Wednesday 13 May 2015

Our endeavours on the rivers of England has qualified us for a name check in Country Life magazine courtesy of Griff Rhys Jones!

Griff is very kindly supporting our latest venture - to explore the length of the River Deben as Three Women in a Boat, though this year under our new guise as Daughters of the Deben.

He offered to be photographed with us in the local paper to help raise the profile of our venture which aims to celebrate our beautiful river and attract more people to rowing, and follows on from our eight days rowing the length of the Thames last year in a Victorian wooden skiff.

The photo shoot took place in Griff's garden on a damp Saturday morning. He was very enthusiastic about all that we were doing though, being very familiar with the river himself, he knew that it wasn't that great an undertaking to row it in a day.

Nevertheless, he was suitably impressed to mention it in his column for Country Life magazine. What a nice man!


Wednesday 11 February 2015

Whenever I do a piece on radio, I usually come away thinking I could have said things differently. Did I gabble? Did I stutter and umm and err? Unfortunately I don't like listening back so I am unable to objectively analyse my 'performance' or make any necessary reparations for the next time.

This morning, though I had a lovely encouragement.

I was asked to participate in the James Hazell programme on BBC Radio Suffolk, commenting on a new report into reading. I didn't have time to get nervous, just prepared a few thoughts and listened to the callers before me.

After doing my piece, the producer came on the line and almost squealed with delight - 'wow! that was amazing. I was held spellbound. If I wasn't a reader, I would be after listening to you. So descriptive. If you're not a writer, you should be!'

How lovely that she should have that reaction, but even nicer that she should be generous enough to tell me. What a great start to the day!

You can listen to the piece here:

Thursday 29 January 2015

Pupils from Woodbridge Primary School have created a lifesize coyote out of paper to mark the visit of debut novelist Emma Hooper to the town this week.

Emma is launching her novel 'Etta and Otto and Russell and James' in Woodbridge. It has just been named as the Radio Two Book Club book for February and she has received glowing reviews and high profile interviews throughout the media for many weeks.

I read the book some months ago as a proof, sent beautifully packaged with all sorts of themed goodies. I loved the story and wanted my event for Browsers Bookshop, with the Riverside Restaurant, to give guests a similarly memorable introduction to this wonderful book.

The schoolchildren have created a papier mache model just like those made by Otto in the story. They've made a coyote to represent the talking coyote in the book, who's called James. We will eat maple syrup cookies to remind us of the Canadian setting and the event will begin by echoing Etta's 2,000 trek to the sea, with a 20 minute walk along the River Deben.

We hope the snow will hold off long enough for us to enjoy the afternoon. Emma says the journey from Bath to Woodbridge will be nothing to her - she is used to the vast expanses of Canada. But is she familiar with British Sunday train travel?


Saturday 3 January 2015

I always thought I was a bit unusual in recording how many books I read each year, but it seems I am not alone in setting myself a reading challenge. 

This year I have seen Twitter feeds, a posting from the GoodRead website and an initiative launched by Penguin all urging people to share their goals, and to raise the stakes. I've found it quite astonishing how many people are aiming to read more than 100 books!

I wonder where all this has come from - have I been oblivious to all this activity before? Do I feel competitive or encouraged by being part of a 'community'? Would I rather be alone with my challenge?

It's rather like loving a book - you want everyone to read it because it's so good but at the same time you don't want anyone to read it because you want it to be your own personal discovery, your own special find.

I've signed up to the Penguin Inspiration or penguinspo (!). I read just 62 books last year (my lowest tally for quite a while), and I've stated my aim for 2015 as 100. Apparently Penguin will email me each month with recommended books to help me reach that goal. I'll let you know how I get on!

Saturday 11 October 2014

No matter how big my tower of must-read titles, I am always excited to find another book delivered in the post. And today I was doubly delighted when I found that I had been sent a book placed in a cardboard box, tied with coloured string, wrapped in colourful paper, nestling in a bed of straw. With it was a papier-mache pig, letter bearing a Canadian stamp and a maple syrup custard cream biscuit.

The book is 'Etta and Otto and Russell and James' and is a debut novel which will be released in January.

I don't know how much such marketing enterprises cost, but booklovers are generally easily pleased and this creative approach to sending an advance copy certainly brightened my day and made me eager to read the book.