Tuesday 10 October 2023

Watchful gargoyles!


a new generation of Gargoyles are brewing in the hidden corners of Buxton.....

here are a selection of faces from our recent Grotesques and Gargoyles event a

with many thanks to our friends at The Pump Room for this day of delightful eyeballs and laughing faces!

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Extra Gargoyle Events, Buxton

Extra Gargoyles!
Events on 1st November 

and 9th December 

It's always good to have an extra Gargoyle or two around the place!
As part of our ongoing Gargoyles and Grotesques project with Buxton Our Street,  we're putting on two additional events

Follow this link to find out about the other Gargoyle events this autumn and winter


Date: Wednesday 1st October

Venue: The Pump Room, The Crescent, Buxton, SK17 6BH

Times: 10.30 -15:00


Peering down from rooftops, hanging off the gutters, dribbling on passersby, playing with pigeons…there are Gargoyles on lots of the old buildings in Buxton


Artists from Creeping Toad and Stone and Water will be helping visitors make their own little gargoyles to take home. Our gargoyles might have wings, long tails, big claws, wobbly tongues. 

They might be friendly, or fierce. 

They might be beautiful or ugly. 

They might be dark or bright, glittery or fluffy. 

They might be all sorts of things, but they will definitely be wonderful!


This workshop is free and materials are provided


No booking needed, just drop by and join in: it probably takes about 30 – 45 minutes to make your gargoyle


Many thanks to our friends The Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust andThe Green Man Gallery for their support in this project


Saturday 9th December

The Green Man Gallery, Hardwick Studios, Hardwick Square S, Buxton, SK17 6PY

Times: 11am - 3pm

A smiling face on the wall? A face in the window to spy passersby? Or maybe a mysterious face to watch your festive celebrations from the shadows under the Tree? A last-minute gift for a forgotten friend?

Drop in and join the Gargoyle artists to make faces inspired by the carvings on Buxton buildings. Card, foam, colour and glue will combine to give us beautiful (and maybe not-so-beautiful!) faces to decorate homes with

This is a free event, and materials are provided

No booking or tickets needed

Just drop by and join in!

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Books, postcards and the Creativity Conference

Animals, stories, tree people and books

Autumn blows in with storm winds and rain - at least here in the hills of Britain’s peak District

A special welcome to the blog to participants at the Creativity Conference:

….we delve into the fundamental principles and methodologies behind creative thinking. Our approach empowers attendees to nurture and expand their creative endeavors, whatever they may be.

I am there among a treasure hoard of speakers. If you follow the link above, you can still register and join in on some of this year’s sessions - and you can access the library of this year’s discussions that you might have missed!

Baba Yaga (here by Bilibin)
flies in for a visit

I join the Conference as a storyteller talking about finding stories and relaxing into the inspiration the world around us offer…I’m also (hopefully) having fun talking about conversations with fairytale characters, stepping past the hype and the stereotypes and reaching for the story of the character themself

Out of those sessions, I hope people might be interested in my current publications

I have several books in print just now

Sacred Animals: reconnecting with the natural world

Gordon MacLellan

ISBN 978-1-915580-07-8

Green Magic Publishing, https://greenmagicpublishing.com/

For more details of Sacred Animals, visit this post

Old Stone and Ancient Bones: new poems from the hollow hills

Gordon MacLellan

ISBN 978-1-291-46593-8

I am also included in Homecoming 1: new animist writing published by Aurochs Underground Press (order from Aurochs)

And then there are our lovely Tree People postcards! see pics at end of post!

REST OF WORLD: try your local bookshops or an online bookseller (avoids the international postage!) but come back to me if there are problems!

Sacred Animals: 1 copy, £15:00 includes postage

Sacred Animals + 2 Creeping Toad postcards:
£16:00, includes postage

Old Stones: £5.00 a copy(includes postage)

Postcards: £0.50 each when included with other orders or 8 postcards for £5.00 (includes postage)


Email: creepingtoad@btinternet.com

FACEBOOK: Gordon MacLellan or Creeping Toad

DETAIL: your name, address, email and how many copies


PAYPAL: creepingtoad@btinternet.com

BACS: I can email details

CHEQUES: to Creeping Toad, 51-d West, Rd, Buxton, SK17 6HQ

BULK ORDERS through your own book distributors

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS: contact me directly or go a local bookseller

PUBLISHER: Green Magic Publishing website

Hawthorn Man (L) and Tall Tree (R)

Monday 18 September 2023

Gargoyles and Grotesques!

Gargoyles and grotesques
A new project for Buxton Our Street

What stories do the stones of our buildings tell us? Or what stories could they tell? Or what eyes watched us through the making of those stories…cold stone eyes peering down, peeking out, seeing everything, telling nothing. And then dropping rain in waterspouts on the heads of the unwary!

A gargoyle is a decorated waterspout that projects from a roof and carries rainwater away from the walls of a building, protecting it from damage, whilst a grotesque is a decorative carving that has no functional architectural purpose.
Gloucestershire Archives

Gargoyle on St Oswald's Church, Ashbourne

Creeping Toad and the Babbling Vagabonds Storytelling Theatre are going to be playing with ideas of gargoyles and grotesques over the next few weeks, inviting people to design, make and be messy around these wonderful, watchful presences on our buildings

Sorry, but we won’t be wielding chisels and shaping stone but we will be

  • Designing and making quick cardboards freestanding gargoyles
  • Drawing, thinking and writing about faces on walls
  • Working with clay to make small gargoyles or grotesques to take home
  • Working with clay and plaster cloth to make bigger grotesques
inspiration on Buxton walls

clay, plaster and slightly sinister!

