Sunday, 30 June 2013

They grow up too fast........

I am such a proud Mum.  My daughter attended her High School Prom last night with her friend who she has been friends with since they went to first school together.  I can't believe they went from such little cuties to such grown up and beautiful teenagers and they are still firm friends.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Beautiful Barcelona

My husband and I had a wonderful time in Barcelona for our 20th wedding anniversary and I can highly recommend a city break in this marvellous city.

Thanks to our good friend S, we were told about a brand new Travelodge that would be opening in Poblenou by the time we arrived, so we got an excellent price by booking ahead.  We loved the clean and ergonomically designed rooms which work well for the short stay customer.  Breakfast is of a high standard and there is a good choice for both continental and full.  Also, the Travelodge is conveniently located near to bus routes (right outside the door or just around the corner), tube stations and train lines.  The only thing I would improve on for the Travlodge is the key card for the room, in that we had to go to reception every two days to make it work again (we were staying for five nights) and as it worked the lifts and entrance to your room, and it did get a little frustrating as we were staying longer than the average guest.

We visited the Castle at Montjuic and the Olympic sites on our first full day and on the way back we took the cable cars down to the harbour, which was terrifying for me as I have a fear of heights. We finished the day with a early evening on the beach as it was a short walk from the Travelodge and had its own mini 'Las Ramblas' on the way back.  It was lovely to listen to the myriad of accents and relax after the rush of the train and tube to get us to our destination.

It was fortuitous that bus 141 finished at a stop very close to the Museum of Art (just down hill from the Castle) so it was a perfect route to both Sagrada, Arc de Triomph and Castle Montjuic/Olympic/Art Museum (as it passes them all en route) could be caught from around the corner and drops you off right outside the Travelodge door on return.  It is much better to look from the windows at the architecture surrounding you, rather than being squished into the hot tin can that is the tube.

For our second day we went to La Sagrada de Familia and as we were walking, we had fun spotting it from the various avenues leading to it and then losing it again the closer we got to it, because of the high buildings surrounding it.  Then we visited Gaudi Park and had a wonderful time in the sunshine traversing the gardens.  We also paid entry into the house, but I have to say the entrance fee does not match the contents of the house, though the short snippets of historical information are very interesting.

For our third day we took the 141 to the Museum of Art and had a wonderful time perusing the many works of art and taking copious pictures of the building and fountains.  We had another beautiful sunny day, so we finished off with a walk down Las Ramblas, taking in both Gaudi houses and the Cathedral, before a little more time on the beach.

On our last full day, we visited Cortes de Ingles and took a leisurely stroll in and out of the many designer shops just off Las Ramblas, before walking to the harbour to take in the yachts and the statue of Columbus.

We found that the aerobuses that can be caught outside Cortes de Ingles for just over 5 euros and take you to the airport (either terminal one or two) are far more pleasant than the tube.  Both get you to the airport in a maximum time of 35 minutes and you can store your cases properly in the air-conditioned buses, not to mention you pass the fountains on the way so you can appreciate a last look at this scenic city as you leave it.

Here are just a sample of the many photographs I took:

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

New Writing North

Having received my eNewsletter, I thought I would share the following information with my followers:

