Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer holidays are finally here which probably means and end to the nice weather we've been having, but hopefully not.
On Monday I spent the day visiting libraries in Flintshire to help launch the Summer Reading Challenge - it was great that Vicky was able to come along with me too. In the morning we visited Mancot Library and in the afternoon we went to Mold and then Buckley Library. 

When you visit libraries during school holidays you never really know how many people are going to turn up... I've been to libraries where there have been lots of people and I've been to libraries where hardly anyone turns up. I try not to get too worried if not many people turn up as I've been to listen to very well know authors in libraries and have been surprised to find only a handful of people in the audience... There's a few reasons why this can happen but I'm not going to go into that now. I was thrilled to see so many people turn up to hear my sessions at all three libraries - it was great to see a couple of familiar faces and wonderful to meet see so many new people too - adults and children.  

This years Summer Reading Challenge is called Creepy House. The artwork that has been done to advertise the challenge - as well as for the goodies, posters and certificates - has been done by the wonderful Chris Riddell.
As well as doing a few monster and creepy house related things (along with my other books) we had a little Wrap Your Mummy contest in two of the libraries where two teams had lots of fun wrapping each other up to look like Mummies. 

It was a roasting hot day - phew!!! - but it was lots of fun... A big thank you to everyone that came along and joined in with the fun and thank you to Flintshire Libraries for inviting me to take part.

I hope everyone has a great time reading their books and completing the challenge... wish I could take part as there are some really cool goodies this year for everyone that does... including some disgusting scratch and sniff stickers poooooh!!!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Castles in Wales - Hawarden Castle

I said a little while ago that I was planning to write a series of little diary entries about Castles In Wales. If you don't live in Wales you probably wouldn't believe just how many castles there are here... it seems that almost every town (and lots of villages) have a castles either in them or close by.

A couple of weeks ago Vicky and I went to visit Hawarden Castle. The castle is only about ten minutes drive from home, on the  the estate of former British Prime Minister William Gladstone. From the top of the castle you get a great view of what was once his house...
The castle itself is only open for a few hours on three days of the year - so it's not an easy place to visit. We had the date down in our diary for quite a while - fortunately, it was a lovely sunny day so we didn't miss our chance to go. 
Hawarden castle has played important roles in the history of Wales over the years - probably most notably during the wars for independence during in the 13th century - and during the civil war between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians in the 17th Century, after which the castle was all but destroyed for fear of it being used again as a stronghold.
I'm not going to go into detail about the castle's history here because there's lots of information on the Internet and in books about it. It would take me ages to go into detail. A good place to start looking is this website all about Welsh Castles... click here to go and take a look. 
It was great having the chance to look round the ruins of the castle - especially as it has been left almost untouched, unlike other castles that you can visit. This makes it interesting but it also means you have to be careful when walking around. As a writer it's good to be able to visit  places like this as it can help fill your imagination. I wonder who was the last person to step through this ancient door? I wonder what lies on the other side of it??

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Happy Birthday

Today is the 5th Birthday of An Awfully Big Blog Adventure... an excellent blog with posts from lots of great authors. It's packed full of news, reviews, advice and lots more - all about Children's Books and Writing.

Today there's even more reason to go and visit the blog than usual... There will be posts from lots of authors and even a message from Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman.

If you hurry you might even be in time for some cake...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Anyone for Tennis?

This must have been the hottest weekend we've had for ages... On Saturday morning I spent an hour or so taking rubbish to the tip... We had lots of wood from the old fence that needed getting rid of... lots of fun...

