London, Switzerland, Lake District - Travels With My Art
So where were we? If it was last Friday, then I must have come to the end of a week when I'd visited schools in Milton Keynes, Sutton Coldfield, Birkinhead, Milton Keynes again, then Dartford in Kent, and on Friday night I was off to Brick Lane to do a Socks preview gig, setting off home at midnight and getting to bed at 3 in the morning.
Which means Sunday was the start of the proper travelling. Sunday morning (April 29 now you're asking) I flew to Geneva, and from there took the train ride to Villars Sur Ollon for two days of classes at Aiglon College. This is the same alpine ski-ing village I'd visited a couple of years ago, working at a different school to which I'll be returning later this month. This time the weather was good so I got some marvellous views of some rather impressive alps which, of course, look like nothing at all when you try and photograph them.
The school days were lovely, textbook, with Aiglon taking the prize for Best School Dinners ever. When the fish and chips includes a pea puree instead of mushy peas, and desserts are the work of a five star pastry chef, you realise you're in a place where the words "wasted on kids" have no real meaning. Annual fees are 111,000 Swiss Francs, or £82,000. Once more I come home realising I could have charged more.
No sooner had I got back home (after a flight that was supposed to go at nine o'clock and ended up setting off some time after eleven, frustratingly short of the three hour mark after which they have to pay you compensation) than it was time to set off on my travels again, this time to the Lake District. I knew I was to do a school there on Friday, paid for by DC Thomson who had given me as a prize in a Beano competition. When I worked out it was going to be a 6 hour drive to get there, I realised I was going to have to use up all of the day before to get there in time.
Therefore it was the most fortuitous stroke of luck when Authors Abroad, the lovely people who'd just taken me to Switzerland, rang up asking if I could do another school in the Lake District. So it was that, at one day's notice, I did a bonus half day at Arlecdon Primary near Cockermouth.
Hev and I set off at 6 in the morning, getting to Cockermouth for midday, and I did a half day at the school (they only have 34 pupils, so half a day was all they needed), and we stayed over. The next day, as planned, I did the full day at Beckstone Primary near Workington, and then it was off on another long drive. A swift and uninterrupted 5 hour drive to Milton Keynes which, given that this was the Friday before a Bank Holiday, and a sunny Bank Holiday at that, was quite remarkable.
After a night at the Holiday Inn in MK, which is becoming a bit of second home, this is the 3rd or 4th time we've stayed there, it was the 90 minute drive to London for a Top Secret assignment. I've actually signed a Non Disclosure Agreement about the job I did, which involved quite a few hours of sitting around chatting with my fellow Beano creator Nigel Auchterlounie, after which the two of us did something which involved drawing a couple of comic pages which will be appearing in some form or other later in the year. I look forward to filling you in on all the details sometime in October or November. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek.
I shudder to think how many miles I've driven in the last fortnight. But, for the record, here's my list of destinations from the past month:
Wellingborough, Milton Keynes, Chingford, Potters Bar, Walthamstow, Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire, Malvern, Milton Keynes again, Sutton Coldfield, Birkinhead, Milton Keynes yet again, Dartford, Brick Lane London, Geneva & Villars Sur Ollon Switzerland, Cockermouth, Workington, Fleet Street London and home.
Next week I take it easy with a school in, would you believe, Clevedon. Then, of course, it's the Isle of Wight, then Switzerland again, but let's think about that when we have to, eh?