Amanda Edmiston Storyteller, Artist and Writer

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Gin Maker, Spell Breaker...

Posted on 5 October, 2017 at 14:30 Comments comments (0)

My mother, she killed me,

My father, he ate me,

My sister Marlene,

Gathered all my bones,

Tied them in a silken scarf,

Laid them beneath the juniper tree,

Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.


The Grimm brother’s classic ‘The Juniper Tree’ http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm047.html is a story that makes even the least sentimental of souls shudder and look as if they have a nasty taste in their mouth. It centres around a gruesome dark tale of infanticide, cannibalism and jealousy…but I have told it, I’ve shared it albeit to a very carefully chosen, adult group, with added conversation about the role the more horrific stories have in giving us a safe place to look at our most hidden fears and the magnified maybe skewed symbolism which bloats the piece.

I ask people to remember the time induced change in the way we value our children and appreciate other people’s and reflect on the fact that this story predates modern contraception.

It comes from a time of short lives and an entirely different approach to the turmoil and shivering nightmares of post-natal depression.

It comes from a time when Juniper: diuretic, gin berry, demon chaser, spell breaker was also prized the world over as an effective abortificant.

I’ve been told tales of it’s use by women from India and Turkey, the Highlands of Scotland and the Navajo nation, it’s something women got told even 40 years ago, quietly by their Aunties their mothers, their sisters.

It’s the lurking truth behind the simmering horror in that story.

The reality of mother’s ruin.

The factual seed that grew to the urban myth of gin in the bath.

But this medicine turned mythology, is merely the popular edge of the Spell breaker.

Juniper, now becoming rarer maybe due in a small part to our reduced need for physical spell dispersers, now we can explain the mechanics of so much magic, now we’ve tamed the demons, the moorlands and the woods, now we have no need to plant Juniper at our doors to give miscreant ill intentioned witches something to count before they can invade our homes…

Having spent so long quietly saving us in so many ways, this shrub needs us to save it.

http://www.plantlife.org.uk/our_work/conservationprojects/grassland_projects/savingjuniper/

After all Juniper’s actual role in our stories and our folklore (despite it’s association with some of the more controversial aspects of human nature: our fascination with intoxication, our desires, our needs to control our body and our environment, whether due to real or perceived threats to our survival) is one of protection and that works best as a reciprocal arrangement!

The protection Juniper offers is not always hard to stomach either.

One of my favourite stories for really tiny children is a traditional one where a Juniper tree and a Pine tree offer to protect a young bird incapable of following it’s family on the essential winter migratory path. It’s beautiful full of gentle facts, and morsels of morality, but delivered in a charming little gem of a tale. I’m planning on releasing it as a Christmas present Mp3, so do subscribe to updates and pop back next month if you and your children would like a listen.

In Scottish folklore it’s role was one of a demon chaser it’s smoke was said to purify the air, chase real and imagined fronds of evil and that’s the story that led me to write this, a little peek into a historical world tangled with literature, feeding on folklore, that’s slowly growing:

On Rosemary and Juniper Amanda Edmiston 2015

Mara had only the barest memory of the sea, she remembered her mother’s lullabies lilting softly in time to the echo of the waves, the intermittent shriek of the gulls, the percussive shingle unsettled by the tides moon struck nuances, but she wanted to remember, wanted to remember now as she held her own child, her shawl wrapped round them both, its blue woolen fibers buffeted by the cold wind as she fled from that which would harm her.

She had tried the ancient traditional purification rituals her mother had taught her, to rid her world of these demons, burnt Rosemary as the Roman’s had done when they came to this shore and Juniper as the highlanders always had, to cleanse the air, but the witches had battled through, they had counted all the leaves on the Juniper bush planted on her threshold and had only been distracted from their mischief for long enough to allow her to gather Violets for her child’s cough and Rosemary to help her remember the shore she sought and to ward off the plague (like a Queen carrying a Maundy bouquet as she tended the poor) and then she hastily left through the back of the bothy.