Then we had a bath, a coffee and a yummy bacon buttie before heading off to the supermarket for our weekend usual food shopping trip. Afterwards we went for a little drive around and visited a couple of our favourite places...    The Bridge Inn, and the Alyn at Rosset... for glasses of cool, refreshing lemonade :-)

On Sunday we visited a friend to celebrate her son's 16th birthday and then we came home and soaked up the sun in the garden... before steeping outside though we pulled up our chairs and got a front row view of Andy Murray as he battled it out against Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon Men's Final...
I'm not a great fan of spectator sport - I'd rather play or not bother - but hey!!! What a fantastic match it was. All respect to Andy for defeating Novak and all of his critics by taking the men's singles title. It was good to see Andy smiling during the game too - almost as though he knew he had it sorted right from the start. Don't know what I'm talking about??? just look at his face between some of the rallies - win them or lose them - looked like he was having fun

More writing and book news coming soon... watch this space...

Friday, 5 July 2013

Patron Of Reading

Yesterday I called in at a lovely little school in Old Colwyn (Colwyn Bay) - North Wales - where I am going to be (or I am) the Patron Of Reading... Ysgol Tan Y Marian.
Things will be kicking off properly in the next school year but it was wonderful to have the chance to call in for an hour to see the pupils and teachers at the school so that I could say hello... it was especially great to be able to meet all of the children that are moving up into year three too as they were there to visit the school at the same time.

The school is situated above everything else in Old Colwyn and there's a great view of the bay...

Monday, 1 July 2013

A Day Together

Working from home can be great... it can also be hard work though. It's difficult making sure you give enough time to the writing that needs doing as well as the other non-writing, but still work related, tasks. And it's even more important to get the life balance right because it's so very important to make sure you get to spend quality time with the one you love, so I was delighted that Vicky was able  to take a day off from work on Thursday last week - we planned to spend the day together so we could do lots of nice things. The weather during the week had been lovely, and we had spent lots of time either at work or working on the garden so we thought Thursday should be spent together...

As you might expect, it rained on Thursday... we weren't about to let this ruin our day though so after getting up early (6am - can you believe that!?!?!) we had a nice cup of coffee, a crumpet with cheese on top and a nice bath, got ready and set out on our lovely day together... we totally ignored the fact that it was raining. I won't mention the weather again...
People often complain that there is nothing to do but they often miss the things that are right on their doorsteps... often things that other people travel miles to see - so we decided to set out on a little tourist trip around Flintshire... there's lots of places to visit and lots of things to see in Flintshire and we only called in at a couple of them.
First of all we visited Flint Castle... There are hundreds of castles in Wales, more (I think) than any other place in the world (though I might be wrong). We see so many castles here that I'm going to start a blog feature all about the castles that we stop off at on our travels around the country ... Flint Castle will be the first in the series - so come back soon to see more up to date pictures and to find out all about the castle and about the important role it has played over the years.
The next place on our tour was St Winefride's Well in Holywell. Pilgrims have been visiting this site for hundreds of years - click on the link above to visit their website and find out all about St Winefride and the well.
The Well was housed in the shrine you see can above at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Outside is a pool where visitors can bathe - to the right of the pool you can see the crusader style tent/changing rooms where you can get changed if you fancy a dip. We arrived a little to late too take the plunge ourselves brrrrrrrrr!!! though it was a bit chilly so we didn't complain.

After leaving the well we had a little walk along by the old Mill Ponds and past the remains of the old mills... as we walked we spotted some hungry little Coot chicks... As it was so wet we decided not to walk very far though but we will certainly be going back to walk or cycle further. 
Before heading off to find somewhere for lunch we thought we would call at Mostyn and take a look at the TSS Duke Of Lancaster... The Duke of Lancaster was a railway owned steamer (passenger only) ship that operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway between England and Ireland - before car ferries were introduced. The ship has been grounded at Mostyn for years now and has been used as a "Fun Ship"... the ship has been left for quite a few years but now there are plans to turn it into the country's largest open air art gallery... Artists have been busy painting the outside of the ship recently though it was too wet for us to get a really good look - we will go back soon to take more pictures....
We had a lovely day together - had a little lunch and went home for a nice hot bath to warm us up... then had a yummy tea... That's all for now... I need to get some writing done so please come back soon to find out what I'm up to....