Dates for February and March

Here are the confirmed dates for full-day workshops in February and March.

[Click on any date for booking details.]

February

Saturday 16th February  in Brasov, Romania.

March – UK

Friday 1st in Bath (alongside the Bath Literary Festival)

Tuesday 5th in Liverpool

Friday 8th in Manchester

Sunday 10th in Oxford (a week before the Oxford Literary Festival)

Tuesday 12th in Saffron Walden, Essex

Thursday 14th in Rye, East Sussex.

photo credit: Abbs Pepper
Where DO they get their ideas?

Autumn in Transylvania

From Thursday 26 September to Thursday 3rd October, I’m running a week-long intensive writers’ workshop in Magura, Transylvania. Read more…

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November and January workshops

Kitten and 'fragile' sign
Shameless emotional blackmail. Abandoned kitten now snug as a bug in a rug. Nothing to do with this post…

Back home after a fantastic week in London, Oxford and Liverpool: refreshed, inspired, enthused and ready for the autumn. It’s fantastic to see how people respond to the workshop and astonish themselves with the instant discovery of their, rich and infinite imagination. It excites me just to watch it happen, so think how they feel…

I’m now setting workshop dates for November in London, Manchester, Aberdeen and other UK cities, and California in early January. But if you’re not in the UK or California, and would like a workshop where you are, let me know. Magic can be done. All is possible.

PS The kitten is called Polka for now, because she has one small ginger dot on her head. But it’s not the right name for her. Any ideas? She was abandoned outside my house with her sister Porridge, and is now happier than anything on the planet. LATEST: Pigeon or Pidgin as a name? It seems to suit her better than Polka. Your thoughts?

Blockbuster love story to be written

A lifelong romance between a Yemeni shepherd boy and a Danish girl, this would make an extraordinary love story in print or on screen.

It was in Barry that Ahmed met his future wife, Christina: the blue-eyed, 15 year old daughter of a Danish seafarer. George Jorgenson was second-in-command on his ship, and was also the padre. Says Zane: ‘The Jorgenson family were very upset about this romance, and ordered Christina to give up this illiterate, penniless Arab. Knowing they would not be allowed to stay together in Wales, Christina and Ahmed eloped, with her family chasing after them.

‘My parents went first to South Shields – another deep sea port – and then to Liverpool, where they were married in 1934; my mother was 16, my father 26. By this time my mother had converted to Islam.’

It was soon afterwards that Christina’s family caught up with them, but seeing that the pair were married and they would not be split up, Christina’s family had to make a choice. Says Zane: ‘Instead of losing his daughter, my grandfather decided to make friends with this Arab gentleman she had chosen, and my mother and her family were reconciled.’

Read more…

Sugar, sugar

English: Sugar cane harvest at Marburg Sugar M...
English: Sugar cane harvest at Marburg Sugar Mill. Workers on the top of the wagons of sugar cane at Marburg. Postcard made by the Queensland Goverment to promote Queensland at the Fronco-British Exhibition, 1908. ‘1,728,789 tons of sugar-cane were grown in Queensland during 1906.’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1704 only 760 tons of raw sugar was imported through Liverpool, but by 1785 this had risen to 16,600 tons, supplying a dozen sugar houses in the town. Sugar arrived from Barbados and Demerara as a dark sticky molasses; treacle, syrup, sugar loaves and granulated sugar were all stages in the evolution of the refining process.

Another snippet to plunder – such a massive explosion of industry, and such a sticky one at that, is worth investigating. Sugar, which has a high boiling point, produced fierce burns, and many of the sugar houses were run by Germans, willing to work with the dangerous stuff when Liverpudlians weren’t.

Of all the sugar bakers and refiners in the town, the most famous was Henry Tate, whose sugar money founded the Tate Gallery.

Read more…