Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Abermawr’

Storytelling Starters ~ The unexpected

Saturday, June 6th, 2015



 Hey, what’s this?

      A swing – but not where the old one used to be.

What’s it say on that bit of paper that’s hanging on the end?

     ‘Swing on this at your leisure.’

Wonder who put it there?

     Don’t know.


Storytelling Starters ~ Ghost story

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Round the campfire? In the caravan? Here’s a good story to tell. I came across it this week while sorting and clearing old papers. As usual with tales that get briefly reported in old guide-books and magazines, the story had no title. The only identifying feature was that it took place on the island of Mull. I’ll call it Late Encounters.

Late Encounters

P1020006Late one moonlit evening, a hiker was walking through woods on his way back to his digs. The hike had taken him further than he’d calculated and it had got much later than he’d intended. Suddenly, out of the shadows ran a dog. The dog came straight up to him wagging its tail and lifting its head towards him, obviously wanting to be stroked. The dog was an old collie dog. The hiker had no fear of it and when he eventually began walking on, he even began to wonder if the dog would come with him as some dogs do when you come across them in the countryside. So he couldn’t help feeling disappointed when, as suddenly as  he’d arrived, the dog ran off back into the woods without so much as a backward glance.

‘Strange,’ thought the hiker as he went on his way. But about half a mile further on, it felt even more strange when he heard sounds of something  approaching. He hoped it might be the dog. No, it was a man, an old man, as friendly-looking as the dog had been.

‘ Goo’night,’ said the man. ‘Out late?’ ‘Yes,’ said the hiker. ‘Misjudged the path. Got to get back to my lodgings.’ ‘Well never mind,’ the old man said, ‘it’s a good night for walking by any account.’ ‘Strange thing, though,’ said the hiker. ‘I met someone else just now – well, not a person, a dog, very friendly.’ ‘A  dog?’ said the old man. ‘What was he like exactly?’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Hail Mighty Sea

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

What objects can be used to introduce and accompany storytelling? The question arrived in my Inbox this week in an email from a woman from Brazil who has newly come across storytelling and fallen in love with it. She already uses her guitar. But what else might she  employ? She’d found my website on the net and wanted to know of any books that could help.

The Magic of Objects was the theme of a series in this Blog on each Saturday of October 2011. Look them up, it’s a theme that’s close to my heart. My sea-tray … fans … colour cloths … magic music … such objects have given me enormous use in such wide-ranging circumstances. They have also observeably brought enormous pleasure to audiences of adults and children. In this week of wind and storms I have thought in particular about my sea-tray.

Hail Mighty Sea

I was first reminded of my sea-tray at the start of the week. Down on the sea-wall at Abereiddi beach, one of our Pembrokeshire favourites, words written out in pebbles declaimed the stirring message: Hail Mighty Sea.

On Abermawr beach the following day, a young boy on the pebbles was looking out to sea, arm raised in a great gesture of greeting as the incoming waves swirled over his Wellington boots. When I passed him soon after as he left the beach with his sister who’d done the same after him, they and their father looked completely delighted. The children were sopping wet but they’d had a unique experience(quite safely I might add). They’d hailed the sea in all its grandeur.

Both incidents in turn put me in mind of the Birmingham children who came on an exchange visit to the Cardiganshire coast in the art and storytelling project, On The Train, that was organised a few years ago now by artist Catrin Webster. The visiting children had whooped with delight when they caught their first sight of the sea (most of them had never seen it before) and had run pell-mell towards it and, in the case of some of them, right into it.

The sea is a fundamental experience. We should all be able to have that experience if we possibly can. If only! In the Guardian recently, George Monbiot, whose book Feral came out earlier this year, strongly urged the point that a week in the country is worth three months in the classroom. In his Guardian article he recommended that every class in every urban school should regularly be taken to spend time in the country. If only! The idea, alas, feels as unachievable in our present world as my profound wish that every class should hear (and be able to talk about) a told story once a week at the very least in every week of their school year.

Impossible? At least through stories we could give all children, older and younger, an experience of discovery and a sense of magic and awe.

The sea-tray

That’s where my sea-tray comes in. It produces the best sea-sound I’ve ever heard away from the sea itself. It can either introduce a storytelling session or a particular story. Or it can be employed in the course of a story. Use it and you take people on a real journey of the senses and the imagination.

Practical reminder:

My own sea-tray comes from a junk shop in New Zealand. It possibly originated in the South Sea Islands as a device for carrying fruit. I know similar trays are found across Asia and Africa where they are generally used for sifting rice or lentils.

To provide yourself with your own sea-tray, seek out a smooth or rough round wooden tray or perhaps a bodhran which is a type of wide Irish drum. Empty onto it a bagful of very small stones you’ve specially collected for the purpose or alternatively a bagful of beans. Swish these round in a rhythmic way, imitating the rhythms and pauses in the sound of the waves and – hey presto! – you could at once feel you were standing on the shore. Just like that delighted boy this week! (more…)