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.