Friday, 31 August 2012

Running towards adventure

the adventurers gather
 A week of activity! In our Exploring with Stories project, we had planned a lively week to coincide with National Family Week - then that was cancelled but our events went ahead anyway!

In the last few days, we've had swarms of people out looking for Faeries, Trolls and Goblins in Padley Gorge near Hathersage. That was such a magical and perilous time that photos will follow later when we have determined that they are safe from spells and that to look at them will not risk enchantment and having all of you turned into frogs (not necessarily a bad thing, I hasten to say, but we have to observe some proprieties)
weaving baskets
Dragon Girl tells her tale

Wednesday was flooded. The woods where we hoped to go Into the Woods were waterfalls, and rivulets and our heroic artists dripped within minutes. Visitors had more sense and stayed at home. We surrendered the day to the rain and its thunder
cooperation is needed
when building dens

soft, damp moss for pillows 
But to-day people gathered to Run Away to Adventure and in Grinlow Woods we heard the tale of the dragon who, after killing the crabs, chased the girls who had been looking in rockpools off the beach  and into the woods where they built a den that was so well-hidden no dragon could see it.

Then there were the family who were on a holiday sailing down the Nile when their boat was overturned and abandoned by search parties, they made a camp on the banks of the river. Braving crocodiles and hippos, they caught fish in the river and made friends with local people

a shelter with all modern conveniences

The stories span on, watchtowers on the heights, the nutriritonal value of toasted biscuits, a branch polished smooth and pale that looked suspiciously like a giant's thigh-bone, baskets to collect fruit in, the best ways of cooking rabbits (especially oens made of moss and bark!), wet clay lamps to light the dark, wild nights, the relative merits of logs and bracken as bedding…….
and on the banks of the Nile...

Books we used
Places we went to for ideas in planning these sessions
Into the Woods:
TH White, The Sword in the Stone
East, Maddern & Marks, The Spirit of the Forest
Julia Donaldson, The Gruffalo
Jane Gifford, The Wisdom of Trees
JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
toasting biscuits?

Run Away To Adventure
BB, Brendon Chase
JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
Michael Morpurgo, Kensuke's Kingdom
Ray Mears, Essential Bushcraft
Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins
Swiss Family Robinson
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

the watchers on the hill

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Old books, new places on bookshelves

I have been meaning to do a monthly "book of the moment" slot picking up on whatever I was reading at the time that seemed relevant

And this month i find myself with two books that cannot be called at all "recent". There is "The Guide to South and East Africa for the use of tourists, sportsmen, invalids and settlers" - 1914 edition - and "Introduction to Zoology Through Nature Study" by Rosalie Lulham, 1923 edition.

The first book is a fascinating tour of a vanished world, usefully sporting pages advertising ginger beer, Broadwood Piano Fortes, Union-CAstle Line ships to south Africa and hotels (Beira, for example offer sthe Savoy at 15s - 20 s, Queen's from 8s 6d and the Metropole for 8s 6d (that's s= shillings (24 to the pound, I think? and d = pennies, 12 to the shilling)

There are wonderful, delicate colonial maps with the great sweep of Rhodesia reaching right up to the Nyasaland protectorate (now Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi) and German East Africa (mostly Tanzania)

Cape Town: I found Kloof Street and other familiar places

Introduction to Zoology is an old favourite, full of careful drawings and detailed life histories for beetles, worms and dragonflies. There is a recipe for "artificial sea water" and a design for "a subterrarium for beetles". I was given this copy when i was about 12 (have just had it rebound) and with that and assorted Gerald Durrell volumes on my bookcase, I never had much of a chance really. Explains the current 9 aquaria (emergency tanks for stray tadpoles and toadlets and a refugee newt), the pile of bone sin the library and the boxes of useful pine cones and pebbles upstairs...

The same adventure that brought me the Guide, added a book on the Tortoises of Southern Africa and reprints of books Old Stone Monuments by J Ferguson (originally published 1872) and The Shire Highlands by Jim Buchanan (Malawi, 1885) and the brand new and magnificent The Wildflowers of Offaly by John Feehan, but they can all wait for another day!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Here, there and away again!

excitement, fun and investigation in the Park

Home again after a lively fortnight in Richmond Park, just to unpack the car, check in on the assorted beasts (fish, toads, newts, tadpoles and toadlets) gather my wits, pack a new bag and head off out to
farewell from Richmond wildlfie

‘From Apathy to Empathy –reconnecting people and place’with leading international and national experts in place-based education22nd-24th August, Kinvara, Co.Galway

I'll just quote from their bumpf:

