Saturday, 16 May 2015

FLY CATCHER PRESS: A Walk Down the Rift

Not far from Coleridge Cottage lies the tiny hamlet of Shurton and just down to the sea from here is where ST Coleridge walked and sat on Shurton Bars to write 'Ode to Sara' for his wife to-be in 1795.

And hark, my love! The sea-breeze moans
Thro' yon reft house! O'er rolling stones,
With broad impetuous sweep,
The fast encroaching tides supply
The silence of the cloudless sky
With mimic thunders deep.
extract from Ode to Sara -  ST Coleridge 

Shurton Bars - Somerset

Along this same path from Shurton to the sea the Poetry Pin project has been journeying for a full year writing new poetry and digitally posting it to this trail through the Poetry Pin Engine. Over twelve workshop walks tarriedthis way, revealing and writing poetry with the former done just by opening the website on a mobile phone.

In March 2015 the ability to add new works came to an end and the Poetry Pin team began the next phase, compiling and curating 'A Walk Down the Rift' to be published by Fly Catcher Press this coming Autumn.

Past the bat house, and the Tacky-shade collector,
Past the laminate maps, part eaten by nature.
Down to the geo with the clints and the grikes,
Boulders smashing by little tykes,
Paddling free in the murky brine,
Beneath scoured stone Bars slumbers Serpentine.
All change, all change, as we scatter to scribe,
scratching in the sand, drawing words from this tide.
Over the wash and across the Bars it comes,
And we mop up its moods like kitchen crumbs.

extract from Kitchen Crumbs - C Jelley 

More details can be found on the Poetry Pin Portal where you can still walk the trail and trigger the poetry.

Enquiries and orders of the publication 'A Walk Down the Rift' (Fly Catcher Press) can be made at Number Seven Dulverton. Purchases can also be made from Amazon (£10 hard back) and documents a year walking, reading and writing poetry in the shadow of Hinkley C, the UK’s first new nuclear build in decades.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Last Post (Installing QR Code Poetry)

The audio above was recorded whilst installing the final few poetry tiles along first 36 miles of the Coleridge Way. Working with local pupils who live on or close to the trail Mr Jelley has installed over 100 poems along the path and each one hidden inside a QR code.

'Jenny Mash was an essential component to this project without her involvement I feel the quality of poetry would be but a shadow of its current form. ' C Jelley

This is a culmination of two years working on the trail with the final tiles being installed early October 2014.

Revealing the poetry is simple, just add a scanning app to your smart phone, QR codes can be decoded 'on the fly' so there is no need for mobile or data connection. These are ideal for the wild landscapes of Exmoor and the Coleridge Way.

The short film has poetry extracts and shows the large tiles installed at Conygar Tower in Dunster.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Tales of Tins

Another three months has drawn to a close and the story box project has again captured the imagination of many walkers and visitors along The Coleridge Way trail.

The concept is very simple, inside each of the box is a book started by a published author, read the story so far, add a little but no more and then leave for the next to continue the tale.

There were six boxes along the trail this year, with the first at at Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey and then dotted along the first 36 miles of the trail to Porlock visitor centre. Earlier this year the Coleridge Way was extended from Porlock to Lynmouth taking the trail from 36 miles to almost 51.

So where were the story boxes located?

Number One - Coleridge Cottage - Down through the weaving meadow path at the bottom of the cottage garden is a little arbour with the box fastened to a bench.

Number Two - Watery Lane, Nether Stowey - The first section of the Coleridge Way trail which is off the paved road and a taste of the Holloway's and Drovers' tracks to come.

Number Three - St Audries, Quantocks - This box was tethered to a bench at a view point on the turn of the trail on the Quantock hills. This is where West Somerset and the trail ahead is laid out before the walker, it looks out across land to Dunkery and sea to Wales. Books by Catherine Hyde and Jackie Morris were placed here at different times.

Number Four - Notley Arms - Monksilver - This pub is often used as a stopping point after the first days walking. The box was tethered to a bench in the pub garden and steadily filled through the three months.

Number Five - Webbers Post - One of the most popular spots for visitors to Somerset, and also one of the most popular boxes, here at the Jubilee Hut overlooking Horner and then out to sea. Victoria Eveleigh's books were placed here, a prolific local author who writes children's stories about Exmoor and sets great tales in these hills.

Number Six - Porlock Visitor Centre - The last of the 'old' trail this box sat in the orchard behind the visitor centre a little piece of tranquil haven and a place to rest before taking on the next leg of the trail.

So what happens with the story books now?

During September they will be exhibited alongside 'Poetry Books' which were located in Valley of Rocks during this same period. The Valley is just above Lynmouth and Lynton where the 51 miles now ends and has been a destination and focal point from Coleridge's time. They even have a little building in the Valley called 'The Poets Hut' where the first Poetry Box was tethered (pictured).

From both projects it has been really interesting to see that there is immense talent in strangers. Who would have thought that idle walkers were willing to sit and write, I think everyone can't help but be surprised in content and quality that people have been willing to give, just for joy.

Images from both Poetry Box Project and Story Box Project are available through @storywalks twitter and Storywalks Facebook page.

Exhibition at Lynmouth Pavilion during September, free and access for all.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

QR Code Poetry

Mr Jelley has been out along the Coleridge Way with his faithful companion 'Fable', this time between Alfoxton Park and St Audries bay, passing through sleepy dells and heathland searching out the finger posts to affix the QR code poetry. 

What is a QR Code?

