Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Last Post (Installing QR Code Poetry)

The audio above was recorded whilst installing the final few poetry tiles along first 36 miles of the Coleridge Way. Working with local pupils who live on or close to the trail Mr Jelley has installed over 100 poems along the path and each one hidden inside a QR code.

'Jenny Mash was an essential component to this project without her involvement I feel the quality of poetry would be but a shadow of its current form. ' C Jelley

This is a culmination of two years working on the trail with the final tiles being installed early October 2014.

Revealing the poetry is simple, just add a scanning app to your smart phone, QR codes can be decoded 'on the fly' so there is no need for mobile or data connection. These are ideal for the wild landscapes of Exmoor and the Coleridge Way.

The short film has poetry extracts and shows the large tiles installed at Conygar Tower in Dunster.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Tales of Tins

Another three months has drawn to a close and the story box project has again captured the imagination of many walkers and visitors along The Coleridge Way trail.

The concept is very simple, inside each of the box is a book started by a published author, read the story so far, add a little but no more and then leave for the next to continue the tale.

There were six boxes along the trail this year, with the first at at Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey and then dotted along the first 36 miles of the trail to Porlock visitor centre. Earlier this year the Coleridge Way was extended from Porlock to Lynmouth taking the trail from 36 miles to almost 51.

So where were the story boxes located?

Number One - Coleridge Cottage - Down through the weaving meadow path at the bottom of the cottage garden is a little arbour with the box fastened to a bench.

Number Two - Watery Lane, Nether Stowey - The first section of the Coleridge Way trail which is off the paved road and a taste of the Holloway's and Drovers' tracks to come.

Number Three - St Audries, Quantocks - This box was tethered to a bench at a view point on the turn of the trail on the Quantock hills. This is where West Somerset and the trail ahead is laid out before the walker, it looks out across land to Dunkery and sea to Wales. Books by Catherine Hyde and Jackie Morris were placed here at different times.

Number Four - Notley Arms - Monksilver - This pub is often used as a stopping point after the first days walking. The box was tethered to a bench in the pub garden and steadily filled through the three months.

Number Five - Webbers Post - One of the most popular spots for visitors to Somerset, and also one of the most popular boxes, here at the Jubilee Hut overlooking Horner and then out to sea. Victoria Eveleigh's books were placed here, a prolific local author who writes children's stories about Exmoor and sets great tales in these hills.

Number Six - Porlock Visitor Centre - The last of the 'old' trail this box sat in the orchard behind the visitor centre a little piece of tranquil haven and a place to rest before taking on the next leg of the trail.

So what happens with the story books now?

During September they will be exhibited alongside 'Poetry Books' which were located in Valley of Rocks during this same period. The Valley is just above Lynmouth and Lynton where the 51 miles now ends and has been a destination and focal point from Coleridge's time. They even have a little building in the Valley called 'The Poets Hut' where the first Poetry Box was tethered (pictured).

From both projects it has been really interesting to see that there is immense talent in strangers. Who would have thought that idle walkers were willing to sit and write, I think everyone can't help but be surprised in content and quality that people have been willing to give, just for joy.

Images from both Poetry Box Project and Story Box Project are available through @storywalks twitter and Storywalks Facebook page.

Exhibition at Lynmouth Pavilion during September, free and access for all.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

QR Code Poetry

Mr Jelley has been out along the Coleridge Way with his faithful companion 'Fable', this time between Alfoxton Park and St Audries bay, passing through sleepy dells and heathland searching out the finger posts to affix the QR code poetry. 

What is a QR Code?

Very simply it's like a bar code but it has characters aswell as numbers, and you can decode with a simple scanner (most people use a free app on their smart phone and turn their phone into a scanner.) Once scanned your phone just decodes the pattern back into the characters - ie text ready for you to read. People often miss understand QR codes, thinking that they need to be connected to the internet but this is not the case, your phone decodes on the fly, revealing the hidden text no matter where you are, they would work even on the moon!

Who's poetry?

The poems were written by local school children during special workshops commissioned by ARTlife. Every child either walked the Coleridge Way or adjacent countryside with Mr Jelley and Mrs Mash, firstly word harvesting and then later crafting their own words and phrases over just a single day. Mr Jelley then took the poetry away, laser etched it into slate and has been attaching them to finger posts along the trail over the summer and into this autumn 2014.

Sections from Wheddon Cross to Porlock have been completed as well as Sampford Brett to Monksilver, and Nether Stowey up over Watery Lane. More sections are due to be completed in the coming months to create a QR code poetry trail.

