It’s been two weeks since my last blog entry because I’ve been away on holiday – plenty of sunshine, although there was a lot here, too, so I understand. I wasn’t away for two whole weeks, though – far too much work on for that.

But the week before I went was occupied almost entirely with one thing – a big report for my North West project. I was determined to get a first draft done before I went, and I succeeded. I also managed to do some weeding, but the effects of that are now almost unnoticeable.

I had my second session with the school in Birmingham. This time it was much more successful; I had planned lots of different activities, in short bursts, and this fits in better with their rather short attention spans. What’s more, I managed to get them to imagine things – what it would feel like to be a football, or football boot, something that these boys find extremely difficult.

The remaining couple of days were spent gathering information about the South West project and making arrangements for the events I’m managing at the Ledbury Poetry Festival (on now! Go visit!) I also applied for some work, which sounds interesting and right up my street; let’s hope I hear favourably about it.

And I packed for my holiday. And wrote a new poem that I’m quite pleased with.

The holiday was different from usual, although I was back in my favourite place – Skiathos; it’s the fifth time I’ve been there. This time, though, I was not alone; The Bloke came with me. Usually I become like an animal. I swim and sunbathe and eat and read and write and sleep, and that’s all I do. But this time, we hired a car (and risked our lives on the rather interesting dirt-tracks they call roads), and went on a boat (this usually makes me very ill, but I was fine) and mooched about the town, and walked along a beautiful coast road with fantastic views, and went for a meal in a lovely restaurant high above the town. It was fun, and I think this is how I want to spend all my holidays in future.

I did some writing, too – some not particularly good poems, and a one-act play. I’ve started another play too.

We nearly didn’t go at all. As we were walking to the boarding gate, I realised I didn’t have my handbag; that would be the one with passport, ticket, credit card, phone, money… I had left it on the floor while I rearranged stuff in my rucksack. I did the sensible thing, in the circumstances – panicked. And then went to ask at the nearby shops if it had been handed in; it hadn’t. But the lady in W.H. Smiths showed me where the security guards were, and there one was, with my bag in his hand. An elderly couple had found the bag and taken the trouble to go and find the guard to hand it in. By this time I was shaking and sweating, furious with myself – how could I be so stupid? – and convinced that there would be no holiday. But the guard returned my bag, after checking that it really was mine, and the elderly gentleman hugged me, and all was well. Thank you, kind people at Manchester Airport.

Now I’m back. My flowers all look lovely, thanks to my next-door neighbour who has not only watered them but also coiled my hoses neatly. I had 183 emails, which I haven’t finished answering yet, and a pile of mail.

Yesterday I managed Brian Moses’ event at Ledbury, and that went well, but now it’s back to emails, mail, a report for the South West project, arranging meetings, prep for the school and a slam I’m running in Lydney this week. I’d like to type up everything I’ve written, but that will have to wait.

But – the sun is shining; I will take a little time today to pick the big fat blackcurrants straining to escape from the bush. It’s a good life.

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