‘Look at my flowers’. The words kept whirling round her head, the words of a young girl lapsing into madness ‘There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembering. Please remember, love. And there are Pansies, they’re for thoughts’, Ophelia’s bouquet so sorrowful, a floral manifestation of a young girls hopes to meet her lover shown on St Magdalen’s day, or maybe as Herick said

‘Grow for two ends – it matters not at all Be’t for my bridall, or my buriall.”

Mara clutched her bundle, her herbs and her child and ran…the wisps of shawl turning the flowers of the bushes blue as she fled from the sickness that sent those around her mad and dreaming of demons and fled to the shore where the sea foam she just remembered would take her away, like a mermaid returning, to safety and distant dreams…(c) Amanda Edmiston 2015

So as you sip gin and contemplate the cloud strewn late Autumn sky, give Juniper a thought, add a handful of twigs to a fire and watch as they sparkle and glow, smoke chasing demons, just in case there are any lurking, let the berries chase the internal fluid that leads to paranoia and more demons will disperse. Then plant one outside your door, witches will be busy counting, birds will have somewhere to hide and a beautiful native shrub will survive a little longer.

Lucky Heather

Posted on 14 September, 2017 at 10:20 Comments comments (2)

It was 1977, I held tightly to my mothers hand, the trace of perfume, white gardenia, slipped into the air every time our hands caught the edges of her coat as she hastened me up the Royal Mile.

The cobbles of Edinburgh’s old town were already dusted with the first breath from the snow storm, waiting in the blanket of cloud over our heads.

I remember the old woman’s face, lined, smiling as she tried to press tin foil wrapped bundles into passing peoples hands. I held out my hand as we passed, intrigued, wanting to know what they were, wanting to know why people shook their heads at her and refused the gift.

I remember the tiny white bell like flowers poking from the foil wrapped posy and my mother turning to look askingly at the woman who just smiled shook her head and said:

‘be lucky little girl’,


Our pathway continued across the road.

Steps tracing the edge of the pattern of cobbles my mum told me was called the heart of Mid-Lothian and marked the site of a former prison.

I shuddered and carefully avoided treading on the heart, my 8 year old imagination ran riot with visions of prisoners hearts buried beneath and I clutched my lucky heather and imagined myself protected.

I don’t remember now where we were going or what happened to my lucky heather, but I do remember the legend my mother told me when I asked how come this heather wasn’t purple like the flowers gracing the mountain near my Grandparents home.

And I’d love to share it with you.

Once upon a time before the mountains were carved through for roads and messages had to travel for days held in the heart of a song. There lived a kind hearted, thoughtful girl her mother had named Malvina.

She lived and breathed the messages held in a song or a story, for her father was Ossian the bard, a man whose fame as relater of legend and song travelled further then the birds in the air.

By the time Malvina was 20 she had started to write her own song from the heart and was betrothed to a heroic and just warrior named Oscar.

But times were hard, the weather harsh and survival meant fighting, fighting for food, fighting for land and battles were long and fraught with danger.

Each time she watched her beloved ride out she ached, not knowing if he would return.

Then the day came when he did not.

A messenger arrived at her fathers door, his ice cold fingers held out a brittle sprig of purple heather.

Oscar had died in battle, the flowers the messenger brought had been given to him as her man had lain broken on the battle field.

A last token of his undying love for her.

It's said that when Malvinas' tears fell onto the flowers in her hand, the Ling or Heather turned white as the snow, a final moment of love’s magic and she gifted the heather this wish: 'although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it’.

Now many years later I still walk up Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on occasion, now clutching my own daughters hand.


The combination of stories and luck that I was given that evening many years ago seems to have left it’s touch because I shall be walking that way next week, with the bundles of plants that I carry as props, on my way to share my own stories: stories of love, danger, heart-strong women and magical plants.

If you’re walking that way I’d love you to join me. (c) Amanda Edmiston 2017 (first published on Whisky and Tartan 2016)


Amanda is running her Scottish Herbal Magic and Potent Potions family storytelling and plant workshop at The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday the 16th of September for details see http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/7691/herbal-magic-and-potent-potions

Amanda Edmiston www.botanicafabula.co.uk is a writer and professional storyteller with a background in herbal medicine living in Perthshire in Scotland.