Finger post at Webber Post with QR code poem.

How are they fixed?

First nails are hammered into the timber then a high quality epoxy glue is used to attach the tile to the nails, this means that the finger post can breath and the tile remain in place for years to come. The rubber band is there to hold the tile in place whilst the glue sets and is removed after half hour or so.

How many schools have been involved?

This year there were five schools in all, and each within the curtilage of the Coleridge Way. The pupils were aged between 6 and 11 and we tapped into their literacy skills to gather site specific poetry inspired by the Coleridge Way trail itself. Understanding children's capabilities at this age is quite a skill and it was great that Jenny Mash, local teacher and artist was on board.

Mr Jelley said.

 '[the project] wouldn't have come together without Jenny Mash, her skill base in understanding Key Stage 1 and 2 literacy was absolutely crucial to obtaining the best from these little authors .'

Each school received a plaque of laser etched slate with a word cloud (pictured) depicting their pupils words. Presentation of the slates to the children connected them with the project as a whole, and they were also able to scan lots of the QR code poems before they were mounted along the Coleridge Way trail.

More sections of the Coleridge Way will have tiles installed over the coming months, so don't forget to add a scanning app to your smart phone before you depart on the trail.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Halsway Manor Coleridge Convention

As blogs go this one is more of a call to action as there is a very interesting week of events planned at the wonderful Halsway Manor, nestled in the Quantock hills of Somerset. The event celebrates the unique cultural heritage that West Somerset has, as a source of inspiration for the Romantic Poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.

Ralph Hoyte - Christobel
The programme combines guided walks along the Coleridge Way, plus shorter routes of special relevance to the Romantics. There are evening talks, lectures and performances plus a visual arts exhibition. With a range of onsite accommodation you may want to stay for the week, or come along to individual events, the choice is yours.

These events are to be held between 11th and 15th August 2014 and tickets for the whole or just parts are available through Halsway Manor, type in Coleridge to their search bar, or check out their whats-on page for August 2014. There is also a leaflet which reveals more still and is available for download from the Halsway site.

The event is also supported by ARTlife somerset.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

What's in the blue box?

June now complete and still two more months to go, the story boxes are at large along the Coleridge Way trail. The concept is simple, find a blue box, read the story so far, add a little to the tale or a drawing then leave for the next.

This year we have books stared by three published authors, including Jackie Morris, Victoria Eveleigh, and Catherine Hyde (pictured). Each have started their books and then cast them into the jaws of the trail walkers to see where the tale will go. It's a little like putting a bottle into the ocean with a message inside for the tides to take to the next in the chain.

Interestingly I was walking along the UK's south coast some years ago and did indeed find a message in a bottle, fascinated I read the note declaring if this letter was returned then it would show the tenacity of (his) love. I promptly posted this to my sister in the west of the USA thinking what a ruse, all the way across the Atlantic and against the tide too! But she thought it would be even more fun to post to her friend in Australia, which she did. I have no idea what became of it after then, perhaps we stretched the possibilities too far, or that strangers meddling with his love story wouldn't play out well, who knows.

The book pictured was retrieved just two days ago from its blue story box overlooking St Audries Bay in the west of the Quantocks, it was there throughout June 2014. Here the trail rises out of a wood to reward you with a splendid view out across a deer park and the sea. It is also the first view which gives proper clues to where the Coleridge Way trail is sending you, a trail which slides through hidden cuttings and holloways to take you off into the distant haze of West Somerset secrets, Dunkery Beacon and beyond.

This book was started by Catherine Hyde, an author and illustrator who resides in Helston Cornwall, when she was first approached about starting a couple of storybooks she was a little nervous, and was not sure what was required or even where to begin. But funnily enough, the stories are all about beginnings, perhaps the true art of the storyteller is to set the scene, to lay good foundations for a story to unfurl and then blossom, which is exactly what has happened here.

The drawings in these books are so refreshing too, it is amazing to me how talented people it is like tapping into a latent skill base. This project provides the tools, a little quite space, and a thread to propagate, it seems to be just the right mixture and balance to facilitate and nurture.

Images from these and other books along the trail are being posted on Twitter and Facebook daily under the tag @Storywalks, so those who cannot get out into the field, or along the trail can follow a story in a more virtual capacity.

Both books and boxes are out until the end of August 2015, locations of which and more details can be found here under the blue pins. There are also books in boxes at Lynton in Devon at Valley of Rocks through the same period, but these are gathering poetry rather than stories.

