Colouring the canal at Cromford

Mills, canals and creatures

Drawing the canal

the picture

 

Back in November as part of the Derwent Mills Heritage Site Discovery Days programme, we took the Derwent Stories project to Cromford for a final event

There, between the Canal and the Mill we invited people – and their dogs – to add to a long, unrolling, unravelling picture of the area. Over the day, 80 people paused to talk to us, to look, wonder, chat a bit more and cautiously or confidently, subtly or in bold and bright colours add their contribution to the drawing…..

the canal and trees

This was the last of the Derwent Stories events for this year. We are hoping we might manage a couple more in the Spring. If that happens we’ll post the news here and invite anyone and everyone to come and join us

The Derwent Stories project set out to offer families easy creative ways of exploring the world around them. We aimed to work in places that:

  • were we easy to get to
  • had good access for people pushing buggies or steering their own wheelchair
  • offered interesting outdoor spaces to explore
  • gave us a mix of busy public spaces and quieter options

We planned activities that invited exploration

  • that gave participants new ways of expressing their discoveries
  • Where materials would be easy to find again
  • techniques used would be easy to repeat without us there to mutter at everyone
  • that suited children with additional needs

watervole

So, Mills, canals and creatures simply used:

  • a long roll of paper (discount shops often have rolls of paper for children’s painting easels, or you could use some lining paper for home decorating)
  • A selection pencils, pens, charcoal, and mud (for dog pawprints and human fingerprints)
  • Some reference pictures, just in case,
  • But mostly we simply stood or sat and look at what was around us

The fun was in scribbling, feeling free to just have a go and to add our ideas to ones that had gone before, building stories as we did it

Another blog listing and linking the various sites and activities that Derwent Stories visited will be posted shortly

careful work

 

Where were we:

Cromford Canal: parking at Cromford Wharf car park (there is a charge for this)

Getting about: easy paths along the canal. At weekends there is also a canalboat that runs down to High Peak Junction (1 mile down the towpath)

The towpath is a level walk with no obstacles. It can feel a bit narrow at times when there are other people and cyclists around so travel with due care.

Facilities: there are toilets at both Cromford Canal Car Park and at High Peak Junction 1 mile down the path

Risks: yes, there is a canal. There are also stinging nettles in summer on the banks and prickly brambles here and there. The canal, however, is not deep and the general recommendation is that if someone does fall in, tell them to stand up, BUT BE SENSIBLE AND USE YOUR STANDARD “SAFETY AROUND A WATER BODY” PRECAUTIONS

 

a dinosaur in the trees*

What to look for: ducks! Moorhens, and coots are all to be seen most of the year. In spring and summer watch for Little Grebes (Dabchicks) on the water and Swallows above it. People see grass snakes and water voles regularly. Just past the Junction there is also the impressive Lea Wood Pump House which looks very exciting (and opens occasionally) and a little further there is the charming Aqueduct Cottage with its painted windows. About ½ miles along the path from Cromford to the Junction on the other side of the canal there is a lifesize model Stegosaurus tucked away in the woods.

This is a site that you can just turn up at and have a lovely walk. A little research in advance, however, can help you coincide with things like the Pump House openings or Boat Trips

 

Useful links

Boat trips

https://www.cromfordcanal.info/boat/boat.htm

General information

https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/countryside/countryside-sites/waterways-wetlands/cromford-canal.aspx

 

  • the dinosaur photo was found at this site:Stegosaurus: http://www.pictame.com/media/

    If there is any problem with us posting this, please let us know and we’ll take it down

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Dogs and ducks and drawings

Mills, canals and creatures

Friday 2nd November 2018
a Derwent Stories event

the canal and trees

A day on the canalbank at Cromford Mill as part of the  Discovery Days Festival . People passing by, dogs passing by, lots of looking and talking and careful joining in….a very small buzzard being watched by a very small person, concealed water voles, dog prints and narrow boats.
Jacob’s Mill with its innovative use of sunlight
The railway carriage at High Peak Junction
Melissa’s precise drawing of a badger
Mill machines and turning cogs, spinning threads
A beech tree turning red and gold as the season turns
Howard the dog whow atches the ducks, and
Barney who watches the mud, and
Shandy who watches the stick….

Wheels turned, slowly spinning histories into cloth,
Weaving lives into brick and rail,
Loom and yard,
A racket, a whirr
Wheels turned,
Spinning faster.