Cuckoo Review spreads its wings
We’re very pleased to announce that Cuckoo Review is spreading its wings to cover Yorkshire and the North West too. That means if you’re an aspiring arts journalist, aged between 15-23 and live in Hull or Leeds or Bradford or Carlisle or Manchester (or anywhere beyond or in between), you can now sign up to be a Cuckoo Reviewer. To get involved, young reviewers need to fill in this online form and they will be added to the mailing list. For more information, check the Get Involved page on Cuckoo Review or email
Cuckoo summer school in Alnwick
Alnwick Playhouse: 27-29 August, 11am-4pm
If you’re based in Northumberland and know a young writer (aged 12-19) who loves to write, why not suggest they sign up for our Cuckoo summer school at Alnwick Playhouse? The summer school will last for three days and every day will focus on a new genre or writing style, from scripts to dystopian fiction (and even a bit of photography too)! Workshops will be led by professional writers and will be suitable for all young people, from beginners to more experienced writers. For more details and to sign up, go to
Following the summer school, we hope to establish a new fortnightly young writers group based at Alnwick Playhouse, which will join our family of Cuckoo groups already established in Newcastle and Hexham. If you’re interested in attending the fortnightly sessions but can’t make the summer school, email to register your interest.
Creative writing group for teachers
We’re now recruiting for our creative writing group for teachers. which meets twice a term at the Lit & Phil in central Newcastle. The group is suitable for primary and secondary school teachers, and participants take part in writing workshops led by professional and experienced writers. The course starts in September 2013, with meetings throughout the school year and costs £75 per teacher for the full year. For more information and to book, see
Stolen is new North Tyneside Summer Read
Rebecca Muddiman’s debut crime thriller Stolen has been selected as this year’s summer read by North Tyneside Council in partnership with New Writing North. The book is available for a special price of £4 in libraries and council buildings across North Tyneside, and there will be a special author event in September to mark the end of this year’s programme. For more information, see
New Writing North secures Arts Council England Strategic Touring Funds
New Writing North is delighted to announce that it has secured funding worth £167,065 over two years from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund to support the production and touring of two new shows for young children and families to community venues across County Durham as part of Durham Book Festival.
The first show, which will tour this autumn, is a musical adaptation of My Granny is a Pirate by award-winning novelist Val McDermid. The show for family audiences will tour to community centres, libraries and schools across County Durham, with particular emphasis on areas that currently have little or no access to performance arts activity. It will also be performed in Manchester and in Sheffield as part of a partnership with other book festivals in the North.
You can read more about this project here.

Tony Williams launches Roam to Write
Northern writer Tony Williams is embarking on a new short film called Roam to Write which explores the relationship between dog-walking and the writing process. You can find out more and watch the film at
New poetry competition: What’s Your Place?
Holland Park Press are inviting authors to write a poem about a neighbourhood that’s important to individuals. It could be your home, the place you grow up, a motorway or a railway station – any place that defines neighbourhood. The competition is about the take on a place and individual vision that uses literary form but also offers something more. The prize is £100 and publication in the Holland Park Press online magazine. Closing Date 31 December. For more details see
Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy launches Fellowship programme
A new programme has been set up to find entrepreneurially-minded graduates to be part of its fundraising fellowship programme. It offers 11 graduates the opportunity to take part in an intense 12-month training scheme based throughout the UK with the hope that in the future these figures will go on to be leading development directors of art organisations. Applications close Monday 1 July. For more information see
Arvon: Writing the Game evaluator
Arvon is looking for an experienced evaluator to work with the Arvon team to identify the outcomes and measure the aims of Writing the Game projects. Application deadline: Thursday 27 June. For more details see
Commissions for Brass: Durham International Festival 2014
Brass International Festival covers a fortnight of diverse events in July and is looking for creative practitioners based in England working in any art form. Application closes Tuesday 30 July. For more details, see
The Listening Post
There are more literature events on our website in the Events section, but here’s a bit of a taster:
Michael Chaplin: Tyne View
Live Theatre, Newcastle: Saturday 29 June, 5.30pm
Tying in with its theatrical adaptation by Live Theatre, Michael Chaplin will be signing copies of his book Tyne View (published by New Writing North) and talking about his work. For more information see
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham
Part of the Lindisfarne Gospels, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham is a sketch-based show covering more than 1,400 years of history which tours the North East from 2-21 July, kicking off with a four-day stint at the Gala Theatre in Durham. For ticketing and venue information see
Rosemary Goring: After Flodden
Tea and Tipple, Corbridge: Thursday 4 July, 7pm
Rosemary Goring is literary editor at The Herald and Sunday Herald. Her debut novel, After Flodden, is a historical novel set in 1513, rich in history, political intrigue, adventure and romance. Tickets £5 including wine and nibbles from
A celebration of the work of Frida Kahlo
Voodoo Café, Darlington: Saturday 6 July, 7.30pm
Poet Pascale Petit and sound artist Michael Hann celebrate Frieda Kahlo’s birthday. Tickets £5. For more details, see
Michael Morpurgo: Jo-Jo the Melon Donkey
Queen’s Hall, Hexham: Sunday 14 July, 4pm
Michael Morpurgo talks about his new book Jo-Jo the Melon Donkey in an event for families as part of Hexham Book Festival’s Words Across Northumberland programme. Tickets £8/£6 from

