So far 2017 has been a Year of Moving Around for me. In the early months I had a very interesting visit to my old primary school, Lum Head in Cheshire. The layout of the school was just as I remembered it and the hall looked much the same as in the early 1970s when I left.
I told the children a few of my memories including the moment when during a performance of the Pirates of Penzance in front of a hall full of parents I accidentally knelt on a drawing pin which had fallen out of my home-made pirate’s sword. Ouch a lot!
A couple of months ago I was in Selby for the first ever Selby Children’s Reading Festival. This featured hundreds of children from across Selby visiting the town’s majestic Abbey to take part in workshops and presentations all around books. I was one of the authors involved and it was a totally superb three days. Well done to organiser Christina Gabbitas for securing enough funding for every child to get a free book! It was without doubt the most beautiful venue I have ever performed in.
After that it was a case of jumping on a plane (with multiple delays) and flying off to magnificent St Petersburg having been invited to visit the Cambridge International School by the wonderful Miss Wendy. I was really impressed by the preparations – there were posters everywhere and the children were very excited. Despite snow, ice and freezing winds I managed to see a bit of this glorious Russian city on the edge of the Baltic.
My next trip was MUCH warmer – about 43 degrees to be precise! I was invited to Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in UAE. Wow, the sun blazed down at about 38ºC and the sky was clear blue every day. I took a trip into the desert and visited three schools including one Indian school where the welcome was quite overwhelming. I was given flowers, chocolates, an elephant and a bell! The elephant was a small pottery one in case you’re wondering.
The timing of this visit was tricky as I was in the middle of more travelling – this time moving house! After over 30 years in beautiful North Yorkshire my wife Barbara and I decided that we wanted to be nearer our son and his family in Cheltenham so we sold up and moved to lovely Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Forest of Dean. The new house certainly has a lot of character… (as well as bits falling off): On top of all of this I have a new book out! The Anti-Boredom Book of Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do is number 5 in the popular ‘Silly’ series and it’s full of great ideas for ways to have fun outside. You can read all about it here.