Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Sky Hawk Scottish Book Tour begins....

After an author visit to St Gregory's RC Primary School at the Stratford festival, I packed my bags, climbed on a plane and headed north to Scotland, to Edinburgh. It was an amazing flight, taking a route across the Black Mountains, over Liverpool, across the Lake District and then on to Edinburgh. It was a real bird's eye view of Britain. The taxi driver from the airport gave me a mini tour of the city and pointed out all the sights.

This one is Bobby Grey Friars...a little dog who faithfully stayed by his owners grave after his owner had died. Bobby's grave is in the little churchyard too and people have put balls and sticks there instead of flowers...just what he would have wanted, I guess.

I can't believe I've not visited Edinburgh before...it's such an amazing city...built on an old extinct volcano...(inactive, of course) ...Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline from nearly everywhere you look.

I hope I get chance to visit the castle. I also want to go on a ghost tour....hmmmm, maybe on my last day here.

Monday 9th May:
My first school visit, accompanied by Julie from Blackwell's and Jennie and Stevie from Oxford University Press was to Craigour Park Primary School...a really modern school, only eight years old. It was really light and airy. The pupils were great, and a teacher showed me something amazing one of the classes had done...they had all worked together to make their own picture book...they brought in student artists and designers, looked at marketing books...and they are getting their book published...fantastic!!! I wish I'd found it that easy. It's called 'Liam and the Alien'...and it's all their own idea. I'll be putting in my order at Blackwell's after their launch.

After a posh prawn sandwich (on the packet it said, 'crayfish a la mayonaisse') overlooking the queen's palace of Holyroodhouse, I set off to the second school visit of the day, to Broughton Primary School. This school was much older...Victorian? but I'll stand to be corrected on that. But it too, was light and airy, huge ceilings and a massive playground.  I thought Stevie was going to join in a game of football, but I said we had a book tour to do! The pupils knew loads about wildlife. They had so many questions that I didn't get to hear all them. It's a shame we didn't have longer. There were fantastic displays on the walls of the classrooms...I learnt alot of Scottish words too. We also got to see into the inner sanctum of the staff room, where I did spy an empty packet of chocolate biscuits!!!

Tuesday 10th May:

Another busy day. Chris Newton and Heather joined us from the Scottish Book Trust and we were very lucky to be joined by David Andersen from the RSPB too. It's always great to have an expert on board.

We set off to meet the pupils of Royal High Primary School. They were all keen to join in the interactive session, including a very good albatross impersonation. David from the RSPB then talked to everyone about the amazing work at Loch Garten and how the ospreys there have 24 hour surveillance. Then David also told me about his job...up in the highlands studying wildlife, going out into the Moray Firth to watch for whales and dolphins...what a great job!

After a short drive to Queensferry and a mozzerella toastie, we visited Echeline Primary School.
Here I am by the Forth Bridge. David was looking out for birds all the time and spotted an eider duck flying across the water.

The pupils at Echeline Primary School have been very busy setting up a display all about birds...how fantastic. They'd even made their own bird hide, and had brought in feathers and all sorts of stuff. They had a fantastic display of birds on the wall of their classroom. We couldn't use the school hall...but went somewhere better instead...their school museum...imagine that...a school museum! They knew loads about birds and wildlife. It's great to see children and schools getting so involved. We had a live webcam to the Loch of Lowes and David told us all about the osprey nesting there...The Lady...she's more than twenty years old! 

After a great day at the schools, Jennie and I went for a walk up to Arthur's Seat...a peak on the edge of the Holyrood estate. The view was fantastic...360 degree view....my only disappointment was the lack of the promised ice cream van half way up. 

Off to Glasgow tomorrow for an interview with Big Issue


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