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival

Well I am back from Barcelona and I had a wonderful time.  The weather was kind and we managed to fit in all the sights - even if I did, and still feel like I did, walk for about 7 hours each day.  I will post a potted review of my trip (including details of the brand new Poblenou Travelodge Barcelona and some pictures) in a later post.

Whilst I was away, I received some very informative emails about writing events that I will be posting the details of for my followers and I thought I would start with this one, as the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival is on at the moment:


Rosie Garland

performing with

The Palace of Curiosities Theatre Troupe


Upstairs @ The Birchcliffe Centre, 5pm £8(£6)


Roll up! listen to poet Rosie Garland read from her luminous and bewitching novel, hailed by Sarah Waters as ‘A jewel-box of a novel’!

Marvel at the delights in the Victorian cabinet of mysteries with all the atmosphere, wonderment and fun of a Victorian travelling fairground curiosity sideshow. 

“... reminds me of Angela Carter.” Jenni Murray


“Gentlemen and Ladies! How happy I am to welcome you to this Palace of Curiosities on such an auspicious occasion.  What luck! What serendipity! For tonight we have mirth! Wit! And Jollity! See The Lion-Faced Woman and The Marsyas of Modern Times, Star Attractions at Professor Arroner’s Astonishing Marvels!”


About the author:

Born in London to a runaway teenager, Rosie has always been a cuckoo in the nest. She is an eclectic writer and performer, ranging from singing in Goth band The March Violets through touring with the Subversive Stitch exhibition in the 90s, to her current incarnation as cabaret chanteuse, incomparable compere and electrifying poet. She has published five solo collections of poetry and her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologized. Rosie won the inaugural Mslexia Novel Competition in 2012, and The Palace of Curiosities is her debut novel.



Tickets from the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival box office or online



Saturday, 15 June 2013

Man of Steel film review

Went to see Man of Steel with the family and our good friends C, M and H today.  We are all big superhero film fans (except maybe my daughter G and H) and were very excited to see the reboot, and with IMDB reporting that: 'After one day, the return of Superman is already faring better than Superman Returns. Warner Bros.’ $225 million franchise reboot, Man of Steel, took in a blazing $44.1 million on Friday. Including the $12 million earned on Thursday through corporate screening programs, the film has a $56.1 million,' we knew it was going to be good.

Henry Cavill (Stardust, The Tudors) stars as the Kal-El/Clark Kent aka Superman and he does an excellent job in filling the big mans' shoes.  Russell Crow (A Beautiful Mind, Les Miserables) plays his father Jor-El and Ayelet Zurer (Munich, Angels and Demons) plays Lara Lor-Van.  Amy Adams (Catch Me If You Can, Enchanted) plays Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Apocalypse Now) is Perry White.  Kevin Costner (Robin Hood, Waterworld) plays his Earth Dad Jonathon Kent and Diane Lane (Jumper, The Perfect Storm) plays Martha Kent, his Earth Mum.  Fine performances from all the cast secure the film as one of the best superhero films in terms of action and acting.

I loved the way that Director Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch) zigzagged between past and present and that there were a couple of Easter Eggs for keen-eyed fans.  The backstory was established well and the fight scenes were 'butt-kicking,' as was Michael Shannon (Premium Rush, Vanilla Sky) as the big bad General Zod, he was perfect (I have never seen a face so perfect for angry acting).

