The Awfully Big Blog Adventure

All this in Autumn in Urbisaglia, le Marche

Hilltop villages, winding roads, a shepherd sitting on a red blanket while his pecorino sheep browse, sunflower fields flattened to grids of black stalks and deeply ploughed raw umber earth bordered by silvery olive groves… this is Le Marche in autumn. Not picture postcard but with an earthy ruggedness. I’ve just spent a week across the valley from Urbisaglia, a town at the crossroads between coast and interior where the Roman town of Urbs Salvia once existed. Its amphitheatre, still fairly intact, and the stones of its aquaduct, cisterns, baths, theatre and tombs all that remain of the colony that...

The Return of the Jungle Book

Yesterday I was a green-eyed monster. I saw Michael Morpurgo’s latest novel Running Wild in the bookstores. It’s the story of a boy and an elephant who rush off into the jungle because the elephant senses a tsunami coming. Four years ago (in 2005 to be precise… as I still have all my paperwork) I researched Sea Gipsies and elephants who escaped the tsunami because of their intuitive knowledge… a sort of 6th sense. I discovered these insights while reading Ian McCallum’s book, Ecological Intelligence. Fascinated I broached the idea of a story based on this. But the tsunami had...

Greedy for Summer to last (and Summertime with JM Coetzee)

After Meg’s really superb piece yesterday and all the responses, this seems frivolous but it’s the week-end! In a recent SAS newsletter there was some good advice on what to do when rejected. For me it’s cooking. Banging pots and pans about, rocking a sharp mezzaluna blade against a tender stalk of celery, stabbing a tomato, hissing through a fennel bulb with a Japanese Global knife, are little acts of retribution. Cooking is something I turn to in all times of writing crises – at the first sign of a deadline or the smallest glitch in a plot. But I...

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (or aren’t!)

I grew up fairly free. I knew each mountain path behind my house and every rocky outcrop on my beach. My backyard seemed to demand engagement and a certain fearlessness. I suppose it was before ‘stranger danger’. So I was struck by a recent article that said 38% of UK children spend less than an hour outdoors daily. One boy said he liked to play indoors because that’s where all the electrical connections were! Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods uses a term ‘nature deficit disorder.’ There’s a disconnection. Children can probably tell you about deforestation...

HARRIS LEAPS TO FAME

Harris has not only found his feet, but has leapt as high into the air and the limelight as Roger Federer on Centre Court, after his defeat of the valiant Andy Roddick. Harris’s leap has secured him top ranking and a place forever in the Hall of Kate Greenaway Fame where his portrait will hang alongside other such legends and Title Holders as:Charlie and LolaDish and SpoonLong Neck and Thunder FootGorilla (and Hannah)Tim (All Alone… not Henman)Mister MagnoliaBorkaLittle BearBaby BuntingGulliverDoggerAliceand Mr Grumpy to name a few over the years. His portrait (frame supplied by blogger and not artist) is a...