I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
My latest Drawing School offering, follows a request from Tom Greenfield, who I met at Blundell’s School recently. I have drawn Rhinos before both in the Just So Story, How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin and also in my Millie and Bombassa books (one of which is being prepared for the iphone – more of this later).
It’s hard to decide what the drawing should look like. I suppose the cop out would be to promote Millie and Bombassa – maybe I’ll do that drawing lesson when the iphone app comes out.
Being asked to show how to draw something like a rhino makes me go and look at rhinos again. I think I often draw what I think a Rhino looks like, but when I really go into it, I realise what extraordinary things they are. Drawing a rhino as a rhino, i.e. without clothes on, makes me follow the lines and really understand that their heads are huge and that parts of their faces are not in the places that you might think they are.
There is nothing like observing and drawing to get to really understand how something works, otherwise we half look and make assumptions.
Sometimes I think I’m only now getting to grips with drawing. I suppose I’ll still be thinking that when I’m ninety two.
Is it just me or is the sound on the X Factor rubbish? The music is far too loud so that we can’t hear the singers.
When Dermot is introducing the programme the backing music is so loud and he is so far back in the mix that it is hard to hear what he’s saying.
Often, one of the acts does a duff performance and the judges think it’s brilliant. There is something going on in the studio that does not come across on the TV.
Stacey was so far back in the mix this week, I thought she was out of tunen most of the way through – I don’t think she was though.
The classic Pumpkin has eyes and teeth cut right through to the inside. But by carving shallow cuts into the flesh, more complicated patterns can be made. I did this with my little pocket Swiss army knife. I had to cut each swirl twice, a cut on each side of the line. Next year, I might see if I can get a better carving tool. and be a bit more adventurous.
The kind of pumpkin is important. Some have very thick skins and tough flesh inside. This one was nice – it had quite a soft skin and nice dark colour to contrast the light inside.
We crossed the river to Berkeley Castle last night, to watch the Rococo Players perform A Winter’s Tale, an very good they were too. The Great Hall made a wonderfully intimate space for such a performance and brought us up close to big, human emotions.
I found it odd that my daughter could be so engrossed in the Shakespeare, with all it’s difficult language and want not to watch Jeremy Kyle on the same day. The people on Jeremy Kyle were horrible, doing horrible things to each other, but the more I watched the Shakespeare unfold in front of us, in close up almost touching distance, the more I saw similarities between the protagonists in both Shakespeare’s and Kyle’s productions.
Kings and queens have more elegant language and make larger gestures because they can, but the Family feuds and structures on Jeremy Kyle are exactly the same as those found in Shakespeare.
What would Shakespeare be doing if he lived now? He’d be watching Jeremy Kyle every morning, that’s for sure, and probably working in reality TV.
That’s why Shakespeare is still so relevant – The first quarter of an hour is hard, as the ear gets used to the language, but soon we are absorbed by all our petty family stories writ large and repeated generation by generation.
Not been to Berkeley Castle before. It was wonderful in the night, prettily light up with bulbs rather than spotlights. We must go again in the daylight and see what it looks like.
Prince Edward has put his foot in it about the The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
He says that the possibility of death makes it more attractive to youngsters. Of course he is absolutely right, but was probably a bit insensitive in the way he said it. The parents of those killed while aiming fro their award are still grieving.
But the fact that you can die is what makes the award mean something. I remember being a teenager myself and wanting to pit myself against nature. I wanted to sleep in snow holes and survive in the mountains. I never got to do it for real, but I understood the thrill of the danger and learned all the skills that would help me to survive.
The point is, that the kids are meant to be trained to survive and not die. Tragic accidents do happen though. If you keep them safe at home, they can still fall off ladders poison themselves with salmonella.
Teenagers need to test their boundaries and it’s a harsh cruel world out there.
I had my Annual walk with my friend, the crime fiction author, Andrew Taylor, yesterday. We over do it once a year and today I’m feeling a little stiff. We must have walked ten miles or so.
Starting out just below Staunton, in the Forest of Dean, we walked up to the Kymin Naval Temple that looks down on Monmouth, where we headed for lunch in a pub. I don’t know what the people next to us were eating, but I’m not sure it was dead! Made my stomach feel a little heavy as we headed off upstream along the river Wye footpath.
