Monthly Archives: October 2015

UK Middle Grade Extravaganza, Nottingham, 17th October

What a great event this was!  Somehow, the organisers (Emma Pass, Kerry Drewery, Jo Cotterill and the Nottingham Central Library team) managed to gather together THIRTY THREE children’s writers from across the country for an afternoon of quick-fire panels – four authors at a time, each talking for two minutes about their books and then fielding 5 minutes’  worth of questions from the floor.

It could have been chaotic but amazingly it went very smoothly, entirely due to the wonderful Paula who chaired the sessions and cut us off if we overran our 2 minutes, ably helped by various children who manned the giant egg-timers!

It was a lot of fun and a chance to re-connect with old friends, meet new ones and talk shop.

Oh, and I enjoyed sharing a platform with a witch!



Scattered Authors’ Lunch

Such a happy lunch at the Pitcher and Piano yesterday with fellow Scattered Authors.  The P and P is  in Cornhill, right in the middle of the City, across the way from the Royal Exchange and was an ideal venue, especially for those of us coming from the North – just a short walk from Liverpool Street Station.

There were eighteen of us – seventeen women and one brave man – all children’s writers.  It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones, exchange gossip and the highs and lows of our writing experiences.  Writing can be a lonely profession, so it is really good to get out and meet kindred spirits.

As I travelled back to Cambridge with a writing friend, we reflected on how children’s writers, as a group, are fantastically supportive of one another. Meeting together buoys you up and we both came away feeling reassured that we weren’t the only ones to experience the occasional crisis of confidence.

Thank you, Jackie Marchant (brilliant author of Dougal Trump stories) for gathering us all together.

A joyous occasion and I’m cursing myself for not taking a camera!

Magical time in Budapest

Just returned from Budapest, conscious, all the time, of the plight of refugees not far away at the borders, but oh, what a beautiful city, and what a troubled history.  It made me realise, not for the first time, how lucky we are to live on an island where we are so much less vulnerable to invasion.DSCF4577

We packed a lot into our few days – including a candlelit dinner while cruising down the Danube, a concert, taking a dip in the Gellert thermal baths, a tour round the Parliament, a squint at the Opera House, a visit to the National Art Gallery and a couple of visits to St Stephen’s Basilica. And, although there was a terrific storm one night, the days were lovely – lots of sunshine.



We also hit off the annual ‘gallop’ and watched displays from every region of Hungary, of re-enacted battles, men standing on the bottom of one horse and controlling that and another four horses with one set of reins as the horses galloped round the arena – and lots of synchronised riding. There were speeches, cannons firing and a splendid brass band, too.

The ‘gallop’ took place in Hero’s Square which had been transformed into a race track for the weekend. DSCF4559DSCF4611


It was easy to get about – by free metro and trams – and it was a delight to come upon the quirky bronze statues in all sorts of unexpected places.





Here’s a curiosity.  A 19th century cigar rest, in the corridor outside the main chamber of the Parliament!