Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas is coming...too fast!

I have never been so behind with preparations for Christmas! Partly its due to being busy and having no time or energy to get sorted out, but for the first time ever I feel its all too much. I feel resentful sending cards because of the postage costs-but I buy charity cards for Dystonia so its a bit of a catch 22 situation! I haven't a clue what to buy people-and feel much of it is a waste and that people won't really want it...but too embarrassed to say lets not bother in case I sound a Scrooge! Crazy really! Bah! Humbug!

On the bright side I had a cracking day at the Dock museum
http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/keen-authors-gather-for-unique-book-fair-1.1021061?referrerPath=home/2.3320


It was brilliant to meet all those authors and have a chat as well as look at their books. It was interesting to compare notes on publishing, selling and marketing. Came to the conclusion that writing is the easy 
bit! lol

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Return to London

I had a happy return to the capital city this week. My husband Harry and I were invited to an evening at the House of Lords, by Lord MacDonald of Tradestone along with other volunteer fundraisers country wide. We all raise funds and awareness for the Dystonia Society. Dystonia is the second largest movement disorder after Parkinsons but not as easily identified or recognised. We have been working hard for 15 years but its a hard task-we have to compete with many other better known conditions and good causes. Apparently things are improving in the awareness department and thanks to the Dystonia Society we are better known and there are moves to increase research. (see www.dystonia.org.uk)

It was very enjoyable and we got the chance to do a bit of sight seeing and it brought back memories of when we lived there. We had a walk in Baltic conditions along the South Bank, browsed the goods at the Christmas market and ended up at St Paul's Cathedral where we went for lunch. It was over all too quickly and whilst I wouldn't want to live there again,  it was great to visit again.
                                                                                                            
St Paul's Cathedral

Bond Street


To get me in the Christmas mood I was delighted to attend the nursery performance of my grandson Noah. He was a star as a shepherd-even if he did have an unhealthy interest in the Baby Jesus' gifts...but he sang like an angel and we spent the day together. What a lovely day and how blessed I am.

                                               View of the Lake district hills from Birkrigg


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Fairs, freezing, fighting and Faffing about

Well after the rains comes the frost...I know EH have reassured us-after sending surveyors down, that the Abbey has not suffered lasting damage after the floods...but the pessimist in me thinks otherwise. I cannot see how-when the initial problem with the foundations is due to degeneration of the oak floats, that more rain  in one day than is usual in a month is not damaging. Then fast on its heels is this ice and frost...I dread to think what is going on in the soaked foundations now! However, I will wait to see the outcome of the next meeting. I have to say I don't buy the comment "its in a valley" either-the monks definitely didn't spend 400 years paddling about in wellies...they managed the water course and this has changed...so investigations must be undertaken to see what has changed to fetch copious amounts of water straight in to the abbey precinct and cloister.

With the ice I had a treacherous journey to Whitehaven on Thursday!Twas terrifying and I was not keen to be skating off black ice... the journey took 2.5 hours instead of 1.19 as described by the AA. It was all worth it though because I had a wonderful day at ST Begh's Junior School doing my author thing! The staff and the kids were so friendly and welcoming and I had great fun!Thank you for inviting me!

It was busy busy busy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday... I had to present certificates for the "Six Book Challenge" at Jubilee House for people facing massive challenges from all kinds of issues. They were inspirational and I was proud to be there...we could all take a leaf out of their books...if you will pardon the pun? 

Embarrassingly, the same Evening Mail photographer followed me down to the Dock Museum where I joined fellow authors for another photo -publicity for the Author day on Saturday. It looks exciting because there will be 22 local authors all under one roof. I've long cherished the notion of such an event and I am delighted that the Dock Museum are innovative enough to embrace it-and it will be brilliant to showcase the local literary talent. The event will be from 11am to 4pm and authors and poets will be reading from their works.

oldest and youngest members of FAF

Saturday was hard, hard work...we had a Christmas Fair for Furness Abbey Fellowship. It was sparsely attended and we did not make much money-but it was our first proper event. 






Sunday-today was perishing cold but that did not stop our intrepid group, Comely Media and the re-enactment group Iron Shepherds and help from Bjarni Thorvaldrson a local "viking" from braving the cold to present a Living history camp. They showed medieval food, crafts and activities and gave fight demonstrations throughout the day. Thanks must go to Stuart Appley for organising and Abbey Mill Cafe for supporting us and for the warm drinks too. This is just the beginning...watch this space!
The gangs all here

Anna, Martin and Stuart

Bjarni tucking in to some lunch

Friday, 23 November 2012

Flood threat to Furness Abbey foundations

What horrendous weather! Typical topic of conversation for the English...but its gone beyond a joke this week. It's extremely worrying because Furness Abbey has been one casualty of these terrible flash floods. It is extremely concerning that the whole site was submerged and the drainage channels and streams were flowing like the river Thames!
This once again compromises the integrity of the abbey foundations. There is already major movement in the structure and I cannot see that this new deluge can be anything but devastating to the building. I am writing to English Heritage-I am sure they already know about it-but I think that the public need to express concern over this state of affairs and keep a "weather eye" on the situation as it were. We need to protect this wonderful edifice and save it for the future generations yet to be born. 


Furness Abbey under water yesterday-photo courtesy Steve Hillman
I looked at the pictures of the poor old abbey under water yesterday and cried a tear or two...I would be broken hearted if it deteriorated further and finally fell completely....and I know I am not alone in this. If you love ancient buildings...Furness Abbey in particular, please support us and join Furness Abbey Fellowship either on Facebook: Furness Abbey Fellowship or follow us on Twitter-@FAFellowship. We will be launching as a charity in new year and presenting membership packs...please join and help us to protect one of the most significant abbeys in the UK.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Its a funny old world

I am just about thawing out after a few hours in a full on draught from an ever opening door in Waterstones at Carlisle. However, it would be silly to complain, as without the ever opening door there would be no customers and no book sales...so thermal undies next time. Everyone is lovely at this particular Waterstones they can't do enough for you and make you feel really welcome. It's a busy shop too, so you get to meet lots of interesting people. However, it was a bit different today because I only had a small table and to be honest until I draped my "author" sign round the table people must have thought I was just taking the weight off my feet. I had sound advice form some customers..."You want to stand over there and wait for people to come to the table to look at the books and then... pounce!" And... "you need a big table and notice saying Author signing" (well I had a small table and notice!).