Mills, canals and creatures: holiday drawing event

Mills, canals and creatures

Friday 2nd November

Cromford Wharf, Mill Lane, Cromford, DE4 3RQ

Sessions: 10.30 – 12.30 and 1.30 – 3.30

Meet: classroom at Cromford Wharf (opposite the Wharf Café)

the canal inspires…

 

a bird on the water

Using old pictures, local wildlife and our own ideas, we’ll design giant mill machines and autumn landscapes on long rolls of paper – help us create a 20metre monster of a machine!

 

Draw, design, sketch and scribble a mill as long as a monster, a canal full of creatures, a world of wonders and delights: join our team for a day of giant pictures and miniature moments

 

well-scribbled trees

As autumn edges towards winter, let’s try to catch the sharp edges of buildings, the wrinkles on the canal, the worn steps and wooden lintels of the mill buildings. Watch the canal and add The Portrait of a Duck. Or dream about the mill’s complicated machinery and fit some strange contraption of wheels and cogs and levers and lines somewhere….

 

and stories unfold with our drawing

Last time we did an event like this at the Mill, the finished picture spread along about 4 tables or lay out on the grass like a beached whale! A day of relaxed drawing – drop in for a scribble or two, draw us something for our piece and – or – do your own drawing to take away!

 

Like all the Derwent Stories events, Mills, canals and creatures is open to anyone who wants to join in but activities are structured around families with children with additional needs

 

This is part of the Derwent Mills Discovery Days programme with events running through October. Follow the link to find out more

buildings at the wharf

 

Stone puppets and pebble people

PEBBLE PEOPLE AND STONE PUPPETS

A Creeping Toad activity for
Derwent Stories and
BM125

 

Thanks to Jo Wheeler for the photo

 

a cheery puppet c/o Jo Wheeler

Every stone tells a story: a tale that runs over millions of years. It might be a story of mountains and eruptions, of magma and lava and the long slow cooling of ancient crystals. It might be an adventure of ancient seas and the slow accumulation of sand and mud and minerals. There might be bones becoming fossils, shells building shapes….

Looking at a stone can become an exercise in the detection of ancient processes and modern erosions. But taking your knowledge of a stone and turning it into a puppet gives us a chance to play with stones as characters and to tell their stories in livelier ways

This is a puppet making activity – building your own stone’s story is another activity which will follow – but once you have used a stone to insprie a puppet, you can probably decide on a character and a backstory for your pebble puppet without us trying to organise you!

Getting started

fossil rich limestone from Peak District hills

Look at a stone: hold it, handle it, look at colours, shapes, inclusions – fossils? crystals? other pebbles? How hard is it? Does it crumble or flake?

Close your eyes and scribble the stone on a piece of paper into a sort-of person……

Making a puppet
These puppets are simple hand and rod ones that stand about 20 cm tall. We usually make them quickly and are working with several people at a time. Working at home, you can do everything in a more relaxed way. Or maybe not

You will need
There seems to be a lot of things: read through the directions and see where you could use something else if need be

  • a bath sponge or two
  • some thin card (or art foam)
  • scissors – big sharp ones are useful as well as sensible children’s ones
  • glue: “rubber solution” glue is best – Copydex or similar
  • a handful of dress-making pins
  • googly eyes maybe
  • permanent pens – Sharpies are good
  • scraps of wool or rags
  • about 40cm of cloth tape or riboon – or just strips of cloth (DO NOT cut up school shirts without permission)
  • a couple of barbecue skewers or similar
  • masking tape
  • a pipecleaner
  • a stapler

1. Sponge: cut your sponge in half – maybe not quite equally – one piece will be the head and the other the body. It is nice if these can be different colours – so use two sponges and make a puppet with a friend? We also use painty sponges: ones that we’ve used for acrylic paint so that they have ended up stained into interesting colours

2. The body: cut the “body” sponge in half to make a front and back (this is where large sharp scissors are useful). Arms and legs are strips of tape….with a standard bath sponge as our starting point, we’d usually go for arms about 10cm long and legs about the same …but there is no reason why a stone should have matching limbs, the same numbers and proportions as us or anything…..Slobber some glue over the inside of the spong, place the arm and legs ribbons on the glue. Add a neck ribbon as well – long enough to let the head move easily. Add some glue on top of the ribbons then fit the other half of the spong back into place. Hold everything in place with pins

 

 

 

3. Head: use your sharp scissors to snip a cut in the underside, making it deep enough and long enough to poke the neck ribbon in…..slather some glue in there and poke the neck ribbon in (the skewer help with getting ribbons and hair into the sponge. Pin in place

4. Now, working carefully around the pins, start drawing patterns on your sponges. You could do this first but we usually like to get the glueing done and drying. Fossil patterns? Or maybe stick on some glittery foil as crystals, or just scrap bits of foam as other rocks

5. Head: keep eyes to the end but just now you could try giving your puppet some hair (or maybe moss? or seaweed?). Use scraps of wool or cut up carrier bags perhaps. Put a little glue on this and then poke it into the sponge using the skewer. This can be tricky but is the best way of glueing things firmly to the sponge

6. Eyes: either draw some eyes on card or use a pair of googly eyes (or more?). Glue eyes in place, add a mouth or other features.

