Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Nature stories’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ What we’ve been missing

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Disgruntled is how I feel. Not about any particular person or situation. Just disgruntled – and all the more so as Lockdown trundles towards an end. On Wednesday this week, as if to emphasise what we’ve been missing, Paul and I were royally entertained to lunch by some friends, one of whom is a most fantastic cook. Thankfully Wednesday’s weather  came up trumps for, of course, we needed to sit outside for this lunch. So sit outside we did, enjoying the food, the talk, the garden and the company of two affectionate dogs. It was altogether a pleasure.

So why, you may ask, did it produce that subsequent feeling of disgruntlement (if disgruntlement is a word)? Well, only because the occasion itself was a reminder of the social life of which Lockdown has generally been depriving us. For life before Lockdown was peopled by friends. By now, we’ve probably all become acclimatised to doing without the social pleasures that friends bring. But as I was reminded of how much we’ve been missing, it did make me feel a bit sad. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Parakeets and pigeons

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

We’ve got both. Lots of both. Lots of parakeets and lots of pigeons. The parakeets fly to the bird feeder in the middle of what passes for our lawn. There they crowd and cling and gorge themselves. The pigeons mostly cluster on the ground below, munching up the tit-bits of food that fall and generally talking to each other. For it really does sound like a kind of talking. A much-loved friend of ours, Adam Curle, alas long since passed away, used to do a wonderful imitation. Never mind that he was a very eminent Quaker and Professor of Peace Studies, he was never pompous, never too eminent to be a good laugh.

We got to know Adam and his wife Anne because their daughter, Deborah, had become our lodger. How we initially met has faded into the mists of my increasingly misty memory. But it’s a wonderful feature of that  misty memory that the mist can also part upon many unforgettably bright scenes from the past, including Adam doing his unfailingly convincing imitation of a pigeon talking. ‘Who do poo-poo? We do poo-poo. D’you do poo-poo?’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ That tree is ours.

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

Making lists, I thought, would be my subject here today. For there have been too many lists in my life of late. Jobs to do round the house. Christmas presents to be bought. People to whom to send emails about my new book, The Uses of ‘a’.

But early this morning, lying in bed awake and feeling overwhelmed by my lists, my mind turned instead to trees. I think this was due to a visit yesterday from storyteller friend, Helen East. As we sat in the kitchen drinking Lemon and Ginger tea, Helen began talking about  the time that she’d spent in Kerala a few years ago. Then she told us a Kerala story, a terrific story about the kindness of a tree. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Wales and Whales

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

It was a storytelling project in Outer London. The theme was local legends. A girl in one of the groups put up her hand and asked if we knew about the elephants under the line of local hills.

Suggestive shapes:

Often it’s the shape of hills that gives rise to legends about them. Above a small place called Wolfscastle in the middle of Pembrokeshire are two high rocks that, as children, we knew as The Lion and the Lamb. By today, these rocks have eroded so that I wouldn’t be able to say which looks more like a wolf, which more like a lamb. Even as a child I wasn’t sure. But I could imagine very clearly that one was attacking the other. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Gold

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

When you think about it, it’s sometimes very hard to say what makes a particular topic come to your mind. For instance, I have no idea what started me thinking about nightingales this morning. Not blackbirds but nightingales. Or perhaps instead of nightingales (plural) I should say nightingale (singular). For to my knowledge I’ve only ever encountered one. And it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

My personal experience:

It was on the island of Iona off the north-west coast of Scotland. Paul and I were visiting Oban on the mainland (my maternal grandfather hailed from Oban). In the course of our visit, we took a trip across to Mull and thence on to Iona where we were able to spend a few days staying in a remote little guesthouse where, each night, our host would call upstairs to say that the electricity was about to go off because he was about to turn off the generator. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Saying ‘No’

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

‘Not in my name’ is the phrase that has frequently come into my mind of late. Now what often arrives there is simply ‘No’. Especially to Donald Trump, his appalling treatment of migrants and children, his dismissal of so many vital issues such as protecting the environment and his ignorant rudeness, including to Teresa May (whose policies I also cannot abide).

Yesterday was the day of protest. Trump vaingloriously trumpets his ownership of so many properties in Scotland and Ireland (thankfully not Wales) and seems to feel boastful pride in acknowledging that there will be public outcry against him. That’s no reason not to protest. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Tour d’Amour

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

It sounds odd to say it. But it was so. In the early days of what became the Storytelling Revival in the UK, there was a distinct whiff of opposition to writing. Storytelling was, and is, very different from reading aloud and different too from writing: we storytellers felt at that time that, in public at least, we had to proclaim, reveal and uphold the differences.

By now, a good number of well-known storytellers in the UK – Hugh Lupton, Sally Pomme Clayton, Daniel Morden among them – have published books. I’ve published books too, nine in all, and I feel I can now admit to enjoying both the differences and similarities between the two forms. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Learning to fly

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

What is it about doing something new that you’ve never done before? The nerves? Worry that you’ll mess it up? Thursday morning I was to do an interview on Skype with Kathy Brodie who runs and presents Early Years TV. I’d not heard either of her or Early Years TV until a recent email relating to the promotion of my new book.

Early Years TV offers a weekly interview done by Kathy with all kinds of people who do early years work. When I got in touch with her after the email from my indefatigable Marketing Manager at Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Kathy said yes to my being one of her interviewees. It would be an interview about storytelling and it would happen via Skype at a mutually convenient date and time, the resulting video to appear on Early Years TV at some as yet to be scheduled date in the future. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Back from Corfu this afternoon, I sat in our kitchen mentally numbering, in no particular order, the most memorable things about the week.

  1. The sun – not too, too hot, so wonderful
  2. The sea – gentle and warm and ideal for numerous swims
  3. Two huge storms with prolonged sheet lightning and much noise of thunder
  4. The reading – four excellent novels
  5. The delightful, friendly taverna right next to our apartment
  6. The relaxing except for much concentrated observation of the comings and goings of the pair of swallows whose nest was high up on our patio.

And so much else besides. But it’s those swallows that, for me, became the  most fascinating feature of our week. I spent hours never quite succeeding in getting the photos I wanted. The one above will have to do. See you again, I hope, next week. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Leafing

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

I’ve just been leafing through the battered little notebook where I keep note of riddles and sayings, also some little poems and verses I love. At the back there’s also a list (very incomplete) of stories that have struck me at one time or another. There, the title I’ve given to one particular story has put me in mind of something that was said a couple of weeks ago in a pub I sometimes go to down in Wales. At the table reserved for local people (and I’m glad to be seen as one of them), we were talking about the dreadful weather (as you do!) and how late Spring has seemed to be in arriving. And as we communally made moan on this subject, one of the locals who has a wonderful way with words summed it all up by observing how the trees were ‘reluctant to leaf’.

All change:

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