On Saturday, Richmond was buzzing with rugby banter. Footpaths carried a heavy stream of supporters to the big match (or the pub) and just about every other pedestrian had a Kiwi accent.
I, however, was not going to the match (or the pub). I had a date down at The Alligators Mouth in a quaint, little side street a side-step away from the river of Rugby fans.
The Alligators Mouth is new independent children's bookstore in the heart of Richmond run by a friendly trio of passionate booksellers: Tony, Margaret and Mark. I heard rave reviews about this shop not long after it opened, which if I can remember rightly from my conversation with Tony, was May this year. Since opening, they've had special visits from the likes of Jacqueline Wilson, Axel Scheffler and Chris Riddell, and that was in one day!
Naturally, I couldn't wait to visit.
I was particularly excited to discover that the shop had managed to acquire some copies of the not-even-officially-published-yet GREEN LIZARDS VS RED RECTANGLES, which presented the perfect opportunity for me to incorporate the battling reptiles and shapes into my event.
Another nice surprise was a call from my friend, Jane Elson, author of award-winning A ROOM FULL OF CHOCOLATE and Carnegie-nominated HOW TO FLY WITH BROKEN WINGS, to say that she was coming to my event, which meant I had at least one guaranteed audience member!
But thankfully, I had more than one audience member. Phew! I recognised retweeters, and I met some big fans of Mr Panda, including a mother who is planning a Mr Panda themed party for her child's 1st birthday.
It was a brilliant event. I read most of my books. We took a crazy trip with The Queen across the United Kingdom, spotted the butler (and an alien, surfing police officers, Mo Farah and more) and we drew Mr Panda with shapes and letters.
After my event I bought some books for myself (of course!) before devouring an entire margerita pizza in the restaurant next door.
All in all I had a great time. What a fantastic shop!
Thank you to Mark, Toni and Margaret for having me, and for finding me a Sharpie to sign with! Thanks also to Jane for coming along (and taking photos). But mostly, thank you to all who came for making the event so enjoyable.
So, If you're reading this in London (or even New Zealand), take note, The Alligator's Mouth is well worth a visit (and so is the restaurant next door).
Below are some photos of my event, taken by Jane and Mark.