Tidy Bag

Wombles spotted on Wimbledon Common

Haydon the Womble waving at Wimbledon Village Fair

“Look, a Womble!” … “There’s a Womble!” … “Wombles!”

It was a pleasure to hear such fond cries as Haydon the Womble pottered around the Wimbledon Village Fair on the corner of Wimbledon Common. Young children were entertained by his playful antics, while grown-ups took it in turns to have their picture taken with a Womble.

The nearby AFC Wimbledon stall was piled high with football club merchandise, including a range of Haydon toys in various sizes, as well as badges, keyrings and fridge magnets. While I picked up a couple of new items to complete my Haydon collection, the staff chatted about the long process of getting licensed merchandise approved, and wondered what type of items to produce next - notebooks or pencil cases perhaps.

After discreetly following Haydon around for a while, I stopped off to enjoy Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show before having a wander round the rest of the fair. Passing assorted craft stalls, I spotted a toy Orinoco and headed straight over to investigate. I found a small table of books, where I was surprised to see an Uncorrected Proof copy of the new edition of The Wombles, which will be released in November. Sadly it wasn’t for sale, but I was able to flick through it - however, the new-look illustrations weren’t there yet, replaced by plain grey boxes as placeholders.

As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, a real live Orinoco Womble emerged from behind the stall, and started singing ‘Underground, overground, wombling free…’ (though like most people, he tailed off when he reached the line about ‘Un-cle Bulgaaaria…’).

This mysterious Wombles-related stall was in fact promoting the Wimbledon Bookfest, a nine-day ‘celebration of books’ in October. One of the festival’s events will be a Wombles Launch Party for the new books, with a workshop for children, on Saturday 9 October at 10am. The event will be held in the ‘Big Tent’, a Bookfest marquee on Wimbledon Common, near the war memorial. Tickets will be on sale soon - keep an eye on the Bookfest website.

Family Fun Day

There’s another chance to meet Haydon the Womble on Saturday 3 July, at the Paul Strank Family Fun Day in aid of Children in Need. The Family Fun Day takes place at South Park Gardens in the centre of Wimbledon, from 11am to 5pm.

AFC Wimbledon will be launching its new kit, modelled by the first-team squad on the main stage at 2pm, and Haydon the Womble will be having a tug of war with Pudsey Bear, Children in Need’s mascot, at 3pm.

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