7. While the eyes are drying, draw some hands and feet on card or foam. Cut out and staple these into place on the end of the arm and leg ribbons

To animate everything, if you stick half a pipecleaner onto the end of a skewer, that can then be stapled over the pipecleaner to the back of one of the puppet’s hands. Then, if you hold the back of the head in one hand and the skewer in the other, you have a puppet ready to go wandering off on adventures. Usually one hand and one rod is enough the make a puppet active. You can try more rods but it can all get a bit awkward trying to manipulate everything….

Rocks, fossils and cheerful puppets

Rocks, fossils and cheerful puppets

limestone fossils

Derwent Stories at the Altitude Festival

16th Sept 2018

 

First there were rocks. And some lovely stones. And fossils. Chalk and limestone, granite and gabbro. Rocks to hold and think about. Trilobites, goniatites, crinoids and teeth.  We thought these would feed into lovely puppet and word activities inspiring quiet conversation around mineral stories and the arguments of crystals

 

Then it rained

 

there are always mermaids

The Altitude Youth Arts Festival at the Mt Cook Adventure Centre where we were working was a lovely afternoon. There was some excellent music to keep us entertained. Songs from young musicians, dance from another young group, some quiet storytelling from others. There was a cap fire in the woods and bushcraft activities to try. And us making pebble puppets on a field while people sailed, shrieking, down a zip wire overhead

 

Great fun!

 

Our carefully planned activity dissolved a bit in the rain but we made some wonderful puppets all the same. We got people holding rocks. Talking about what they might find in their gardens at home or out on a walk. And they went home with some wonderfully crazy little characters….

a cheerful pebble with his assorted fossil friends

Make your own pebble puppet: instructions will follow shortly

 

DERWENT STORIES

After Derwent Stories events we post a note of where we went and how we found it, encouraging people to go again in their own time…

Visiting Altitude

When: Altitude is a Youth Arts Festival within the bigger Wirksworth fsetvial. aS such it happens once a year – watch for dates for enxt September

Access: activities happen at different sites. My Cook Adventure Centre has parking, easy access for wheelchairs and good toilets. Activities were free. The music was great. On a good day it would have been a lovelt afternoon to sit on the grass with a picnic and nejoy the music, do a bit of making and generally relax. At the Eco Centre next door there was more acoustic music

 

The next Derwent Stories events will be

Autumn Art and Stories on Saturday 22nd Sept at High Peak Junction (follow the link for details).

GIVEN THE POSSIBLY BAD WEATHER THIS WEEKEND, CHECK THE FACEBOOK PAGE

OR THE BLOG ON SATURDAY MORNING FOR A DEFINITE YES OR NO

Mills,  Canals and Creatures at Cromford Mill on November 2nd as part of the Derwent Mills Discovery Days Festival

Derwent Stories events, are open to anyone who wants to join in but activities are structured around families with children with additional needs

Useful links:

Autumn art and stories

Autumn art and stories

Saturday 22nd September

1 – 4pm

High Peak Junction car park

a Derwent Stories event

log benches and delicate toadstools

Summer birds are leaving,

Summer lives sinking into winter stillness,

But Rosehips are shining,

Delicate toadstools sprout in the leaf litter,

Conkers drop on unguarded heads,

And squirrels are busy burying acorns

While jays dig them up again and hide them somewhere else

 

What secrets will the woods share in autumn? Join us for a wander along the canal to peer into autumn waters, pass the magnificent Leawood Pump House, meet the mystery of the cottage in the woods and explore the woodlands at the edge of autumn.

 

We’ll be at High Peak Junction car park between 1 and 4 pm on Saturday 22nd September. There will be a base there and we will wander off along the canal in a couple of sessions. But there will always be someone on hand to help you explore. You might want to draw the autumn, make your own autumn book or get messy with an autumn clay and seed ball…..

after acorns, add a toadstool…

Like all the Derwent Stories events, Autumn art and stories

is open to anyone who wants to join in but activities are structured around families with children with additional needs

This event is planned and will be delivered with the help of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

 

 

 

Contact for more info:

fb: Stone and Water

Email: stoneandwater@btinternet.com

 

 

 

 

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Summer stories and dangerous rabbits

Summer stories at Carsington Water

 A Derwent Stories event

shape your own stories

secret maps, lines to treasure, stories waiting….