With thanks to ARTlife and EDF Energy for financial support for the Coleridge Way story boxes.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

And so the story begins.

This book is in the story box at The Jubilee Hut Webbers Post. The idea is simple, inside each of the six blue boxes are journals, and each is started by a different author, you read the story so far, add a little or a drawing, then leave for the next to carry the story on.

Last year these were very successful with nearly 1000 people touching the five boxes, so this year we are doing the same again with six, (or twelve if you want to include the Poetry boxes at Valley of Rocks, Lynton.)

This year we have Jackie Morris, Catherine Hyde, and Victoria Eveleigh, all published authors and illustrators, but we are not revealing which is where, that's for you to walk and hunt and find for yourself. The books are already filling very nicely, and I think this year we will build on last years success and get even more people interacting with the project.

So where are they, and will I have to walk the whole of the 51 miles to find them!

No, actually the extension from Porlock to Lynton, has happened since the project was agreed, so they are within the original 36 miles, but that is still a huge stretch. So Mr Jelley's website has a Coleridge Way tab listing the project details, including a story box video and a map with pins suggesting where the boxes are located. 

Here is the long hand version.

The first is at Coleridge Cottage, the second, Watery Lane, Nether Stowey.

The third above East Quantockhead over looking the Church, the forth at The Notley Arms, Monksilver (you can drink and dine whilst reading this one!)

The fifth is at The Jubilee Hut, Webbers Post, and the sixth at the Visitor Centre in Porlock.

I'll be checking on and changing the books over these coming three months, June, July and August, keeping them fresh and posting images of book pages. Storywalks broadcasts on Twitter and Facebook channels, so follow and like and see where your story has gone, or better still get out there and add your little piece of magic to the trail.

Exhibition at Lynmouth Pavilion in September 2014 of both Poetry and Story books.

Note - Poetry Boxes are funded by Lynmouth Pavilion Project and the Story Boxes ARTlife's Coleridge Way Projects, and all are placed with full landowners permissions.

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Coleridge Way Extension

Left to right, Suzette Hibbert,
Rosemary Coleridge Middleton, and Andrea Davis.

On Wednesday 21st May, the Coleridge Way was extended from it's 36 mile length to a very healthy 51 miles, linking Nether Stowey, in the Quantock Hills, to Lynton in North Devon, through some truly stunning West Country landscape.

As part of the opening ceremony buses were put on, which dropped walkers on the hills to the West of Porlock, at a place called Broomstreet. From there the walkers descended along 2 miles of stunning scenery into Malmsmead and Oare.

En-route the trail did not disappoint with shows of wild red deer, fabulous sunshine, and even a bat was seen catching flies over the river in the afternoon sun.

At Oare after paddling through the river, the company were rewarded with cream teas and speeches in the presence of a whole spectrum of Coleridge descendants, which culminated in the 'cutting of the ribbon' ceremony by Coleridge's Great, Great, Great Granddaughter, Rosemary Coleridge Middleton, pronouncing the Coleridge Way Extension Open.

Rosemary Coleridge Middleton
Rosemary Middleton Coleridge expressed delight at seeing so many people at the opening and said: 

'Walking actually concentrates the mind, soothes the soul and helps sort out problems. It is a healer of the mind, body and spirit and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, my great great great Grandfather, knew this. I’m very proud to say that it is indeed the Coleridge way of doing things! Keep moving, love thinking, do praying, keep talking, just toddle, but if possible do walk.'

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Somerset Printmakers at Coleridge Cottage

A very simple post just bringing your attention to the Exhibition at Coleridge Cottage (NT) on until Monday the 12th May from a great list of Somerset Printmakers all inspired by the Poet.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Poetry in motion

Next month Christopher Jelley will be installing the next batch of Coleridge Way QR Code Poetry along the original 36 mile section of the trail. Last year this type of poetry was installed in several places including Nether Stowey, Webbers Post and Dunster's Conygar Tower.  The codes were laser etched onto slate and installed mainly in larger tablet sized form, with the exception being Watery Lane which is at the foot of the Coleridge Way trail. Here he installed small badge sized tiles (pictured) and it was thought that works in 2014 should continue in this style as far along the trail as was feasible.

QR Code poem nestling on a finger post, scan if you want to read!

Last year's poetry connected with three local schools with pupils aged between 7 and 11, and this year we have managed to up that to five schools, producing nearly 100 poems. This work (see other posts) was basically a response to the Somerset landscape, much of it along the Coleridge Way, answering the questions, what do you see, hear, feel, etc.