I was also very pleased to see at the closing of the film that they have dropped the iconic 'glasses' act - you have to watch the movie to see what I mean, you won't regret it.

A film so good it never got a promotional tagline:                        10/10         #ManOfSteel

This is my last post for a while as I am going to Barcelona for a few days with my husband to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary.  I will be back on the 21st and will be posting after this date.  Our friends C and M brought us a lovely anniversary gift to the cinema, which was very personal and creative:

See you soon x

Friday, 14 June 2013

New Writing North

Just received my latest newsletter from New Writing North and thought my followers may like to know the details:

Vacancy at New Writing North: Marketing and communications manager
(Maternity cover from August 2013 for up to one year)
Deadline: Friday 21 June

We are looking to recruit a temporary member of staff to cover a period of maternity leave. The marketing and communications manager performs a key role within New Writing North, encompassing the devising and delivery of both corporate objectives and project-related marketing and PR. The post reports to the chief executive and the postholder will work across the organisation with other senior staff and programme managers and with external stakeholders and project partners. For full details and to apply, see
Bloodaxe Books archive returns to Newcastle University
Thirty-five years ago poetry lover Neil Astley set up his own publishing house from an admin office on the Newcastle University campus. From these humble beginnings, Bloodaxe Books would become one of the most important contemporary poetry publishers in the world, giving a voice and in many cases a break, to leading writers, including Simon Armitage, Helen Dunmore, Tony Harrison and Benjamin Zephaniah; major figures in world poetry such as Mahmoud Darwish, Miroslav Holub and Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer; and Newcastle University’s own Bill Herbert, Jackie Kay and Sean O’Brien.
Now, three and half decades later the university has acquired its archive and Bloodaxe Books is returning to the place where it all began. The university has just taken delivery of the first part of the archive and is starting the long task of cataloguing it. It is hoped that the archive will be available for reference within two years. For more information, see
University of Sunderland Students’ Union: Freelance events producer
Sunderland University is looking for an organised, inspiring, creative individual to help programme and produce a range of events over the summer period, culminating in Freshers’ Welcome Week. Deadline: Wednesday 19 June. For more details, see
Newcastle City Council Arts Development Team: Community artist
Newcastle Arts Development team, Culture and Creativity Advisor and the Healthy Schools team are interested in developing an art project linked to the Healthy Schools Plus programme currently running within Newcastle. Deadline: Friday 21 June. For more information, see
Writing groups and workshops
Workshop: The short story
Lit & Phil, Newcastle: Saturday 22 June, 10.30am-12.30pm
Looking at what works and what doesn’t with short stories. Workshop led by Mslexia Short Story Award winner Beda Higgins, whose first collection, Chameleon, was part of the Read Regional campaign. Free workshop, no booking required.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Kirklees Library events June 2013/Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition

Just received the Library Events programme from Diane Green of Kirklees Library and I thought my followers would be interested in the information:

·        Write out Loud.  Wednesday 19th June 7.30-9.30pm at Marsden Library.  £2 inc refreshments. Popular open mic poetry group- a friendly and supportive bunch hosted by Julian Jordan.  Whether you write your own or bring along a favourite poem or just come along to listen you are most welcomed.  If anyone can remember the theme for the month please let me know as I have forgotten!

·        Tuesday 25th June, 1-2.30pm at Huddersfield Art Gallery we are very lucky to bring you Damian Barr author of Maggie and Me: Damian Barr tells stories. Some are true. Some just might be. 

He is a journalist, Radio 4 playwright, Host of the Soho House Literary Salon and cultural entrepreneur. In 2006 Hodder & Stoughton published his book about the quarterlife crisis. ‘Get It Together: Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis’ was serialized in the Times and featured on Richard & Judy. 

