Apples and Foxes

 

 

Welcome Autumn

autumn

Time of silly hats and colourful scarves, and not necessarily matching gloves!

Time of flames flickering in the hearth as the Rayburn is lit.

Time of turning leaves, ploughed earth and hedge trimming.

Time of sunny days and star filled nights.

Time of foggy mornings and frosted spider webs.

Time of Apples and Foxes.

 

Yes, the traditional Apple Day! This year I am privileged to be storytelling at two! Tenbury Applefest, and Calke Abbey Apple Day. The days of the year when I eat more apples, and drink more apple juice than I consume the rest of the year! I try the different varieties, fill my nostrils with the gorgeous smell of ripe apples, and generally have a fabulous time!

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As for foxes, I went for a stroll down the lane last night, to see what things had changed, the ripening berries, the still flowering Meadowsweet, when across the stubbly field, there was a fox. Such a beautiful creature, bane of chicken keepers and instinctual delight to the hunter. They are a little like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. This fox, picked its way around the field, looking for whatever he was looking for. There were some rabbits in the field too, both Fox and Rabbit seeming oblivious to the company of each other. Words started to come to mind.

 

“Black tips on your orange ears, white flash at the end of your tail. Tell me oh Fox of your honest tale. When you were revered and not hunted. One that tells of you as clever, not sly. Of how your wit and cunning was rewarded, not punished”

 

This got me thinking of the other creatures of this land, so slandered in folklore as the new religion swept across the land. Ravens, hares, owls, dragonflies even, all associated with devilment and witchcraft in European folklore. Yet in other cultures, these creatures are revered, honoured, and respected.  Tell me your tales, ancient ones, of the times when you were truly magical and to catch sight of you was a blessing, not a curse. My ears are listening.

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!!!!!

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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.

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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!!

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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!

Charity shop treasures

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I regularly visit charity shops, most people do. Some shop for clothes, others for books and bric a brac. I do that too, most of my costumes and everyday clothes have come from these charitable emporiums, but sometimes there, in amongst the donated nick nacks, will be a shining treasure.

Sometimes they are really shining, like a mini golden throne, sometimes they need a bit of tlc or transformation, but today I found a veritable feast!

A bowl of fruit and eggs. The bowl and the contents for £2.99! Bargain! This has led me to go Story Hunting for “Fruity tales” I have found 4 such delights, the starfruit, the pear, the peach and the strawberry.

The bowl has it’s own tale to tell I am sure!

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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.

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