Burrenbeo Trust is delighted to present its inaugural Learning Landscape Symposium programme Titled‘From Apathy to Empathy – Reconnecting People and Place this unique event will bring together leading national and international thinkers and practitioners who specialise in the theme of place-based learning. Place-based learning encourages the use of the local environment as a learning resource. It immerses individuals in local heritage, culture and landscape, encouraging them to become more aware of their place.  The final version of this evolving programme will be posted up on the website before the event.
With 20 talks and interactive sessions, this symposium will have something for everyone. Leading experts from the States,David Sobel, Gregory Traymer, and from the UK Gordon MacLellan, Jane Stoneham, and Tony Kendle will be joined by Irish place based educators such as Michael Gibbons, Katy Egan, Sean McDonagh, John Feehan, Gordon D’Arcy, Cillian Roden, Nessa Cronin, Karen Till, Patrick McCormack, Eileen Hutton, Eugene Lambe, Pat Nagle and many, many more as they participate in workshops, on-site demonstrations as well as guided walks and cultural events. Participants will be immersed in one of the nation’s most inspiring places and challenged to engage fully with this place and the issues that impact on them, learning lessons and techniques which can be adapted to their own place and its needs.

Reports will follow!
home is also Streptocarpus flowers!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Deer, pirates and sinking ships

Summer in Richmond Park
walking to and from work has some amazing moments! Deer...

...ancient oaks

These days begin with a sunrise heralded by squawking parakeets and the clatter of jackdaws raiding the bird-feeder. Clouds are high in a pale sky and the early stillness promises warmth later. The walk into work is past ancient oaks, deer and woodpeckers with the towers of London appearing briefly down long views
adventurous pirates!

"Summer Fun" residency at the Holly Lodge Centre in Richmond Park. I've been coming here, on and off, for 10 years and more now to work, mostly, with special needs groups. This year we've been making little bottle lanterns and pirates, sailing pirate ships on the pond, building dens soft very small people, collecting useful things for adventures and looking for treasure
telling stories with pop-up theatres

But we always end up in a dilemma between what I think we could do, what carers think their charges are capable of either doing or understanding (I always reckon more than they do) and how activities re presented. I have to trust my instincts (and 30 years of professional experience) that how I work works even though I know some people do not like my style or manner. Finding the balance between listening to and respecting ideas and trusting those instincts is always a delicate one

precision and wonder

pirate ships afloat!

enjoying landscapes, finding treasures

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Family events in August!

activities revolved round these little, folding puppet theatres
with tiny ( 5 cm tall) figures
August has begun with some exciting activities. 

I keep hoping to fidn time to think, and plan and maybe even add soemr eflective postings to this blog. But no.

Our "Exploring With Stories" project is up and running away with everything. ("Our"? - Stone and Water, a community art and celebration group in Buxton...we do wild, silly and moving activities...) We were at the National PlayDay celebrations in Leek (well done, Erica and the Staffordshire Moorlands team!). Making little folded puppet theatres and new stories to tell in these, we worked with more than 100 people over the day. Today, (Thursday 2nd) I worked with visitors to SureStart centres in Buxton, using similar activities and rummaging around in flowerbeds to find bits and things to help us tell stories which ended up with sneezing heroes, a flying carpet, a knight looking for flowers and a hero who had a quiet and peaceful time in the woods!
Martin's Olsson's images added extra excitement life to ideas

1. Tuesday  28th August 2012
Away with the Faeries, Goblins and Trolls
Where: Padley Gorge on the National Trust's Longshaw Estate near Hathersage
Meet at the Granby Barn Interpretation centre on the B6521

Times: 11 am - 1pm or 2pm - 4pm
Costs: no cost for activities, car parking charges may apply
No booking is needed: just turn up and join in

What is happening: we'll explore the atmospheric landscapes of Padley gorge, looking for secret places, troll baths and goblin houses. We'll make puppets, build faerie homes and monster lairs and invent stories to tell each other

2. Wednesday 29th August 2012
Into the woods
Where: Buxton Country Park, Poole's Cavern, Green Lane, Buxton SK17 9DH
Times: 10.30 - 12.30, 1.30 - 3.30
Costs: no cost for activities, car parking charges may apply

What is happening: as explorers, naturalists and storytellers, we'll explore the woods: identifying trees, finding the animals that live there, using art and science and stories to understand the secret lives of trees

3. Friday 31st August 2012
Run Away To Adventure
Where: Buxton Country Park, Poole's Cavern, Green Lane, Buxton, SK17 9DH
Times: morning  and afternoon sessions
Costs: no cost for activities, car parking charges may apply

What is happening: making dens deep in the woods! Stranded on a desert island? Lost in the forest? Cast away…we'll make the dens we'd like to survive in - woodland shelters, hidden dens, foraging, planning and telling the dreadful tales of how we got stranded here

Places are limited on "Run Away to Adventure" and need to be booked: call 07791 096857 or email,  to reserve a place and receive further details