These poems were then whittled down to 80 or so and are at the etchers as I write, hopefully producing enough poetry tiles to cover a good section of the 36 miles of gates and sign posts from Nether Stowey to Porlock. Christopher say's 'I am really proud to be placing the words of the little authors back into the landscape which inspired them. The workshops with the schools are always full of surprises, one child wrote 'My hand is turning into a mermaids hand' magic,'

The canopy above the Cist at Dunster Woods near Roadwater
along the Coleridge Way trail.

So how do we read the poetry?

Very simply you'll need to install an app in your smart phone, but don't worry, as there are lots of free ones available.

QR Codes are often termed square bar codes, we have been familiar with regular strip shaped bar codes for over a generation now, these are the ones on the backs of books or packs of sausages. They are just strings of numbers which the scanner reads, but with a square QR code they can include letters, numbers and other characters too.

Today you'll see them everywhere, on the backs of vans, newspaper adds or promotional links. Most often these point to web sites which the scanner then feeds you conveniently through to. But that is a level of sophistication which we don't need here, out on the Moors there is little if any reception, so linking to a website would simply not work. But if we use QR codes in their simplest form, to reveal plain text, then we can encode short stanza's of poetry inside. Your smart phone decodes through its lens and you can read the hidden words without internet reception, it's all done in the handset.

The Cist clearing at Dunster Woods near Roadwater
along the Coleridge Way trail.

So before you embark (and leave wifi and data zones behind) install a scanning app in your smart phone, there are lots to choose from as QR codes have been around for about 20 years. Choose a free one which will do everything you will need and possibly a lot more. Install it and give it a go scanning anything that you see, my photograph of the finger post above works, and newspapers are often full of them.

So here are two examples of the pupils poetry, both were written by Stogursey Primary school children, they are inspired by their walk at Hodders Combe which was a favourite haunt of Coleridge and the Wordsworths.


as I walked through the lush green Hodders Combe
I heard the birds tweeting
morning greetings

as I wondered through the sunny Hodders Combe
I saw a fence protecting people from fallen trees
in the morning breeze

the beautiful sun was beaming like a star

as I walked through the calm Hodders Combe
I got to the enchanted river
I saw the freezing cold water fighting it's way

over the gleaming fallen tree log


it was a lovely summers day
birds were singing happily
a chainsaw was stretching like an animal
birds were whisking
I saw an extremely fluffy sheep
and webs that looked like stars
I smelt the minty moss
and elf ears in the trees
there were pretty leaves everywhere
then I got pricked

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Stogumber School QR code poetry

Monday 24th March and it's Stogumber and Crowcombe Schools turn to explore the Coleridge Way in Monksilver. The day started with a rather circuitous bus journey which avoided a single S bend, and took 30 mins rather than 10! Undaunted the children were quickly put on task with great support from Stogumber school.

Mr Jelley and Mrs Mash guided the pupils up an ancient Hollow Way which rises out of Monksilver and sits pretty much in the middle of the current Coleridge Way trail. (The extension to Lynmouth is well underway, and being sign posted.) Words were collected from the trail, what they saw, heard, smelt, felt etc, and these were scribed down by teachers and helpers alike. In fact the pupils were so forthcoming that is was tricky for the scribes to keep up.

"The wind was whistling silently in the trees whilst brushing past my face was the light fluffy breeze."

Descending down the Holloway track of the Coleridge Way

"Waterfall flowing in me,
Waterfall flowing in you,
I can see it and you can too. 
Cold, icy water upon your skin
It pricks you like a pointy pin,
I can feel it and you can too,
thats the waterfall flowing in you."


The trail passes Monksilver 13th C Church which purports to have the oldest depiction of dentists in their Gargoyles.

"The wiggly roots knotted in a web of wonder."

At the foot of the trail in Monksilver

Back in the classroom the pupils worked on the art of writing our poetry, Mrs Mash and Mr Jelley along with teachers Mr Wedderkopp and Mrs Phillips drew on their educators acumen to draw some stunning work from the budding authors, many had no idea they could write poetry!

"Slimy, slow and sluggish slugs
Wow! this place is infested with bugs
But there's not just bugs, there's also decay
What hideous things I've seen today."

Back in the class with Mrs Mash leading the poetry workshop

The next job is for Mr Jelley to transcribe the poetry, then render into QR codes for laser etching and installing along the trail (with full permissions of course). With special thanks Stogumber School and staff for being so welcoming, and especially their pupils who rose to the task, what a day.

Laser etched QR code poetry should be in place early June, so keep your eyes peeled along the trail.