Week 16 : In the dark

Although the UK is still officially on British Summer Time, the nights are definitely drawing in and there’s a chill in the air. The leaves are at the end of their autumn showing and rainy days are increasing; autumn is almost over and summer is a distant memory. As I mentioned last week, I have missed the UK’s changing seasons.  Hong Kong can sometimes feel like one long season, leaves don’t fall off trees (much) and although the temperature changes from summer to winter, spring and autumn almost don’t exist. The other big change between UK and HK is the day and night cycle. Next weekend the UK will put the clocks back an hour so we will be back on Greenwich Mean Time which means it will get dark around tea time and the sun won’t be up before I’ve had my breakfast (ok, so I’m not an early riser). Day light hours will be short, not giving the air time to warm up; I’m not looking forward to the cold, dark days of winter. In Hong Kong, it gets dark around 7pm in the summer and around 6pm in the winter so no real change.

I’m also now living in the countryside not the city which gives me wonderful open views in the daytime but makes for very dark nights. Let me show you what I mean.

This is my night time view from our old apartment in Hong Kong.

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This is the night time view from our house in Sussex, can you see anything? No? Me neither!

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I’m feeling rather closed in! Light pours out of high rises in Hong Kong. My nearest city, Brighton, doesn’t really have high rise buildings so although on street level there is plenty of light, it feels like the sky starts closer to the ground because of the lack of lights higher than say 10 storeys. Not good, not bad just different.

However, in two weeks the sky will light up all over the UK as we celebrate Bonfire Night! Watch out for that post, sparks may fly 😉

Next week, we shall all be in Johannesburg and on safari! Forgive me if my blog is late next week, I might have upset a lion!

 

 

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Week 15 : An English autumn

Nothing profound this week dear readers, just lots of lovely photos from my local National Trust property,Nymans Gardens  http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans/. One of the things I missed most about the UK whilst living in Hong Kong was the season changes and although I’m not enjoying the drop in temperature that accompanies the change from summer to autumn, I’m certainly enjoying the colours in the countryside.

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Week 14 : Books

I love reading. I’ve always been a book worm and I’m proud to say, not a book snob (although can’t quite bring myself to read “50 Shades of Grey). If I’ve read a mighty tome then for me there’s nothing better  than to sit down with a good chick lit book (is that an oxymoron?) because I find that my brain still wants to process the said tome but my eyes yearn for the printed word. Not that it has to be a print version; I have a fully charged Kindle and know how to use it!

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I was lucky enough to be the Library Assistant at a children’s primary school in Hong Kong for six wonderful years. The joy of connecting children with books, with helping staff find just the right book for their needs, to ease parents’ anxieties about their child’s reading and to have the privilege of helping to select new books for our library was so satisfying and I am eternally grateful to the three fabulously talented librarians, for whom I had the honour to work, for letting me do all this.

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Now I’m back in the UK and not ready to enter the paid job market, I actually have time to attend author talks. Recently I was lucky enough to listen to Oliver Jeffers and David Mackintosh in conversation at the Brighton Dome with my lovely author friend Sally Symes. Wow, what amazing if contrasting men they were. They both write and illustrate picture books for young children. They have quite different styles and very different approaches to their work but were united in their passion for telling a story mainly through the use of illustrations. What impressed me was that the story they wanted to tell was paramount. Neither man liked the idea of composing moralistic or preachy books, they both were firm that children would (and do) see right through them. However as they are both people with integrity, good messages ooze out of their books with ease.

So if you are looking for gifts for any child for any occasion, here are the first wonderful authors I can recommend.

http://www.oliverjeffers.com

http://www.profuselyillustrated.com

http://www.sallysymes.com

I’m now incredibly excited about another author I’m going to hear in next week and there are not enough adjectives to describe how much I love this man’s writing,. This summer I read his two new books and I’m going to listen to him reading “Fortunately the milk” out loud in its entirety! It’s Neil Gaiman I’m raving on about in case the print is too small on the photo. He writes for adults as well as children so please do look at his website. Recently my 16 year old son turned to me and said he’d discovered a new author, was enthralled with his books and wanted to be able to write like him. Of course I asked who and he asked if I’d heard of Neil Gaiman, ah kids. It’s every parent’s dream that their child will like reading so you can imagine my delight hearing my son has fallen in love with one of my favourite authors. Here’s Neil’s website link for your shopping list.

http://www.neilgaiman.com

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One of the previously mentioned talented librarians I worked for is now working and living in Australia. I turned 50 this year and she took the time and went to the expense of posting me the most wonderful book. It’s a reference book and the title says it all. “1001 children’s books you must read before you grow up” I must be still growing up because I’ve not read them all yet….! So if you are still looking for a book to recommend to a child, look no further.  Now I just need to find some free wall space in my house to unpack my boxes of books! Happy reading everyone.

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