Saturday, 27 March 2010

Wonderful Folly

This week, I had the most amazing day.

For those who don't live in the UK, Tunbridge Wells is generally seen as a place of money, elegance, big shiny cars and Buckingham Palace accents, so what was I doing there? Just a few miles out of Tunbridge Wells, hiding in the country, is Folly Wildlife Rescue. Have a look at their website at, but don't turn up on their doorstep, because you can only visit by appointment, and I feel most privileged that I was able to go there. I was ushered up to a quiet room where the amazing Annette was patiently bottle feeding fox cubs.

That's what they do at Folly. They take in sick, injured and abandoned wild animals and birds and help them to reach the stage where they can safely take their place in the wild again. That's why it isn't open to the public - they are focused on the animals, and sick animals don't want human noise around them. (Would you want to be gawped at if you were in hospital?) When I say 'they', Folly is run by a husband and wife team, two staff, and whole hosts of volunteers who are willing to spend an afternoon cleaning up animal poo just for the love of the creatures. They are on call 24/7. Please, please, look at the website and be inspired.

I asked Annette about important things to pass on. Respect the animals, she said. Of course. But respecting the animal doesn't just mean caring about it. I would suggest it means remembering that they are not here for our entertainment, and to remember that, ultimately, the animals know what's best for them.

And if you see an abandoned baby animal or bird, it probably isn't abandoned at all. Mother is almost certainly watching. Leave it alone. Keep an eye on it, but don't intervene unless you have reason to think that it's sick, injured or distressed. And don't try to deal with it yourself - take it to a vet or a wildlife rescue centre. You may even be lucky enough to live near somewhere like Folly.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Message, or messsge, or misssige

Here is a very important msssge or is mssige or ssmmge

Here is a very important announcement

Urchin and the Rage Tide comes out on 20 July 2010!!!

Your patience is to be rewarded at last. Oh, happy day. And if you think it looks like a long time, just think - it's nearly Easter, and after Easter the fun summery things start happening. Then, for all of you in the US, Independence Day. Then the end of term and Urchin. I'm looking forward to it too.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

the messsge mirror

At present the message mirror has something not very polite written on it. Nothing shocking or offensive, of course - not on my message mirror - but just not very polite.

The message mirror is in our hall, and is very useful for writing on. We keep some thick washable felt pens and some cleaning stuff beside it. Sometimes it just says things like 'buy flowers' or 'post parcel', or it might be 'Hello Claire' or whoever else might be coming to see us. It usually acknowledges birthdays, favourite saints days, and all other odd celebrations. Sometimes it reminds us to pray for people. At the beginning of each month, it usually has pictures of rabbits, because you should always say 'rabbits, rabbits rabbits' at the first of the month. (Or so I was told.) And various visiting friends and godfamily usually write on it too. Very Small Goddaughter has now sorted out the difference between the mirror and the wall, which is a big help.

Lovely younger son, 'the laddie', always sorts out the recycling and leaves it out for collection the night before its due. Last week he forgot, so on the message mirror I put a picture of a very angry fairy, and 'the recycling fairy is very cross'.

Another message has now appeared. I think I should clean it off before the recycling fairy sees it, and gets even crosser. And who knows what she might do?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Well, what a lot of critters I've met this weekend! On Saturday, husband and I visited a wildlife rescue centre (British Wildlife Rescue, near Stafford),and met all manner of things (from a safe distance). Owls, a kestrel, magpies, all manner of birds, rabbits, a cygnet, a clan or two of chipmunks, hedgehogs, ferrets, and polecats. The fox wasn't to be seen, but boy, we knew she was there. They're all rescue amimals, some brought by the police or the RSPCA, but mostly by members of the public. The people who work at these places are amazing - most are volunteers, and wildlife rescue places depend entirely on donations.

The polecats were having their enclosure cleaned out while we were there.


A young man in overalls and good humour brought a black bin bag for the rubbish...