I did try to engage with my "readers" by offering smiles...often across a crowded room, leaflets "would you like a leaflet I'm doing a book signing today" and bookmarks. Reactions ranged from a nervous smile back, turning to look the other way (like when people avoid the woman selling the Big Issue), taking a leaflet and running, browsing, asking for more details and avoiding the leaflet like the plague-really, I think some people thought they might catch it if they risked taking one. I love it though because it is a fertile ground for an author. The strange look,the haughty dismissal, the eccentric response and the furtive glance-are all grist for my literary mill! So beware! Next time you encounter a signing author-you may well appear as a cameo role in their next book! Oh! And that thing about Scots being mean... its rubbish because they were definitely the best purchasers today...and I had lots of chance to chat to people from Dumfries and Annan-lovely!

A more serious note-I read my copy of the NUT Teacher magazine today (old habits die hard) and was delighted to read an article about Julia Donaldson of Gruffallo fame. She surprised me by saying that she disagrees that Phonics is a cure all to literacy problems and actually dared to fly in the face of current thinking, saying that we should adopt any means necessary to allow children to learn to read. It has long been my belief that phonics is a good tool-but not for everyone! It is just one method and would be pointless to some children who innately seem to read whole words etc. It annoys me that emphasis is on one way or the other...instead of adopting all methods-in fact it all depends on the current fashion as much as anything. When I started teaching phonics was frowned upon as old fashioned (because-yes, its not actually new- guess what? Mr Gove didn't just invent it). We had something called emergent reading (by osmosis apparently) and whole word reading-where the shape of the word is recognised...then onto Letterland, Oxford Reading Tree, real books (as opposed to imitation books?), Jolly phonics, synthetic phonics, guided reading (urgh!), shared reading?! Reading for meaning and on and on... All seem to work-for some kids...so why not use what works? The day that politicians butt out of education will be a good day for teachers. Maybe then they can use their expertise and experience to guide them and allow them to choose the strategy which best fits the child! Until then, I guess they will just have to toe the educational line (or bend it a little bit-but don't tell anyone I said so!)

Monday, 5 November 2012

Remembrance approaches

Quick mention to the brilliant guys at Barrow Waterstones-thank you for making me so welcome on Saturday. It was a steady flow for the full hour I was there and it was a shame I missed some people...catch them later I am sure!

The weather is a bit more like it ought to be in November and I am looking forward to visiting Brantwood on Coniston Water at the weekend. I'm going to the Craft Fair and I am hopeful that I make some good sales and contacts. We had a great time last year-so this will be a test of the recession! 

It will be poignant for me to be in Brantwood on the 11th November-as I think I have mentioned before that my dad's maternal grandparents and family lived at the Lodge at the foot of the drive there. I have wonderful photos of them outside the cottage and my Great Grandfather Miles Wilkinson was a gardener under Professor John Ruskin and later took over from the Head Gardener and continued to work for Arthur and Lily Severn after Ruskin's death, until his own in 1920.

His son John will be in mind particularly as he was one of the many who gave his life for us during World War 1. He had volunteered with his brothers at the start of war, but had been declared unfit for service because of poor sight. He joined the local volunteer unit and as war progressed he was called up when conditions were relaxed. He went to France in 1917 and was home on leave in February 1918-we know this from his diary (now in Ruskin Museum Coniston) and he had barely returned to the front when he was shot in the head at Vimy Ridge. He ended his life in the field hospital at Wimeraux and lies in the cemetery there (the same cemetery which houses John McCrae-the soldier-poet who wrote "In Flanders Field"). Naturally, the family was devastated and his loss was felt in the Brantwood community. In fact he was honoured by Canon Rawnsley (of National Trust fame), who penned a poem in his honour, read at the memorial service. John was 27 years old,shy, unassuming and quiet. He had a fiance-who is known only to us from the diary as "F"-she lived at the Severn's London home in Warwick Square and was a servant there. One wonders what happened to her and how she took the news-she had visited the family home in Coniston on his last leave-so it was maybe then that they were engaged.His diary entries are brief and simple-but it is quite chilling when the entries cease on 26th March-two days before he was shot. However, the most poignant and disturbing discovery is in the fly leaf of the diary, where in faint pencil he has scrawled "Cheerio".
John Wilkinson Royal Garrison Artillery Died 30 March 1918

Poem written for John by Canon Rawnsley


Remembrance ceremony for the fallen of the villageand dedication of the memorial cross in St Andrew's Church Coniston

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Vikings, Halloween and books

Action...charge!

The Viking leapt into the air raising his sword above him, his war cry curdling the blood in the young people's veins. He landed heavily on the sand, screaming his battle-cry again and running towards the headland, his swordsmen crowding behind him. The noise of the men's cries split the tranquillity of the day and as they gathered, some armed with axes, some with spears or swords and many with more than one weapon, the youngsters shrank into the dunes hoping to be overlooked.

 They had not seen on the headland a small force of local warriors, who were now racing to meet the Viking raiders...the Vikings had seen their quarry and ran rapidly towards the warriors, whooping and leaping joyously, impervious to the danger of battle.The noise was terrifying and ear-splitting. Metal clashed against metal, weapons hissed through the air, screams of agony met cries of triumph and victory. Bodies crashed heavily into each other, bones and skulls cracked and split, men fell to the ground never to arise again...


An altogether more peaceful scene-looking toward the Lakeland hills

A motley crew of Vikings plus the author
(L-R Iain, Terry, Gill, Piglet, Martin and Craig)

 A brilliant day today filming at Bardsea and Birkrigg with some very kind gentlemen--dressed as vikings. They are all re-enactors and did a great job. I have to thank them-with special mention to Iain McNichol who is a local "History Man" of local repute, Terry Harvey Chadwick (Midgard Living History) Piglet(real name unknown) Martin McFall and Craig Appely. Thank you all for your stirling efforts-I can't wait to see the end result.

It starts to be busy from now...the book is now out on ebooks/Kindle/ibooks and the paperback is released on Thursday. Tomorrow I am at Abbey House Hotel at 7pm giving a reading...

On Wednesday we (New Horizons) are having a 3 hour story and craft session for Halloween at Walney Community Centre-its a fun session for 7-11years and our first activity for children. From there I race over to Abbey Mill Coffee Shop to do more readings-this time in a tent...please dont let it rain... Thursday-Raven's Hoard is OUT!
Building up to a grand launch and signing at Waterstone's Barrow at 1pm for an hour only-so if you want a signed copy come on down!


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Filming in Furness

Cast and crew
 Exhausted after a long day shooting the promotional film for Raven's Hoard with Stuart Appley of Comley Media. I am always astounded when watching Stuart how he manages to isolate scenes from my book and then fit them together so brilliantly. He sets up the scenes just as I imagined them and the end result is breathing life into my written words.

