Thursday, 1 December 2011

First Mince Pie

Ok, well, not strictly speaking my first mince pie...I did scoff a few in November, but I guess the mince pie season has officially started. 

I realise that time has slipped by and I haven't written in this blog for over a month (mental note to myself to congratulate anyone who keeps up a regular daily blog). I've lost count of the number of times I've  started a diary in the New Year, but given up by about January 3rd. 

Ozwold's diary is still going strong, so if you have a look at the osprey diary, you will see Ozwold is in Mauritania at the moment. You will also see my rant about the government's U-turn on green policies. 

November was an interesting month of school visits, not only author visits about Sky Hawk but also a rather nostalgic visit to my old primary school. It's also been a month of sinking into a new story idea, researching, dreaming the story in my head and writing lots of notes and ideas and drawing lots of pictures too. It's the most exciting part of story writing; new characters walk in, characters develop and even though I have a vague idea of where the story is going, there are lots of surprises on the way. It's probably the most scary part of writing too, not quite knowing how it will all work out in the end. 

Visit to Beverley Boys Grammar School

This was a great visit, meeting year 7s to talk about Sky Hawk and to take some writing workshops. 

There were really interesting questions too, especially about the background of some of the characters in Sky Hawk. We got talking about how a writer has to know all the characters in a book, even the minor characters. The students were asking about Iona's mother's background. Although I knew Iona's mother's history my own mind, I could only give clues in the book because the story is told from Callum's perspective and he doesn't know the full story. He only picks up prejudiced comments from adults and also learns about her from his own observations. It was interesting that the students had understood Iona's Mother's background from the few details in the book.

I was especially struck by some truly fantastic art work on display around the school and was even more amazed to be shown some beautiful pastel on paper Sky Hawk illustrations completed by students in a single lesson.

So thank you to Beverley Boys Grammar school for a great day (and school dinner!...Ah! Times have changed since I was at school!)

Visit to Newbridge Junior School

School dinners (or the memory of them) brings me on to my visit to my old primary school in Bath. For their project on the history of the school, the pupils had invited ex-pupils of the school to come and visit. Whilst Beverley Grammar school has a very long history (founded 700 AD), Newbridge, by comparison is very about 100 years. However, while waiting to be shown around, I browsed through one of the log books of the school, filled out in meticulous handwriting from the dates 1939 -1974.
During the years of the Second World War there were many references to routine gas mask checks and air raids. When the air raid siren sounded, children had to ''scatter" to safe houses until Morrison shelters were built in the school grounds. Sometimes there were several air raid sirens in a day. Bath was very badly bombed and mention was made that children were late at school if there had been a particularly bad night of air raids, and even how many homes had been destroyed. Most parents, however, didn't want the bombs to disrupt their children's education and wanted their children to attend school. There was also mention of an increase in pupils of evacuees from the London Boroughs.

I was  shown around by some year six pupils. Although everything seemed to have shrunk, lots of memories came flooding back. I could remember each classroom and each teacher I'd had. Some memories may have been a become a bit hazy over time as I distinctly remember being taught by a dragon who filed her claws and wore lime green platforms. I also remembered having to sit outside the headmasters office and write out the hymn, "he who would valiant be" for talking in assembly. It was good to see the nature reserve still there. I had visions of it under houses and concrete, but continues to be a great space for outdoor learning and more importantly cooking marshmallows over an open fire.


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