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Acknowledgements This book could not have happened without the super-human ef orts of a great many people. I am especially grateful for the advice and support of Richard Atkinson, Natalie Bellos, John Gordon-Reid, Steve Carpenter and Mark Skipworth.

I’m also incredibly grateful to the team at What on Earth Books, all of whom have played a role in making this book happen.

Ali Glossop, project manager, has lived and breathed Absolutely Everything for months. Without her co-ordination and total professionalism, it could never have happened.

Assunção Sampayo, designer, has thrown herself into every detail of this book, making sure its pages pulsate with energy.

Andy Forshaw, art director, has been my wing-man, illustrator and greatest of friends for over ten years. None of this would have happened without you.

Nancy Feresten, publisher, has edited, mentored and chaperoned this story all the way from the Big Bang to the present day, transforming it from a pedestrian caterpillar into a soaring butterfly.

I am also hugely thankful to Justin Poulter for a fantastic cover and to Patrick Skipworth, Catherine Brereton, Brenda Stones, Michelle Harris, Felicity Page, Emily Krieger, Cynthia Wolf, Justine Taylor and Vicki Robinson for photo editing, fact checking, indexing, glossary writing, copyediting and proofreading. Without all of this support, the book would be a terrible mess. Of course, any remaining errors are mine alone.

Jen Hedley and Lucy Allen, marketing mavens, are hard at work right now making sure – with incredible creativity – that the book reaches its audience. And without an audience, there is no point to any book. So, thanks to you, too.

Thanks to the ever-dependable Helen Jones who oils our wheels, making everything run smoothly. I am so grateful!

And without Bob Worcester’s huge enthusiasm and support for all we do at What on Earth Books, this book (and many more to come) would not, and could not, have happened. Thank you.

I am hugely indebted to my parents, Angus and Wanda Lloyd, who have given me constant support and shown unrelenting interest in all my endeavours over the years.

I dedicate this book to my fabulous girls. Were it not for Matilda getting bored at school all those years ago, she, her sister Verity, their lovely mother Virginia and I would never have spent five wonderful months together in a campervan travelling around Europe. And I would never have done all that open-air washing up, which ultimately led to the idea for this book!

And for our home educating adventure, my wife Virginia gets the credit. Not only has she been the most fabulous mother, but she is also the most supportive, loving wife anyone could wish for. I can’t thank you enough.

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