We travelled extensively today-visiting Barrow Library, Rampside Church, The                          Concle Inn, Aldingham Motte, Gleaston, Dalton church and Furness Abbey. The weather was kind to us and we got lots done. There is a brief shot tomorrow on the beach with a horse and rider and then next Saturday morning to see a brief Viking raid! All in a day's work! 

Tom and Dolly form Raven's Hoard
I have an exciting and busy few weeks planned. There are visits and signings, events and fairs-a wide variety which I hope will get the book reaching a much wider audience.

I had a lovely time today and it was made special by the people who joined us. Some I have known for a while, others are new acquaintances and the children are all people I have taught some years ago. Its lovely to see how they have grown up and little glimpses of those 5 and 6 year olds peep through every now and again.  They are amazing and so mature-it was a genuine pleasure to meet them again-on a very different footing.

I am privileged to be going on Friday to see The Sound of Music at the Forum. Lewis, Connor and Amy are all appearing in it. I'm sure there will be a tear in my eye as I watch. I am equally sure that I will remember them as they were in our modest little Christmas productions too. How nice that even though I have ended my teaching career that I am still able to connect with them in my new author capacity.

Stuart directing Lewis and Izaak for their scene on Birkrigg

Connor as George and Amy and Lewis at Barrow Library with the green screen

Friday, 12 October 2012

Out of Time: Only 20 days to go until Raven's Hoard is out. Its...

Out of Time: Only 20 days to go until Raven's Hoard is out. Its...: Only 20 days to go until Raven's Hoard is out. Its like the last weeks of a pregnancy...waiting and wondering what the outcome will be, bein...
Only 20 days to go until Raven's Hoard is out. Its like the last weeks of a pregnancy...waiting and wondering what the outcome will be, being only  fidgety and restless, being unable to settle to do anything. The only thing I haven't had an urge to do is clean the house! I am just sorting out dates for visits and signings and I am going to be quite busy until Christmas.  I am kicking off with the Halloween events-first at Abbey House Hotel on 28th October and then 31st at Abbey Mill Cafe 4-6 and 6-8pm. The book is officially out on 1st November and I am going to be doing a signing at Barrow Waterstones on 3rd November. I really hope lots of you will come and see me at Waterstones particularly as its nice to get good sales in your local book shop!

More events to follow.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Promotion, preparation and signing

just checking in tonight... have a few busy weeks ahead. The business is still in need of promotion and although we have had a fab couple of write ups in the NW Evening Mail, it hasn't brought many clients. I am an impatient soul but I have to try and get us known and out there. New Horizons Education has some good heritage courses which I am keen to teach...just need the students! In fact my life has become a massive promotional task-blogging, facebook, tweeting etc etc...it takes a lot of time but the key thing is its free!

I have a number of visits planned to various venues and I should be out and about up until Christmas. Its important to do the small things too-like tonight I've been to Hartington Street Methodist Tea Club. I didn't imagine that I would have such a good response-but I managed to engage the group and this led to leaflets being taken to hand on to teachers-with the hope I may get some Author visits in. Its a very different life to the previous one I led-as a salaried teacher. It is varied and interesting but the pay is indifferent to be honest and a little unstable...which is the one- down side really! However, it has freed me up to do something I have long wanted to do-work as a Museum Assistant albeit casual. I could never have consciously taken such a massive drop in pay when I was working...but now as all my work is intermittent and casual it is actually an extra! Weird!

Well I hope you are ready for Raven's Hoard-its a bit darker than Secret of the Swan-and quite exciting. It can be pre-ordered and I will be doing  signings locally from 28 October (if the advance copies arrive) onwards.
28 Oct Abbey House Hotel Halloween Family Ghost Walk 6-8pm
31 Oct Abbey Mill Cafe Halloween Scare Fest 4-6pm and 6-8pm
3 Nov Waterstones Barrow 
10-11 Nov Brantwood Craft Fair
8 Dec Dock Museum

Hope to see you there...somewhere...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Infinite variety

I always remember that quote from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra- "Age cannot  wither her, nor custom stale, her infinite variety." I used to think that seemed like a sort of bonus for growing older or being less than beautiful-I assumed infinite variety referred to he mood changes and attitudes-making her a bit risky and unpredictable. Well having reached middle age myself-I'm not so sure! I think it actually refers to life itself-which appears to take on a roller coaster effect -you know-when you start to juggle too many balls and meet yourself coming back? Well I have had a lot of "infinite variety" this week...the New Horizons Education is moving forward-we have 14 students this term which is a good start. We need to get the other courses kicked off next so hoping the Evening Mail article next week will do the trick (usually does).

As if that wasn't enough I have started my new little job at the Dock Museum as an assistant. This is what I had originally set out to do some 34 years ago-that or archaeology...funny how you get diverted sometimes! Great fun! Another day in on Sunday. THAT will be fun as I have a long standing booking for a ghost vigil at Tatton Park with my daughter in law and her pals...we don't get back till early hours and I'm in at 11am! 

The new book is going to press this week-really cannot wait! I am very pleased with this one...I feel I have settled into my style now and  it is quite exciting. Hope you like the cover-I am...its kind of carried on the theme too-looks good. Thanks again to Troubador Publishing

Bit of prep tomorrow for the book release and its going to be even busier next month! Ah well, variety-infinite or otherwise-is the spice of life.


Monday, 17 September 2012

Deja vu...reverse education policy!

Well-as someone who was schooled via the Grammar School system and took the "one shot" O levels I am astounded to see this elitist and unimaginative government trying to resurrect a similar exam process for 21st century children. Personally, the system suited me well... an introverted, avid reader and someone who had a capacity for accumulating facts. However, I am the first to admit this system certainly could never be a "one size-fits all" and I have since taught many children who would never have been able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in this way-yet who have as much to offer and are just as intelligent. 

So the single exam mode fits the "academic" brain...but what does that mean actually? It is proof of a good memory. Proof of rote learning. Proof of brain training. However, it does not necessarily denote sense, the ability to interpret, analyse, synthesis and application ...in fact all of the other higher order thinking skills. Neither does it give children with practical and verbal skills the chance to shine-which course work demonstrates-or the dyslexic child who once again will be returned to the bottom of the pile. What about the gifted child who doesn't see the point of being exam smart...and under performs? All those potential successes being consigned to the failure pile. Setting them up for low self esteem and second best for the rest of their lives. Establishing a new elitism...why don't we go the whole hog and return to Latin primers, Greek and horn book?

