Waking Up – A Writing Workshop for Brigid’s Day

I’ve still got some spaces on my next workshop – join me! It’s a one-off for 2 hours. Friendly, no pressure and lots of opportunities to think, talk and write at your own pace in a supportive environment. I’ve always found this time of year to be a perfect time for getting projects going, germinating those thought seeds stored from the dark Winter months… message me for more info or email (address in the pic below)

Homeschooling, Homeschooling, Jiggety Jig 8th Jan 2021

As we know, from today the UK has now gone into lockdown and schools are shut. Social media is full of parents facing the fact of having to home school again, how to fit work in, juggle schedules and timetables, keep children amused and reassured.

In Ireland, we’re already back in lockdown, Level 5, everything shut apart from ‘essential retail’ and looking like schools won’t reopen this month. The education system here is very different and I am not really familiar with it properly yet, having only lived here since March last year and being a home-educator myself.

#64MillionArtists #JanuaryChallenge – Day 2 effort

However the issues around whether the schools should be open or not, and the outcomes when they close, are pretty much the same. Everywhere parents and children are feeling the strain of missing friends, missing the normal routines of everyday life. Parents worrying about work and finances; teenagers worrying about exams. Managing being stuck indoors together and how to manage it all.

We are all worn out with it – it’s a long haul and the winter weather doesn’t help.

There are plenty of opinions about how much schooling can or should be attempted. Some children are being educated via online schooling, provided for by the actual school they go to. Some are getting work sent via email or online school homework portals, some are getting very little direction at all. There are no consistent measures being applied as far as I can tell. Please correct me if I’m wrong about this!

There are some great English / literacy / creative writing / art resources out there for helping your kids – whatever age they are – to get through this latest lockdown.

I’ll list some here but will add more as I find them, use them, remember them or they’re recommended to me. So I will post this blog again on social media each time I update it. Please let me know of any resources / web sites / activities that you’ve found helpful too!

I’ll focus on what I know best here- which is creative writing, English literature and language, creativity in general / art, and things I’ve found useful myself in my journey as a home educator. Some of these might work for your child / children and some won’t. There is plenty to explore and you will know whether your child is likely to be interested in reading or writing stories, or if they would prefer to be doing something more physically active. Some of these are also age dependent.

I’m putting this up pretty quickly but will aim to add more information as I have time – we are all juggling a million things at the moment. I hope this is helpful! It’s a start… (in no particular order)

64 Million Artists January Challenge – something creative to do every day https://64millionartists.com/

Aquila magazine https://www.aquila.co.uk/aquila-resources/

Phoenix Comic https://www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk/Page/Index/SkillsHub

Dekko Comic (specifically aimed at KS2 kids with dyslexia) https://dekkocomics.com/puzzle-page-guide

The Week Junior – current affairs, great pics https://theweekjunior.co.uk/

National Poetry Day UK – Lots of great lesson plans here for poetry – all ages! https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/free-education-resource-downloads/

Just added:

Tate Kids – loads of great ideas for art and learn about lots of diverse artists https://www.tate.org.uk/kids 

Learn touch typing for free – a great skill for kids with dyslexia but also really good for seeing progress with something on a daily basis https://www.typingclub.com/

Lovely stuff here for creative writing – thanks Jean Atkin https://www.sparkwriters.org/get-creative/

Update 6th January 2021

Great news if you are in the UK! The BBC has announced they will be delivering their biggest education offer in history, with significant airtime on their channels including BBC2. 

https://www.bbc.com/mediacentre/2020/bbc-launches-biggest-education-offer-ever

Thanks to Annie for sharing The Happy Newspaper and the Julia Donaldon home learning packs from Scholastic with me.

Education

https://resource-bank.scholastic.co.uk/content/40114?fbclid=IwAR354ODuWSRQqoojgnAOtjyLH8Q6nKuUy6xxwFqS69V3pXjJnkAFZgVomTg

The Polka theatre in Wimbledon, South West London, are FREE doing a community choir – all ages – once a week via Zoom 

Update 8th January 2021

For some excellent science-based activities for all stages of learning check out STEM’s Home Learning for Families 

Also, Astronomy Ireland has a radio show here which you can listen to on the web!

