According to Winnie the Pooh, “when you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.” (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/97211-when-you-see-someone-putting-on-his-big-boots-you)
Well, I’m getting ready to pack my own Big Boots ready for this northern hemisphere’s summer adventure. After a lot of a lot of research (thanks hugely to my step-dad, Michael Gibson for all his work) I have a rough itinerary of where I’ll be visiting on my pilgrimage. A colleague in the Children’s Literature Hub which I am lucky to belong to said that my journey to the homes of, and sights that inspired, classic British children’s authors was a pilgrimage, not just a journey. The more planning I do, the more I realise she’s right. So where am I going?
Although Agatha Christie wasn’t a children’s author, she’s one of my all time favourites and I read her at the same time as I was devouring Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, so her summer home is first on the list.
I loved the Lone Pine books by Malcolm Saville; then I went to live in Shropshire and my Mum still does so I’ll be taking some amazingly beautiful walks on the Long Mynd and other hills where the Mortons first met the rest of the Club.
I’ll also visit Oxford to be inspired by an Alice in Wonderland Walk and see where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis lived and worked. From there I travel to Kingsclere, the location for Watership Down. Many years ago, as I student, I was fortunate to host Richard Adams when he came to Keele University to speak, so this is particularly special for me. I also want to visit Crowlink (E Nesbit’s final resting place), Bateman’s (Rudyard Kipling’s beautiful home), the original 100 Acre Woods, Great Maytham Hall which inspired the original Secret Garden, Cookham (Wind in the Willows land) and Great Missendon, location for the Roald Dahl Museum. If I can manage it (and I’m quite worried about fitting all this in, I must admit) then I’ll visit the pub frequented by Enid Blyton, go to the Harry Potter Experience and have a peaceful few days in the Lake District, home to Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and Beatrix Potter herself.
Will I get to all these places in the time I have (and I’ll say up front that I’m not the world’s best at following directions, parking and all the other skills a travel writer ought to have) – that’s anyone’s guess. But I plan to have fun trying!