I could cry when I think of the future children pushed through the sausage factory of this brave new world of education. However, it will ensure the continuance of the ruling class and enable them to keep the masses in their place! But worse than this-the upheaval, the cost, the difficulties of the transition to any new exam system-the kids who slip between the lines while it is being perfected by schools...and then, when this government is finally ousted-as it surely will be-the cost of amending, adjusting and manipulating the system to fit with the new governments ideology! Who will suffer in all this? The kids! Yes-your kids and mine-our grandchildren too-all because we allow our politicians to meddle in the education of our children and force upon the real educationalists their petty and divisive policies and ideas-whether it is beneficial or not!

Its time we thought of the various messes we have made over the years-and the effect it has had on subsequent cohorts of children.

For more on this look at Michael Rosen's blog! He expresses it more eruditely than I can-but says more or less the same thing!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Ch-ch-changes

I am one who is averse to change...yet I seem to encounter it at every turn. Obviously, life can never be static and the natural changes which occur have to be accepted and assimilated. I tend to be one of those people who affects change uneasily, but looks back to what went before. I love nostalgia and wallow in the past-I am sure I do this idealistically-I doubt that the past has the rosy glow I endow it with. In saying that, however, I do think there are elements that we could learn from-certainly, my childhood seemed simple and innocent-I think my first book echoes this, as the children in it have the freedoms which I so enjoyed...maybe more than 21st century kids experience. Childhood disappears so quickly, vital and exciting one moment and fading to a sunset memory the next. 

I watched a neighbour's child playing in the street with her friends today. I felt a tear prickle the back of my eye as I recalled how recently my own daughter played in the same street with hers. She goes off to Leeds University soon and has long cast aside youthful games...but how quickly that seems to have happened! I know I should not mourn her growing up-especially as I am lucky to have a grandson to fill those childish footprint; but its hard not to...you blink and your own youth has vanished, sad but true! Perhaps that's why I have preserved childhood in my book so carefully..I can at least leaf back through the story and replay it all.

Business is moving forward-we are picking up lots of Teaching Assistant students and should be very busy indeed. New Horizons Education Ltd are establishing well at the moment-I am looking forward to getting down to some work next week.

News on the Furness Abbey Fellowship front-our account has £120 plus and we have some extremely exciting plans ahead. We had an entirely successful meeting with Clea Warner from English Heritage last week and I am excited about the future prospects.

On the book front-Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle is progressing well-lots of people buying it and asking about it. Raven's Hoard is due on 1 November and I have approved the lovely book cover. Final proof reading is complete-hopefully no errors have slipped through this time! Just a matter of publicity and marketing now! I find this problematic as I feel its such a huge job and I am not sure how successful I am at it. I hope I can get a bit done in the next weeks and reach a wider audience. I still need more reviews and Facebook page likes...and retweets. A couple of famous recommendations wouldn't go amiss either! Any suggestions or assistance would be welcomed! And then...on with next book-Cistercian conspiracy!



Thursday, 23 August 2012

The abbot's treasure returns...

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/rare-medieval-treasures-back-at-furness-abbey/

Very busy at the moment...can't decide whether to stick or twist! So pleased that English Heritage are returning the abbey treasure for another weekend visit. Maybe we will gain full custody instead of access visits soon-we can only hope..and insist! Furness Abbey Fellowship is almost there! We have well and truly launched now-we have set up the constitution, opened and account and done press releases...was on BBC Radio Cumbria-which you can catch on iplayer, and today we all had photos at the abbey -so it will be in the Evening Mail this week! Then we turn our attention to fund raising! Two Halloween ventures we will have a presence at are Abbey House Hotel on 28 October and Abbey Mill Cafe on 31st October...we hope to raise some coins and put these towards projects for the abbey and its regeneration! This has been a big piece of work and most time consuming...but very pleased that we have moved forward.

Second big task this summer-book signings. Don't know if its the recession but the sales have been less than last year and there don't seem to be as many people out and about. Also this silly weather has affected the shows and some have been cancelled! Yet the two local ones were great! Must work on the marketing! However, when you look at author royalties after deductions for some of the larger booksellers (you know who you are) I wonder why I bother with a price tag! I certainly won't be retiring any time soon! But then I love writing and sharing my work...so onward and upward!

Last but definitely not least the new venture. New Horizons Education Ltd-we have really made headway and will be in the new premises soon. Working on Moodle and setting up course work has been brilliant and we will be working tomorrow preparing for our new intake of students in September. Exciting times!

Talking of students...my youngest will be off to Leeds Trinity University soon-another big change...inevitable but painful nevertheless!I will adjust I expect but its another milestone I suppose that I can hardly believe I have passed! Tempus fugit!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

And there's more....

Trying very hard to rationalise the junk we have accumulated in this house over the last 12 years! This is proving nigh on impossible. Each little trinket, each book, every item appears to have a memory attached...which slightly delays turfing out! I have to admit that although we have two bin bags of clothes and one of rubbish, the rest is going back in the cupboards! 

Next signing is coming up-on Saturday. I will be in place signing copies of Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle from 1pm onwards. I hope I get to see lots of you...he is selling quite well already so hopefully the word will have got out. It will be nice to see my friends at Waterstones again-they always make me feel so welcome.

I suppose it's time to mention the Olympics...seeing as everyone else is. I am in no way a sports fan but I do see the value of it and certainly some of these amazing athletes have provided us with wonderful role models for our children. Let's hope that the media etc take this opportunity to capitalise on this and drop some of the less attractive and less deserving role models. It constantly concerns me that children look up to over paid and often talentless icons and aspire to be "famous". Fame always used to be a by product of doing something memorable, clever, brave or amazing. What is heralded as famous these days is usually something very different, often shallow, generally image ridden and frequently valueless. In fact some of the specimens who are "famous" would have once been classed "infamous", however, this word seems to have lost its meaning and fame for which footballer you sleep with, or how often you step into the tanning parlour,or who is having an affair with whom, has superseded it and become acceptable. I am aware I am out of step with many people and that I am regarded as old fashioned because I abhor celebrity culture-but take a moment to consider, which role models would you like your children to admire-the vain and talentless...or the brave, courageous and tenacious? I know which I would prefer!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Out of Time: Dock Museum extravaganza

Out of Time: Dock Museum extravaganza: Looking forward to the signing at the Dock Museum on Saturday. There are going to be lots of gargoyle inspired activities-including a colour...

Dock Museum extravaganza

Looking forward to the signing at the Dock Museum on Saturday. There are going to be lots of gargoyle inspired activities-including a colouring competition and clay gargoyle making. The only trouble is will want to be with the kids doing the art...like the good old days in the classroom! Sad to think may never return to an infant classroom...age is ridiculously against me-or at least my pay grade is! Again, thank you Mr Gove! how many of the over 50s are on the scrap heap I wonder?

