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Inspiring a love of language

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Welcome to Amy’s blog section:


Thanks for visiting my blog. I write about new books, things I’ve read about, Shakespeare-related stuff, and other important things like the weather, stationery, telly and running.

By amy, Apr 8 2016 09:09PM

Have you come across ‘found poetry’? It’s where people create a sort of poem collage, using words and phrases from other people’s writing and putting them together as a new piece of art. Dave Gorman does it on his programme ‘Modern Life is Goodish’ using internet comments, and there is loads online about other Found Poets and their work.

Well, I seem to find myself coming across these little scenes around the house, created sometimes by my children and sometimes by chance, which are like little stories waiting to be written. Or like I’ve interrupted a tiny play that objects in my house were acting out. I call them ‘found stories’, not because they are like story collages, or take other ideas to form a new piece of art, but just cos I found them. And they would make good stories.

Here’s what I mean… The following are just a few of the scenes I have genuinely found in my home. Deep sea drama, mysterious beast’s footprint in the snow, and a very nosy giraffe who will stop at NOTHING to get answers.

By amy, Feb 18 2015 03:18PM

Thank goodness.

1. Little crocuses (croci?) poking their pointy little heads out above the mud at the park

2. Actually going to the park without having to channel the thought of radiators to function enough to follow the boys from slide to climbing frame

3. That brilliant big fat circle of light in the sky – yes I know it has popped up from time to time over winter but with no Warmth Power. Yesterday I even felt it WARM ON MY FACE

4. Birds being back to their tweety selves and joyously having a big old lung-filling sing outside my window in the morning

5. Green dots appearing on trees and knowing that they will get bigger and lusher and change those dramatic, angular branches into softer, more wafty things

6. Lambs appearing in fields and doing their brilliant crazy leaping about

7. and to quote one of my absolute nearest and dearest, the sense of hope that spring brings…

Yesssssss. Lovely lovely spring.

By amy, Dec 20 2014 09:32PM

I’ve been driving round Northamptonshire these last couple of weeks, dropping my leaflet-boxes off at schools. This involved driving to a school, getting out and braving the wind, delivering the leaflet-box, getting back in the car, taming the wind-angered beast that is my hair, tapping in the next postcode and setting off again. I was struck, as I travelled round with the milky sunlight of winter creeping in, at the beauty of the county.

There were beautiful buildings, rural idylls and impressive sweeping hillsides.

And there were quirkinesses. There were llamas (alpacas?), a dog carrying a scarf as it went for a walk, and a couple of mightily impressive Christmas-decorated houses. It was a treat; thanks to the magic of sat nav I was able to just follow its cheery instructions and go on this magical mystery tour, taking in my surroundings rather than working out directions. I sang along to the radio, making up questionable harmonies to go with the Christmas songs that popped up and belting them out to the empty car. I made mental notes of pubs that looked just lovely. I went 'cor' at some of the fancy houses I saw. All in all it was a really pleasant way to spend some time. It’s been lovely getting to know my county a bit better – another unexpected treat of having started ExploraBox.

PS it was 7th in the Halifax Quality of Life Survey 2014, as seen in local paper Herald and Post here.

By amy, Dec 1 2014 09:08PM

It was one of those times when your body knows sleep is the right way forward but your brain decides otherwise, and this time it wandered onto Shakespeare. ‘He loved a bit of magic, did that Shakespeare’, I thought, as I remembered the sessions I’d spent exploring The Tempest with Year 2 that week. ‘And a bit of murder. He didn’t half like a bit of murder. If he was alive now, I bet he’d love watching some decent telly dramas and Nordic noir.’ This was good. A nice bit of distraction thinking. ‘But then again he loved comedy too…I reckon he’d have been a fan of…..’ and this is where I couldn’t decide. He liked farcical stuff, and wordplay, and often his comedies have other darker elements, or magical aspects. So maybe he’d like Nighty Night? Not Going Out would have lots of puns for him. Mock The Week for some satire? Despite my life-long adoration of telly comedy I struggled to think of many comedies with magical elements in them – any ideas?

My Mum (excellent at this sort of stuff and also never asks why I might want to know, just accepts it as a genuine question) reckoned on QI, Would I Lie To You, The Thick of It (as he liked political intrigue), and The Inbetweeners for bawdy comedy, among others in a fairly extensive list. Good shouts, I reckon (told you she was good).

What do you think? What telly suggestions would you give the Bard? If I have managed to work out how, I’ll have made comments accessible here, but if not then please do let me know on my Facebook page (or search ExploraBox) or my Twitter (@ExploraBox1)

Let’s aim for a good evening’s television planning for him and Anne to watch together on a rare Sunday night off back up visiting the folks in Stratford.

By amy, Nov 11 2014 02:10PM

It was a sunny Saturday morning and there was much excitement in the house. An Adventure. And not just An Adventure but a Brilliant Adventure which was going to involve our dear friends, trains, one of the most inspiring cities in the world, and ACTUAL OLIVER JEFFERS AND QUENTIN BLAKE.

I’ll spare you the comprehensive details of the tube ride (smallest boy exceptionally excited), the lunch (international food market), the meal after (lemonade with mint, nice) and my own reaction whenever I go back to London (wide-eyed and instantly inspired) and concentrate on the important stuff. Our wonderful friends had bought us tickets to @southbankcentre ‘s event: a talk by Oliver Jeffers, followed by a conversation between himself and Quentin Blake. As soon as we entered the Southbank Centre, the mural that Oliver Jeffers and Jon Burgerman were painting greeted us. A smash of bright pink with a white alphabet stated its case and served as backdrop for the two artists at work. To watch the two of them (both at this early stage, and later, after the talks) was fascinating – to try and work out how planned the details were, or to see which characters appeared in the letters.

12:00. Oliver Jeffers talked, drew, answered and explained. He told us stories and described how he made them, he drew us pictures and showed us how he’d come to that point, and he answered lots of our questions. He gave us hints (if ever you are stuck, draw an elephant. Which is flying. And has laser eyes. And is on fire.) and he let us take a peek into what it is like to be an author-illustrator, and a very successful one at that. And he did it with such charm and good humour, and a brilliant understanding of his very varied audience.

We queued for book signing and grabbed a bite to eat and then went back in to see Oliver Jeffers talk with the legendary Quentin Blake. It was fascinating to see the two of them together – they were genuinely interested in each other’s craft, and I got the impression that their conversation would continue back stage for some time, until they had managed to sort out which pens work best for which jobs. The real eye-opener was glimpses of both artists’ fine art. Obviously we know they are hugely talented artists and that they produce a range of work but I loved the fizz in the audience when the seen-less-often pieces were put up on the screen.

There is something about seeing/hearing/watching an artist/writer at work, or discussing their work. It is usually such a private pursuit that it feels like you are peeking from behind their studio or office door, trying to lean round and see their pen or brush in action. But, instead of being shooed away like irritating children in a Victorian novel, Oliver Jeffers and Quentin Blake beckoned us in, told us to pull up a chair, and talked us through their process. A glimpse inside the creative quietness. A privilege and a treat.

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