Thursday, 26 November 2009


This is just a quick note at 23.43 UK time, to wish a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving for all of you visitors to the House of Stories from the USA.

And that was the 100th entry on this blog!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A sheep and a gnome

We at the House of Stories are so happy. Shaun the Sheep is back on TV. To our US readers, there may be a way you can see Shaun the Sheep, I don't know. How I hope you can! Come to the UK! Not only can you see the sights of London, Alnwick Castle, the Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia, Lindisfarne, Durham and Betty's Tea Room, you can watch Shaun the Sheep.

Blimey, it don't take much to keep 'er 'appy. Shaun the sheep, I ask yer. You all thought she was grafting away on a book, didn't yer, and she's taking time out to watch kids stuff on telly. Mebbe she is doing a book, but I'd like to bet it's not about me. She mutters on about all kinds of critters she wants to write about, but gnomes? Blow that for a game of soldiers. She's not been seeing much of them ducks this last week or so, neither. We've had that much rain, the river's going like Niagara and the ducks don't stay still for long. Plus the garden's that wet she'd sink without trace before you could say stale wholemeal.

Mind, he's good, that Shaun the Sheep. But what about the Gnome? Hang on, what's me name? Norman? Nick? Colonel Carruthers? Name the Gnome - anybody?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

fingal and I agree to disagree

The river is full. The rain has been tipping all day. Fingal doesn't see a problem with this. But Fingal isn't the one who has to go out to the post office presently. From this window the valley looks misty and wistful, but I don't think I'll enjoy it much when I'm battling through the rain. BUT I'LL GET TO WEAR MY BEAUTIFUL WELLIES.

Lady Sunshine and I had a magical day at the ballet with some very special friends on Saturday. If you get the chance to see Northern Ballet Theatre doing Christmas Carol (or anything else for that matter) do go and see it. Even for those not remotely into ballet, it's moving, funny, pacey and brilliantly executed. I believe they're doing Peter Pan this year, too.

Oh. There is an otter in my welly boot.

I suppose you think that's funny.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

poor guy

I've been in York a lot over the last few days. Amazing as it is, it's not a great place for fireworks - and now will the UK readers bear with me while I explain to the US readers about Bonfire Night.

Four hundred years ago, on 5 November, a group of devout but very extreme catholics plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament with the king and all the MPs in it. They were discovered just as the explosives expert, Guy Fawkes, was lighting the fuse. It all came to a very unpleasant end for the plotters, and ever since there have been bonfires and fireworks all over the UK on 5 November. In some places they still burn an effigy of poor old Guy Fawkes, a brave man, if a deluded one.

Personally, I suspect that there have always been bonfires in November to clear up all the autumn debris, long before Guy Fawkes. It can be great fun - bonfires, fireworks, hot soup, jacket potatoes, and parkin (if you live in Yorkshire - it's a sticky gingerbread). The downside is the flashes and bangs which can terrify cats and dogs even if you do keep them indoors, and there are always people around who shouldn't be allowed near anything more explosive than a party popper. (If you do have an autumn bonfire, always check in case there's a hedgehog hiding in there before you light it.)

And it's all wrong to burn anyone in effigy, even someone who's been dead for 400 years. Now, Guy Fawkes was born and brought up in York. He was baptised at St Michael-le-Belfry and educated at St Peter's School. So York is a bit fastidious about Bonfire Night, and St Peter's School don't, as far as I know observe it at all.

Friday, 6 November 2009


Happy Christmas, Hammy the Wonder Hamster is in the shops now! It may be too early to read it, but not too early to dash out and buy it! If you can't get to the shops or if you're in Yorkshire and it's wet, cold, and 'orrible out there, order it on the Puffin site and make Hamilton a star. Your hamster wants you to read this book!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

messy pup

I began today by spilling my mug of tea over the desk. Fortunately Cottontail Computer escaped and nothing important was damaged, but I have some wet notes, and a lot of never to be used stamps are in the bin. (NB wheelie bin and recycling to go out tonight.) If I had to make a mess, I'm glad I did it first thing and got it out of the way.

Gleaner would scold me for being such a messy little pup, Fingal would roll over laughing, and Docken would tell the story of the queen's bathwater from the Heir of Mistmantle.

And Hamilton Hamster? He would design a much heavier mug so that not even I could tip it over a good story. At least, I hope it's good.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

saints and hamsters


And love to all the very special people at St Deiniol's library in Wales, and if he isn't patron saint of mis-spelling, wy nott? I was there all too briefly last week, writing furiously, and I hope to be able to share the results with you one day.

Now, excuse me, Mistmantle animals, but this is The Month of the Hamster! The second book about Hammy the Wonder Hamster (whose real name, of course, is Hamilton) is due on Thursday! Yes! (Oh, and it's by Poppy Harris, but that's me.) I know it's early for Christmas, but you need time to get the word out that this is the must have book for keeping children and adults out of trouble during the holidays. I need to update the website, but in the meantime, you can take a look at Happy Christmas, Hammy the Wonder Hamster on the Puffin site. A school concert. A Christmas wish. A hamster with a microchip and big ideas. A very happy author who had great fun writing it.

To those of you looking forward to a post from Mistmantle, Fingal wants to know what a hamster is, and is it a kind of boat. Oakleaf said hamster sounds like sister and he's already got two of those and doesn't want any more, thanks.