I suppose I am lucky that I have been able to reinvent myself again...and it is great fun writing and I am excited about the new company and acquiring work and contract for it. I am thrilled to be involved with Furness Abbey Fellowship too-we are about to become a charity and then we can really get down to some work! So no need to be wistful about the past...on into the future!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Empty nest syndrome

Family is everything to me, as anyone who knows me will realise. However, I am also not what you would call an earth mother either-I regularly burn meals, send out for take out, don't listen hard enough, don't iron, shout a lot, get easily distracted...etc! Nevertheless, I do hope I am a loving mum and gran and generally a caring person-the jury is out I guess? So, it is very odd that I have experienced a chasm of emotion and uncertainty today-my youngest is away on holiday. It suddenly struck me that this was a dry run for September when she will be gone...to University if all goes to plan. Well, we plugged the gap momentarily as we were babysitting our almost 3 year old grandson...but then his parents came and there we were...the two of us...for what seemed like the first time for 30 years...childless!


The times I have bewailed the lack of spare time. How often have I thought-we should spend time together...? What could I do with a free Sunday? Well...nothing! Absolutely zilch achieved! Not a job done, no outstanding issues solved, no DIY, no gardening...no walk in the country, no trip to the pub! Instead lassitude and fecklessness and silence! Just shows, what you can't have you will always desire, what you do have you always take for granted and what you want is always the opposite to what you have! What perverse beings we humans are...or is that just me?


Family-what its all about!
However, I WILL BE BUSY AGAIN TOMORROW-interviewing students for the new courses and our new company. A bit of social walking planned for Tuesday-weather permitting and on Wednesday North Lonsdale Show. I am looking forward to this-not least because there will be the chance to sell books-including Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle-of which I now have advanced copies; but also its the chance to meet people and chat. I love it-and I have to admit I meet people who are SO interesting that their caricature may well appear in my future books. People watching-I love it!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

It's a mad world...

Having had a birthday this week I am feeling very sage and wise...and I am the proud owner of a new ipad as well, so I also feel quite cool as this is a fairly up to date bit of kit! It certainly upset a few of the younger family members that I have one. 


For information, I have left Bluebirds Study Centre@ Barrow AFC and my colleague and I have set up our own company-New Horizons Education Ltd. We will be fully operative in September and are interviewing STLiS students now. We are both excited at the prospect and will be looking to develop our services to include children as well as adults. It seems a risk in the current climate, but quite frankly it will be great to be in charge of our own destiny and be able to create a service which has our own stamp on it. Watch this space...any interested parties can contact us via the facebook page or our email-gill.jepson@newhorizons-ltd.co.uk. We will be an accredited City and Guilds provider and will be in partnership with Cumbria Adult Education.


Well what on earth is happening to the Olympic debacle? It seems to me that the most obvious choice of personnel for security would have been the police and the army. However, the geniuses at the top subbed it out to G4S...and now its all gone pear shaped! What a surprise! Why employ amateurs to do a professional's job? Disgraceful! You tend to reap what you sow sometimes and the government have certainly done that! Now the armed services and police will have to step up to the mark yet again...despite already being demoralised and marginalised by cut backs and redundancies. Will they get any thanks? Doubtful! As usual they will be taken for granted and only the deficits and mistakes which are probably inevitable with so little time to plan and arrange strategy will be highlighted! What a mad world! Hopefully, this rush to fill the void will not result in gaps and opportunities for those intent on evil doings during the games. Good luck to all those police and servicemen who will be so heavily relied upon...and thank you.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Perfect weekend

Reflecting on the weekend-busy every minute and packed with an eclectic range of activities. Had a great days signing at Waterstones Chester-what a busy shop! Had good sales and engaged with loads of new readers. Got the chance to promote Furness Abbey to people who have never been too!

I reached home and found a box of books-Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle to be precise. It looks lovely and on the whole I am pleased with it. Just two small issues-both caused by me missing something-which I will now have to live with! Shows how careful you have to be-and I am-but do sometimes miss things with the sequencing issues. I am now getting ready to launch this book and can't wait for the signings I have planned. Going to be a busy summer.


BBC The Hollow Crown series is proving to be very exciting and compelling. What an amazing feat to be able to engage an audience over the centuries...makes you think-all the hype around books like 50 Shades of Grey-will these last? Certainly not as long as Shakespeare! In fact once the fuss has  died down I expect it will sink without trace. Obviously, the content is what is attracting the readers...for many I would think-out of curiosity. Well, I've had a look and I can't see what the fuss is about...it seems poorly written, with little story and sensational sex scenes-kind of a "News of the World" novelette. Perhaps I am a literary snob, but call me old fashioned-I like to have a plot...with some purpose...can't see it in this I'm afraid. Ah well each to his own I guess...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Meeting myself, coming back

Really nice day today-which has made up for quite a challenging few days. We had a very busy day at the Barrow Carnival on Saturday-in which I had to make up the numbers as a monk-passing out leaflets and collecting pennies around the centre of Barrow. Can't say how many embarrassing moments I had seeing people I knew! Ah well-all in a good cause. We then did a long stint on the stall-raising money for Furness Abbey Fellowship and the Dock Museum. We netted £120 not bad-but a gruelling 8 hour day for those of us who set up at 8am.


Sunday was Rock around the Dock at the Dock Museum. What an excellent day. Lots of nice exhibits and stalls, great live music and an authentic 1950s Tea room. It was lovely and the cakes were to die for. That done I met up with son and grandson and raced around the playground for a couple of hours. Result-one knackered Nannie! But worth it!


Today-a brilliant visit to Year 7 and 8 at Dowdales school Dalton-in-Furness in their lovely library. We had a lot of discussion about writing and "show don't tell"-which is harder to describe than you'd think. There were some burgeoning writers and there was a great deal of interest. Did a book signing and lots more kids want to bring in money tomorrow for books. Thanks to Laura at Waterstones and Janet the librarian from Dowdales for organising.


