Wildflower Story Hunt, Swindon Festival of Literature

6 May

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Or: blowing flowers up with TNT.

Following in the footsteps of one of Swindon’s eminent writers and Victorian naturalist, Richard Jefferies; Milo, Sydney and I hunted for wildflowers and their stories, planted potatoes and peas and ate cream teas.

Milo (nearly eight) dashed around the Richard Jefferies Museum garden trying to find the wildflowers and stories as quickly as possible. Not sure if much reading was done of the Richard Jefferies quotes that he found, stuck in the ground. RJ documented and described each of the flowers that could be found at his birthplace, and Hilda Sheehan (Literature Festival assistant and RJ Museum Trust Education Officer) extracted these descriptions and placed them around, complete with line drawings by Jimmy Pearce.

Sydney (girl, aged one) was reunited with older Sidney (boy) whom she met at the Bardwell O’Neal workshop back in the Swindon Festival of Poetry. She shuffled around on her bottom eating daisies, grass, twigs, teasels, and posing with a giant magnifying glass.

There was lots of boyish running under trees, along branches  and then planting of veg. Hilda gave Sydney a potato which she (luckily) threw into the freshly dug trench and received a round of applause for her trouble. With (a lot) of help, she also planted a bean but then immediately tried to pull it up again.

Milo wrote two poems, which he read out aloud, impatiently waiting his turn under the mulberry tree, the same tree that RJ sat and wrote under:

“There was a flower of power
a big bright yellow then
came a right nice
fellow and he picked it up and said
with glee. I am going
to blow this flower
up with TNT!”

“A flower said I need
a drink but he
looked at the flower
and it was a wonderful
pink! and he fell in
love then came a dove
and ate him for dinner.”

There may be a hint of Minecraft in these poems (computer game to the uninitiated…wish I was).

The Richard Jefferies Museum Trust wants the house and garden to become a space which families and creative types (they can be both) and anyone else who’s interested can feel inspired by the writer’s work. It’s not there yet but it’s not far off. Events like this and yummy cream teas go along way towards it.

Words by Louisa Davison, photos by Louisa Davison and Tristan O’Neil

One Response to “Wildflower Story Hunt, Swindon Festival of Literature”

  1. amaatk123 9th May 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Reblogged this on Born again Swindonian and commented:
    The Swindon Festival of Literature – an inclusive event with something for absolutely everyone – even the little ones. How cool is that?

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