With all our DS events, we are following up the actual event with reports like this – with notes about where we went – so you could go again yourself – and what we did – so you could do it yourself!

 

Follow the Derwent Stories links to see where else we have been and where else we are going to be!

 

hedgehog bristle, witches brush, the teazle starts a story by growing

The water was low, mud and gravel spreading round the edge of the lake. There were brambles in the bushes and young rabbits on the lawns. And in a clearing in a thicket, we uncurled stories. I spoke about giants and trolls, marshmallows and foxes while I heard about Minecraft monsters, and dinosaurs and the adventures of children on scooters. Much better for adventures, it would seem, than bicycles, although none of us could quite work out why….and there were rabbits and more rabbits, rabbits raiding picnics, rabbits on scooters, rabbits escaping in pirate ships across the Water

 

Visiting Carsington

Where is it: just north of Ashbourne in Derbyshire: address: Big Lane, Ashbourne, DE6 1ST. Follow this link for more information

Costs: entry is free, car parking charges apply

Facilities: toilets, café, visitor centre

Access: an extensive network of paved paths: easy access for wheel- and push-chairs

Things to do: bird-watching hides, play ground, just now with the water level low, visitors are making patterns out of the stones that line the floor of the lake and clearly having a great time. It has to be pointed out, however, that there are also warning signs about soft, deep mud on the shores. This is a good site for a quiet visit (it can get very busy). If you are quiet and careful, as well as the birds, there are rabbits to watch, butterflies in summer, frogs in the long wet grass and lots of wildlife generally

Organised events: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have a base here and do a range of activities – The Wildlife Discovery Room

Overall: bring a picnic and have a good day of wildlife watching and exploring

What other people think: tripadvisor reports here

What we did: we were telling stories and making up stories…so here is a suggestion for how you might structure your own stories as you wander

log benches and delicate toadstools

 

what story might start…

Building instant stories

You will need:

  • yourselves!
  • Maybe a piece of card and a pencil to write on
  • or record ideas on a phone
  • or tie finds onto a string
  • …or just wander and talk

 

Just use the moment

after acorns, add a toadstool…

1. i) Instant atmosphere

As you walk, find two adjectives to describe the weather at this time of day, add a phrase to tell us more about the moment, add your character:

One bright, sunny morning when the wind was blowing the golden leaves off the trees, a girl walked down the rough path between the pools….

ii) Stop, listen, touch, smell, look, feel

– write (or speak) phrases that capture the moment – don’t do just a list (birds, sun, cars), write phrases: birds are singing in the trees, the sun is warm on my face, cars are rumbling by just out of sight…these might become a poem, a speech or maybe an opening paragraph

2. Pick up a random object

Try one-sentence stories: tell us something (sensible? scientific?) about the object – describe it eg “This is a yellow and brown leaf that has been growing on this tree all summer and has now died and fallen off” and then make up something strange or special about it (And if you can add some evidence that helps): “This leaf has been used by mice as an umbrella and you can see here where they’ve been very hungry and nibbled a hole in it so the rain got them after all”

could leaves cause a crisis?…

 3. Try two or more objects

as you walk, pick up something every few steps and see if you can join these things together. Treat them as clues to an adventure…”this is moss from the beard of a forest giant…and here is the twig a squirrel used to tickle him….and here is the stone that tripped him up when he was laughing…..will we see the giant when we turn the corner?” Ending with a question allows us to guess what might come next

4. Keep going: three clues will give you a story

Expanding on the earlier activities, you could just pick things up as you go

  • The first thing: is a clue to who is going to be the hero of your story ..this moss is really the beard of a small but ancient man who…
  • The second thing: tells us a bit more about the hero: …who lived in a house with a brown leaf door..
  • The third thing: tells us what is going wrong: …but today,  an avalanche of beech nuts came rolling through the forest…
  • ….now keep going: can you find more things that will help the hero solve the problem – remember in stories the first thing you try almost never succeeds. You can have great fund with the things that went wrong….
  • …but the mud was too sticky
  • …but the badger poo was so smelly that…
  • …but the magpie took one look at it all and flew away laughing….

Sit down and share your stories…..

take time to listen and talk