Polecats have sharp teeth and don't mind using them, but they are playful, and a black bin bag is there to play in. That's why it was running about from one side of the enclosure to the other, rolling over and getting up again. It had a polecat inside it, and another one trying to find the way in. I thought maybe I should rescue the overall man and hand him in at reception, but they didn't bite him or harm him at all, only played around his feet and tried to trip him up.

No, don't go getting one as a pet. Think of those teeth. And all that polecat poo to clear up. But I can recommend visiting a wildlife centre.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Following the grumblings of Much the Gnome yesterday, may I explain that I work very hard, that the china is beautiful, and that any meandering around charity shops can be a potential source of inspiration. If I tell myself this often enough, I will come to believe it. I would be working very hard on notes for a story now, but the gas man is here doing something to the radiators in my attic study and I am keeping out of the way. (The radiators are making very rude noises, which I think is a good sign.)

American readers may like to know that the coming Sunday is Mothering Sunday here (don't you dare call it Mother's Day, it's Mothering Sunday in the House of Stories.) Our children's groups are going to make medals for mums, which is why I needed the ribbons.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Blooming woman went off today to see the dental High Jeanist. I'm a gnome, I ain't fussy, the Low Jeanest would do me and the Standard Jeanist's good enough for most folks, but 'er as to see the High Jeanist. Three hours later, she come 'ome. Bloomin 'eck, I thought, 'er teeth must be shocking. But 'er couldn't just go straight there and come 'ome, could 'er? No, 'er 'ad to buy bread, not from the supermarket, neither, from the shop at t'other end of the town what does the organanical rye bread. And 'er 'ad to get ribbons for them kids to play about with. And er 'as to 'ave a nosey round the charity shops and comes 'ome all excited about a bit of china . Wedgwood, 'er says. I don't care if it's Hollywood, I says, you want to get some work done.

I know, if 'er buys stuff at the little shops 'er's supporting small local businesses. If 'er buys stuff from the charity shops er's supporting good causes. And I told 'er if she don't get 'er 'ead down and do some work 'er won't be buying nothing. That sorted 'er out.

Saturday, 6 March 2010


The new dragon arrived yesterday!

The Glassblobbery at is one of our regular calling points in Wales, so we were there a week or two ago. I noticed that, though they had various sporting dragons and busy dragons, they didn't have a writing dragon.

No writing dragon, no problem. They do commissions, even little ones like a dragon with pen and paper, and offered to make one for me. Beautiful little dragon arrived safely yesterday and is red, about six inches tall, and waiting for a name. (I'm not sure if it's male or female, and don't like to ask. Well, you wouldn't, would you?) All suggestions welcome.

I note that, unlike me, it's left-handed. Maybe it's telling me to think in a different way about my next book? By the way, ideas are like seedlings - you cultivate lots of them, and choose the strongest.

Monday, 1 March 2010

st david's day

To all Welsh, Welsh-descendant and friends-of-Wales readers, Happy St David's Day. A week ago I was in North Wales watching the constant change of the light on the mountains. On Tuesday we drove up into those mountains, through the high passes where snow was still heaped on either side of the road and shimmering from the peaks, with icicle necklaces strung from every overhanging rock. And so cold, the air tasted of needles! The afternoon was for curling up by a roaring fire with a good book, something I hardly ever get to do these days. Snow fell again, enough to look stunning, but sadly not enough to compel us to stay for one more day. Before coming home, we took care to visit the Glassblobbery and made the acquaintance of some more of their beautiful, beautiful dragons.

I am still thinking about new stories. Several seeds have been planted, and I'm waiting to see which ones grow strongly. Sometimes stories seem to tease me, they appear and disappear again and then another one pops up and waves at me, and I end up like a puppy in a field full of rabbits, not knowing which one to chase.

Hamilton the Wonder Hamster just sent a text - Y DOES SHE WNT NEW STORIES? SHE CAN JUST WRITE ABT ME!