Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Old stones and ancient bones

Planning for Wintry presents?

not all stones and bones
Looking for something a little bit different for a present – Christmas soon, and Yule and Mother’s Night and Saturnalia if you’re of a Classical inclination…why not indulge yourself and a friend with a copy of my book Old stones and ancient bones: poems from the hollow hills?

Don’t like poetry? Why not try again? With poems from the dark, peopled gloom of Neolithic tombs on Orkney to the windswept moors of Derbyshire, an excitement of skulls and the beauty of stillness before winter arrives….

£5.00 a copy (includes UK P&P) and while stocks last, with Old Stones, get a free copy of “River and Sea” a little book featuring two of my stories.
To order direct:
Email me Creeping Toad
Payment: by cheque, Bacs or Paypal (to creepingtoad@btinternet.com)

or from Amazon:

an appetiser

The Satyr’s stories:

“I was born out of the need of old stone and tree roots for a voice.

I began as an idea, shaped by water running through stone in deep caves, gathering a body for myself out of long lost bones, out of stranded horns and hooves and left-over memories. My flesh is earth, my skin grass and bark, my blood the mineral rich, crystal-growing streams of limestone darkness

Now I am here, playing the music of the wind, listening to bluebells ring, and the slow singing of carp in the cold pools. I am the watcher in the woods, the touch of the breeze, the rustle in the undergrowth. I am the shadow that slips away.
Always here. Never seen.”
Blackwater at Calke Abbey, source of the Satyr stories

Friday, 25 November 2016

Skulls, bones and stones

African wilds 
and ancient caves

hand axe

hyena tooth
Then there were bones and stones and teeth. Small hands carefully handling, turning over a flint axe, fresh flaked by James Dilley* in a wonder of precision, laying bone needles on a delicate palm, and wrapping a friend in reindeer hide**  and sitting him down with a wooden bowl and a stone knife and deciding that Stone Age school uniforms look more exciting than contemporary ones

Stone Age Days, Bone Detectives, an avalanche of ancient stories and excitable Reception children. “is it snowing rain or is it raining snow?” They posed the question (Colne-Primet Primary gets its pupils thinking!). None of us could answer it, but we mapped our adventure with snowflakes melting onto card, mud from the squelchy puddle, mud from the plant pots, mud from our boots, muddy wool from our gloves and the wind that whirled the rainy snow around the playground and the wind that threw the snowy rain full into our cold faces….This was a week that ended in snow but began in Africa - at least Africa in Chester with Overleigh St Mary’s Primary school and shaping stories, taking tales and retelling them, adding new detail and extra hyenas, or lions, or whales or sharks or crocodiles….

Buxton Junior School, slid into some stone age work with ease: telling us of their adventures with cave bears and wolves, unfolding Stone age Toolkits. With Bone Detetcives we became more analytical: asking questions, turning over mysterious skulls and trying to deduce their identities - or just lifestyles and challenging each other with our trickiest finds.
flint blade

Rewarding days and 450 children later at the weekend we found the Treasures of the peaks with the Knights of the Chapel. But that is another story.

a well-furnished cave with stone tools, fire platform and a cheerful family

* James Dilley: archaeologist and person of excitement! James will be back with Buxton Museum and Art Gallery in March for a weekend of Bronze Casting. if you would like more information on joining this workshop, drop me an email and i will send you information when details are finalised in the next few weeks: creepingtoad@btinternet.com

** relax, it was fake

Friday, 11 November 2016

Ripples of earlier rains

Ripples of earlier rains
11th November 2016

Our workshops began on 1st November 2016, a year to the day after the rain began that fed the river that spilled into the floods that smashed into Elland Bridge "an elephant stampede”, hitting the bridge on 26th December 2015, a bridge which “crumbled like Weetabix”*

lively days before the flood
Working for the Canal and Rivers Trust with Year 5 and 6 children from Elland C of E Primary School, we set out to explore the impact of the flood by looking at the river before, during and after those eventful days.

It flows, calm as a sleeping sloth

The bridge is nearly repaired now and as work moves towards completion, the Trust were looking for words and phrases to fit onto the sides of the river tunnel by the towpath. We gave them more than words and phrases, we gave whole flowing, flooding river poems

As shy as the fish’s cry

I’m not going to steal everyone else’s thunder just now: I’ll just quote from bits of our poems and leave the full texts for the C&RT to reveal in time….but here are extracts along with some of the folded rivers we made to help shape our word-thoughts….

As calm as rain and as a coconut that fell from a tree

Before the flood,
Calm waters,
A deep river,
Quiet and still.

The river runs through rapids,
A vicious cat of a river
Raging round rocks,
A racing river,
Crazily curling over boulders
Blue, black and brown,
Crooked, old and damaged.

 Flooding playgrounds,
The river roars loud as a tiger,
A stampede of elephants.
A rumbling avalanche,
Fish swim between swings
Calm water reflects a slide,
No children play here now.

waterfall picture notes

A wild waterfall,
Throws the river over the edge,
Water wiggling in streams down,
Diving down, onto deep, dark rocks,
The broken teeth of dinosaurs, of dragons,
Of monsters.

The water bursts,
Waves crashing,
Smashing into rocks,
A crazy bear with stone teeth,
 A bull charging,
An elephant stampede,
Plunging down, plunging onwards
Towards the town, towards the bridge,
Toward the bridge that
Will crumble like Weetabix.

the flood!

Extracts are from the Year 6 and Year 5 poems
* quotes from pieces by individual children

Elland Bridge Open Day
Saturday 26th November,
Details here

There should be a blog post about our workshops but it hasn’t surfaced yet!

I suspect it is better not to know  what is happening to the lone swimmer....

Winter night, winter water,
Christmas night,
The river wakes.
The flood is coming.

With many thanks to Tom and Claire and the C&RT team 
 and to the artists and poets of Elland primary School