 

 

A Magical Tree

Posted on 30 July, 2017 at 9:25 Comments comments (2)

A Magical Tree


As part of nearly every session throughout the Kist in Thyme project the students got time to sketch, write or create small elements of art and words to illustrate the stories that they'd heard or had created themselves inspired by the archive material and plants they'd heard about.

Many of these elements have been included in the bigger art pieces, or have been used to line the Kist, they're a little bit of magic to lead you into story worlds, through memories and plant use through the eyes of the children.

One particular drawing stood out, the artist herself described it as 'just a doodle' but she could relate the story behind it beautifully, it had aspects of real plant use and fairytale, that went beyond what she'd just heard and took the us further along the path of the story...it had grown organically and then become a magical tree.


Charlotte told me how the berries were Hawthorn from a fairy tree, but when they'd fallen onto the ground beside the tree, there was a star left behind where every berry had been....just beautiful.


And this simple doodle was a fantastic design, the story was clear just from looking at it, it lent itself perfectly to becoming a symbol of the project on top of the Kist. skillfully engraved by the very lovely Simon Baker from Evergreen (who can be found here: http://www.evergreen.scot/ )



The Kist has since been filled with a selection of remedies the classes helped me make, herbs gathered from the school grounds and other items - a kind of 'cabinet of curiosities meets medicine box'!


Thanks so much to Charlotte for her beautiful design and please do come and see the Kist for yourself in our forthcoming exhibition at The Scottish Storytelling Centre from 7th September til 6th October 2017.



A Kist in Thyme Exhibition

Posted on 21 July, 2017 at 13:45 Comments comments (0)

All the art work, photographs, some of the stories and the Kist itself will be on exhibition at The Scottish Storytelling Centre from the 7th of September 'til the 6th of October 2017, please get in touch if you'd like an invitation to the launch or for more info.

For details see: http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/7687/exhibition-a-kist-in-thyme" target="_blank">http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/7687/exhibition-a-kist-in-thyme


To accompany the exhibition I'm also delivering a family friendly Kist in Thyme Scottish Special 'Herbal Magic and Potent Potions' workshop on Saturday the 16th of September from 2pm...I recommend booking fairly quickly the last few have sold out pretty fast...it's aimed at children (and adults) aged 7 and over but younger ones are welcome to attend a long as parents are aware that the stories and activities are aimed at an older age group!

Be brilliant to see lots of you there, and keep in touch if you fancy joining us for a wee dram and a blether at the exhbition launch!

For facebook event see https://www.facebook.com/events/756459184560648/?acontext=%7B%22action_history%22%3A%22[%7B%5C%22surface%5C%22%3A%5C%22page%5C%22%2C%5C%22mechanism%5C%22%3A%5C%22page_upcoming_events_card%5C%22%2C%5C%22extra_data%5C%22%3A[]%7D]%22%2C%22has_source%22%3Atrue%7D" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/events/



Storytelling becomes picture part 2

Posted on 30 June, 2017 at 17:55 Comments comments (0)


Primary 7  turn stories and memories into art


The creation of a stunning picture re-telling one story from A KIST IN THYME with Primary 7 pupils from Doune Primary School,

All photos (c) JaneSumner 2017


I feel so chuffed and a little bit overawed by the comments P7 wrote in response to being asked to write a line or two about the project. I've decided to post them because what the group themselves have to say brilliantly illustrates how valuable storytelling and creative workshops can be in schools and because you can also tell by reading the children's own words what an interesting, bright, focused and lovely group of people they are!

I need to add something: I have worked with this class and the P6 group at Doune primary for 3 years and over that time, whilst I've been 'sparking creativity' and the rest, these two groups of children have helped me expand my practice, they've inspired this project and others and they and their teachers have given me so many good ideas that my practice has flourished and my skill as a storyteller has expanded no end.


