The first poem I wrote was in Wales on a post card to all my relatives. I was about 8 and hated writing. I thought poems had to rhyme when I was small because all the ones my dad read me did. When my Nan died I was 25, and we found it still there among her possessions
A solid sheet of barren rock
A valley down below
A breeze blows on its lush green grass
As green as grass can grow
A silver fern against the rock
Yes all these things together
Will make the memory of this place
Stay with me forever
(and in fact it did, vividly.) The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes was my first favourite grown up poem. I still remember being in a classroom on a hot summer's day and then being suddenly transported by the poem to a world of snow and forest.
My favourite poet? Ooh – that’s not fair. I’d have to say Carol Anne Duffy, but I like lots of others too. My favourite illustrators are E H Shepard and Quentin Blake because their pictures always make me feel happy inside.
My favourite soup? Lavender. It has such a lovely smell. Oops sorry, I thought you said soap. I've never washed with soup so I can't comment.
My favourite fish is called Lucky Blue because he has survived for many years in our house and never once criticised my poetry. Old Goldy was not so lucky. And he was always complaining about my couplets.
My favourite time of day is when everyone else is asleep and I can spend hours scribbling with just the cats and dog for company. They listen solemnly when I read my scribbles back. My favourite place is the railway embankment next to our house where I played as a child. We didn't have Playstations in those days so we just had to rough it, making real mud pies and watching the seasons change. But don't feel too sorry for us, we loved it. There was also a family who lived in the next house along who kept, goats, zebra finches, rabbits, chickens and bantams, which are tiny hens. I was in Heaven. We had a real den made from an old scrubbed-out chicken house in which we used to store such delights as lukewarm lemonade and soggy Garibaldi biscuits, probably to the joy of visiting rats. Despite our very grubby finger nails and the visiting wildlife we somehow survived. Except for Goldy of course.
My favourite insect is a dragonfly. They are so beautiful they feel like they can't actually be real.
My favourite obscure fact about myself is that once, when I was 8, I slid down the railway embankment on my bottom in a brand new dress and stockings. This did not seem to make my mum happy at all and she felt the need to convey her displeasure by asking lots of trick questions like “Did you think that was a good idea?” and playing a sort of game of chase with me around the house whilst waving a muddy stocking in the air. Adults can be so confusing.