Today I had my second session with residents at Mytholm Court sheltered housing scheme here in Hebden Bridge. They are a really grrrrreat bunch, and the excellent Georgina (pictured here in the pink with her co-conspirators Eileen and Carole) had spread the word, so I had 4 x as many there today as last week!
We shared our experiences on what makes Hebden Bridge a special place - from ladies who had been born and bred here, and could go back umpteen generations in HB, to Bani - an Indian lady who had moved here from London just a few weeks ago, and this week we even had four men attending - a HUGE number for any writing group!
It was great hearing the 16 different views all round the room. And hearing everyone's feelings and experiences of being up on the moors. I had taken in with me a couple of plates laden with 'delicacies' from the moor: crumbled peat, quartz crystals from the millstone grit, burnt heather stems, a clump of charred moor grass, and a section of beautiful trumpet lichen. We all had a good sniff, look and feel at these, and talked about the two 'universes' of the moor - the huge open vistas when you can see for miles and miles, and the much smaller, and much more complex, universe of everything that grows "below the height of a sheep's heart" to quote Sylvia Plath's wonderful poem 'Wuthering Heights'.
Then I got everyone to jot down words and phrases that they feel about the moorland. Here's Phyllis (on the right) - the oldest resident at 97 - with her wonderfully clear handwriting (because she used to be an infant teacher she told me) very busy working with her friend Margaret.
Next week we are setting off together on a minibus trip across the moors - no matter what the weather is hurling at us! - to inspire us all to do some more thinking / feeling / writing about our amazing - and often scary! - uplands.
Here's the wonderful collage of words they created:
Expanse of moorland -
see/hear colours and birdlife - skylarks lifting
our hearts to pylons and big sky.
Exhilarating panorama, sense
of freedom, fresh air, space.
Unfriendly, scary, isolated,
wouldn't like to be alone.
And night-time? No thanks!
Heather, gorse, bog-cotton, bilberries
- and Mam's jam after,
jars and jars of summer
stacked in the cool pantry.
Streams weaving about the moors,
sound of grouse, windfarms, sheep.
Roads follow original tracks, geese calling
as they fly, deer spooked by cars.
Picnics, rabbits, cattle, ants, midges!
The sheer variety of colour and cloud formation.
WE LOVE OUR MOORS!!
Oh, and last Saturday I had my final session with the Oldham Writers group - this time we met in Saddleworth Museum rather than up on the very windy moors. Again, word must have spread that I run a fun session because several more writers joined us! We did a free writing session all about the moors, had a good read-round, looked at useful ways of editing our work, and they all agreed to my challenge to write a piece ready for the Saddleworth Museum's Watershed exhibition which opens at the end of June. I'm really looking forward to reading their Lancastrian 'take' on the moors!
Char March - I'm a freelance writer and tutor. I am Writer-in-Residence for the Pennine Watershed Project, and this blog takes you through some of the work I've done in that role