Can't say much yet-but at the end of this week big changes are afoot in my working life. Its exciting and scary at the same time-but I look on it as being a new chapter in more senses than one. Ending the week-is a signing at Waterstones at Chester. I am looking forward to this and it will be good to reach a new audience. Pictures to follow later

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rain, museums and blooming football

Nice end to last week with a trip to the Dock Museum Barrow with Year 6 St Pius kids. It was a deluge...I was drenched in 2 minutes greeting the bus! And then...a misunderstanding in opening times...we were there an hour early! However, Liz from the museum arrived at the same time and kindly let us in to the study room where we investigated artefacts and dressed up for a good hour. We had a great time and then we went on the tour with Paul. We found out lots of things to extend our learning about early Barrow and then had our lunch. After lunch we had quizzes and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. All this for free! I know people knock the council...but I do think the Dock Museum is value for money-in terms of rates etc.We have to acknowledge that the staff and the council do a good job and the displays and exhibits are getting better all the time. Add to this the amazing hoard and the fact that it is now safeguarded for permanent display I think we should be very proud of our museum.


You may want to pop in on us when Furness Abbey Fellowship have their first outing to Barrow Carnival. We will have activities such as Guess the number of sweets, chocolate tombola, Find the treasure and facepainting...all proceeds will be divided between the Dock Museum and Furness Abbey...the latter to produce a leaflet for drawing in tourists. We are committed to raising the Furness profile because we feel for a long time we have been sidelined and almost ignored. The committee is not yet complete but we will be moving forward and will establish a constitution to allow us to be recognised as a legitimate volunteer group.


The football drags on and on...I know-not a good attitude for someone who has worked at a football club for 4 years...but really! I am watching reluctantly-but genuinely hate the competition...I like everyone to win! Thinking of my Italian relatives and friends who will be watching the match in Vas. Hope the split loyalties don't spoil the enjoyment.


Time marching on towards a batch of signings...the first on 7 July at Chester Waterstones-the furthest afield I have been. Hope it goes well. Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle is now out on Kindle and e-books...go ahead and download-its a bargain! The real thing is out on 1August-can't wait.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Guy-the-Grumpy-Gargoyle-ebook/dp/B008CYP0C4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340565903&sr=8-1



Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Visits, projects and fellowship

Had a good day at Newbarns Primary school with the writing group. Wow! Some fantastic writers...I will have to watch my back! I was astonished at the maturity and high level of expertise they showed-and they are only Year 6! I will not be surprised to see one or more of them in print in the future. It is brilliant to see kids who are so dedicated-that will give up their lunch break to discuss writing.


I am lucky enough to be invited to the Greengate Juniors trip to Furness Abbey(I'm beginning to feel I really belong there now! I may pitch a tent!) So Thursday morning I will be with them and cannot wait. The teachers have some exciting things planned and we just need to pray for good weather again.


I spent a pleasant hour at Abbey Mill Cafe this afternoon-with my mum. We had coffee and cake-well someone has to do it! It was delicious and the weather was...like summer! It is such a lovely setting and Jackie does work very hard to make it a great experience. 


I had an interesting chat with Stuart from Comely Media about a second promo film for Raven's Hoard.I hope that we can work together on some projects in the future as he really is a talented young man. Keep a look out for what we plan and when we film.


Finally, we are collecting prizes for our tent at Barrow Carnival on 30 June. We ...Furness Abbey Fellowship...are fundraising and launching that day. We will have a number of walkers in the parade-watch out for monks and vikings! Come and see us-we will be behind the Town Hall and hope to have lots of fun activities to raise cash for the group and we will be splitting funds between the abbey and the Dock Museum-the latter to help with funding a new display area for the newly acquired Hoard! Come and see us-or if you have chocolate treats and prizes to offer I would be pleased to hear from you.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Exciting week for heritage

What a very busy week! It has been great-I have worked with Year 5 at St Pius X Barrow this week-with an author day on Wednesday and a full on trip to Furness Abbey today. I between I have been preparing for the Dystonia Awareness Day tomorrow, meeting with Sabine from the Dock Museum and meeting with Furness Abbey Fellowship (FAF). 


FAF is about to be launched properly-we are getting ready to become a fully fledged group and have made two appointments. Leeann Herbert is the new Secretary and I am the Chairman. We are seeking a treasurer and Vice Chair at the next meeting. We are moving towards partnership working with English Heritage and the Dock Museum and it is looking positive. Our aim is to raise awareness, improve the visitor experience and increase visitors t the Abbey and other heritage sites in Furness.


The week kicked off with Stuart Maconie's brilliant cameo piece on Barrow-it was so positive and reflective that I could have cried. All too often we suffer from the "Mike Harding" mentality-that Barrow is at the end of "the world's longest cul-de-sac"-this throw away comment-though funny-has done a great deal to damage the profile of Barrow. All too often the same desperate, deprived areas are flagged up and shown (I won't name them-you know where they are) and the wider, rural beauty and diversity is simply ignored. Stuart got it just right-the blend of innovation, industry and inspirational beauty was subtle and eye-catching-we need to capitalise on this and begin to develop the area.


There seems to be a sea change in attitude-our group and the new "Sense of Place" group-set up by local business both have the drive and the will to bring Furness out of the shadows and link it effectively with the wider tourist area-the Lakes. At most we are 16 miles away from the Lakes and yet we don't use that to draw in visitors. With our agenda we will hopefully begin to address this and begin to open up the tourism and energise the area once again.


Best of all-the Dock Museum have raised the full amount required for the purchase of the Viking Hoard which will be an amazing boost to tourism. This coupled with the abbot's ring and crosier at the abbey will be significant in drawing tourists...it looks good for the future of Furness Heritage

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Wet week off

Funny old week...awful weather mostly. Went to the abbey to take Noah and to prepare for the trail I am planning for the schools I am accompanying there. It was lovely and the one sunny day of the week. It was good to wander round and rediscover things I had forgotten-Noah especially liked the mason's mark of a fish in the guest house. 


I will be there next week with St Pius and I am looking forward to it-still work to do but we'll get there. 


Jubilee celebrations kind of passed me by. I did catch some of it on the telly but it isn't the same. I remember when we lived in London and actually went to see the 77 Jubilee. We stood near ST Paul's for ages and got a fairly decent view of the Queen going in and coming out...well I did-I was sitting on Harry's shoulders (I was MUCH slimmer then). The atmosphere made it-so exciting and infectious...I am a bit more sanguine these days and probably lean towards republicanism, but some inherent patriotic streak stops me!


Some more pics from my wonderful trip to Italy below




Had a good meeting with English Heritage and Furness Abbey Fellowship this week. It was excellent to all be speaking the same language and be positive about extending the reach of the abbey. Look forward to some good work ahead to support EH in their good efforts.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Reflections on an Italian sojourn

I have just received some fantastic comments on here from the lovely Italian students I had the pleasure of meeting last week at Liceo Veronese in Montebelluno. I am in awe of their skill in learning and using a foreign language -amazing...some of them so good you would think they had been speaking English for ever! I can't help but think how much it puts us to shame...I learnt French but  can tell you...I would not be able to hold a conversation as adeptly as they do!


