Saturday, 16 September 2017

BLUE: WHEN I WENT TO PRIDE...

Reader Blue travelled up to the Glasgow Pride Festival this summer - here, she tells us what her day was like!

Blue says:
I'd travelled quite a way but didn't get to take part in the parade itself - all I can tell you is that there were lots of rainbow flags, a police car decorated with rainbow balloons and a Tesco float that somehow produced rainbow smoke! I did get to Glasgow Green where there were lots of stalls and fairground rides and a stall selling things like flags and badges and flower crowns. I managed to find some vegetable tempura and there was even a dog show - I saw a Staffie dressed as Sonic the Hedgehog and various small dogs dressed in rainbow tutus and bandanas.  My friend swears she saw a rainbow dyed Dalmation, too!

As for the people, so many were dressed up in various fantastical styles! Many of us were wearing our respective Pride flags as capes, and lots wore plastic rain ponchos because the weather was flipping between blue skies and sun one minute and downpour the next. That just gave the host a chance to make jokes about the sun 'coming out' though!
The main stage was where the magic really happened - I watched a group of drag queens dancing, and one of them, dressed as an alien and dancing to Katy perry's 'Extraterrestrial' joined the crowd to pose for photos with fans afterwards. A band called Collabro played a great set too, including 'The Circle of Life' from The Lion King! DJs played music in between the bands and the 'Macarena' got the whole crowd dancing in sync - I absolutely loved the carefree atmosphere.

Pride is just such an accepting place and a great celebration, not just for LGBT+ people but for everyone! People were dressed whatever way they wanted to, whether that was Lolita, punk, drag, their own eclectic style or just men putting glitter in their beards! Nobody laughed at anyone else because we were all comfortable being who we were, without judgement. In fact, total strangers were complimenting each other on their look, which was lovely! I'll definitely be going back next year, and I'll try not to miss the parade next time!

Cathy says:
I watched the Liverpool Pride Parade this year and loved it too... such a happy, positive and peaceful way of showing the world that love is what matters, no matter whether someone is straight, gay or otherwise. Would YOU take part in a local LGBT pride festival? Do you think we still have work to do before the LGBT community feel fully accepted? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

JAY: THE END OF SUMMER...

Reader Jay will be glad to see the back of the summer of 2017... read on to find out why...

Jay says:
It started out with every promise of being a great summer. My family were going on holiday to Blackpool and my older sister Lucy, who is at uni in Birmingham, was coming too. I was so looking forward to seeing her because I had missed her so much. I went clothes shopping with my mum and got some great bargains, and even downloaded the new CC book onto my Kindle to read while I was away. The first sign that things weren't going well was that Lucy seemed a bit withdrawn and moody with me, sometimes snapping at me that I didn't realise how lucky I was. (I'd just finished taking my GCSE exams, so I didn't feel lucky!) Then, as we drove north, the rain started and when we looked up the weather online it said the whole week was going to be wet. The hotel wasn't as good as it looked in the pictures either, and the mood was a bit subdued although we went through the motions and did the funfair, the shops, and booked a couple of shows.

It got much worse, sadly. Halfway through the week, Mum got a call from Grandad telling us my nan had been taken into hospital with a stroke. At that point we abandoned the holiday and drove to Wales to see Nan. It was the first time I have seen anyone so ill - she couldn't talk or move much, though she could squeeze your hand, and she had an oxygen mask on to breathe. Mum said she could hear us so we told her how much we loved her and to get better soon. On the second night, sitting in the family room in the hospital, my sister Lucy told me she was miserable at uni and was dropping out, she had been seeing a counsellor and taking anti-depressants but no matter what she did she still wasn't coping. I understood why things hadn't seemed right and promised to help her tell Mum and Dad.

