Thursday, 24 March 2011

4# Wellington: Visitng schools - and sightseeing

The fourth school I visited was St Marks Church School, in Wellington.

The sun was shining as we drove around the waterside towards the school.    I met Tracy Nel the school librarian in the information centre, where we were joined by P1-3 classes and their teachers.

I read from What Colour is Love? and Hamish McHaggis.  The children helped me create some great characters and had fun learning some Scots words, too.

Read their report on my visit in their Re-marks newsletter (term 1 week 2-2011)

 Before leaving Wellington we spent a bit of time sightseeing......

A floating ball high above us


and finally we made our way to the wonderful Te Papa museum . we could have there stayed twice as long, there was so much to see,  and some fabulous interactive exhibits.

But sadly we had a fairly strict itinerary to keep to, so we were soon leaving Wellington on our way north to the lovely Hawkes Bay area and the Art Deco city of Napier.

Monday, 21 March 2011

3# New Zealand School visits - smilarities and differences

The third school I visited was Rangikura School in Porirua just a few miles away from Wellington.

Driving out of Wellington along the coast we headed up to the top of the hill where the view was quite breathtaking over the harbour the water shone in the brilliant sunshine.
Rangikura is a primary school with children from a wide range of backgrounds, which according to their website is -
41% Pasifika, 38% Maori, 14% European, 4% Asian and 3% Others.

We received a warm welcome from Ondine, the teacher I had been in touch with and with the help of another teacher the school hall was soon set up for my talk.;

First I spoke to the younger children about my picture book What Colour is Love? and then we shared a Hamish McHaggis story.

The second session was with the older children and focused on my teen novels. As often happens where you have long country roads and a more sparse and spread out population, there are unfortunately teenage drivers taking extra risks resulting on deaths on the roads.


So there were lots of questions which sparked off much discussion.

I really enjoyed meeting the obviously dedicated and enthusiastic staff and great children in Rangikura school that morning.

As often happens photographs don't really show the scene as well as you might wish, and this was taken from the car as we left the school. There wasn't much time before the second school so we didn't really have time to stop and enjoy the view, which was a pity.

2# Visiting New Zealand Schools

Following the wedding we were beginning to become acclimatised to the lovely summer weather in New Zealand which was, according to news reports, enjoying its warmest February for years -

not something I was about to complain about as I thought about the freezing cold we had left at home in Scotland.

It was now time to start the series of school visits that had been planned.

The lovely people at the New Zealand Book Council (which works in a vaguely similar way to our own excellent Scottish Book Trust)  contacted schools in their network just before Christmas.

Being on the other side of the world their schools were just about to start their long summer break but the response was wonderful with 21 schools asking if I could visit them when I came over in February.  I decided to visit 9 schools, all in North Island in a kind of loop that would lead us back to Auckland in time to fly out later in the month,  I was going to visit two schools in each place, and three when we returned to Auckland.

They were a mixture of primary and secondary schools and the teachers happily offered to get in touch during their holidays so that the details could be finalised before I left as the visits would be taking place at the beginning of their new school year (early February).

I wanted to speak to a mixture of ages of children but also in a variety of types of schools.  The first I visited was in Palmerston North, and after a visit overnight with friends in Whanganui we headed to Awatapu College  a High School where we were mat by a Scot whohas been resident in New Zealand for many years now, it was a nice touch! 
Mike Tuck the Head of English at Awatapu College had organised two classes of 13-14 year olds for me to speak to  about Dead Boy Talking and Spider, and there were some interesting questions.

After lunch there was a change of age group with a visit to a primary school to do a creative writing session with a small group of keen 8-9year old writers at the Central Normal School

I was curious about the name and discovered that it comes from it being a school there student teachers are trained, the purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, which is where they get the name.

Leaving Palmerston North we headed South to Wellington, a beautiful city on a bay.  We left Palmerston North in glorious sunshine but when we arrive din wellington the rain had arrived just before us and it was pouring.  But by the time we had checked into our hotel the rain had stopped.  Wellington is known to be a windy city and it lived up to its name the following day when we made our way to the New Zealand Book Council offices but with the sun shining it really didn't matter. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

1 - From Snow to Sun - An airport, a February summer and a Wedding

Winter snow arrived early in 2010 and the snow was still with us in January 2011, at times so deep that it was impossible to go anywhere.  This all made building snow teddy bears

amazing icicles

and musing at tyre hearts on the street, the main activities.

But luckily  we had other plans and by the end of January we had swapped the chilly snowbound UK for sunnier climes. 

After 12 hours on a plane waiting at an airport for a connecting flight can be daunting.  But there is one airport I really quite like, because it seems to have been designed with human beings in mind...

This is Singapore Airport,

where there are carpets and trees, an outdoor  swimming pool, a butterfly garden and you can go for a shower or even hire a room for a few hours sleep between flights.  Most civilised.

When we arrived there was even a chap playing gentle jazz on a grand piano as if he was in the lounge of some top hotel.

Flying on we landed in Brisbane airport and took the train south to meet friends on the Gold Coast.

It has been a strange time with disasters hitting all around.  Our trip had been planned before the dreadful floods hit Brisbane and we saw little of the devastation that had hit the city and further north, by then the floods had mostly subsided.

Arriving in Auckland we were met by Wayne Mills who is the quiz master of the Kids Lit Quiz .  Wayne was about to leave for the quiz heats in South Africa and then he was off to the heats in Canada where they were joining in the quiz for the first time this year. 

The World finals are being held in New Zealand This year and in July the national finalists from all over the world will come to Hamilton NZ for a fabulous world final event and a chance to see some of the amazing sights in New Zealand.  Teams from two schools, Cockermouth School and Bristol Grammar  in the UK will be there!

The next highlight of our trip was a wedding.  The kiwi bride was beautiful and the setting an amazing stone built family chapel and there was a contingent of Scots there on the groom's side, the men resplendent in their kilts!

Friday, 4 March 2011

WORLD BOOK DAY- Do not disturb- I'm reading!

My favourite picture for World Book Day!

Abigail - 15mths