Damian made headlines from the New York Times to the Times of India for his pioneering role as the world’s first ever reader-in-residence. He now spends a month a year living in hotels reading stories aloud to guests. He’s been a celebrity judge for the Orange Prize and runs reading holidays in the UK and abroad - see

His recently published memoir of deprivation and survival Maggie and Me is shrewdly constructed and written with a winning dry humour.  Maggie & Me is a touching and darkly witty memoir about surviving Thatcher's Britain; a story of growing up gay in a straight world and coming out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the iron lady.

Tickets at the bargain price of £2 are available at any Kirklees Box Office 01484 223200 or on line at


·        Wednesday 26th June, 7.30-9.00pm at Golcar Library.  Meet author and Sherlockian David Stuart-Davies.  Davies has written extensively about Sherlock Holmes, both fiction and non-fiction.  He is the editor of Red Herrings, the monthly in-house publication of the Crime Writers' Association

Tickets £2 from Golcar Library or any Kirklees Box Office 01484 223200 or on line


·        Thursday 27th June 7.30-9.30pm at Huddersfield Town Hall we have a treat for poetry lovers.  Jo Haslam and Cristina Navazo- Eguia Newton with poetry performance from both interspersed with flamenco hondo singing from Spanish born Cristina. 


Tickets £3/£2 Kirklees passports from both Marsden and Slaithwaite Libraries and any Kirklees Box office tel 01484 223200 or on line at


·        Wednesday 3rd July, 7.30-9.30pm, Marsden Library £2 including refreshments. Marsden Storytelling Club is now Marsden Yarn Spinners. Come and tell a tale, play a tune, sing us a song, or simply listen and enjoy!  This is a small, welcoming group who love a good tale. You are most welcome to join us.  This month, hosted by Ana Trillo, we present the second half of the brand new tale by Tim Padmore: The Boy and the Big Block of Ice.  A committed climate change campaigner Tim has woven a modern tale with Inuit and other traditional arctic fables.  Not to be missed! The first half was fantastic and we cannot wait for the second instalment- a resume will be available. There will still be an open mic session as well.  The 1st Wednesday of every month.


·        Wed 10th July, Judith Barrow at Slaithwaite Library 7.30-9.00pm.  Her latest books Pattern of Shadows and Changing Patterns are based in Oldham and Manchester during and after WW2.  Mary is a nurse at a prisoner of war camp, her brother a conscientious objector; this is a family saga to be recommended. “The story is a rattling good read; the bleakness of the era is offset by black humour and decent people.”

Tickets at £2.00 will be available from the library 01484 222555 or on line.



From Batley Writers; we have Poetry in the Park at Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury on Saturday, July 13th (1.30), and Saturday, October 5th (1.30). The theme is The Seasons-Summer/Autumn

Lend us your ears- an evening of verse and music.  Friday 21st June, 7.30pm at Millbridge WMC, Liversedge WF15 7ER Tickets are £5 and are available by calling 07900 695873. A Kirkwood Hospice appealFor more details:

Rhyme and Reason: another opportunity for poets to submit a favourite poem is this weekly diary which is packed with short stories and poems in aid of the Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice Care.  For further details visit

Wordquake and East Riding Libraries present…
Bridlington Poetry Festival 2013
Friday 14 – Sunday 16 June
Three packed days of poetry performances, workshops, talks and film screenings in the beautiful cliff-top setting of Sewerby Hall, two miles north of Bridlington.
Now in its fourth year, Bridlington Poetry Festival 2013 welcomes poets from the East Riding of Yorkshire, from across the UK and around the world. This year’s 30 performers include Jackie Kay, Jo Shapcott, Don Paterson and Festival Patron Ian McMillan.
This year sees the launch of the Bridlington Poetry Festival Summer School, an intensive creative writing programme for a maximum of 12 participants alongside the Festival programme, led by renowned poets and tutors Daljit Nagra and Pascale Petit. With accommodation in a sea-front hotel, participants will enjoy morning classes together, afternoon one-to-one sessions with the tutors, a free pass to all afternoon and evening Festival event and an exclusive performance by their tutors.
The Festival will also feature performances by primary and secondary students who have been working with poet Andrew McMillan in schools around Bridlington, some brilliant interactive performances for young people including Spill the Beans, a Poetry Slam Cabaret, a Poetry Geo-Cache for families in association with The Poetry Society and more than a few nice surprises...
Full details of the programme and ticketing information are available at

Call for Entries: The Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition


Aesthetica are looking for imaginative pieces of writing that push the boundaries of two categories: Poetry and Fiction. The Creative Writing Competition, now in its sixth year, offers both existing and aspiring writers the chance to showcase their work to a wider international audience. Submissions previously published elsewhere are accepted.


