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Philip Ardagh at the Luton Hoo Walled Garden Festival

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Last Sunday I had the HONOUR and PRIVILEGE to escort Mr Philip Ardagh, fresh from his sickbed, to the Luton Hoo Walled Garden Festival.

Our contact there was the lovely Charmian Allwright and books were provided by Sheryl and Morag from The Chorleywood Bookshop (and I HAVE to mention their two cocker spaniels – aaaaah-dorable!). And on the train up we met Guy Parker-Rees – ROAD TRIIIIIIIP!

The walled garden as a venue was absolutely beautiful and the atmosphere matched it – enough people to give a great buzz, but not so many that pushchairs became unwieldy. Pretty perfect for a children’s book festival. Throw in the brilliant Jane Simmons, Alex T Smith and Jackie Morris – with Mr Ardagh – and you have a pretty atmospheric signing tent, too.

On arrival we were escorted to the author’s green room and presented with a HOMEMADE banquet – quiches, cakes, brownies, flapjacks and I don’t know who made those meringues BUT GET THEE TO THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF. You’ll win it.

Owing to Philip’s hearing still being on the mend (but improving every day, I’m delighted to say), I made my debut as a ‘Human Microphone’ – Philip would single out a member of the audience with a question, send me to them, they would speak their question/comment in my ear … AND I WOULD SHOUT IT AT PHILIP.

I have to say, I loved it … even when Philip decided I needed more exercise and purposefully chose children at opposite ends of the audience. Quite often.

Philip, as he will tell you himself, was marvellous. As were the audience. Although I personally think they could’ve been sat closer together…

As we headed home, Philip quite tired but rightly pleased with his first back-to-health event, it definitely had the feel of a rather lovely day out. So, if you’re in the Luton area next year, treat yourself to one and go.

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