Giro d'Italia
I am posting some pictures on here of the day and the whole adventure was brilliant. I observed how relaxed everything seemed in Italy. We seem as though we are always racing around to meet invisible deadlines and I frequently run out of time. Yet in Italy the hours blended into each other and there was no demarcation of time as there is here. Whether that has something to do with the good weather I am not sure, but I certainly felt relaxed and I think I could get to like it. I even got to see the Giro d'Italia which went through Vas where  was staying! Exciting!

Students at Liceo Veronese
I have had a busy week with students -but the high point was our trip to St George's Church-we were exploring the "first" church in Barrow-in-Furness. It was fascinating and we found lots of interesting facts about it. I am really enthused about the mini history I have been asked to write for the church by the vicar Linda. I'm going to get down to the Barrow Archives this week and do a bit of research in my half term holiday.


The rest of the time...family time. Whether we will subscribe to Diamond Jubilee fever I'm not sure. The republican in me says no...but the traditionalist and observer of things historical says....go on have a party...watch the celebrations on TV! Not sure which one will win!




Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Continental travels

Well, a busy day ahead...students all day-some of whom are almost finished and then a meeting re future students. Quick dash back home to pick up case and off to airport hotel for an early start-7-30am flight to Marco Polo airport Venice! Hopefully my cousin Lidia will meet me and then off to Vas. Friday is the big day...being interviewed by students who have read Out of Time. And this is where I am embarrassed...they will be interviewing me in English...while I have no Italian to speak of! We are so lazy as linguist in the UK and I feel ashamed that my linguistic knowledge won't stretch beyond Ciao and grazie.I am always embarrassed to speak in a foreign language..even French which I seem to understand reasonably well. I remember when we were trying to find the Pas de Calais cemetery sending Harry into a garage with a note to read out and was mortified when he came back and said they didn't know what I was on about!



By the way we did very well at the Tea Party on Saturday...serving about 60 afternoon teas and making about £400...not bad for two hours.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Getting jittery

Tea Party for Dystonia tomorrow at St Pauls Church hall at 2pm, Last event for Awareness week. Lots of friends and supporters helping us, bringing cakes etc-just hope we get the customers. Next big task is getting in everyone's sponsorship from K2B-usually takes some time but worth it in the end.


Then I have to prepare for my trip to Italy on Thursday. My first ever plane journey alone...and I do hate flying! Ah well-its for the greater good! Then my cousins Lidia and John are meeting me at Marco Polo airport and taking me to Vas. Friday I visit the school and meet the pupils...can't wait-though I am embarrassed that I speak NO Italian! I will take lots of pics to put on the website etc.


I took receipt of 400 copies of Out of Time today...storage was expensive so I hope to save on that. I need a definite marketing strategy...I don't seem very good at getting lots of bookings-they kind of come in a bit erratically. I hate phoning up-I need a social secretary or PA I think! I am going to address  this when I return and get stuck into the phone calls. I know the book is good(still hate this sort of self proclamation)but the problem is if people don't know about it they won't buy it...so need to develop a better strategy! Saatchi and Saatchi maybe> Fans/friends/readers...you can do your part-tell everyone you know, re-tweet me, like my page, follow my blog and visit the Youtube video...please?


Local note-bit concerned over the proposed biomass plant. Unsure what it means...the antis are saying its certain death and destruction the pros are saying its good for the economy and the local area..but what are the real facts? Answers on a postcard please! I want real scientific facts which a re rigorous and valid...but will we have that sort of transparency before the damned thing is built? I doubt it...after all it's only Barrow...you know that chav town at the end of the longest cul-de-sac in the world?


Ooh! Almost forgot...Raven's Hoard due out on 1 November 2012...preview synopsis on Troubador website as we speak!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Recovering...

Three of the intrepid Dystonia team
Well it's Wednesday and I am still recovering a bit from the after effects of the Keswick to Barrow Walk...a sprain and shin splints and I don't even remember hurting myself! However it was a very good day! A fantastic day weather-wise and as usual a feel good day too. Lots of people turned out for lots of charities and causes, including 5 dystonia teams and one for Bluebirds Study Centre. There will be pictures on the K2B website and in the NW Evening Mail soon which captures the essence of the day. We will hopefully raise a substantial amount for our charity and will have raised awareness too.



Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Headaches and sore feet

Final sorting out of the teams for the Keswick to Barrow Walk-it has been a nightmare to be honest! Quite a headache!People changing their minds, pulling out, adding in, needing bus seats, I feel quite dizzy with it all. But then organising nearly 70 people was never gonna be easy! 5 teams for Dystonia and one for Bluebirds Study Centre-So Friday-I give out tags, t shirts and bus tickets and then we are sorted! Our bus leaves promptly at 4am Saturday morning and we should be tagging through the barriers at 5-30-ish at Keswick. Weather forecast looks ok-maybe a little shower in the afternoon-but hey we've had worse!


So back to the preparations-buying copious amounts of water, compede and snacks for the support cars-and then there's Sarah and Wendy's Snack Shop which provides out bacon and sausage butties at Dunmail Raise. So I will blog on Sunday when I'm nursing my sore feet (hope not) an will have photos of the action along the way. Oh and I am still available to sponsor on the link below-go on you know you want to!!!
http://www.keswick2barrow.co.uk/sponsor/welcome.asp?ID=60

Friday, 4 May 2012

Ooops!

Put out some erroneous information yesterday...and don't know where I got it from...the Dock Museum are not showing the hoard this weekend...I  must have been confused with the abbey finds etc...so sorry about that! Saying that-still go down and have a look-its a great museum and lots to see.


However, I have just seen the brilliant crosier and ring! Amazing and it was great to see the abbey so busy! I was very impressed with it all-beautiful...a bit smaller than I had expected, but fantastic never the less! Get yourselves down there to see it-well worth the trip!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Abbey treasure, hoards, signings and walks

At signing at Preston Waterstones with happy customer
Getting the next few weeks sorted out some kind invitations to do signings for new book "Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle" and "Out of Time" and  more school bookings. Just at the right time because I felt a bit worried that things were stalling somewhat. However I still need to get my marketing strategy right and I recognise this is not my forte! I need a PA -preferably who would do the phoning for love and get me a serious touring calendar  sorted! I know it is crucial and I will have to address it and not keep getting distracted!

