The highlights included an extremely entertaining debate between children’s writers Helena Pielichaty and Penny Dolan (Penny arguing in favour of fantasy in children’s books, whilst Helena championed reality), a wonderful talk by former Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo, and a moving presentation by ex-Royal Marine, Pen Farthing, who not only managed to rescue a large number of mistreated dogs while serving in Afghanistan, but has also now set up the charity Nowzad Dogs to continue the good work. You can read more about Pen's experiences (and help the dogs by doing so) in his brilliant book, One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Helmand.
I also very much enjoyed Martin Brasier and Emma Darwin's fascinating joint event, which was ostensibly concerned with Charles Darwin and the Cambrian explosion, but turned out to be incredibly wide-ranging, covering everything from fossils to metaphors, by way of the Wars of the Roses! I was delighted to get my copy of Emma's latest book, A Secret Alchemy, signed afterwards and greatly look forward to reading it - the first paragraph has me hooked!
The train home to Paddington was sweltering, though thankfully not as crowded as the one up to Oxford two days beforehand had been, and we arrived back in London to discover that the Hammersmith and City Line was closed for 'engineering works' - grrr! Despite these hitches, however, nothing was able to dampen my spirits after such a great weekend - nor to dissuade me from going again next year!