I have relished countless cheerful and challenging chapters with all kinds of writers from creative maestro Malcolm Bradbury and Booker Prize contenders to enthusiastic versifiers and parish historians.

Homegrown volumes have long graced many shelves in this corner of the literary world and it has been a privilege to be at the heart of it all for the past six decades as book-loving journalist, broadcaster and occasional contributor with items bearing a distinctive Norfolk flavour.

Now and again, a character emerges from the page-turning crowd worthy of special attention and praise, especially at a time when genuine local pride tends to get lost in a lather of crass “celebrity” offerings and other inflated egos chasing the latest best-selling bandwagon.

Peter Woods, a gently-spoken retired headmaster with top-class marks for prolific output in a wide variety of subjects inspired by deep Norfolk roots, shows no signs of slowing down along the creative trail on returning to his native county. He and wife  Myra, also a former teacher, have a packed agenda to pursue from their North Walsham base.

Peter’s list includes plenty more writing, both prose and poetry, watercolour painting, natural history photography and an  occasional metal-detecting sortie. This all mirrors an exceptional energy and flair for projects within and alongside his much-lauded career as a highly respected and pioneering  teacher with a taste for archaeology and travel.

Born in 1936, Peter spent an idyllic childhood in and around his home town of Gorleston after being evacuated just over the border to Brandon for much of the Second World War. He attended Stradbroke Road Junior School in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth Grammar School and then completed his National Service  with the RAF in Germany before going on to study at Loughborough Teachers Training College.

He started his classroom career at Styles Secondary School in Yarmouth and then moved to Northamptonshire where he eventually became head at Brixworth Primary, one of the county’s largest,  and regularly invited well-known poets and novelist to work with the children and give evening talks to their parents .This co-operative arrangement culminated in publication of Rushaven Time, winner of a prestigious national  prize for children’s literature.

Peter saw this innovative approach to teaching  as “managing to raise the curtain a little and let some light into the darkness” and agreed with WB Yeats that: “Education is not the filling of the pot but the lighting of a fire.”

His popular fantasy saga, Avalon Days, started off as a collection of short stories he related  to the children while travelling by car through Norway. “The girls used to refer to them as ‘stories without books’ as they were in the process of learning how stories in print came originally from someone’s imagination.. they were becoming familiar with the creative process “.

Avalon Days  is available from Amazon and major bookshops.

During his early years of teaching, Peter was appointed county archaeologist to the architects department of Northamptonshire County Council and combined the two roles by being released from the classroom to  oversee emergency excavations of several  important Iron Age and Roman sites. This continued until a permanent archaeologist heading a full-time unit was appointed  in the mid-1970s.

Peter’s interest  and involvement in archaeology continued throughout his teaching years and afterwards. He has many archaeological publications to his name.

His main writing item currently calling for attention is A Norfolk Child, first of an extensive two-part autobiography of Peter’s early childhood. The second instalment, Halcyon Days, is due to follow within a year and will spotlight time he spent in and around the ruins of Burgh Castle with the fort’s custodian and farm workers working in adjacent fields.

As someone who found comfortable digs on Stradbroke Road in Gorleston during the mid-1960s while a reporter on the Yarmouth Mercury, I had to be intrigued by Peter’s post-war experiences on this coastal beat. We soon found a common haunt on the marshes and mudflats of Breydon Water.

There we both  sampled  a little of what he calls “poetry of the Norfolk landscape coming through the cry of the lapwing and redshank across he marshes and the faint and wind-borne voices of former inhabitants of this sometimes wild land where the horizon always seems further away than in other parts of the country.”

Easy to carry on comparing notes after that from a versatile scribe and adventurer still in full flow. A proud Norfolk man of many parts – and he’s delighted to show most of them remain in good order!

Illustrations gracing A Norfolk Child include wildlife and landscape artist Steve Cale’s  watercolours and Anne  Jope’s line drawings along with the author’s own photographs and family portraits.

Copies of the book can be obtained from Peter Woods, Lyngate Lodge, Lyngate Road,  North Walsham, NR28 ONE at £12 plus £4 package and posting.

Or contact him via email: arestos@btinternet.com