International Schools Tour to Thailand & Vietnam

International Schools Tour to Thailand & Vietnam

HUGE thanks to Authors Abroad for organising my latest schools tour. Five weeks, three countries, eight massive international schools, thousands of happy students, millions of words spoken and written …. it was EPIC!

I began in Bangkok with St Andrews International School, flew down to Phuket for the British School Phuket, then it was back up to Bangkok for King’s College International School and Singapore International School. Week 3 was free, so I flew to Laos and had a fantastic time (despite being hit by a motorbike, but that is another story!) Then it was back to Bangkok for a flight to Vietnam. European International School HCMC, British International School HCMC and Australian International School Saigon in the south (Ho Chi Minh City) then it was another flight to the north and the United Nations International School Hanoi.

The weather was brutally hot. 38 degrees sounds great when you’re flying out of a cold, wet UK, but it soon becomes exhausting. The accident left me with an enormous black eye and so much bruising on my leg, I was more purple than pink (the kids were so impressed!) But still, it was a FANTASTIC trip. One I will remember for a long time to come. It was the kind of trip I thought – back in the dark days of COVID, when the world was completely shut down – I might never do again. So that made it extra-special. And even when it’s tiring, work like this is always, always joyous.

RSC Creative Writing Workshop at Stratford

RSC Creative Writing Workshop at Stratford

Well, that was fun!

Last week I led a creative writing workshop for adults at the Stratford Literary Festival called Is This a Dagger? It gave local writers an opportunity to be inspired by theatrical props, which were supplied by the Royal Shakespeare Company from their prop store in Stratford Upon Avon.

I loved choosing the pieces from the store. I selected armour, flags from Henry VI, a fedora and shoes from a 1990s staging of A Comedy of Errors (the shoes proved very popular) a donkey head from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1989) a gorgeous elephant headdress from A Mouse and His Child (2012) and a very dusty blackbird in a cage, which proved the most inspirational prop of all. My contact as the RSC didn’t know which production it was from. She reckoned it had probably been used in several shows.

But the most exciting prop was the puppet (see top photo) I loved it as soon as I saw it; it felt like it had many tales to tell. It was only when I started Googling its provenance that I found out how special it was. It came from the famous 2007 Trevor Nunn directed production of King Lear which starred Ian McKellen. No wonder it was so battered – it had been taken on tour across America and Australia and back. McKellen actually held it at one point in the show, though it belonged to his Fool, Sylvester McCoy.

This is why I love working with the RSC. Everything is saturated in theatrical magic. You can feel it.

The workshop participants loved being able to handle the props and produced some great writing.

Big Blue Shark – a new picture book

Big Blue Shark – a new picture book
Big Blue Shark cover

Big Blue Shark is an action rhyme I have been teaching for several years now. Little ones love it – especially the snapping jaws of the titular shark! I have always thought it would be wonderful to have book to accompany the rhyme, and now that dream has come true. This brand new book features a host of vibrant illustrations from illustrator Maria Silva, who lives in Mexico.

The book design was by Matthew Lloyd at

The teaching video to accompany the rhyme is here:

The Unknown Jelly Baby

The Unknown Jelly Baby

It’s always thrilling to see one of my poems in print, and this new anthology from Nosy Crow – A WHALE OF A TIME – is an absolute stunner of a book. It’s a whopper too! A glorious, full-colour, large-size hardback book that’s as heavy as a Labrador puppy. There’s a funny poem for every day of the year; my The Unknown Jelly Baby poem is 11th December.

New Poem Published

New Poem Published

Living near Stratford Upon Avon, I can’t help but love all things Will-related. So it is a real thrill to see my poem On Seeing Forget Me Nots in a new poetry anthology from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust: Anne-thology: Poems Re-Presenting Anne Shakespeare.

The anthology is a celebration of Anne Hathaway, bringing together sixty-seven new poems, one for each year of Anne’s life, plus ten from the past. So I am amazed, delighted and honoured to find myself alongside the likes of Carol Ann Duffy, Wendy Cope and yes – Will himself!

And just what I thought it couldn’t get any more exciting than this, it did. I received an email from the Trust, saying they had commissioned an artist to turn one of the poems into an animation – and SHE HAD CHOSEN MINE. What a dance-around-the-kitchen moment that was!

My poem is set in the garden at Henley Street, Stratford Upon Avon, in 1588. Will has been in London for months; Anne is alone with the in-laws, mothering new twins.

Too often, the relationship between Anne and Will is dismissed. Leaving her the second-best bed in his will, abandoning her for London… If you want to paint a loveless portrait, here’s your canvas.

I have never bought into that. Maybe it’s the eternal romantic in me, but I see it as a relationship that endured, despite the months of separation. I wanted to portray Anne as a deeply passionate woman rooted in reality, clearly seeing what needed to be done and getting on with it.

On Seeing Forget Me Nots

Henley Street garden, Spring 1588

I am here

And shall remain



But on a day like this

When the rain falls soft on your lashes and lips

Remember, my love, that moment of bliss

When rain fell upon us, down by the brook

And love felt eternal

Queen Cat at Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival

Queen Cat at Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival

Coronation Day saw me donning my fairytale queen costume for some family storytelling at Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival.

As Charles was taking his vows, official photographer Lorentz Gullachsen ( ) asked if he could take my portrait. Of course!

Lorentz has taken portraits at the festival every year since 2015. His wonderful gallery of images can be found at I’m in the 2022 gallery too.