All these ideas will feed into a strange and (hopefully) mysterious event during the final celebrations of the Buxton Our Street project in February 2024. Among music, big light projections and other happenings, there will be a quieter corner, a more sinister moment perhaps where, a visitor might wander into a ring of watchful faces and be….observed

Details will follow


All events are free and materials are provided

Sunday 8th, 11am - 4pm

Gargoyles and Grotesques: join us for some first ideas, first makings, first excitements at The Pump Room, Buxton, The Crescent, Buxton, SK17 6BH

This is part of the Fun Places weekend: https://funpalaces.co.uk/about-fun-palaces/

Thursday 19th

The grotesques of Buxton: a talk by Terry Newholm at Buxton Country Park Visitor Centre (Temple Rd, Buxton , SK17 9DH). An evening talk, this will be free but tickets will need to be booked. Book tickets here

Look out for Terry’s book “A Walk Amongst The Grotesques of Buxton”

Wednesday 25th October and 8th November
First Grotesques at Buxton Country Park Visitor Centre (Temple Rd, Buxton , SK17 9DH): inspired by the limestone of our hills and its ancient stories, we’ll make faces out of clay on 25th, cast them with plaster cloth and decorate them i8th. Places here are limited and the workshops are aimed at adult participants. Please book to be with us on both dates

Times: 1.30 - 3.30pm?

Please book a place through eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/grotesques-design-and-make-workshops-at-pooles-cavern-tickets-721138824637?aff=oddtdtcreator

Wednesday 22nd, 29th:

Second Grotesques: a similar pair of workshops as First Grotesques 1 but now evening sessions at the Green Man Gallery

Times: 7 -9pm

Please book your places on both sessions: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/grotesques-design-and-make-workshops-at-the-greenman-gallery-tickets-719867080817?aff=ebdssbdestsearch&keep_tld=1


a gargoyle's eye view-from St Magnus Cathedral on Orkney

Later November: we hope we might fit in an impromptu session of Festive Gargoyles in the run-in to the Midwinter/Christmas - a time when you might really need an ugly little friend in the corner of the living room!

Watch for details posted on social media!

Social media to follow:

X, Instagram and Facebook:

Creeping Toad

Many thanks to our friends at The Pump Room and Buxton Crescent Experience, Buxton Civic Association and the Stronger Roots programme, and The Green Man Gallery for their help and support with these Grotesque opportunities!

Images: 3 of these images are not from Buxton. they are labelled, the others lurk around town....I haven't labelled them - go and find for yourself!

Thursday 14 September 2023

Praising the river


Loch Achilty by Contin

Praising the river
or tempted by the Kelpie?

Wandering on the banks of Loch Achilty and loitering by Rogie Falls on the Black Water as it drops down from Loch Garve to join the River Contin, these two pieces of writing surfaced like salmon from the deep. For me these are both stories to be told: one is challenge and seduction...or actually they both are. One you maybe should resist and one you should rise to, like a trout to a mayfly....Enjoy!


This water is so dark it hides its depth. A few sunken birch leaves gleam like a scattering of stolen pirate gold in the shallows but fade quickly down the sloping bank. Stretch out to pick them from that misleading depth. The first temptation.


The main current runs tea-brown and deadly, frothing autumn gold over rocks and rapids before relaxing into flowing breadth with a deceptive calm. A second temptation. But drop another birch leaf onto that flow and count the brief moments of its sail along that calm sweep.


These are kelpie waters: pools deep, dark and cold and endlessly enticing


The constant, hypnotic voices of rapid and fall numb your sense of safety and sensible behaviour. Stand here! Catch the spray. Stand there! A little closer. Closer still. Sit on this great, round rock. Dabble a bare foot in a wild jacuzzi.


Sound, movement and the sudden tranquillity of the pool below the falls draw you on, draw you in, into a wild embrace and a long kiss.



There is a strong tradition in the Scottish Highlands of Bards writing praise songs for clan chiefs, heroic warriors and maybe anyone who would pay!  But this song/chant came to me in simple celebration, trying to find words to express the respect, admiration and simple loving delight I find in river and water bodies. 

Try speaking the words aloud and if you like the effect, speak it with a friend, or friend, try it as a round, change the words to suit the river, pool or bog you would like to salute!

Praise the river in its running.

Praise the falls in their tumbling.

Praise the water that shapes the rocks.

Praise the rocks that break the flow.

Praise the rapids for their song,

And the ripples for their silence.

Praise the slow reach for its grace.

Praise the pool’s mirror and a sky reflected

Praise the pool for the secrets it hides


Praise the osprey who watches

And the dipper who counts.

Praise the kingfisher’s speed

And the wagtail’s precision.

Praise stonefly and alder and caddis in their season.

Praise mayfly for their dancing

Praise creeping nymph and hidden mussel

And crayfish for their claws

Praise careful loach and silver roach and a minnow’s flicker

Praise willow and alder and more and 

more and more and

Praise the life that runs as the river runs

Praise the river that lives as its life flows


Praise the salmon who sews it all together, sea, river, burn and redd