We didn't get a chance though because Nan died the next morning, and after that the summer was all about funerals and choosing hymns and flower colours for the wreath and everybody crying the whole time. It felt unreal, like everything was happening underwater. I spent a lot of time with Grandad, letting him talk about when Nan was young and they were first together. I have so many memories too, and I can't believe she's gone. Lucy told Mum and Dad two weeks ago and they were upset but they just accepted it in the end. Lucy is still struggling and looking for a job now. It has been the most horrible summer I can ever remember, and I will be so glad to see the end of it. It feels like the end of my childhood and the start of a much greyer, sadder future, but hopefully that feeling won't last forever.

Fab photograph by reader Davina... thank you so much!

Cathy says:
Sometimes in life, all the difficult stuff seems to come at once... no wonder Jay feels low. Things WILL pick up, though, and life will go on. Have YOU ever had a time when everything seemed to go wrong at once? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

YOUR STARS FOR SEPTEMBER...

Skye Tanberry has been stargazing again... read on to discover what thrills and spills lie in wait for you this month!

VIRGO: 24th Aug - 22nd Sept
Drop the worry and think positive - you're at a crossroads, and you can change your life for the better if you just have faith in your hopes and dreams, and the determination to see them through. Ditching the fears is the first step - and by far the most important!

LIBRA: 23rd Sept - 23rd Oct
A period of good luck is heading your way, and this could mean you have some spending money for once! It's OK to treat yourself, but don't go too crazy - plan carefully and make sure there's enough set aside for later!

SCORPIO: 24th Oct - 22nd Nov
Things are looking up... it's a LONG time since the stars have looked so good for Scorpios! Fun, friendship and happy times are all on the menu, and if you keep on working hard too you could be looking at an awesome year ahead!

SAGITTARIUS: 23rd Nov - 21st Dec
You've had a wild summer, socially, but things are calming down a little on the friendship front. It's time to top up your batteries and chill out a little - swimming, yoga, meditation, painting, reading or music should all help!

CAPRICORN: 22nd Dec - 19th Jan
Life has been a little stressy lately, but all of that's about to change! Friends and fun are the priority right now, and although old friends will become closer than ever, you may also meet new people who will become hugely important to you in the months ahead!

AQUARIUS: 20th Jan - 18th Feb
You have big ambitions, but up until now you haven't always been sure of how to make them real. Play to your strengths at school/ college/ work and don't hide your quirky creativity - these are the things that will get you noticed!

PISCES: 19th Feb - 20th Mar
Travel and adventure are on the cards for you, but to take advantage of this you need to stop worrying and trust the future. Focus on what you want from life and you're more likely to attract it - try it and see!

ARIES: 21st mar - 19th Apr
Romance and money are both fizzing away in your stars this month... enjoy! To keep things looking good, stay on track with study and do whatever you can to boost your self-esteem - fate will see to the rest!

TAURUS: 20th Apr - 20th May
Romance and friendship are moving into a much brighter zone for you, and relationships of all kinds should run more smoothly and bring joy. If you're struggling with a possessive friend/ partner, now is the time to cut your ties and break free.

GEMINI: 21st May - 21st June
You'v had a lot on your plate lately, but life should start running much more smoothly now. You're not a fan of routine, but make sure you keep on top of things - and take time out for fun and relaxation. All work and no play just doesn't work for Geminis!

CANCER: 2nd June - 22nd Jul
You love a bit of drama, but lately there's been a little too much of it... thankfully, things are going to be less intense now. Creativity and home life will take centre stage, so let your imagination go wild!

LEO: 23rd Jul - 23rd Aug
You've weathered some huge storms recently, but the rough seas are calming at last. Suddenly, everything will seem easier and you'll start finding fun in everyday things - a walk in the park, a day out with friends. Amazing chances could open up to anyone moving house/ school/ job!

Cathy says:
Hmmm... some exciting predictions here! Did they ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 11 September 2017

CHRISTINA: READ AND SHARE

Greek school teacher Christina Kasinti knows her pupils love reading... here she tells us about the brilliant 'Read and Share' eTwinning project they all took part in!

