Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Rainham Marshes’

Storytelling Starters ~ Ground of our being

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

P1040896This Thursday night, I attended an event in a fine old house in Hackney. The house was Sutton House, a Tudor manor house that now belongs to the National Trust. The event consisted of two authors, Rob Cowen and Dominick Tyler, talking about their relationship with nature and landscape. Some of what Dominick said was personally recognisable to me: I’ve known him since his childhood in Cornwall. What both authors said about the impact of nature made me recall an important theme in story work I’ve done.

Rob Cowen’s book, Common Ground, is about the Yorkshire edgeland near where he grew up. One of those strangely absorbing places on the fringes of towns and cities where you can still find yourself immersed in the world of nature, he rediscovered his childhood edgeland as an adult. In Dominick’s book, Uncommon Ground, you see remarkable photos of landscape features and read about the terms for those features that have fallen almost completely out of knowledge. Finding the terms and the places which illustrate them was Dominick’s way of reconnecting with nature for behind his book, as with Rob Cowen’s, was his strong realisation of how much he’d lost in becoming urbanised as an adult.

And so to stories:

In story work I’ve done in schools, it’s always proved productive with pupils in the 10 – 13 age-range to ask them about places they value. I start with an invitation: ‘Think about somewhere you’ve enjoyed going to play, somewhere you like to lurk about.’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters – Bringing Up The Evidence

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Last Sunday morning, inspired by the previous day’s episode of Clare Balding’s Ramblings on Radio 4, we didn’t hang about. We got going quickly on our way through London and down the A13 to seek out Rainham Marshes and, specifically, the RSPB Centre there.

The day was a terrific adventure. Clare Balding had been talking on her programme with the actor Sam West, a passionate birder and frequent visitor to the Rainham Marshes Centre. Together they did an excellent job of inspiring me for one. But in my particular case they were only part of the inspiration. Even while listening to the programme, I’d been remembering that, years ago (in fact in 1997) I’d done a storytelling project with some Rainham children as part of a much larger project on Local Legends with children in Havering schools.

The inspiration of secret places

One of my aims in my Local Legends project had been to get the children thinking and talking about their locality by remembering their secret places where they liked to spend time. I wanted them to think about these play places both as an end in itself and as a springboard to creating new stories of their own. The aim bore fruit: it was evident how greatly they seemed to enjoy this approach. One particular boy – and I’ve never since forgotten that he was from Rainham – showed a degree of pleasure that gave me some pause for thought. His passion for Rainham Marshes moved me. I loved the sense of secret adventure he communicated as he talked about the wetlands, the intimacy of the love he felt for the dens he’d made there and the pride with which he used his private knowledge to create a new story around his experience.

So when we set off for Rainham on Sunday, that boy was vividly in my mind. Then as we got to the area where I thought the RSPB Centre must be, I began to get another very strong feeling as we drove back and fore along Wennington Road, trying in vain to find the place. We’d been so keen to set off, I hadn’t even looked up directions or a specific address! We were still searching when, suddenly on Wennington Road, I spotted a school called Brady School. ‘I’m sure I’ve worked in that school,’ I told Paul. (more…)