So why was it "Odd"?
Well, for starters we had to go the "big city" AKA Cardiff on the train. It is two hours from where we live in Carmarthen and so we don't do it very often. it has to be something. *special*. This was special.
Also we were going to have a slap up meal at a restaurant, something we only do once in blue moon. So that was a treat to look forward to.
So why were we venturing to Cardiff, I hear you cry? For the Cardiff Children's Literature Festival, of course! It was being held at Cardiff Castle, so we got free admittance to the castle (saving us £12.50 each!) with our ticket to see the event. So who were we going to see? I know you are dying to know so......drumroll please...
OK, you may not know him by name. But you should. And you will after this. He is a children's book writer and illustrator extraordinaire and all round nice bloke.
So as that chirpy Julie Andrew's song goes....Let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start.
We left Carmarthen station around 10 and settled in for the two hour train ride. Spiderman had his book and I had my i-pod and we spent the entire train ride pretending to be these two cockatoos and giggling.
We arrived at the big city and had a quick alfresco lunch courtesy of M&S and then wandered to the castle. As I said earlier, we got into the castle for free (AM DDIM!) so we wandered the lovely grounds soaking in the (rare) Welsh sunshine. At 2pm, we were admitted into the "Undercroft" which was a slightly musty, rather echo-y, dimly lit underground room with a whole gaggle of munchkins.
As per usual, we were the only adults without kids, but that never matters to us. We had as good of a time (dare I say even better?) than the kiddos there. The set-up was well thought out--hard chairs for the grown ups and lots of scatter cushions on the floor for the children to lounge about on.
Now a bit about Rob Biddulph. We love his books. Especially this one.
I mean, who doesn't love sausage dogs, right?
So he started by showing a slide show that as a grown up (but a kid at heart) I found fascinating. He talked about himself as a child and how he loved to draw. He showed some of his early illustrations. He took his favourite book characters and wrote new adventures for them and then stapled the paper together to make it a "proper" book. Me too! I wanted to shout. I did that, too! My early years were consumed with writing books about Dorothy Gale and her comrades in Oz.
He then did a directed drawing for the kids. I wanted to do too, but the lady handing out the clipboard with the paper and pencil wouldn't hand one to me because I didn't have a child with me. Hrumph. My inner child would have liked one, thank you very much. Anyway, he helped them draw the bear from his terrific book GRRRRR! Then he read it aloud with audience participation on the growling bits!!!
Then he taught us some useful pirate phrases and he read us from his book Sunk starring our old friend Penguin Blue and a host of other animals.
Can I just say there were some *excellent* pirate-y jokes. Someone (Cough! Cough! not naming names here) thought they were terrible...but what does he know? he never laughs at Christmas cracker jokes or the Panto. Are you ready?
Q: What is a Pirate's favourite letter of the alphabet?
And the captain of the sunken pirate vessel was called Walker Plank which made me squeal with laughter and made Rob Biddulph glance over in my direction.
Anyway, the talk was excellent and after we queued so he could sign our books. He was so generous and signed it with a beautiful flourish of his fountain pen despite being left handed (How does he do that??? All a fountain pen gives me is a smeary blob of ink!)
He even drew us a sausage dog hula-hooping!
I had made him a gift as well. It had started as an idea for a badge, but the dog was so long I couldn't make it work, so it morphed into a "thing you can hang up."
He seemed genuinely touched by it and said he would hang it in his studio!
After our lovely encounter with a wonderful illustrator, we toddled on to Zizzi where we had gluten free pizza with vegan mozzarella cheese followed by vegan coconut and chocolate swirl gelato which was lush. It was such a treat to get a meal and a pudding in a restaurant!
Then we waddled back to the train station and took the 6pm train back home. On the way, just as we were arriving back into Carmarthen, the sky was the most breathtaking shades of pink and lavender.
It truly was the perfect end to a perfect day. Nothing odd about that.