Friday, 30 January 2015

Books from Creeping Toad

my main website seems to be having issues with itself so I'm posting a list of my books here for your enterttainment (and possibly my benefit!). Please dive in, give yourself and wintertreat and buy a book!

These are books that either I wrote or have a substantial role in. here are various others that I've contributed a chapter to like the lovely Storytelling for a Greener World. If you have a project you'd like a few toadwords for, please get in touch. I might say "no" and run shrieking from the computer but it's always worth asking!

Old stones and  ancient bones, poems from the hollow hills
by Gordon MacLellan
Creeping Toad, 2013
ISBN 978-1-291-46593
Price £7.00 (includes P&P for UK, overseas, ask for details)
From ancient tombs on orkney to re-forested limestone quarries in Derbyshire, Old stones takes the reader on a poetic adventure into older, wilder or stranger worlds. Poems invite the reader to watch gannets, to pause and savour the beauty of a frozen pools, to sit singing in the dark of a Stone Age barrow or to be spirited away by the Faeries
The Wanton Green
contemporary pagan writings on place
editors: G MacLellan and S Cross
 Mandrake Books, Oxford, 2011
ISBN: 978 1  906958 29 9
Price £11.99. Order £14.00 (includes P&P - overseas contact Toad for details)
This collection of essays by 20 different authors, offers fresh perspectives on our relationsip with place. here are thoughts from people to whom the earth, our relationships with landscape and with our ancestors are vital, inspiring, often holy processes. With contributions from wrtiters as varied as Barry Patterson and Runic John, Susan greenwood, Emma Restall Orr, Jan Fries and Gordon MacLellan, The Wanton Green hopes to excite, inspire and possibly provoke!
Celebrating Nature
"We live in a world worthy of celebration"
by Gordon MacLellan
Price: £16.00
ISBN: 1 -86163-168-5
UK Orders: £16.00 (includes P & P)
direct from Creeping Toad or from publisher Capall Bann
Celebrating Nature takes you on a journey through the process of creating a celebration about people, places and wildlife with school, youth or community groups - or simply with the friends on your street. Here, you can rally your inspiration and planning, go exploring under leaves and wallowing in mud, discover, brood, and make. This book will take you all the way through to the celebration itself and using the excitement it generates to look at what you might do together next.

River and Sea: two new tales of enchantment
Gordon MacLellan
A new booklet from Creeping Toad: 20 pages, postcard sized, wildly illustrated
Price: £3.50 (includes UK P&P) only available from Creeping Toad
…wait for the voice in the sound of wave on sand as you walk along a beach, and hear the tale of Angus who fell in love with a woman made of seafoam and spray.
And in the hills, tread carefully and remember ancient courtesies. The magical people may be seen less often than they were but do not ever make the mistake of thinking they are gone. The Kelpie still dreams in his deep pool, still watches, still waits for those who sleep on sunwarmed stones by the river.

Sacred Animals

 Gordon MacLellan
Price: £9.95
Published by Capall Bann, 1997

ISBN 189830769-5

UK Orders: £10.50 (including p&p) direct from Creeping Toad
An invitation to embark on a journey into your personal relationship with the animal world.
"This book is a true wonder! ... It is undoubtedly the best step by step guide to meeting a totemic animal that I have ever had the privilege to read." - Time Between Times

Talking to the Earth
 Gordon MacLellan

Published by Capall Bann, 1995

ISBN 1-898307-43-1

UK Orders: £10.50 (including p&p) direct from Creeping Toad
Environmental art activities for use with groups of young people.
"Stuffed full of inspirational ideas." - BBC Wildlife Magazine

OVERSEAS ORDERS: We recommend you contact your local book supplier - and encourage them to order several copies from the publisher!
Creeping Toad is listed along with many other useful groups in the Ashden Directory of Environmental Drama Groups at

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Hatching, 2

Heasandford Primary School
22nd January 2015

one of the possible homes of the hatchlings

I’m a trout

(sing the Trout-keepers of Heasandford)


            He’s a trout
I’d better watch out
            He’d better watch out
There are predators about
            So I’ve got to hide now
I’m a trout
            He’s a trout
I’m a trout
            He’s a trout

Chillin’ in my lie
I’m a super cool fry
Watch me swim with a swish
What an awesome fish
"what an awesome fish"
The eggs are hatching in their chilled aquarium. Delicately refrigerated, in this first week,
the fry hide in the gravel of their classroom river drawing strength from their yolk-sacs. Soon they will be free-swimming and looking for their first meals by mouth

At Heasandford, Steve Brown and I were writing riversongs and making a folded river that when finished could slip away into a slither of space in a bookshelf but would unfold in a series of pool and rapid, reed and riverbank pop-ups that would stretch across half a classroom

For now, we'll leave you with the song and the first pictures of their folding river.