Exciting days ahead-we have the viewing of the fantastic abbey finds and the viking hoard (Dock Mseum)...I can't wait and will be at the abbey first thing tomorrow! I will be down there at the Abbey Cafe too-Jackie has kindly agreed to my signing copies of the book in conjunction with the exhibition so hopefully a few visitors from further afield will show an interest!

Some of the Dystonia teams 2011 K2B

However, I will be squeezing in a short practice walk for the Keswick to Barrow walk which is next weekend. Sponsorship has gone well-but if anyone would like to sponsor me do get in touch-I'm walking in aid of dystonia and am in charge of 5 teams this year plus one for Bluebirds Study Centre. So next week expect a blog about the experiences on the day and hopefully pictures too! Its special too because the first walk I did in 2006 was on 12 May-which was my dad's birthday and the first one after we lost him...which made it quite emotional...and its the 12th again this year...so this one is for him (he would be gob smacked at me doing this because I was always very sport and exercise averse much to his disappointment). If you're about next week look out for the lovely green dystonia t shirts and give us a beep or a wave! This week is...


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Soggy Sunday

I love and hate days like this-love cos you can be quite lazy because its too nasty to venture out...and hate because you get nothing done! Well I've been lazy but I have done a couple of bits and pieces. Prepared for the 2nd meeting of Furness Abbey Fellowship and have drafted letters to English Heritage and Holker Estates...building up to next weekend to see the abbot's crosier and ring at the abbey-can't wait. I am going to have a tent at Abbey Mill Cafe garden over the weekend in case anyone wants to buy signed copies of Out of Time-seems an opportunity not to be missed. I hope people come along and have a chat before going into the cafe to sample excellent cakes and coffee!


Apart from that I have been thinking hard about my next two writing projects-a short history of St George's church and the 3rd in the Out of Time series. Got some ideas-no title yet but things are formulating.


Lots of fundraising coming up-Keswick to Barrow Walk first of course-on 12 May-I and my other 59 fellow dystonia walkers will be joining me at the early hour of  5-30am to walk the 40 miles over hill and dale to Barrow, through the gorgeous Lakeland landscape. I love it and dread it at the same time-just have to pray for decent weather- I do not relish a day like today-it is totally gruelling walking in freezing rain for that many miles!


The following week we have a Dystonia Society Awareness Tea Party at St Paul's Church hall, Barrow from 2-4pm. Tickets are only £2 and you get a scone, a cake and tea or coffee! Lots of stalls too so come and give us support-be nice to see you.


Two nice sessions tomorrow-St Pius in for the Furness Abbey project and Cambridge St and St Georges in for Time Investigators during which we will be visiting Barrow Archives and the lovely Glenn and Mike.


I am still busy with marketing...its very hard to see what impact one makes on this! The books are well covered on the internet, but for people to buy them they have to know about them and I still haven't worked out how to increase that. I do visit schools and other venues but don't seem to get as much access as some people manage-I know I am probably not aggressive enough...but as I have said before I find this quite difficult. Raven's Hoard is out before Christmas so I do need to up my game and get out there. I really need a publicist or PA who would work for free and get me sorted! Ah well...back to the drawing board!



Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lets go viral!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5Guhom3j8Y
Very pleased with the release of the video onto  to promote Out of Time The Secret of the Swan...the next step is to include it onto the website. I can see we are getting hits-probably from people who know us-but we need your help to extend and spread the word beyond the usual demographic! If you view the video please share it with friends-actually pass it on as much as possible so that it reaches people who wouldn't normally see it. I think its a lovely piece of work and it certainly put the book into pictures very clearly-it is very close to how  imagined the action! The final scene is very emotional for me as it is a fantastically accurate interpretation of the leave taking of George (who is/was my dad) and my son was uncannily like him in the shots Stuart used.
I will definitely be doing a second film later this year to be available at the launch of the next in series-Raven's Hoard. Its going to be a busy year and I must get sorted with lots more signings and visits-if you or your school or group wish me to visit please get in touch via the website email.


It was a wonderful week for Furness this week-as you will know I am passionate about Furness Abbey and the history of the area-which is why I write books about it. I desperately want to engage a wider public with the treasures of this amazing area and encourage children to take an interest and stimulate enquiry about the past. So you can imagine how delighted I was when the finds from the abbey were revealed this week. I had known about their existence for a while, but to finally see them and learn of their significance was amazing. They are to be on show during bank holiday weekend at the abbey and I and many others can't wait to see them. The Channel 4 report on Thursday gave further insight into the bones found at the same time of the abbot. These I would imagine will be re-interred at a future date-as they should be...after all he believed he would rest within the abbey precinct for eternity and I think this should be the case. This story went to News at Ten which is remarkable that it has had 2 national news airings-BBC kept it local; but its all over the papers and internet too. 
http://www.channel4.com/news/medieval-abbots-grave-discovered-at-furness-abbey
As if this wasn't enough there is the viking hoard which will also appear at the Dock Museum from 4 May for a month! Barrow Borough Council are appealing for funds to buy this for the community to place it on permanent display-which would be another great coup and a draw for tourists! Everyone should get behind this because it would be a fantastic boost to the local economy and we could end up  being put on the map for tourism at last-then maybe Furness would be given the profile it deserves instead of the butt of jokes as it so often is. We have a fantastically rich and varied history and there is so much there which can be easily and freely exploited-we just need to begin to value the heritage and put ourselves firmly behind the abbey and the Dock Museum who both do a good job with limited resources.
www.dockmuseum.org.uk/
In this vein, a number of local artists, historians, authors and lovers of the Furness heritage have formed a new group called Furness Abbey Fellowship. Its remit is to raise awareness of the abbey nationally and locally and to help to ensure that the artefacts remain here. It won't be an easy job because there will be security issues involved with housing such items-but the fact is there is no better place for them to reside! FAF...I know its a daft acronym...want to work with EH and other agencies to assist and promote the abbey and reinstate it as a centre for the community to work, learn, appreciate and enjoy. The interest extends to the other historical environments too and there is a firm belief that multi-agency approaches need to be taken to allow a consolidated strategy for the future of such important finds.


If you are interested in joining us please contact me via gilljep@hotmail.co.uk  the next meeting is at 7-30pm on Thursday 3rd May-please contact to say you are attending as we need to be sure of numbers.


So it looks as though we face an exciting few months ahead. On a personal note my second "Out of Time" book Raven's Hoard (written before the viking hoard was discovered) will be out before Christmas. More to follow soon...Ill be concentrating on the Keswick to Barrow Walk over the next 3 weeks-40 miles of pain, fun, euphoria and pleasure...come and give me a wave!
http://www.keswick2barrow.co.uk/
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