Monday, 24 January 2011

Are you sitting comfortably …?

Did you know that Saturday 29 January to Saturday 5 February is National Storytelling Week? I didn’t! I’d never heard of National Storytelling Week until now. Apparently this is the 11th year of Annual National Storytelling. I learned about this eventful week through my local newspaper, which often tells tales about local shenanigans and goings on. Like most newspapers for the past few weeks there’s been a lot of gloom and doom stories, hard stories and stories which made me question whether or not I should continue buying the local paper! Some weeks it makes for a depressing read. In fact I found myself scanning the paper for good news stories, inspiring and uplifting tales but there weren’t many this week, except for news of this – National Storytelling Week. Now there’s a thing, I thought. I do love a good story and proceeded to check out what is on offer in and around my area.

As a child I loved stories and still do as an adult (the grown up child with me!) My lovely Dad was one of the best story tellers in my time. Sadly he is no longer with us but I can still recall many of the tales he told, those of mystery and intrigue, those where everyone got a mention in the story by name and those well told ‘shaggy dog tales’ where even today I wonder if they were really true! His storytelling had the power to quieten and still the boisterous and lively child. He could entrance us as children with the goings on of his school days and later the harmless and playful pranks on mates when he worked in the building trade in his early days. His love and enjoyment of stories continued in his grandfather years and often as adults we would listen to him recounting the same tales to his grandchildren and despite invariably knowing the ending of the tale, we sat on engaged and listening anyway.

I wonder now if it was the story, his dulcet tones, the musicality of his words or quite simply the child within us wanting to be entertained that held us there hanging on his every word. Whatever it was, we loved it, young and old alike. For a few minutes he could transport us to a different time and place through the magic of storytelling.

So I’m off to check out some storytelling this week. What about you? Let me know if you come across any good tales in your travels. You may consider starting with the Society for Storytelling and their website is

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Magpie Tales – Skates On!

(Snow Trio from Magpie Tales)
'Blog hopping' is becoming a favourite hobby of mine and today I 'hopped' over to Magpie Tales, a great site for aspiring writers and poets. What a great idea for a blog. It provides an opportunity to challenge us aspiring writers. I've often stopped by, read and admired the writings here. Such talent! One day I'm going to have a go at writing a Magpie Tale .. one day ... when I'm brave enough! Today I felt brave and a little creative too and I've made my first contribution to Magpie Tales. Enjoy. (Hope I manage to get the links and photo right!)

“Come on, hurry up. For goodness sake, take the photograph Edward. If we stand here much longer we’ll freeze to death” shouted Ella.

Her friends Elisabeth and Kitty stood and grinned. They refrained from getting caught up in the good natured brother-sister banter. Kitty had always admired Edward. In fact it could be said that she was quite smitten by the young, handsome dark haired man with the camera. He had smiled at her, not once but twice when they met outside the library at Marchmand House.

“Just one more shot and we’re finished here” called Edward from behind the curtained camera. One day he would be a famous photographer with a studio in London. One day they would appreciate his fastidiousness and attention to detail as he worked.

“You need to get yourself a proper job,” his father had said over and over again. A photographer was a proper job as far as Edward was concerned.

His father had plans for him to work in the City, ‘a sensible career in banking or the stock market’. His plans hadn’t included Edward ‘wasting time on photography and spending endless hours developing pictures that no-one wanted to buy or admire’. But Edward Marchmand knew different. One day people would travel miles to see his great photographic exhibitions and leave in awe of the great photographer.

But today, he was keen to impress the shy and demure Kitty Delaware, his sister Ella’s friend. Kitty was staying for a few days at the Marchmand Estate. He wondered if it would be appropriate to invite himself along to join them skating. Perhaps that might appear too forward? Would it be considered rude and un-gentlemanly? Would there be opportunity to engage in conversation with the lovely Kitty before she left tomorrow?

“Here, I’ve brought your skates too” shouted Ella. “Come on, we’ll race you there.”

Kitty Delaware smiled and he smiled back.

Monday, 10 January 2011

What would you say to a Polyglot?

I’ve been blog hopping again and came across a great post written by Benny Lewis on the Zen Habits site, a site which I think you will enjoy, so do stop by. When I read Benny’s guest blog I was fascinated by several things he said, one of them being his passion for learning new languages. You see Benny is a ‘polyglot’. A what? I know it isn't a word prominent in my vocabulary so off I went to the ‘authorities on vocabularies and big words’ and discovered that a polyglot is someone dedicated to learning languages and has the ability to speak and write in several languages. Impressive!

My language abilities extend to great English in a Northern Irish accent, a reasonable grasp of French, enough to order a meal and find somewhere to stay, a inactive command of Irish (Gaelige) and half a dozen words in other languages that permit me to say hello, please, thank you and a glass of white wine! It’s often stood me in good stead when I’m travelling. Yes I am one of those people who often makes a fool of herself trying to come to terms with the local language. Well it’s all part of the travel experience, don’t you think? Our last trip to Prague (beautiful country) was a real challenge linguistically! However, I’m pleased to report that my sign language has come on leaps and bounds.

Anyway, back to Benny, the polyglot … great word … polyglot…one for dropping into conversation this week when you can’t think of anything to say. You know, when you hit one of those awkward silence moments – ‘Are you a polyglot?’ Although probably best to use with caution, well until you get comfortable with the sound of the word anyway. Benny is a keen traveller and professes some great ways to learn languages. Sounds like a fun way to learn and much more creative than the audio visual languages courses at a certain Grammar School all those years ago.

What new word have you discovered recently? How has it influenced your communication skills?

Have a good week and do let me know if you bump into any polyglots in your travels.

Blogs worth hopping over to;

Zen Habits

Benny Lewis