To bosky Cheshire, for the second Denzell Gardens Literary Festival, which takes place in the grounds of a Hogwartian country house. It's the sort of event that makes you feel that all is right with the world - face-painting, cupcakes, button-making and Pimms (the last of the year, I fear.) I was on after Adam Perrott, whose antics involving foam, balloons and safety glasses had the children in a rollicking good mood; he is the author of a book for 5-8s called The Odds, which features a family of Meddlers that enjoy causing trouble. I won't spoil the surprise; but let's say that it was explosive.
I read passages from The Other Book and The Liberators, introducing a more sinister element. It feels a little strange reading from The Other Book as it was so long ago (well, four years) - it's amazing how much you change and grow in relation to your own writing. It was very enjoyable, even when a very small child wandered onto the stage and stood just by my chair, gazing up at me. I almost asked him if he wanted to read.
The other events included Tom Williams, who gave a talk about his excellent biography of Raymond Chandler; I didn't know that Chandler was an alcoholic, and seemingly such an unhappy man. Signe Johansen was in conversation about her new book, which tells us all how to bake Scandi-style - and she provided some meltingly delicious cinnamon buns. It's not just herrings and rollmops (I'm not sure what they are) you see.
Adam O'Riordan, the poet, who shares two things with me - one, we were both at Oxford together; the second is that we've both been called "Byronic" in print, (with more appropriateness in his case, perhaps, I feel) – gave a gently powerful reading of some poems from his collection In the Flesh. His first novel is due to come out soon.
In between events, a young singer called Jim Caesar-Goddard performed his own songs. Imbued with a kind of scuzzy melancholy, and with wit and intelligence, he held the room entranced; watch this space, I've no doubt he'll be going far.
There were more talks, more Pimms, more tea; the whole thing was rounded off by the best fish and chips I've had in a long time - although I didn't sample the mushy peas. There was a definite North / South divide when it came to the mushy peas.
An enormous thank you to the organiser, Clare Stuart, for putting on such a good show. I've never seen such excellent bunting. Long may Denzell Gardens live.