The Science Museum has tonnes of learning resources for all key stages, related to objects in its collection 

Walking Furlongs

This is the first day of Level 5 lockdown in Ireland, the highest level, which we will be for the next six weeks until the end of November, in this crazy year of 2020.

We got to Wexford back in March this year, just in time for everything to shut. Luckily we were able to change our plans and stay in the holiday home, originally booked for 5 nights, for what ended up being nearly six months.

During the last lockdown I went out walking, as I usually do, every day, except that I was suddenly walking up and down a lane in Bunclody every day, instead of being in the suburbs of Greater London. I walked and photographed and wrote, as I usually do, and one of the poems from that time, St John’s Eve, Bunclody, is up on the Pendemic site.

Another poem, Conker, was written to go with Dean Reddick’s beautiful bronze conker, as part of CollectConnect’s online Sentinel Trees show. It was also partly inspired by the horse chestnut tree I walked past nearly every day, on the lane down towards Clonegal.

Many other artists and writers responded to the lockdown too, much more consistently and cohesively, with whole projects. Particularly gorgeous is Kel Portman’s lockdown garden walks – photos and verses – some of which are available to buy as packs of cards here.

I’ve been writing and painting a bit, making collages, taking photos and walking. I took up running again in mid-June as a way of staying sane and getting fitter but I haven’t settled down to an actual writing / walking art project until now.

Wexford Town

Now we are living a 15 minute walk from Wexford Town, and once again only able to travel up to a 5km radius from home. So, like many others I have been looking for constructive and positive ways to use this time. And I know that I am going to spend the next six weeks walking, documenting and exploring every bit of Wexford in a 5km radius.

We are 15 minutes’ walk from where the Furlong family shop once was, long gone now. The shop front is still there and the house above is where the family lived. Apart from that, I know my Gran was from Ballymurn, which I think is out of range of this project, although I have walked around it via trips in the car.

So, I’m a blow-in from Tolworth, which is where my grandparents moved to from Wexford – as one of my new neighbours here in Wexford said : “Full circle.”

My last poetry map, Over the Fields, was about my family’s connection with the local greenbelt in Tolworth (at Malden Manor). The subtitle was ‘Walking Furlongs’. So I’m continuing… there are just about 25 furlongs in 5km.

Winter Warmer Writing Workshops

I promised a series of writing workshops to see us through the dark nights of November and December, and here it is! Each week there will be a different theme, we’ll explore different genres of writing, writing exercises, discussion, opportunities for reading and feedback of each other’s work and more.

Many of us will be staying inside, socially distancing and looking for community, as we move through the last quarter of this challenging year. I know I will be, which is partly why I thought this might appeal to people who would normally get together around a table in a cafe or pub, to share ideas about writing and try things out.

I can’t run workshops like this at the moment, which is how I normally do it – and how I would prefer to meet everyone. The joy of offering workshops online is that we can still meet up and do the writing and have the fun, and we can do it from wherever we are in the world – which is amazing.

The idea behind the ‘Winter Warmer’ aspect is to take us through these dark, damp nights, with reading, writing and discussion to keep us going. Creative prompts, and thinking to inspire us to write. All of which will take place around our own virtual fire, where we can share stories and have a laugh together.

7.30-9pm Every Sunday from 1st November to 20th December

The normal price for this course is £120 but I am offering an early bird bargain rate of £80 until the 10th of October! Contact me for more info and to book.