Very simply it's like a bar code but it has characters aswell as numbers, and you can decode with a simple scanner (most people use a free app on their smart phone and turn their phone into a scanner.) Once scanned your phone just decodes the pattern back into the characters - ie text ready for you to read. People often miss understand QR codes, thinking that they need to be connected to the internet but this is not the case, your phone decodes on the fly, revealing the hidden text no matter where you are, they would work even on the moon!

Who's poetry?

The poems were written by local school children during special workshops commissioned by ARTlife. Every child either walked the Coleridge Way or adjacent countryside with Mr Jelley and Mrs Mash, firstly word harvesting and then later crafting their own words and phrases over just a single day. Mr Jelley then took the poetry away, laser etched it into slate and has been attaching them to finger posts along the trail over the summer and into this autumn 2014.

Sections from Wheddon Cross to Porlock have been completed as well as Sampford Brett to Monksilver, and Nether Stowey up over Watery Lane. More sections are due to be completed in the coming months to create a QR code poetry trail.

Finger post at Webber Post with QR code poem.

How are they fixed?

First nails are hammered into the timber then a high quality epoxy glue is used to attach the tile to the nails, this means that the finger post can breath and the tile remain in place for years to come. The rubber band is there to hold the tile in place whilst the glue sets and is removed after half hour or so.

How many schools have been involved?

This year there were five schools in all, and each within the curtilage of the Coleridge Way. The pupils were aged between 6 and 11 and we tapped into their literacy skills to gather site specific poetry inspired by the Coleridge Way trail itself. Understanding children's capabilities at this age is quite a skill and it was great that Jenny Mash, local teacher and artist was on board.

Mr Jelley said.

 '[the project] wouldn't have come together without Jenny Mash, her skill base in understanding Key Stage 1 and 2 literacy was absolutely crucial to obtaining the best from these little authors .'

Each school received a plaque of laser etched slate with a word cloud (pictured) depicting their pupils words. Presentation of the slates to the children connected them with the project as a whole, and they were also able to scan lots of the QR code poems before they were mounted along the Coleridge Way trail.

More sections of the Coleridge Way will have tiles installed over the coming months, so don't forget to add a scanning app to your smart phone before you depart on the trail.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Halsway Manor Coleridge Convention

As blogs go this one is more of a call to action as there is a very interesting week of events planned at the wonderful Halsway Manor, nestled in the Quantock hills of Somerset. The event celebrates the unique cultural heritage that West Somerset has, as a source of inspiration for the Romantic Poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.

Ralph Hoyte - Christobel
The programme combines guided walks along the Coleridge Way, plus shorter routes of special relevance to the Romantics. There are evening talks, lectures and performances plus a visual arts exhibition. With a range of onsite accommodation you may want to stay for the week, or come along to individual events, the choice is yours.

These events are to be held between 11th and 15th August 2014 and tickets for the whole or just parts are available through Halsway Manor, type in Coleridge to their search bar, or check out their whats-on page for August 2014. There is also a leaflet which reveals more still and is available for download from the Halsway site.

The event is also supported by ARTlife somerset.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

What's in the blue box?

June now complete and still two more months to go, the story boxes are at large along the Coleridge Way trail. The concept is simple, find a blue box, read the story so far, add a little to the tale or a drawing then leave for the next.

This year we have books stared by three published authors, including Jackie Morris, Victoria Eveleigh, and Catherine Hyde (pictured). Each have started their books and then cast them into the jaws of the trail walkers to see where the tale will go. It's a little like putting a bottle into the ocean with a message inside for the tides to take to the next in the chain.

Interestingly I was walking along the UK's south coast some years ago and did indeed find a message in a bottle, fascinated I read the note declaring if this letter was returned then it would show the tenacity of (his) love. I promptly posted this to my sister in the west of the USA thinking what a ruse, all the way across the Atlantic and against the tide too! But she thought it would be even more fun to post to her friend in Australia, which she did. I have no idea what became of it after then, perhaps we stretched the possibilities too far, or that strangers meddling with his love story wouldn't play out well, who knows.

The book pictured was retrieved just two days ago from its blue story box overlooking St Audries Bay in the west of the Quantocks, it was there throughout June 2014. Here the trail rises out of a wood to reward you with a splendid view out across a deer park and the sea. It is also the first view which gives proper clues to where the Coleridge Way trail is sending you, a trail which slides through hidden cuttings and holloways to take you off into the distant haze of West Somerset secrets, Dunkery Beacon and beyond.

This book was started by Catherine Hyde, an author and illustrator who resides in Helston Cornwall, when she was first approached about starting a couple of storybooks she was a little nervous, and was not sure what was required or even where to begin. But funnily enough, the stories are all about beginnings, perhaps the true art of the storyteller is to set the scene, to lay good foundations for a story to unfurl and then blossom, which is exactly what has happened here.

The drawings in these books are so refreshing too, it is amazing to me how talented people it is like tapping into a latent skill base. This project provides the tools, a little quite space, and a thread to propagate, it seems to be just the right mixture and balance to facilitate and nurture.

Images from these and other books along the trail are being posted on Twitter and Facebook daily under the tag @Storywalks, so those who cannot get out into the field, or along the trail can follow a story in a more virtual capacity.

Both books and boxes are out until the end of August 2015, locations of which and more details can be found here under the blue pins. There are also books in boxes at Lynton in Devon at Valley of Rocks through the same period, but these are gathering poetry rather than stories.

With thanks to ARTlife and EDF Energy for financial support for the Coleridge Way story boxes.