 

A Kist in Thyme was itself inspired by this group's questions following my very first Herbal Magic and Potent Potions class that I created initially just for them to tie in with their topics that term.

They asked about the truth behind family memories of plant use and about Scottish folktales they knew and a seed was sown...so Thank you Year 7 Doune Primary School 2017, Mr Fleming, Miss Hallworth, Mrs Buchanan, Mrs MacNair, Mrs MacKay...and everyone else in the school (especially Miss Fowler who wasn't involved in this but contributed so much the previous year) you have been AWESOME!


 


I loved how the tree (the group created as an artwork illustrating the stories and their memory collecting branch of the project) was made with all the tags with all the stories we collected (from older family members and friend) on them and how the stars were made.

Feedback from P7 pupil Doune Primary


Imagination is the key to this experience, it took me on a dream I’d never thought I would experience.

Feedback from P7 pupil Doune Primary


This has been an extremely fun project. We have done lots of great activiities that we don’t usually get to do and we heard a lot of fun mythological stories. The finished result was brilliant I have really enjoyed doing this.

Doune primary P7 pupil






 



When I spend time with Amanda I enter a world of imagination that I don’t want to exit. I love spending time with her and I will miss her awesome stories when I leave.

Rachael.

I loved all the stories-they were amazing. I loved learning about the silk parachute from WWII. I am so proud of the finished results of the project and our years worth of work.

Sophie.

Hearing the mythological stories is magical. It has a great sense of adventure, it really captures my imagination and sparks my creativity.

Marcus.

I absolutely loved listening to amazing Scottish stories, myths and legends. It was so interesting and intriguing. Amanda was extremely good at telling stories and the whole project has been a really fun experience.

Catriona





All the art work, photographs, some of the stories and the Kist itself will be on exhibition at The Scottish Storytelling Centre from the 7th of September 'til the 6th of October 2017, please get in touch if you'd like an invitation to the launch or for more info.

For details see: http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/7687/exhibition-a-kist-in-thyme




Storytelling becomes pictures

Posted on 26 June, 2017 at 5:30 Comments comments (0)

The 12 Months

The creation of pictures re-telling the stories from A KIST IN THYME with Primary 6 pupils from Doune Primary School, all photos (c) Jane Sumner 2017



All the beautiful work created, the stories and photographs taken during the project will be on exhibition at The Scottish Storytelling Centre from 7th September 2017 , with an accompanying Potions Workshop telling the stories and creating some of the Plant potions and magic told as part of the project for families on Saturday the 16th of September.

For details of the exhibition and to book the workshop see : http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/7687/exhibition-a-kist-in-thyme

BLACK DEVON AND RASHIECOATS

Posted on 16 May, 2017 at 10:25 Comments comments (0)

BLACK DEVON AND RASHIECOATS


As you walk through the Black Devon reserve towards the River Forth at Alloa in April you can’t miss the rushes. The snow-soft down, drifts nonchalantly across the footpath, vital foodstuff for the birds and once a valuable resource fit for a princess.


If you turn to your left you might spot a castle away on the green hill, maybe you passed another on your way towards this watery landscape. Swans watch you avoid nettles from behind the screen. This is a place where stories line up to be told, their characters watch you from beneath stones and from within muddy puddles, choosing just one or two to share is a trickiest part of the adventure.

My day of stories for the opening of the RSPB reserve in April this year (2017) became an exchange. I shared a story or 3 and children went off in search of the creatures and plants that had inhabited them. Older people told me stories in response to mine, tales of babies born to the farming family who’d once managed the land, living on the island in the river. How the local factory had promised the father who’d stayed to look after his animals that they would sound the factory horn ‘once for a boy, twice for a girl,’ when his wife was taken into the hospital in Alloa, but bemused him when they’d got ‘carried away’ and sounded it three times! How the wildlife had been more diverse when the land was managed and how pleased local folk were to see the RSPB take over, hoping this would herald the wildlife’s return.


Children returned having found frogs to defeat mud monsters and seen princes under enchantments, cake was eaten and newts discovered...and I promised I’d share my version of one particular old Scottish tale that could have grown from this land online, for those who didn’t hear it or who wanted to read it again.