Entry is £10 and the deadline for submissions is 31 August.


The Winner of each category will receive £500 prize money, publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, a complimentary copy of the Annual and a selection of books from competition partners.


Visit for more information and register your entry today!


Submission Guidelines:

  • Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words each
  • Poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines each
  • Both Fiction and Poetry entries should be written in English

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Creative England

Received my latest Creative England newsletter and thought I would share the following information with my followers.  Creative England will be at The Edinburgh International Film Festival 19-30 June, the RTS Yorkshire Awards takes place on 24 June in Leeds with host David Nobbs and The Children's Media Conference takes place in Sheffield 3-5 July.

For further information, go to the Creative England website at:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Writers Centre Norwich upcoming events

Just received the latest newsletter from the Writers Centre Norwich with details of upcoming writing events.  Please find below information I thought may be of interest to my followers:

Get Writing: Upcoming Workshops at WCN

Workout for the Novel with Kathy Page
Sat 14th June, 10.30-4.30

How to Get Published: An Inside View with Agent Juliet Pickering
Sat 13th July, 11am-1pm then a one-to-one

Free Worlds Festival Readings

Tues 18 June, 4pm, Norwich Cathedral Hostry, The Weston Room
Weds 19 June, 4pm, Norwich Cathedral Hostry, The Weston Room
Fri 21 June, 4.30-6pm, UEA Drama Studio

Come along to one or all of this series of readings from brilliant international writers; perfect for students, writers, and eager readers. Taking place across three days the events offer fresh writing and inspiration and feature Rozalie Hirs, Rachida Lamrabet, Bejan Matur, Marcel Möring, Neel Mukherjee, Pedro Carmona Alvarez, Michelle de Kretser, Masashi Matsuie, Michael Emmerich, Ruth Ozeki, Tash Aw, Chandrahas Choudhury, Melissa Lucashenko and Zhang Yueran. Find out more.
The Launch of 26
The Launch of 26 for Norwich
Mon 17 June, 8pm, Free, Fusion at the Forum

Join Writers’ Centre Norwich at the 26 for Norwich launch celebrating England’s first UNESCO City of Literature and the city’s past, present, and future writers.  At the launch, which also celebrates the opening of Worlds, you can network and mingle with the local and international writers gathered, and then enjoy listening to some great stories inspired by Norwich and its pioneering writers.

Event Information | Book a Free Ticket
Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson: Between Light and Dark
Tues 18 June,7.30pm, £5/£4 conc, The Weston Room, The Cathedral Hostry

Discover a brand new side to writer and artist Tove Jansson, best known for creating the Moomins. Jansson and her work will be brought to life through readings and discussion hosted by Rebecca Swift with writer Esther Freud (author of Hideous Kinky), actor Samuel West (Howard’s End), and Icelandic writer Sjón, who recently collaborated with Björk on her Moomins and the Comet Chase soundtrack

Event Information | Book Your Ticket
Granta Norwich Launch - The Best of Young British Novelists 4
Weds 19 June, 7.30pm, £5/£4 conc, The Weston Room, The Cathedral Hostry

Hosted by Granta’s Ted Hodgkinson, meet David Szalay and Evie Wyld, two of the most promising writers of this generation. David is a “very English novelist”, who captures British culture with sympathetic precision whilst Evie Wyld’s debut impressed with its raw emotional truth, and her second novel promises to do the same. The event will include readings, discussion and a chance for having books signed.

Event Information | Book Your Ticket