Sorry it’s taken me so long to post since returning from China. I had a brilliant trip, mainly because everyone I approached was so generous with their time and talked so openly about some really tricky subjects. What was particularly useful for me – something I hadn’t anticipated – was to have ten days wandering around thinking solely about pandas (and not about what son A needs in his school bag, who’s picking son B up from nursery and what to try to feed them for tea). It was a pretty weird existence, spending every minute in the day juggling a host of different ideas, honing sentences in my head and pondering new perspectives on pandas. What with the jet-lag, which I didn’t quite get over, I spent much of the night doing the same. So by the time my plane touched down at Heathrow, I had made huge progress towards meeting my end-of-April deadline. It is still possible, I think.

I will gradually drip through some of my reflections from China in future posts, but would like to thank the Society of Authors here for a small grant that made it possible. I applied in September last year to the K. Blundell Trust, which “gives grants to British authors under the age of 40 whose project is for a British publisher. The project must aim to increase social awareness, and can be fiction or non-fiction.” This trip was so important for me and I made it at just the right time, sufficiently up-to-speed on everything panda to get the most out of my flying visit.

I’m back