So here is my version of Rashiecoats the princess who came from a land of towers near a marshland a little like this one, a long, long time ago...


Now in those days the lives of royal children was very much in the hands of their parents and princesses and princes seldom got to marry anyone they chose for themselves, so it didn’t come as such a surprise when the princess in our story, young Morag, was summoned by her father and told she was to be married.

The problem only arose when she realised who her betrothed was to be...

‘Oh no’ thought the lass...’Oh no not him, anyone but him...’ the grumpy faced misery from the castle in the nearby glen, he was sullen and rude, he didn’t make her laugh and he was also so unkind...no, no, no he wouldn’t do at all.

Her father insisted the marriage would be in everyone’s best interests and begged her, implored her, threatened to ignore her wishes and went off in a huff and Morag pondered what she could do, trying to think of a plan to avoid marrying the miserable prince from the glen.

The next day she decided to go and seek the advice of the hen-wife, the wise woman who kept chickens, doled out herbs and potions, broths and oaths to those that sought solutions in the local village.

There she was told to return to her father and tell him she would consider the marriage only if he made her a coat of the finest gold, which the princess immediately went and did.

The king being a king found this task quite simple, he went to his coffers and took two bags of gold, one for the goldsmiths to turn to cloth and one to repay them for their trouble. Then taking the cloth, beaten, sheer and lustrous, he took it to the finest tailors who fashioned the princess a beautiful coat of pure gold.

When Morag saw the coat catch the light she marveled at it’s beauty, but a lump caught in her throat, how was she to avoid marrying the grumpy prince from the glen now she pondered.

Parcelling up her garments, she returned to the hen-wife the very next day and asked her again how she might avoid wedding the miserable prince from the glen.

This time the hen-wife told her to return to her father and ask him to give her a cloak and shoes made form feathers, freely given, one from each of the birds of the air.

When Morag returned her father scratched his head and paused, but then being a king got the finest seed from the royal kitchen and asked children to go to the garden and quietly offer a beakful of seed to any bird who would gift just one feather and he soon found he had a basket of the most beautiful feathers each fallen from a breast or a wing, which he took to his seamstresses and bade them fashion the princess a cloak and shoes of feathers.

The next morning the princess heavy hearted still refused to marry the grumpy prince from the steep glen and went back to the hen-wife with her tale of worries for a life yet to come and the hen-wife told her to go back to her father and ask for a coat, cap and shoes of rushes.


The king was tired now of hearing excuses, but indulged her one last time, because he loved her and sent the softest handed of marsh folk down to the waters edge and there he bade them collect basket upon basket of the down soft rush seeds. Then he had cloth woven and billowing, cloud-soft coat, cap and matching shoes made, surely now his wilful daughter would agree to the wedding.

But Morag would not, she took her coat and ran to the hen-wife, sobbing and pleading for a way to avoid marriage to the grumpy prince from the steep glen.

Unfortunately the hen-wife had no more answers to give and so Morag packed up her three coats and precious shoes and made her way out of the castle and away, into the land of towers hoping to find a new fate.

She travelled for a week or two and then found herself facing a long dark night of cold driving rain, so she decided to seek shelter at another tower castle a valley or three away from her home, one were she was a stranger and would not be recognised. Telling them her name was ‘Rashiecoats’ she was offered a bed and food if she would help in the kitchen.


She stayed one night, then two, then more and she decided to stay a while longer as she liked the work and the castle folk made her laugh. Then she stayed another month as it began to feel like home, then she stayed a bit longer as the son of the king in this castle was handsome and funny and kind and well...she taken a bit of a shine to him.

But in those days princes didn’t get to choose their own brides and the king had made up his mind to wed his son to a grumpy faced princess with bad manners from the next tower along the trail and even though his son begged and cajoled his father to change his mind the king would hear none of it.

The first Sunday that came along the banns were to be read in the nearby church and Morag, now Rashiecoats, sat by the kitchen fire with lunch to make and dishes to clean, wondering what she could do to change this prince’s father’s heart.

