Where Dragons Lead

It seems so long ago, but it was only last November, we heard that our application for Arts Council Funding had been awarded.

Jake – my husband, Jo Halden – artist and myself set out on an intrepid adventure.

We made plans, we travelled around, we walked across fields, taking many photos of the landscape, intending to bring them all together and share them in community venues.

But this is 2020. I don’t need to say anymore about that.

We carried on, in a different new to us format, learning along the way.

The Book and CD

Where Dragons Lead is now on You Tube and the progress can be seen here


Now we have completed the project and are looking to the horizon to see what’s coming our way next.



Been away for a while…..

Once upon a time, there was a Festival and it happened high up on Wenlock Edge in Shropshire.  The first time I went there, it was 2005, and I went there with my now husband of 10 years Jake Thomas.  We spent that first festival between the musical Silver Tent, the CAMRA Beer tent and our own tent, sleeping off the beer and music.  I did catch a few story tellers though,and that is where my Storytelling journey gained pace.


Festival at the Edge has just held it’s 25th gathering of Storytellers, listeners, musicians, glorious food sellers and amazing market stalls, and like the others I have been to, it was an amazing, beautiful and inspiring weekend.

The iconic purple flags,Purple flags welcomed us to Stokes Barn and we saw our favourite tellers, ones from our “bucket list” and heard lots of enchantiSilver Tentng, thought provoking and hilarious stories, all in 3 days.  (Plus a whole load of wonderful music as we camped near the Silver Tent!)

In previous years, we have left as the Festival ended, not wanting to see it taken down and put away, somehow keeping it alive in our minds for longer.

This year was different.

We stayed an extra night, enjoyed the Sunday night Party (for helpers, stewards and performers)  for the first time, and saw everything disappearing back into the land.

The Festival village became a field again, the stories whizzed around and then drifted off with the wind, over the Edge and off to the next ears to hear them.  We also stayed because we wanted to see it go.

It wont be at that same site next year, so we stayed to say goodbye, to a place that has been as much a part of our marriage as it has my story telling journey. We have made many friends through this festival and this year has been no exception. Meeting up with old friends, recently made friends and those we know from “social media” putting faces to names and profile pics and most exciting of all, new friends.Beer Tent

This chapter of FaTE has come to an end, but a new one begins, (it’s a real page turner!) Feeling renewed and inspired by Story, and with a rather wonderful Tshirt,  I take another step on my own Storytelling path. Bunting

Summer is a coming in……………….

Winter is on her way back to the Northern lands, escorted by the Ice Dragons. The Swallows swoop in, bringing Summer on their wings.

Telling tales around the hearth fire to keep out the winter cold is turning into telling tales in open spaces and in marquees and tents across the land!

Daniel Morden braved icy mountains at the end of January, to come to Cleobury Mortimer library to tell his tales for one of two events celebrating National Storytelling Week.

Daniel Morden being amazing at Cleobury Library.

Daniel Morden being amazing at Cleobury Library.

He held the audience in the palm of his hand, at one point making them jump out of their skins, such was his hold!

Daniel is one of my favourite storytellers, so I am very grateful to Friends of Cleobury Mortimer Library for running with my ideas, and of course thanks to Daniel for taking us into his stories.

Dragon tales at Cleobury

Thanks to Russell Drysdale for this photo!

For the second National Storytelling Week event, I went to the library as Dragon Teller with Pratchett, my travelling story dragon by my side, and told my first Dragon Tales of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed telling them, as always, and thankfully the audience enjoyed listening to them too!

There have been other ideas, over the Winter, some will happen, some may not. Being a storyteller with no audience is no fun at all.  The story wants to come out, but there is no one to tell it to. I feel that the story itself, shuffles off with its head down, a sad expression on its face.

Sometimes when you have ideas, you get all excited about them, and want to share, the only trouble is, that sometimes, no one else seems to share the excitement.  The sparkle fades, and you wonder why you do it. The Inspiration lies dormant, and you worry about it fading away. This can be disheartening. But just when the sparkle is just a speck of glitter in the dust, someone comes along and blows away the dust and makes it shine again.  This week, two people pulled the glitter from the dark. One lady who recognised me from a story corner at a local farm attraction, 2 years ago and remembered the story, saying that her children loved it. The second, a teenager who asked if I was the one who came into school in 2008 and told the story of the Clee Hill Serpent, telling me that is was one of the moments they remembered from their childhood.

When moments like this happen, you remember why you do it. It’s to let the story live, to pass it on, to bring the sparkle of story to other people, not to make yourself shine.

Here’s to the brilliance of Summer in all her glory, to the stories and to their telling!

Have a wonderful summer of storytelling everyone!

A Story a day

The nights have well and truly drawn in, Orion rides across the sky, and the air is cold. Winter approacheth! I love Winter, living as we do in the “middle of nowhere” (according to my Mom!) we get snowed in and really appreciate the heat of the multi-fuel Rayburn, the intense glow of the hearth fire, and from such places, new ideas are born.

things 025At least, that’s what happened last Winter Solstice.  I decided that my inner story library shelves were seriously empty. So I set out on that cold Solstice eve, to find stories that I had longed to hear. Tales that were in every fairy tale book, yet never read to me as a child (all together now – ah) I needed to fill my head with tales. Not necessarily to tell them, but just to know them. So, clad in Iron shoes as seems to be the footwear for such intrepid journeys, (OK so they’re very comfy red clarks) off I went!

