Out and About.

June has been and gone already! Time is flying by at lightening speed maybe because we have been so busy with work and a London trip- more of that later…

Much of my time has been devoted to promoting “White is the Moon”; this has included a very nerve-wracking telephone/radio interview. A school visit and a book shop signing.

Let me tell you about the school visit first. I was invited to attend a Literary Festival at The Excel Academy in Stoke-on-Trent. Of course I enlisted the help of my husband Tony, a retired advanced skills teacher. We had five one hour sessions with year seven pupils, each session involved an introduction to my books and then a workshop where the children tried their hand at writing and illustrating. In the short time allocated they produced some interesting adaptations inspired by “White is the Moon”. The children were well behaved, imaginative and co-operative. We had some very interesting questions about publishing and illustrating; all in all an enjoyable day. You can see some of the work they produced below. I have to confess by the end of the day I was exhausted!

The shop signing was by invitation of the beautiful and historic Nantwich Bookshop.
This event coincided with a school festival in the town centre so the place was buzzing with visitors. The shop gave me a window display and a table inside where I displayed my books, old and new. They very kindly plied me with cups of tea and toasted teacakes! Like many bookshops nowadays they sell food and drinks, pre-loved and new books and host many events. The day was a success and we sold lots of books and I met many customers, children and book lovers. I hope to return before Christmas; by that time my latest venture should be published. This time an illustrated gift book by a famous writer, more of that soon...

June wasn’t all work, as I mentioned earlier we had a London visit, which was a mixture of cat sitting and sight seeing. We also saw many friends, family members and spent some very special time with our two grandchildren. We did lots of walking as the weather was kind and visited two very different houses.

One was a National Trust property in Chelsea, former home of historian Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane. I especially enjoyed reading some extracts from Jane’s letters where she writes about the trials of house keeping and hiring servants. The house is still very much a home and has many personal effects. The artist Helen Allingham was a frequent visitor and painted the rooms and their contents some of which are displayed on the walls. She also painted a portrait of Thomas, which you can see, here-

After our visit to the house we spent some time in the lovely enclosed garden and planned our next visit.

The next house was very different, much less a home, more of a place to entertain and impress. Chiswick House is a magnificent neo-Palladian villa. The gardens at Chiswick are said to have been the inspiration for the gardens in New York's Central Park. Our time was limited and the sky began to grow dark, conscious of our long walk home along the river we had to cut our visit short.

We also had a trip to the theatre to see Les Miserables, something I have wanted to do for ages. It was a spectacular performance, Probably the best musical ever!


  1. 'Busy' sounds an understatement for how your life has been Valerie. It all sounds so exciting.
    I am interested in your collaboration with Susan Hill as she is one of my favourite authors - I shall look out for the book.

  2. Seems as if you had the most rewarding time.
    Yes, I'm quite sure the teaching was exhausting - but worthwhile.
    I gather you had quite a chat with my sister in law about books. She is lovely but a chatterbox!
    Summer greetings!

  3. Ooh wonderful, I wish we'd had the opportunity to do something like that when I was at school!

  4. Many moons ago I did some work experience doing a craft project with some school children, and I remember how exhausting it was - they were really fun and enthusiastic but hard work! Looks like you are having a busy, but very productive summer though, and visiting some interesting places!

  5. Valerie, I am thinking about how fortunate those children were to have you spend so much time with them. I imagine that quite a few will now be encouraged to do more drawing and writing!

    Oh, that book shop does look charming, and of course, reminds me of a certain Ludlow hotel. It looks to be the perfect setting for a book signing. Grand that you'll be returning for another session.

    Your trip to London also looks like fun. I've walked past Carlyle's house many times, but never thought it possible to actually enter it. Maybe next time....

    Yes, your summer is a busy one. i'm so glad that much of that busy-ness is pleasant, too.


  6. You do get about a bit :))) Some lovely visiting, I helped out in the art class at a local school for a few weeks, and was exhausted after each afternoon, so can sympathise. I would love 'les mis' too, but probably would sob too much! :)

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your meeting with Isla Gladstone on my blog. As I said in my post I've not been able to find out a lot about her which is a shame.

  8. School visits are so exhausting,but the children can be delightful and full of imagination and ideas. Still, I would much rather sit in a lovely historic book shop, as you did, and enjoy a leisurely time with customers. Now, I am very interested in discovering who the famous author is for your new book!

  9. That looked like it was an exciting trip! Reading your blog has been such a thrill.

  10. Lovely post. Chuffed for you about the book sales. Do please let us know when you'r back in the bookshop pre-Christmas and I'll pop along to do my Christmas shopping.

    Totally agree about Les Mis. I saw it during its first ever run at the Aldwych and have seen it twice more since. I love that show.