Now if you’re a smart girl, you can’t help but pick up an insight or two when you visit a hen-wife...you just start to remember useful, interesting stuff and Rashiecoats was a very smart girl.

She sat and pondered and came up with a plan. Taking a handful of seeds from the cooking jar she went out into the castle grounds and called out to the birds of the air to help her. the birds flew down, wise old owls, handsome harriers, charms of goldfinch, a flush of ducks and parliament of crows and each taking a seed, they told Rashiecoats to put on her coat and shoes of gold and go to the church whilst they took care of the kitchen.

Off she went, in her shimmering coat, whilst the birds washed with a wing and cooked with a claw, away to the church where she caught the princes eye and impressed his father, then ran back returning to the kitchen before the royal party returned for lunch.

But much as he’d admired this golden clad girl in the church the king still insisted that his son marry the grumpy princess in the tower in the neighbouring village and the following Sunday the banns were to read a second time.

Once again Rashiecoats took a handful of seeds from the cooking jar and went into the castle grounds calling to a summer cloud of swallows, a bellowing of bullfinches, a skein of geese and a siege of bitterns to help her. each took a seed and bid Rashiecoats put on her coat of feather and make her way to the church. Which Rashiecoats did, whilst the birds cleaned and cooked much as they had before.

Once again the royal party much admired the beautiful girl in her magical cloak of feathers and fine down-formed shoes, but the king still insisted his son marry the grumpy faced princess from the tower in the neighbouring village and the party returned just behind Rashiecoats then argued over their lunch.

The following week church plans were made a third time and things proceeded as they had yet again. When Rashiecoats made her way to church this time she wore her coat and shoes of Rushes and she seemed to the prince to be a magical being born in by a cloud and when she vanished after the service he begged his father to let him at least find this girl and discover who she was before he married the grumpy princess.

Well his father agreed and the prince ran out of the church behind Rashiecoats hoping to catch her before she vanished forever, but he was just a little too late and the only trace he could find was a seed quilted slipper on the church gate stone, dropped by it’s owner as she ran back to the kitchen.

And here I think you know how the story goes, a familiar tale of a love-lorn prince clutching a slipper asking girls around the kingdom whom it might fit...finding his prospective mother-in-law, the grumpy princesses own mother insisting it was her own daughters foot, determined the arranged marriage go ahead.

Clipping a bit off her daughters heel, trimming her toes, forcing an already miserable princesses foot into the rush slipper. The prince accepting his fate and seating the princess on the back of his horse and returning home tired and confused.

But then in this tale the birds are a force to be reckoned with and the wise creatures of the air, hover and call: ‘look down and you will see this wedding is not meant to be, your true beloved is at your home, Rashiecoats working in the kitchen by your own hearthstone’.

And the prince looks round and realises what has happened and sending the foot-sore grumpy princess away, goes back to his castle home and finds Rashiecoats, crying into the soup and the two go and seek permission of their fathers, who seeing a royal wedding that might suit everyone in the offing wisely agree to this new arrangement and being a story I imagine that the miserable prince from the steep glen that Rashiecoats now Morag once more was meant to marry in the first place but had previously abandoned and the grumpy ill mannered princess from the tower in the village met and were wed and lived ...well.. grumpily ever after, bickering and shouting at each other for a very long time...but then some people are just like that.

What I do know is that Rashecoats never forgot the kindness of the birds and the magic of the rushes and made sure that the birds always had a safe home, full of plants with a cloud of seeds and that that land, bordered by castle towers was meant to be kept that way for the rest of its days.

Or at least that’s how I tell it...


And maybe if you get a chance you’ll walk down from the tower in Alloa and across the marsh and see a charm of goldfinch flit among the rushes and share a story or two in a landscape where stories of birds, frogs, plants and islands line up to be told.


Story Sharing in Rutherglen

Posted on 4 May, 2017 at 4:15 Comments comments (0)

STORY SHARING IN RUTHERGLEN: WW2, Food and Recycling!