This link will also (hopefully) take you to a recording of the song. Despite it being my face you see, this work was done by Steve and the children - I'm storyteller, poet and maker for this project. (We've not tried this sort of link before so I hope it works!)

For more information on this project and the wider Ribble River project it is part of, visit the Ribble Rivers Trust

I’m a trout
            He’s a trout
I’d better watch out
            He’d better watch out
There are predators about
            So I’ve got to hide now
I’m a trout
            He’s a trout
I’m a trout
            He’s a trout

With my shiny skin
I’ve got lots of bling
This fingerling
Is one funky thang!

I’m trout-tastic!
I’m trout-tastic!

The Hatching, 2015 part 1

Stoneyholme Community Primary School
22nd January 2015
as blue as the sky
and as green as grass,
the river rolls and rambles
while leopard-spotted fish watch
in the waving, wonderful water

artists at work
The Hatching 2015 begins. This year 8 schools are hatching trout eggs as part of the Ribble Rivers Trust's hatch and release scheme for Burnley rivers

My colleague Steve Brown and I are visiting all the schools again and working with our Trout-keepers to offer a creative take on the hatching process. First sessions have just happened…

Deep pool, quiet, still, slow water
where big fish swim and children splash, 
Water like a mirror reflecting trees and clouds

Steady stream, swirling slowly,
Slithering, splishing, splashing,
Slicing, squashing
Surrounding sharp stones,
Gathering speed, faster and faster,
Racing to the rapids
Running to the rapids
Rolling with rage and
Rampaging round the rocks

A waterfall washing
waving wildly
weaving through
woody wildlife

Slow as a turtle
The water washes the huddled rocks,
Water walking as the fish swam
Slow, shallow water, as calm as a dream

a golden spotted trout swims through the green weeds
watching for food,
watching for danger,
a flicker as fast as lightning,
over the golden pearls of the gravel

Stoneyholme wrote and drew a river in words and pictures. They also captured the rhythms and patterns of trout-life in a soundscape…

This link will also (hopefully) take you to a recording of that soundscape. Despite it being my face you see, this work was done by Steve and the children - I'm storyteller, poet and maker for this project. (We've not tried this sort of link before so I hope it works!)

Imminent excitements! Training courses with Creeping Toad

I'll be working at the two events below delivering my own particular (peculiar?) take on environment education, inspiration, play and frivolity through creativity…..

21 -22 February 2015: Annual Festival of Outdoor Learning 
at the Hollowford Centre, Castleton, Derbyshire
This two day event is a delight. Always worth visiting for new ideas, new friends and a striking setting. I'm there on the Saturday with two different sessions:
Morning: Finding Stories
Spinning new stories, wild tales and improbable characters out of found materials. Working indoors and out, we'll look at techniques to use with groups to build stories to tell, practical hints and useful themes for ourselves as leaders and additional activities to give ourselves the confidence to weave new stories on the spot

Afternoon: Wild Books
Capturing moments: new stories, precious memories, ongoing diaries. Simple book-building activities combining quick art activities with writing and reflection to allow people to make their own personal records of adventures, discoveries and inspirations

For details, booking, etc follow the link:

18th March 2015 (during National Science Week)
Stories out of Science
 using science outdoors to inspire literacy

~ bringing English to life in the school grounds
~shake up your science teaching at KS1 and 2
 ~ stir some new thrills into your writing workshops by finding the adventures in life cycles, the poetry of landscapes and the drama of natural processes

9.30 to 3.30 at Stibbington Centre (PE8 6LP)

Activities will include
       the poetry of natural processes
       a world of adventure in a single stone
       activities for quick poems drawn from skulls, bones, shells and found objects
       turning life cycles into dramas
       …and more

 For details and to make a reservation at £60 per place (Cambs LA) or £70 others, contact CEES on tel 01780 782386 or email

If there are any problems with getting through to people, just come back to me

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Victorian Embroideries

I wonder if anyone can offer some suggestions....friends of mine have a some embroidery dating from Edinburgh about 1850 and would like to know a) best way of looking after the pieces and b) if there are any collections who would potentially  be interested in the pieces (not necessarily for money!)