Christina says:
I am a teacher in the Third Junior High School in Corinth, Greece, and my students are great admirers of Cathy Cassidy and familiar with her books, especially Indigo Blue as a number of interesting exercises linked to this book are a part of First Grade in a Greek Junior High School. This year, we decided to get involved with a European eTwinning project called 'Read and Share', in which we worked with students from eight other countries across Europe. The aim was to create a love of reading in the students through various activities!

The project is cleverly woven around seven 'adventures' - these ranged from making and exchanging bookmarks, running a photographic contest for the best spontaneous photo of somebody reading, looking at unique and inspiring libraries and meeting an author. The project blossomed, and students from across Europe were able to exchange opinions on book issues and adopt ideas other schools had thought up, while adding in our own creative touch. At first, our team studied haiku poems and created their own haikus which were displayed in a 'poet-tree' - a pot of giant sunflowers at school. The Portuguese team were inspired to write their own haikus too, and their 'poet-tree' was a chestnut tree which they planted in the school yard!

The Polish team came up with the idea of reading picnics, and the Portuguese team adopted this too. The Spanish team took it a stage further and invented a special portable library, a travelling basket full of books to carry along! This was just a small taste of what we did - we shared so many experiences and feelings! We took a fairy tale trip to faraway China and celebrated Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Safer Internet Day at the library, as well as searching for the recipe for a good book, creating online games, painting legends and fairy tales and even creating jewellery, flowers and animals from old books! We staged a theatrical performance, set up a reading Flash Mob, a scavenger hunt and wrote a message in a bottle to future eTwinners!

One of the main outcomes of the project was the making of an eBook with a fairy tale structure which presents our adventures in story form. When we reached the end of the book, we realised that there is no end to our story - reading never ends, and for those of us who took part in the 'Read and Share' project, the adventures are only just beginning!

Cathy says:
Wow... this reading project sounds so, so awesome! I loved the eBook Christina's students made and the enthusiasm and passion for reading that the project awakened in those who took part. I wish all schools could do something like this! Have YOU ever taken part in an exciting book-linked project? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more! And BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the fab students of Third Junior High School of Corinth... you're just amazing!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

EMILY: A WORLD OF DOODLES!

Have you ever dreamed of making money from your drawings and doodles? Talented Emily decided to do just that... find out how!

Emily says:
For as long as I can remember, I've loved to draw and colour. From doodling to designing my own 'fashion magazines', drawing was such a fun and limitless thing to do.After GCSE art I went on to A level, and that point I realised that my style was different to the others in my class. 'Fine art' was the expected style - lifelike still-life paintings and detailed drawings. My art was different - it consisted of lots of line drawings, outlines, abstract ink sketches of vintage sweet shops and all types of jars and containers.

My art teacher in secondary school told me she thought some of my designs could be used on postcards and prints, and encouraged me to sell them. I felt so happy and motivated by this idea that I decided to try, and not long after I set up a Facebook page called Emily's Artwork to showcase my work. People started to buy, and for a long time it all went pretty well, but eventually it began to feel like hard work. When somebody bought a canvas, I had to buy the canvas, draw it, paint it and send it to them - this took a long time and energy just for one order, and had to be fitted around my GCSEs and A levels too, which was not ideal.

Not long ago, I decided to go in a different direction. I thought back to my love of colouring - something I have always found enjoyable and relaxing. When the 'adult colouring' craze began a couple of years ago, I was amazed... suddenly everyone was joining in with the thing I'd loved for so long! I looked at these designs and decided to try making some of my own, and that's when World of Doodles began!

I bought some sketchpads and some good ink drawing pens and stayed up past 1am sometimes, drawing and imagining and getting all my creativity down onto the page. Now I am designing my own colouring pages and bookmarks for those who want to share my love of colouring! In May I opened up a brand new Etsy shop for my pages. It has gone pretty well so far and I've even started selling custom designs!