I found good ones, bad ones, scary ones, silly ones, brilliant ones and thought provoking ones.  I even read some twice by mistake and some days I would read a few, just to find the right one.

As I type, I am on Day Three Hundred and Twenty Two, with a couple of days missed for one reason or another, 365 days will take me beyond the Solstice to the time of returning light, (about 29th December) The journey has taken me through many genres, books, websites and Storytelling spaces. Earlier this week, when coming to the end of a fabulous book “Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales” I found myself heaving a great sigh and said (along the lines of the Lady of Shalott) “I am half sick of stories”.

But that’s not exactly true.  I was craving a stonking good yarn, a fabulous tale, an amazing story. My appetite could not be satisfied from the pages of a book, no matter how well it was written or what stories were contained within it.

DSCF1248I realised, as I travelled this journey, that the some of the most uplifting and emotionally moving stories have been told. I have heard them, with my own ears. At Festivals and story clubs, in tents, around fires, in pubs, libraries, a town hall, an arts centre, and a castle hall. These have fed my hunger for stories. My plate has been full and the belly satisfied.

So as I head to the Solstice and beyond, I remember the tellers of these tales, and revisit them via You tube, and excitedly at local events, hearing tales from them that I have not yet heard.

Some words to describe how I feel came to mind

“to hear a story it has to be told, to learn a story you need to tell it”

Honour to the tales and to their telling!

Every adventure has a challenge

Calke Abbey in Derbyshire is a stately home like no other,it is “Unstately” and proud of it. There are gardens and woodlands and parklands and a house full of wonderful  “stuff” collected by the Harpur Crewe family that owned it over the centuries.


I have had the pleasure of telling stories there over the summer, sometimes in the Garden of Imagination and other times in Calke Explore,  a woodland nature trail with a wild play area and art meadow.

In the gardens, I sat in the Summer House telling tales of Dragons, fairies, and watering cans with leaky bottoms. Children (and adults sometimes) would come along and make up stories with the things in the story box,. There were some fabulous stories of King Egg and Queen Rose that I could tell you!




Down in the woods, Mad Meg Sorrel, (my woodland character who has developed a Scottish accent over the summer) had riddles to be answered and told families about tree folklore among stories of gigantic antlers and dancing tree folk.

DSCF1499 mad meg


It has been wonderful, each time different , each time magical.

Because I live in Shropshire, it is beneficial for me to stay over at Calke, usually at my sisters, but the last time I went , she was on holiday, so Calke very kindly offered me a place to stay on site!  Wow! Staying on the Calke Estate! That’s exciting!


Walking around the park when the rush of visitors had gone home, talking to the trees that usually are driven past on the way out.  And generally having a bit of peace and quiet in the evenings.  But as in the title of this post, “every adventure has a challenge” and the challenge was to stay in the Base Camp accommodation ON MY OWN!!!!!


Now everyone likes a bit of peace and quiet, and some time to themselves, yes, but this was a converted farm. Part of the house was the dairy, now lived in by Bill and Viv, and the Base Camp was other parts of the farm set up.


The kitchen was massive, and that’s where I spent most of the time, reading, studying and listening to the radio. The toilets were upstairs, and the dormitory was one of two, also upstairs.  Very nice, they are, basic, comfortable, the toilets being across a landing, over the stairs and across another landing. It even had a “who goes there” door!   This place was HUGE!! And I was in it ON MY OWN!!



Now being a storyteller with a rather active imagination, you can imagine what I was dreaming up in my head. Every sound would be something that it wasn’t. but that was it! Apart from the odd aeroplane from East Mids Airport flying overhead, there was NO noise AT ALL!!! Nothing! Zero, not even the rustle of leaves, or the shuffle of sheep. The windows had secondary glazing and the silence was deafening and kept waking me up in the night. And of course, the three realms that had to be traversed to get to the loo in the middle of the night were hurriedly crossed with eyes almost shut incase I saw anything that I didn’t want to see!

So that was the challenge, being on my own. I am usually surrounded by people, noise, even in the “middle of nowhere” where I live, there is a gentle hum of the land, sheep and cows shuffling about, an occasional car down the lane, owls hooting, cats asking to be let out, or in. Not a huge challenge I know, no dragons to fight, or rings to be thrown into fires, but a challenge for me and a real adventure.

On returning home, I am so grateful to everyone at Calke, for my summer adventures. But I am also very grateful for my own bed, and the noise that surrounds it!

Back pack, packed, and off we go!

So I decided to start a blog about storytelling adventures.  On my facebook page I’ve been doing “A story a day” since the Winter Solstice, so that’s been updated (almost) daily, but what about the places, and the stories that I found extra to that?

That’s where this blog comes in. When I’ve been out Story Hunting, or to an awesome Storytelling Festival, the postcard will be on this blog.

Ideas, plans and things that I am bursting to share, may not always come to fruition, but like a pinterest board, it’ll be on here, even if it’s never done. Just to remind me.