It was glorious, the beech and the oak turning a riot of autumn colours. We stopped into the tiny Dixton Church for a look around. It seemed to be inhabited mostly by the Griffin Griffin Family who sound like they should be put into a book. A new, carved oak organ loft has been put in, at some expense, I should think, It’s a bit fab and ready to last another 500 years or so – if the floods don’t get it first.
We crossed back over the river on the Biblins Footbridge, which is very squeeky, swayey and I’m a celebrity get me out of here-ish. It was getting late by this stage and we hightailed it back up to Staunton. Luckily Andy’s sense of direction was perfect. we went past the Suckstone, an enormous slab that looks like a crashed spaceship, and the wonderfully named Far Harkening, a cliff that, I imagine, acts as an amplifier when calling across the valley.
As ever, we resolved not to leave it so long next time. We do have a route planned for next time, so maybe we will do it sooner rather than later.
Please vote for the Pink Car Rally coach to win the bling my coach competition by voting for them here
The Pink Car Rally is in aid of a fledgling children’s charity, called the Little Princess Trust, which provides children who have lost their hair (primarily through cancer treatments) with ‘real hair’ wigs. If we win this competition, we can take 49 pink passengers on the coach and if each one raised an average of £50 Sponsorship, we could raise in the region of £2500 for the charity!! How fantastic would that be? It means that the charity could provide wigs for 8 more children!! We NEED to win!! Please help us…..
Please look at the short film, which is introduced by Gail Porter, on the Little Princess Trust’s website (www.littleprincesses.org.uk) It tells the story of how the charity helped Melissa….
I had a wonderful day yesterday, at the Hadley Learning Centre in Telford. It is an extraordinary Cathedral of Learning, comprising both Secondary and Primary Schools with Nurseries, Children’s Centre, Library, and Arts and Leisure centre, all built in a huge, circular donut of a building.
The Library is fab, with a huge wall of glass facing the inner circle. I was looked after by a fantastcalyy enthusiastic team who had been working hard to promote the day, which was part of The Big Draw. It was such a busy day, I forgot to take photos.
I gave a couple of talks. One about Viking Vik and the other about Monster Boy. After reading a story I showed how to draw the characters. I was particularly pleased that so many of the adults joined in and had a go too. I got to talk to all sorts of people about drawing. Some brought artwork in to show me too.
There were lots of other things going on, lots of sticking and glueing. The Dance studio was converted into a forest full of furious activity where wild creatures were drawn and created to populate the woodland scene. Great fun.
A wonderful success – due, as ever, to brilliant organisation and enthusiasm from the Telford Library Crew. Many thanks to you all.
My 83 year old mother has just been filling in the form to get a bus pass. Of course they want a photo, which is fair enough, but why, oh why do they need to ask for her ethnicity?
No doubt someone, somewhere is being paid to collect the statistics and present pretty graphs to others, who are probably being overpaid for doing unnecessary jobs, so that they can prove that they have done their job and pick up their pay checks at the end of the month. Racism as a job creation scheme.
Frustrated that the Summer Reading Challenge fades out at the start of the new school year, he wanted something more permanent and continuing and so has adapted the Read a Million Words idea, that started in the US and was then transferred to Bristol and Wales (where I was also involved).
Children are encouraged to read a million words, (that’s like the entire Harry Potter collection) and get prizes and encouragement along the way at significant marker points. Words can be read anywhere – in books on posters on the back of cereal packets – and can be added to with special offers like 500 words for bringing Dad to the Library. It builds a deeper and more long lasting relationship with the Library than a quick summer scheme.
RAMW has been used mostly in schools so far, so John is experimenting with its use in a Library situation. Children seemed very aware of the scheme and there are already quite a few millionaires. By the time they reach that status they are pretty much in the habit of reading, but the brilliant children’s team in Pool are working hard to find ways to go beyond the million words with millionaire’s clubs and events.
When you talk to John, you soon find out how passionate he is about the scheme and the need to keep children reading as well as watching TV and Playing computer games. Learning to read powers up the language part of the brain like nothing else and promoting a love of reading is key to a successful education.
Good luck to all working on RAMW in Poole and more power to your elbow. I hope that your hard work will be noticed by other Libraries who will build upon it and give children elsewhere the opportunity of becoming RAMW millionaires too.