Memories of WWII cropped up a lot in many of our intergenerational story sharing groups, one gentleman told us how the first time his sister saw a banana after rationing ended and food began to be imported more she screamed and thought it was a gun! People remembered that children were evacuated from Rutherglen although very few had been themselves, due to it’s industry and proximity to Clydebank and the Glasgow shipyards.


The changes to the lives of children, over the last 70 years stood out in all the sessions. But some things everyone had in common, sweet treats at picnics and playing in the park, games like football, skipping, days out ‘Doon the Watter’ to the nearest seaside.




These are some of the stories collected by the children from nine Rutherglen Primary Schools from their older family members, teachers, friends, neighbours and the residents in two local care homes.


-Peter told me how he would play football and they would run for six or seven miles. He was in the Royal Airforce. he was one of the people who won the war. He lived just outside Rutherglen. When he was a boy he loved playing cowboys, football and cycling. He became an RAF cross country champion.



-We spoke to a man who told us his dad was in the RAF and his brother was in charge of ammunition. Life changed for everyone when antibiotics were made. They saved his life.


-He loved football, there are lots of footballers from Rutherglen, there were 6 or 7 football pitches that he played at. His mum and dad met at an aircraft, but then his dad went off to Africa as a spy and he didn’t see him ‘til after the end of the war.




-My Grandma Rose was sent to the countryside in Wales during the second world war. It was a scary time.


-My Granny worked for Churchill and one day Churchill told my granny to type rubbish to the Germans. For 30 years she couldn’t say a word about it.


-During WWII my teacher’s Gran looked after some soldiers in her house in Burnside. One evening a soldier named James brought a chicken with him for everyone to enjoy. He was a farmer’s son from Dumfries. Sadly James was killed but my teacher’s Gran never ever forgot James or his chicken.


Food often evoked memories too


-When my teacher was a pupil at Burnside Primary she was the milk monitor and one of her jobs was to put one straw into every little milk bottle which arrived each day in a large crate. Unfortunately by the time she got to drink the milk it was quite warm and not really very nice.


-When my Gran was a wee girl she had 8 sisters and 2 brothers. They didn’t have a lot of money so every year at Easter instead of Easter eggs my Gran’s mum would boil eggs and give one to my Gran and her siblings. They would then paint patterns and different colours on them. After that they would go up a really tall hill and roll the eggs down it and wait for them to break.


I spoke to a lady about her favourite foods, her family and the games she played, she told me how Dumpling was her favourite cake and her favourite food was steak pie. She also told me about playing hide and seek with her sister, the lady sat next to her said she preferred tea bread, but also told us about how they used to play ‘chap the doors’ , I don’t think anyone would let you play that now.



Changes in recycling and food production was a common theme in many of the sessions, people remembered pigs being kept in the back yard, allotments next to the park, paying to go to the cinema with old jars (for the value in the days when you could return ‘ginger’ bottles to the shop and be paid a few pennies for your trouble).


Many people remembered being paid to go ‘tattie howking’ during the October holidays. School milk was either a high point in the school morning or was ruined by teachers keeping it next to the radiator.


One gentleman shared a marvelous story of passing four bakeries on his way to school and in the post war days of rationing being thrilled by the scent of freshly baked bread...he could have been the lad from the story ‘The Stolen Smells’ which can be found here: https://drwalsh.wikispaces.com/file/view/Gr+5+PSSA+scoring+practice.pdf" target="_blank">https://drwalsh.wikispaces.com/file/view/Gr+5+PSSA+scoring+practice.pdf


Our map shows three of the bakeries marked in red:


With thanks to the pupils from: Burgh, Bankhead, St Columbkills, Cathkin, Calderwood, Burnside, Spittal and St Marks Primary Schools in Rutherglen and the residents of David Walker Gardens and Rodgerpark care homes, for their stories and fantastic contribution to this project.



Games, Stories and making Paper Boats

Posted on 3 May, 2017 at 9:50 Comments comments (0)

Games, Stories and making Paper Boats

I've mentioned that paper was a theme at the Grow 73 Rutherglen intergenerational project before http://www.botanicafabula.co.uk/apps/blog/categories/show/2140201-overtoun-park-rutherglen-grow-73-nature-trail

We started the session with the story of the Rutherglen ship yard.

