In the footsteps of literary greats

The title of the blog series is All About Walking but this week it’s all about Writing not just putting pen to paper but also reading the work of others, and encouraging people to write their own stories, all wrapped up around walking.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of Laurie Lee‘s semi-autobiographical novel “Cider with Rosie” , which for many of us, we encountered as a set book in the secondary English curriculum.  Brought up in Slad, a remote village in the Cotswolds, that even today appears untouched and equally remote, he evokes a charming childhood, although in reality, with an absent father, a brood of siblings, his mother must have found it challenging to say the least, bringing up eight children in a damp house at the bottom of a steep valley.  Soon to be heralded as one of our great twentieth century poets and writers, and this book, the first in an autobiographical trilogy, was to sell more than 6 million copies!

How could we resist a walk Between the Lines of Cider with Rosie, especially as Gloucestershire’s brilliant landscape photographer and artist, Kel Portman, accepted our invitation to create a walkshop with us in which we invite you to read, discuss and illustrate Cider with Rosie.

It all kicks off at Stroud railway station, mid morning on Saturday 2 November, from where we follow a pretty route, chosen by Kel, to the village of Slad, the surroundings of which are now carefully managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.  Unlike previous Between the Lines walkshops, in which we explored urban neighbourhoods, this is our first out and about in the countryside.  Come and join us

Most of the cottages were built of Cotswold stone and were roofed with split-stone tiles.  The tiles grew a kind of golden moss which sparked like crystallised honey.

Earlier this month, we celebrated National Poetry Day taking a group of people to search the City of London in search of ‘Truth‘.  This year‘s theme of ‘truth’ was quite a challenge  and we started first by examining the myths around the history of the ‘London Stone’ which if you haven’t seen it you can find encased in a glass and portland stone casement on the north side of Cannon Street opposite the railway station. We walked along Saint Swithin’s Lane hoping it wouldn’t rain, glancing in at the Rothschilds bank and it’s magnificent oil painting and tapestry on show to the public.  Next we walked  through to the Foreign Exchange in search of the statues of newsman Reuters and US President Abraham Lincoln whose bust is hidden in an alcove at the back of the Exchange. We finished up opposite the Bank of England where they ‘make a promise to pay the bearer…’.

You can read the haiku we composed and recited during the walk by downloading and double sided printing from here (there there’s a handy crib here to help you fold and cut your journal).

Since the spring we have been trying our hand at running creative writing walkshops working with Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone who is a writing tutor at City University and a novelist in her own right.  We celebrated the 300th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Defoe‘s Robinson Crusoe with a walkshop from the Barbican and across the City, and in July ran a walkshop in Kensington Gardens and surrounding streets to mark the anniversary of the first Moon Walk.  This month we are returning to the Barbican Centre for a walkshop that will take you on a circuitous route Finsbury Square via Bunhill Fields and trendy streets in Shoreditch, discovering Autumn Colours. Come and join us


Concurrently, working with Sampson Low Publishers we have been running a flash writing competitions in which winners see their work published in a beautifully illustrated (by Alban Low) chapbook.  The fruits of our flash writing competitions will be showcased next month at an authors’ reading event in Greenwich – we hope to see you there.

Rebekah has also been editing the winning entires to our flash writing competitions – the latest to which you still have time to submit – just 250 words or under with a story inspired by Autumn Colours.  Details here.

All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..