 

 

 

 

#NationalMeadowsDay poetry challenge. Have you written a poem about meadows? If inspired please join me and David Hill in celebrating our countryside. This is a one off challenge. All poems will feature on my website. Artworks welcome too. DM me for my email address

Thanks to Paul Brookes at Wombwell Rainbow for featuring my poem Six Acre Meadow here today, as part of #NationalMeadowDay

The Wombwell Rainbow

WP_20160527_12_48_00_Rich (2)_eWP_20160527_12_48_00_Rich (2)WP_20160808_13_04_38_Pro (2)WP_20160808_13_08_30_ProWP_20160808_13_10_58_Pro (2)WP_20160808_13_11_21_Pro

The flower meadows at RSPB OLd Moor

-Paul Brookes

LucyFurlong_OTF-Map-HR[84170]Lucy Furlong OTF_6AcreMeadow_walk2015_resize[84169]Lucy Furlong OTF_Ophelia_2014_resize[84168]Six Acre Meadow

I

It was just ‘the field the other side of the second bridge’
which led to nowhere but, here, looking across the river,
you knew the manor house was there,
you could hardly see it through the trees then, maybe elms,
couldn’t see it when you went up by the church.

The old barn was on the right hand side below the church
at the bottom of the manor house land, ramshackle unromantic
surrounded by scrub but attractive for its intact hayloft
you climbed through a barbed wire fence, and climbed up
thrilled in successfully trespassing the forbidden space

Four of us got caught once by a man holding a shotgun.
We claimed to be from Worcester Park to throw them off the scent,
some of the other lads came up the hill, saw us being led away,

View original post 450 more words

Verse Aid : Poems for the Earth

Back in January I was honoured to be invited by Poets for the Planet to run two workshops at their launch event at the Society Of Authors in London.

“Poets for the Planet is a community of kindred poets, performers, artists and creative activists raising their voices to engage with climate and ecological emergency through poetry in all its forms.”

This took place on Saturday February 8th, and was a fantastically busy day with a Poem-A-Thon taking place throughout the day, alongside other workshops from Jan Heritage, Grace Pengelly, Dom Bury, Philip Gross and Clare Pollard.

In the evening there was a gala reading featuring Imtiaz Dharker, winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, alongside acclaimed poets Mona Arshi, Hannah Lowe and Jacqueline Saphra.

My workshops, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, were based around my latest chapbook and walking project, Sward : Skin of the Earth, and aimed to get people thinking about their local green and wild spaces, how to write about them and how to value them.

Here’s the blurb from eventbrite:

Skin of the earth: Walking and Ecopoetry

Exploring family memories of and connections to local wild spaces through walking and writing about them. We will look at the writings of Victorian author and naturalist Richard Jefferies and think about the concept of deep topography.

I was delighted that both workshops were well attended and each was very different in flavour! The morning workshop was mostly a talking / thinking / exchanging ideas workshop, and the afternoon workshop was a heads-down writing workshop. As each workshop was only 30 minutes long,  a ‘micro-workshop’, I prepared a handout for people to take away with them too.

The monies raised went to two amazing charities:

Founded in 1993, Bees for Development was the first organisation to articulate the reasons why beekeeping is such a useful tool for alleviating poverty while helping to retain biodiversity. http://www.beesfordevelopment.org

International Environmental Charity Earthwatch brings together world-class scientists and individuals from all works of life to work for the good of the planet.

I also took part in the Poem-A-Thon, reading from Sward, and raised money again for Bees for Development – and thanks to everyone who sponsored and supported me!

 

Sward {skin of the earth}

My new chapbook, Sward {skin of the earth}, published by Sampson Low Ltd, is available for purchase here

Buy Now button
£3.85 incl UK p+p

Sward represents my walks up and down the central reservation of the A240, Kingston Road, from the Tolworth Roundabout to the border of Surrey, where the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames meets the Borough of Epsom and Ewell.

Inspired by Richard Jefferies, the prolific Victorian nature writer, author and walker, whose seminal work Nature Near London contains essays about his walks and observations of Tolworth and the surrounding areas.

