Moonstone land and splinters of rain

This time last week I was at the Imagine Festival on the South Bank running writing workshops for children on half term and taking refuge from the absolutely bone chilling cold on the Thames bank outside. We had less than an hour to turn out a bit of writing

so we had to work super fast. I got the young writers going by giving them a choice of what to write about – but not that much of a choice because in my workshops people pretty much have to write about animals. So at the start of each session I either showed some photos of whales that I’d taken in various bits of the world or took four or five suggestions for animals we could use as subjects – the only limits here being that they should be wild, and that the proposer should have thought of something interesting to say about their animal. There were suggestions as diverse as tardigrade (no, not going to tell you, look it up) and lion but the choices of subject and location seemed in the end to be influenced more by the weather than anything. Although the workshops were entirely separate and self contained, you’ll see that the temperature and light levels has got inside young writers’ minds…


Anyway, here they are. I’ve trawled my photos for things that match…no arctic foxes, vampire bats or emperor penguins I’m afraid, but lots of ice and snow and a handful of noctule bats…


Workshop One


Down in the deep, dark depths,

Where there is no light at all,

Not even a pinch the size of the smallest grain of salt,

Down where it is as cold as your baby’s tears,

I hear a faint sound, like distant hooves on metal.

It grows louder and louder, until the sound hurts.

Then, I reach out my hand and touch slippery skin:

The huge body of a sperm whale.


Workshop 2

Inside the Winter

The sky is as black as a penguin’s back.

Stars glimmer and shimmer in the immense darkness.

It is as cold as a bitter heart.

There is a sound, a sound like a thousand silk curtains shushing in the wind

A cacophony of penguin feet!

Each pair carries a precious, snow white egg.

Inside each a tiny promise grows,

The start of Spring in the heart of Winter.


Workshop 3

 The Battlefield

Sky dark as coal.

Land, a dim glow of moonstone-snow.

Like a moving dot on the horizon the Arctic fox sneaks and creeps.

It sniff the air, gracefully, searching for the smallest clue.


The faint thread of blood, lures the fox over the crisp snow and shattered ice.

Rushing paws scurrying to what could be a battlefield:

Scraps of skin, half a flipper, a crushed kidney

And bloodstained snow.

The fox will have a full belly.


On Monday I visited my old haunts in Devon. I spent a day in Uplowman primary school, just a few miles from where I lived on a smallholding for more than 10 years.  But it was another cold, dark day that got into the children’s writing, but in a really good way!

All the pieces were wrote are the start of bigger things that the children will continue to work on over the rest of the term.


Year 5 and 6 Uplowman School

The Sperm Whale

With one long confident blow, the whale head downwards,

through the clear surface water.

Light beams like splinters of rain then fades to welcoming darkness.


Deep, deep, deep, where squid glide and life glows, the whale scans

the shadows with its clicks…


Year 1 and 2 Uplowman School

Dolphin Dinners

In the blue, blue sea and the white foamy waves

A grey dolphin is swimming.

It zooms fast, chasing scaley, silvery fish.

The fish dodge from side to side

but the dolphin opens its mouth and grabs with sharp point teeth.

Gulp, gulp!

The fish is gone!


Year 3 and 4 Uplowman School

Vampire Bats

The air is hot and wet, like breath.

The night is blue and moonlight reflects on the wet leaves.

From a hole in a hollow tree a vampire bat glides out,

Between the twigs and branches, over the dark grass.

It flutters near a snoozing horse.

It lands gently, on the horse’s neck.

It bites fast and sharp, then spits into the cut to keep the blood flowing.

Lap, lap, lap!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *