Week one at Staple Hill library was a revelation. Wonderful friendly staff and an another engaged community made us all feel welcome from the moment we arrived and calmed our first-day nerves beautifully.
As you might have come to expect, much tea was drunk and cake eaten and much to our surprise, our participants were ready to jump straight in with some wonderful group sharing. Liz Vivi and I felt very humbled by these stories – not least because they will help to shape the structure of next week's work and allow us room to develop our ideas quicker than expected. Superb stuff.
Speaking of stories, we were speaking extracts from stories in our groups this week. One from Durrell's 'My Family and Other Animals' and the other a poem 'Ozymandias' by Shelley. Each of these extracts had been generously supplied by staff at the library and gave us a richer stepping off point than we could have hoped for. With both members of staff having added their personal associations with the texts to the session, the group discussed families and the value of books right from the outset, which located us all in the right space – the library- ready to be taken elsewhere. Perfect.
Responding to the Durrell extract brought about some musings on the bountifulness of nature, whereas Shelley took us to a more barren landscape which inspired imaginings of desserts and the positives and negatives of being alone... interesting stuff indeed.
Transporting our group members to distant lands of fictional tell in this way, we also asked the participants to smell teas from around the world so that we could also travel in our minds to real places if that's what was preferred.
We also each chose one of the vast array of teacups and told each other stories of the cup whether those were simply why we chose it or perhaps who might have owned it and where it had sat in their house.
A sumptuous beginning to this project, we are very excited to see which texts the groups bring in next week to transport the group elsewhere. What with the space feeling so relaxed already, I feel we are truly ready for the next step on our journey together. Exciting stuff!