It doesn't take a lot to find a passion for something - and if passion is too strong a word, then perhaps just an interest is enough to start with. Find something you are interested in - whether that be drawing, colouring, drama, horse riding, maths - whatever you are good at! Standing out from the crowd and finding your style is different to others is by no means a bad thing. It's an amazing, confidence-boosting, inspiring thing! Find your niche, find your passion and let it fly. Trust me - it's the best feeling in the world to be doing something you love!

You can visit Emily's Etsy shop by clicking on WORLD OF DOODLES... we think you'll like it lots! Check out Emily's FB page too, here: https://www.facebook.com/worldofdoodles/   

Cathy says:
I love this post - Emily's creativity and determination are opening up new doors for her, and tapping in to the current craze for colouring is genius! Do YOU have a secret passion you'd like to make into something more? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

DO YOU SPEAK CHOCOLATE?

Lovely children's writer CAS LESTER tells us all about her newest book... and it's a total must-read!


Cas says:
Imagine starting at a new school where you don't know anybody. I guess that might seem like a bit of a challenge. Now imagine that you don't even speak any English. Think about it -  standing around at break, being bombarded with questions you can't understand, and then, even worse, everyone abandoning you when they realise you can't actually talk to them. How gutting would that be?

But what if someone stayed, smiled at you, and offered you a piece of chocolate? Ah, well that might just be the start of a brilliant friendship! It's also the starting point for my latest book, DO YOU SPEAK CHOCOLATE? The story is about the friendship between Jaz and Nadima, who is a newly arrived refugee from Syria.

In fact, the story was inspired by a true story about a friendship between two real girls who were determined to become friends even though they didn't speak each other's language. They featured in a children's documentary I was cutting down for the BBC. Their friendship started with a smile.

Somebody once said, 'The language of friendship is not words, but meanings.' But I reckon that the language of friendship is chocolate! So what's your 'language of friendship'? A shared song? Football? Cheese and onion crisps?

Cathy says:
This sounds like my kind of book... well, I'm fluent in chocolate, for starters, and one of my most valued friendships was sealed over a shared slice of hot chocolate fudge cake! DO YOU SPEAK CHOCOLATE is out now... give it a go, and COMMENT BELOW to tell us about any other cool books you've read this summer!

Monday, 4 September 2017

KATIE: MY TOP TIPS FOR STARTING YEAR SEVEN!

Anxious about starting secondary school? Reader Katie has just finished Year Seven, so who better to share her tips on how to make it all go smoothly?

1/ Secondary school can feel like a big step, but focus on the positives not the negatives... it helps!

2/ Meet up with your friends to talk about it - you won't be the only one feeling nervous and together you can share ideas for making it all go smoothly!

3/ If you have an older brother or sister in high school, now is the time to ask for their advice and have a serious chat about how best to handle things.

4/ Be prepared. You have all summer to get uniform, gym kit and stationery sorted, so don't leave it to the last minute... you'll feel less stressed if you know it's all in order.

5/ Try to get a good night's sleep the night before you start - and sit down for a good breakfast, too. You have a big day ahead, make sure you're ready for it!

6/ Fix a smile on your face and be open, chatty and friendly to everyone. You need new friends, even if you're starting school with friends from primary, so be as friendly as you can be.

7/ Remember that it takes a while to really get to know someone, so give yourself time before trusting those new mates with your deepest, darkest secrets... a month or two in, you'll know who is a true friend and who isn't.

8/ If you are still unsure and nervous a few days in, talk to your friends and parents and get those worries out in the open so they can be sorted. Your form tutor is a good source of help and support at this point, too.

9/ School is what you make it. Don't fall into the trap of playing class clown - try hard in all your classes. You're there to learn, and if you forget that, it's your own future that will suffer.

10/ HAVE FUN!!!

Cathy says:
Excellent tips from Katie - I hope they help! If you've already done Year Seven, what would YOUR tips for new starters be? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!