Jefferies lived in Tolworth for several years, and last year Alison Fure and myself, as part of our Tolworth Treasure and the Hogsmill Hum project took between 30-40 people on a walk in Richard Jefferies’ Footsteps, aided and abetted by our friend Ben Henderson who very kindly agreed to play the part of Jefferies on the day, and did so with great aplomb, providing us with a sprinkle of magic for our journey.

The walk, which took place on a hot and sunny May Bank Holiday in 2018, was recorded for a show on Radio 4,The Art of Now: Women Who Walk’,  celebrating women walking artists, and we were delighted to be involved in this.

This is my last walking and writing on Tolworth for now, although there may be a couple of essays lurking. My family has lived here for generations, since my grandparents came over from Wexford, Ireland during the second world war, and I have spent the last few years walking and writing and thinking and trying to engage other people in the treasures that exist nearby, before they are lost.

Alison and I documented our walks for Tolworth Treasure and the Hogsmill Hum, and were glad to meet lots of lovely local folk and make new friends, and we continue to walk, write, celebrate and try to conserve the nature on our doorsteps.

This year I decided to focus on a small patch of nature, a long, thin one, in the middle of the A240 – a narrow but important nature corridor, with grasses, 20-odd mature trees and lots of wild flowers. I named the project Sward after Richard Jefferies’ use of the word in his writing.

Last year this slim but vital patch of nature was placed under threat of being concreted over from one end to the other, as the proposed Tolworth Area Plan wished to see this an extension of the Tolworth Greenway – green stripy concrete.

This central reservation, which helps pollinators and other fauna find their way across the busy road from one green space to the other (Kingston University Playing Fields and Tolworth Court Farm Fields respectively) must be kept and properly managed. It also does an important job of mitigating air pollution – and providing beauty – something we mustn’t overlook!

I was glad that many objections to this part of the plan were received and it has been dropped, but I worry it will happen anyway in increments, as Tfl will be extending the ‘greenway’ to Tolworth Station. Although at the moment this does not mean the loss of all the grassy and floriferous ‘sward’ I have been walking up and down for the last six months – and seeing all my life, it still could be in the near future…

 

Cambridge Road Estate Tree Poems

Below are two of the poems I wrote specially for and read on Alison Fure’s Walk with Jane Soundwalk with the Museum of Walking back in September.

There is another soundwalk taking place on Saturday 19th October from 10.30am. It is FREE but please book via the Walk with Jane website. See Alison’s blog for a guest post about the walk from Alison Whybrow.

Walk with Jane on the Cambridge Estate

Ecologist, bat expert and walking artist Alison Fure

Alison Fure is leading a Soundwalk as part of her Walks with Jane project, in conjunction with The Museum of Walking, through the Cambridge Estate in Kingston Upon Thames, this Saturday evening, 7th September, 2019.

From the Museum of Walking website event page:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Soundwalk will explore the wildlife and human ecology on this large estate with 230 trees.

We will listen to the web of life from replayed recordings of bird song, talking heads and listen to bats in real time (bat detection equipment provided).

This event is free but booking is essential – Call +44 (0) 7867507086

  • 19.00 start – meeting place will be revealed on booking 
  • Walk with Jane listening to the sounds of a local community
  • 20.00 listen to bats in real time (bat detection equipment provided)
  • 20.30 finish

Me and the Witness Tree, Museum of Futures, 2018. Pic by Madeleine Elliott

I am currently writing elegies / eulogies for the trees on the estate and will be reading these brand new, site specific poems on the night. Please join us…

Sward

Meaning “sod, turf” developed from the notion of the “skin” of the earth (compare Old Norse grassvörðr, Danish grønsvær “greensward”).

Walking the central reservation of the A240 Kingston Road, from Tolworth Roundabout to the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames boundary with the Borough of Epsom and Ewell.

The project is called ‘Sward’ after reading Richard Jefferies’ works, and seeing his frequent use of it. I am walking while considering Jefferies’ writing, his prolific walking of the local area. I am also doing this in the context of the present threat of development to the precious and unique green spaces nearby – and possibly to part of the central reservation itself.