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.

New book! Motorcycle Confidence For Women

New book! Motorcycle Confidence For Women

If you had told me, pre-pandemic, that one day I would be the author of a book about motorcycling, I would have not have believed you! But here I am, thrilled to announce the publication of my new book Motorcycling Confidence For Women.

new book cover!

I began learning to ride as a response to lockdown. It seems strange to say it now, but I started to wonder if we Brits would ever be allowed to leave the UK again. I wanted to find a new way of adventuring – and motorcycling fit the bill perfectly.

It’s been an amazing learning journey. This summer, in the fine company of my friend Frank, I rode all the way to Italy and back. 3000 miles! I crossed the Channel via Eurotunnel, met Frank in Calais and together we rode down through France, through miles and miles of sunflower fields. We slept in a chateau, a sixteenth century loft and a Romany caravan in the middle of a vineyard. We rode through the Pyrenees to Barcelona and caught the ferry to Sardinia. There we rode along coastal roads, dancing between land and sea and sky. Back across to mainland Italy, we rode through the Italian Alps and I thought my heart would explode with amazement at where I was and what I was doing – riding my own motorbike

Mont Cenis Pass, Italian Alps
Mont Cenis Pass, Italian Alps

In December, we set off on another road trip, doing 4000 km around Thailand on Honda ADV150 adventure scooters. That was an extraordinary experience too.

I decided to write the book because I wanted to help other women experience the glorious sense of freedom that motorcycling brings. Since it has been published, I’ve had many wonderful emails and online comments from women saying it has helped them overcome anxieties, and reassured them that they are not alone in how they are feeling. I can ask for no greater reward than that.

Available as a paperback book or a Kindle e-book. Buy here >

Filming with the RSC

Filming with the RSC

My dream RSC commission thrilled me all over again last week, as fellow storyteller Maria Credalli and I headed into the RSC’s costume storage unit in Stratford Upon Avon to film the stories we created back in August.

The stories were inspired by material we found in the oral histories of the Costume Department. For the last few years, a team at the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) has been interviewing costume designers, actors, costume collection specialists, buyers and makers of every description (wig makers, dyers, armourers, cutters etc) to gather stories about the Department. The interviews are fascinating (and confidential!) revealing both the tricks of the trade and the personal and artistic dramas behind various productions over the years. As a former drama student, I found them especially exciting, because they were talking about iconic shows I had studied, like Peter Brook’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I also loved having full access to the company’s vast photo archive (only selected items are available to the public) and spent hours comparing various costumes, especially those for Cleopatra. Helen Mirren, Glenda Jackson, Frances de la Tour, Janet Suzman…. all completely different.

Anyway, the RSC were so pleased with what Maria and I did, they decided to record our pieces for the RSC website. We were dancing round the kitchen at this news, especially when we learned there was the possibility that we could have Juliet Stevenson’s glorious Titania dress in the background on the day. Juliet had talked about it in one of the interviews we had been given and made it sound so amazing, both Maria and I had Googled it – and instantly fallen in love. Truly, it was the stuff of fairytales. Maria had spun one of her stories around its creation. So the thought of seeing it for real was thrilling beyond words. It was only a possibility. Our contact had requested it, but once a costume has become part of the official collection, it is guarded as closely as the Crown Jewels.

And yet… they brought it out for us. Oh, the excitement! We weren’t allowed to touch it (which I found funny, given that it had almost certainly been ripped/thrown onto the floor/had tea spilt on it on numerous occasions when it was in use) but still it was there. And it was indeed glorious. So beautiful.

Juliet Stevenson’s Titania dress

The videos will up on the RSC website in January.

Blenheim Palace Residency

Blenheim Palace Residency

It was wonderful to resume my Hallowe’en residency at Blenheim Palace this year after missing out to the pandemic in 2020. I’ve been doing Spooky Storytelling for families at Blenheim for seven years now, as part of their half-term Hallowe’en celebrations. Usually I am in the Stables, but there is a fabulous new permanent exhibition in there now, showcasing the role of horses on the estate through the centuries.

So this year I was in my new home: another stable room, festooned with cobwebs, green fairy lights and a wild assortment of bats, crows, spiders, headstones, manacles, skeletons, zombie mannequins and pumpkin lanterns. The kids adored it.

Five shows a day for nine days takes a bit of stamina, but it was truly joyous this year. Some of the families have seen me perform every year, so there’s always a warm welcome. I love making up new Hallowe’en-themed songs and rhymes too; this year 1-2-3 What Can You see? joined In A Wood Was a House and I Don’t Want to be a Zombie as a new family favourite. I especially enjoyed telling The Witch’s Finger for older children, and have never laughed so much during The Pumpkin Giant as I did this year. Everyone was just so happy to be there, enjoying stories in the company of others. I honestly think we all managed to forget our troubles for a while in that magical darkened room.