We also had a grand chat about the games at children's birthday parties and what everyone liked to play in the park

I demonstrated the tried and tested pre internet entertainment option of making a 'newspaper tree'...


...and then inspired by Rutherglen's iconic Clutha ferries we made paper boats...

These are the instructions I learnt from when I was 6, taken from Eleanor Graham Vance and Trina S. Hyman's 'A Treasury of Things to make and do' that my Nana Mabel gave me for Christmas in 1975. But if you want to have a go yourself there are plenty of short demo films on You Tube if you find that method of instruction easier...

The children then chatted to the residents of David Walker Gardens care home about the games they'd liked to play. Adding notes to their boats.


Drawing on the pavement with white chalk, hopsctotch, 'two ropes' and whip and peerie had all been favourites (a peerie for those who don't know is a spinning top usually made from wood which can be kept going with a whip).

Pea shooters were also favourites, just a rolled up paper tube...Oh and dried peas gone to seed 'borrowed' from the allotment that used to flourish with fruit,veg and flowers next to Overtoun Park.

The children talked about monkey bars and favourite chutes (slides to those of you out of Scotland!), and games of football.

Everyone regardless of age loved climbing trees.


David remembered climbing his Grannies fruit trees and eating the fresh juicy apples during war time rationing and the pigs she'd kept.

Bobby during a session at the BUPA care home on Rogers Drive had got us all chatting about Bogies (not the nasal variety!), home-made go carts and racing them down hills in parks. About how they'd gone round the houses as children asking if anyone had an old pram or trolley they could have the wheels from, gathering up unwanted timber and rope and building carties to race.

I could see some of the children fancying reviving this game...

So what would you love to play in the park? What would make you want to explore and go back time and again?


What would encourage you to take younger family members and friends along and start you reminiscing about hot summer days and amazing games, or what can you imagine would lead you back there in ten years time to share your memories with friends and children?

We'd love it if you read the stories in the Rutherglen blogs and thought about some of the shared memories and stories from the children, maybe made a paper boat or a paper book and went to Overtoun Park and thought about games and adventures of your own that link to the area.

Games  that cross generations and how they might become a sculpture you could play on or tell a story of their own then you could send us your ideas. We'd love to hear from you, either in the comments below or via social media.

The stories of the session with the paper boats can be found here:http://www.botanicafabula.co.uk/apps/blog/show/44481346-clutha-ferries-of-rutherglen" target="_blank"> http://www.botanicafabula.co.uk/apps/blog/show/44481346-clutha-ferries-of-rutherglen




Stories from the Schools in Rutherglen

Posted on 28 April, 2017 at 16:15 Comments comments (0)

STORIES FROM THE SCHOOLS IN RUTHERGLEN

We had some fantastic contributions from the children from Rutherglen schools as part of the intergenerational Grow 73 nature trail project.



Each child was sent home from the first introductory session with an unusual piece of paper, folded into a 'book' as a gesture towards the old Clyde paper mill at Rutherglen http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/record/rcahms/172686/glasgow-clyde-paper-mill/rcahms

The children ranged in age from primary 3 to primary 7 from 9 schools across Rutherglen.

The stories they brought back reflected the community in  Rutherglen beautifully.

There were short lovely thoughts that also cast a light on the reason for Rutherglen's history of successful football players...



There were stories that inspired the student who heard it from her father and wrote it (after talking to the local heritage group) to go off and find a picture of the ornamental wrought iron lamp-posts that once graced Overton Park.


I'm going to let some of the stories speak for themselves for the next couple of blogs. After all the hope for this nature trail is that they connect the people who use it most to the park, allow them to re-story Rutherglen, love their local park and enjoy it...so here is the first stories from the children.

More to come over the next week or so....

if you'd like to say how you would see these stories translate into sculptures and nature trails in Overton Park we'd love to hear from you.



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