This morning, I got my walking boots, compass and map of Dartmoor ready and headed over to Belstone for some field research. I was following up an anecdote in one of my books, which mentioned a particular location in Belstone, but after a fruitless online search yesterday, I decided to head over there today to see the area for myself. I was expecting (and looking forward to) a good few hours tramping around taking photos and seeing what I could find. However, the day didn't pan out as I had expected!
No, I didn't end up in the village stocks!
I parked up and got out of the car. Nearby, a man was carrying out a survey so I asked him about my search. Amazingly, I had just encountered the village historian, who knew exactly where I was talking about! So my research took all of five minutes and I found out a lot about the history of the site as well, which was an unexpected bonus. I'm very grateful to him for giving so generously of his time and knowledge and I'm glad I was able to share something about the area that he wasn't already aware of.
Of course, when you find out one thing, it always raises a whole raft of other questions...so the research continues tomorrow!
(both images are my own copyright)
Things are certainly taking a very exciting turn WITCH-wise at the moment.
Having performed recently for students from two history courses at Bristol University, I was stunned and delighted to learn that the play has been made into a formal seminar for both courses, one of which is Witchcraft and the other History Outside the Box. There really are no words to describe how amazing it felt when the two lecturers told me. I am honoured and humbled to think that my play is being used to teach the historians of the future.
For the next couple of weeks, I will be WITCHing in Tiverton, at the fabulous independent bookshop Liznojan in Gold Street. They run a women's circle and I have been invited to speak at their next two meetings because people have been specifically asking for me. I am really looking forward to these evenings, not least because today, I found out some more fascinating facts about earthworms (yes, they're back!) and I can't wait to incorporate the info into my talk. Plus, there is the added bonus of all the fantastic cake Liznojan sell, too. Give their Facebook page a Like and, if you get the chance, pay them a visit. It's one of those shops where you can tell that every item on the shelves has been selected with the utmost care, so make sure that you set aside a decent amount of time for a proper browse.
Finally, in slightly less WITCH-related news, I have just sent off my first folklore column to The Moorlander, the fantastic Dartmoor newspaper. This is part of a new feature they are running and I am very excited to be part of it. If you haven't read the Moorlander before, I can highly recommend it - the articles are engaging, well-written and varied, with topics covering pretty much every interest. Check out their website here - and if you're local to the moor and feeling jaded with the tabloids, try the Moorlander for a refreshing change!
(photo is my own).