum journey. She spoke, for example, about her determination to take on a speaking event ten days after she’d given birth, and I was reminded that I had, myself, done the “Caesarean shuffle” into work (and it wasn’t even my business) carrying my two children in a Moses basket six days after having each of them. Looking back, I cannot begin to imagine why this felt like a good plan, or what I was trying to prove. I should, of course, have been ensuring that my intestines didn’t spill out, while sitting on a sofa eating chocolate Hobnobs and getting to know my babies, just as any normal person with the privilege of being able to would do.

Without question, my own favourite speaker was Liz Fraser, a mum of three teenaged/tweenaged children, who had all the robust humour and honesty of having been round the childcare-and-work block many, many times.

And, in other news, the German exchange student had arrived on Saturday. I hardly saw her. I suppose she’ll return to Germany with a sense that I am a Crow-obsessed mother, if not a Rabenmutter!