Thursday, 15 March 2018

Do you have a Book Club?

The UK charity Schoolreaders is challenging members of Book Clubs to take part in a quiz anytime between 1st March and 24th May 2018

Did you know that in 2017 one in four children aged 11 failed to reach the government’s required reading standards?
​This can have lifelong consequences.

Schoolreaders helps to address this problem by finding volunteers to read one-to-one with children in primary schools, at no cost to the school. It costs Schoolreaders an average of just £15 to provide reading support to one child for a whole academic year.

By taking part in the Book Club Quiz Challenge you will be helping Schoolreaders to reach many more children this year.

My own Book Club is taking part.

I sent off to the information pack, which can be requested here

If you have any questions, email, or telephone 01234 924222

The pack includes some wonderful bookmarks and postcards.

If you are interested, let them know on Facebook here

One of our Book Club members immediately volunteered to become a school readers, helping children learn to read in a local school of her choice. I'll let you know how we get on with our quiz next week.

Monday, 11 December 2017

A feature article in Living magazine

Sophie Neville was invited to write an article for the December issue of Living magazine about the locations featured in Arthur Ransome's series of Swallows and Amazons books. As the British Author died fifty years ago, it seemed a fitting way to remember the places he loved and wrote about, inspiring generation after generation to get out on the water and experience life in the great outdoors.

The idea was to encourage readers to spend time searching for literary locations in the English Lake District. It's a great theme for a holiday if you are travelling alone or with your family, as featured in the pages of Sophie's memoir, 'Funnily Enough' when she went boating on Windermere and Coniston with her father.

The Arthur Ransome Society is now the second biggest literary society in the UK, perhaps partly because it attracts families who like to take part in activities such as camping, sailing, swimming, birdwatching, photography, archery, skating and tobogganing. They offer grants for young members in search of adventure or taking up interests advocated by the author such playing chess or tying fishing flies. There is also a research grant and any number of interesting opportunities for adult members.

You can read the article on-line here

Monday, 6 November 2017

A signed copy of 'The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974)'

The Nancy Blackettt Trust launched a competition to win a signed copy of Sophie Neville's often hilarious account of making the movie 'Swallows and Amazons' on location in the Lake District in 1974. 

It was won by a lady working as a librarian who happened to be visiting some of the film locations featured in the book the very next week. 

Please visit the Nancy Blackett website for other book offers.  

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Further adventures of the Donny Osmond Hat

It is still shiny. The purple velvet cap, bought in Carnaby Street in the late sixties, had a little outing recently, making an appearance on the local 6 O'clock News.

'Where did you get that hat?' I was asked.

'It's my mother's!'

I had to plough through our family snaps in an effort to date it. Here it is on a car-ferry with us in tow. Note Mum's brown suede coat with large rounded collars. She always worried about it getting spoilt in the rain. As children, we wore more resiliant anoraks or duffel coats with mittens attached to the sleeves. Turn your head and all you saw with the inside of the duffel's hood

We must have been off to the Channel Islands. What date? 1969? 1970? I would have been nine years old, wearing what we called a 'parker' - a prototype hoody made of pale grey cotton with someone's logo printed to the front.

Mum was working for HTV as a television presenter, making a special programme on Jersey when hired a sports car and zoomed around the harbour.

We visited Gerald Durrell's zoo.

My mother bought the hat in an effort to look glamourous when there was no hairdresser at hand. She said it was very expensive but acquired at a good price because there was a slight flaw in the velvet. Here we are at a wedding, Mum in white tights and the three of us in itchy crimplene dresses and straw bonnets.

It can be seen here matched with frothier dress, what must have been a fore-runner to Laura Ashley's designs with lacy bits, frilly cuffs and a pie-crust collar.

Was this the same hat, far right, on the set of the HTV drama series 'Arthur of the Britons'? I wore brown cordory and Mum her safari jacket. My sister was in Saxon costume, standing by to appear in the arms of Oliver Tobias who was playing King Arthur.

I wear the cap now when skies are grey or when I'm sailing. It is comfortable and remarkably good in all weathers. It never complains. How old it is now? 47 years? 48? The label says, 'MALYARD HATS LONDON W1. Chris Holmes has written in to say it was probably designed by the leading London hatter and milliner George Malyard whose work is listed in the Archive of Art and Design at the V&A Museum. You can see photographs of other hats made in 1969 here and here

I hope it's not too precious to wear sailing.

~Author Sophie Neville on the Solway~

Monday, 11 September 2017

Rudi the Otter at the Royal County of Berkshire Show near Newbury

Funnily Enough life with the tame otters is more exciting than ever.

Rudi the Otter appeared at The Royal County of Berkshire Show near Newbury this September and will be at
Countryside Learning 2018 (formally known as Countryside Live) by the River Lee on Hackney Marshes in North London from Wedenesday 27th September until Sunday 1st October

You can see more photos and read more about Rudi and his campaign to reduce road casualties in this months issue of Out & About magazine here

To read more about our tame otter appearing in the drama serial 'The Durrells' on ITV please click here

photo (c) Out & About magazine 2017

Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Diary of a Tame Otter

Daphne Neville, who is protrayed in 'Funnily Enough', is still working as a conservationist. You can hear her speak about otters and meet her hand-reared Asian short-clawed otter Rudi this summer. They will be appearing at various country shows, talking to farmers and land owners about how it is possible to encourage otters to return to rural watercourses and chatting to families about the thirteen different species of otters to be found worldwide.

Come to meet Rudi-the-Otter at:

Thursday 3rd August at the Honiton Agricultural Show in East Devon

Thursday 24th August at the Melplash Show near Bridport in South Devon

Saturday 26th-28th August at the Aylsham Show in Norfolk

Sunday 10th September at Frampton Country Fair in south Gloucestershire

Sat 16th and Sun 17th September at the Royal County of Berkshire Show near Newbury

26th Spetember to 1st October at Countryside Learning at Lee Valley in north London.

You can read about the adventures of Daphne's tame otters in her memoir 'Bee a particular Otter' available on Amazon

Friday, 21 July 2017

Taking friends to the Curious Arts Festival

~Author Sophie Neville with her curious creature~

I am excited about taking a gang of friends to the Curious Arts Festival in the New Forest on the south coast of England - a fabulous event for anyone who loves books, music and the great outdoors, along with a few exotic cocktails and eccentricities thrown in. 

We are hoping to be able to listen to authors Joanna Trollope and Rick Stroud talk about their new books before spending the afternoon foraging in the grounds of Pylwell Park where the event is taking place. I'm please so say I can take the dog.

They also have the playwright Christopher Hampson, Historian Peter Frankopan who has bought out an aclaimed book on 'The Silk Roads', Dave Eggars from San Francisco, bestselling author Matt Haig, Murray Lachlan Young, journalist Lynn Barber, Vendala Vida, Eimear McBride, andrew O'Hagan, poet Max Wallis, Daniel Cole, Richard Beard, Jess Kidd, Hari Kunzru, Bella Pollen, Robert McCrum, Tom Hocknell, the Emergency Poet and many others will be speaking about their books. 

Some people make a long weekend and camp for two nights. We are taking gumboots and a selection of hats so that we can enjoy a day that promises to end with comic entertainment and the legendary John Illsley of Dire Straits fame playing in a circus tent.  

You can find more information on the Curious Arts Festival's website here