Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Hugly and The Missing Carrots

It's been a few months since I last posted about Hugly and Friends, and a lot has happened in that time. To recap, the project started out as a crowd funded venture between myself and two friends, Sam Frith and Ian Hamilton, with the overall aim being to encourage children to engage more in outdoor activities. The initial stage of the project was to produce a children's storybook that also doubled up as a cookbook, whilst providing seeds and instructions for growing one of the ingredients that forms an integral part of the story. I'm happy to say that we met our £8000 target (largely down to the hard work put in by Sam and Ian, whose commitment and infectious enthusiasm for the project pulled in backers from all walks of life) which enabled us to complete the first stage of the project – namely the production of our first book in the Hugly and Friends series, Hugly and the Missing Carrots. (now available through our Hugly and Friends website, and through Amazon).

The characters in this and future books are based upon cartoon creatures that I created, which Sam (who also inks the artwork) and Ian then took as the raw material to build the stories with, and create personalities for. Although Ian and Sam basically created the world of Hugly and Friends, it soon became apparent that something also was needed, which is where the fourth member of our team came in – writer, Gemma Appleton, who took the initial idea/draft and gave it her magic touch.

It took a lot of work to get this first book to the point where it was ready to go to the printers (self publishing a children's book is definitely a learning curve) but we all pulled together, and although I'm sure that later books in the series will be a bit more polished, we are pretty pleased with the way it turned out – and feedback from parents, children, and businesses has been amazing.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot has happened since my last blog post about the project, so I'll fill you in on it – although you might also want to check out Ellie Spanswick's article about our project, as it features conversations with both Sam and Ian, who share their thoughts on the potential negative impacts of too much screen time in their children's lives. Yes, I know, we're all starting to sound like our parents!

Me, admiring the Sweet Peas at River Cottage (photo by Holly Howe).

Right from the start there was support for our project from TV chef/environmental campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall so it made perfect sense that we would have our book launch at his River Cottage HQ on the Devon Dorset boarder. The event went amazingly, with a band playing, locally produced food and drinks available, and it was attended my nearly 100 adults and children.

Myself, Sam and Ian, at River cottage (photo by Holly Howe).

As well as a fantastic book launch, our project has received an amazing amount of publicity. Vanessa Feltz gave the book an outstanding mention on the 'Gardeners Guilt' section of her BBC Radio 2 show. Sam and Ian, along with Sam's two young daughters, were also interviewed this week on Penny Smith's Talk Radio show. This, plus various newspaper articles, has helped spread the word of what we are trying to do, and now we have our book stocked in places such as The Eden Project in Cornwall, Kew Gardens in London, the Rare Breeds Centre in Kent, and two-star Michelin chef Simon Hulstone's Torquay restaurant, The Elephant. Interest in our project seems to be growing by the day – in fact we have been offered a free stand at tomorrow's Vale of Glamorgan Agricultural Show, by our generous hosts, Philip Vowles and his daughter Gail.

Vanessa Feltz, on her BBC Radio 2 show.

To keep up to date with what's going on with the Hugly and Friends project please feel free to checkout our Facebook page, and to get hold of a copy of 'Hugly and The Missing Carrots' you can either go to our Hugly and Friends website or order it on Amazon.

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