Botanica Fabula - Amanda Edmiston, Storyteller: 'Herbs, Movement and Grand Drama'
My Blog

26 Postcodes Aberdeen to Land's End

2015 was a funny Summer, I was wonderfully busy with some really gorgeous storytelling gigs, Atropa Nights my poison stories for grown ups with original live music by Louise Cairns sold out at the stunningSecret Herb Garden, the audience were terrifically enthusiastic and we started planning new work to take back there over the next year. There were brilliant gigs for The Forestry Commission Scotland, Woodend Barn Arts Centre in Banchory on Deeside and I spent quite a few days delivering Living Voices sessions in Aberdeen with the charming and funny groups in Care homes and sheltered housing I'd been working with.

Heather, lucky holder of tears


We all associate Heather, the hardy native that coats our moorland with the tactile soft fluid purple mist, the heather the Gypsy woman pressed into your palms in the High street in my youth. Now in a gesture to traditional use it flavours our small brewery's beer, and graces our gardens, but it's folklore and it's good luck blessing can be traced back to this beautiful story of love lost.
As the Heather still flowers as the storm cascades through my garden and the children get caught up in the weathers emotions I thought I'd post a short blog tonight and tell you the tale.


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' 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.

Cailleach Bheur, the blue crone, Queen of Winter

'She was needed, Carlin now she became and midwife too, loved and needed by the people in her new home, learning to tend the goats and heal with herbs, many stories can be heard, I hear versions that she held Spring back and brought it forth...that eventually she became one with the hills, known as the Cailleach, but those are stories for you to discover.'
(taken from 'Enchanted' (c) Amanda Edmiston  2015)

In 'Scotland's Future History'  Stuart McHardy suggests the 'westray wifie' or Orkney Venus as she's also known,  ( a small stone figure found in the excavation of a farmhouse midden in Westray in 2009) may have links with the dual goddess of ancient Scotland (I'd argue for a third.


Is the new storytelling show for grown-ups I've been working on...again collaborating with my talented songwriter and musician friendLouise Cairns.
We had such a fantastic night at TheSecret Herb Gardenback in August withAtropa Nights. The stunning greenhouse was sold out, the audience were just one of the best I've ever had, they laughed and chatted in the interval, really enjoyed the evening and made us feel hugely appreciated and welcome. Libby and Hamish the lovely couple who have created the beautiful Secret Herb Garden are just charming and they really know how to host a fantastic event, there was cheese, wine, laughter and in the midst of this brilliant evening I heard myself say.

Part 3 #OutToLunch for The Soil Association: Pizza Express

Finally our #OutToLunchUK journey took us to Pizza Express...I’ll be honest I’m in my comfort zone immediately in a Pizza Express, there is pizza, life’s least challenging foodstuff, my family all eat pizza and if there isn’t a nice friendly independent restaurant or cafe to hand (for instance amidst retail hell) ...then Pizza Express is my first choice.

They didn’t let me down...we were greeted at the Perth branch by a friendly girl, she not only also said hello to the children as well as me but immediately asked if we’d like to be in a window or further back, then moved chairs and tables so I could get the pram in next to the table and offered a (clean) high chair.

#OutToLunchUK with the Soil Association: Nando's with outspoken vegetarian children!

Nando’s Stirling...

Vegetarian family...we didn’t take the resident meat eater.

I stood in the door way, unsure of whether we sat ourselves or what should happen next.

This was not so much the fault of the staff as on a quiet lunchtime there weren’t really very many of them around and the place is pretty big, but I would have liked an indication, you know?

A ‘wait here to be seated sign’ is usually enough to reassure me that I’ve not been overlooked.

#Out to Lunch for The Soil Association part 1

I've been a member ofThe Soil Associationfor years now, interest in plants and their use in food and medicine and from that point as part of stories (for me), inevitably results in an interest in how they are grown. If every small plant constituent has the ability to effect the physiology of the animals ingesting it, what are the implications for our physiology of how the plants are produced or where they come from on their constituents and therefore ultimately on us?

The organic question is one strand, another for me is the culture in which our food is grown, I think if we utterly disconnect from the who's, how's, why's and wherefore's of food production, if mass production and lack of respect for farmers lives, take over we lose food's story, we lose the words and for me that means food loses part of its complex nature, it loses nourishment, it no longer feeds the brain .

A slice of conversation, chatter about food with my Living Voices groups. #treasuredtastes for #dementiaawarenessweek 2015

Our conversations started over a plate of the first Scottish strawberries of the season… we have a bags of herbs and spices to pass round…         

‘My grandparents, they moved into Aberdeen in 1916 from the country, because they were told there would be more food, farm workers were literally starving to death, thats when my mother was born’
‘Times were hard in Scotland, there was no food if you were poor.’
‘There was a war.’
‘You had to be a lot less fussy, not like now’.

      ‘Did you like everything?

Wild garden sundials and a day at the shops

It's been a busy week, Monday I was at Glasgow Fort a behemoth of an outdoor shopping centre…sounds like an odd gig for me and I could explain at length, but it comes down to 3 things:

 1. The staff are lovely, a couple of the staff are hilarious (customer remark 'you're not a disney princess, where's the Disney princess?', Me to charming but slightly terrifying looking 6ft 4" cockney possibly security gentleman whose name I should know by now 'is the Disney princess on today (with raised eyebrow/back to customer)'  Him: 'No, I'm the big bad wolf…I've eaten them all' Me: (soto voce) 'excellent, you are this morning's hero'.
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