Boggart’s goodbye

My last day in the park.

I met up with the 8am dog-walkers, and pootled around the park for the rest of the day – saying goodbye to ‘my regulars’(!), and hello to lots of new people.

I put up my Chicken poem at the Chicken coop,

And my scooter poem at the skate park.

Gary (owner of chickens) was chuffed with the poem, and in return for a copy of it, gave me 3  freshly laid eggs from his chickens!

I met a woman – Shirley Wells –  who is a crime novellist, who sets all her novels (10 of them!) in the local area.  So I went to the library and took out one of her books!  Then I told the librarians that I’d just met her in the park, and they said they’d try and get her into the library to do a talk!  Quite an unexpected occurrence.  Insider info: her dog, Dylan, is named after her main detective.  You heard it here first.

Tried to write the kids rhyme/story that I’ve had in my head for the last couple of weeks – ‘The Boggart of Stubbylee Park’, the start of which is:

The Boggart of Stubbylee Park,
Thinks it’s a bit of a lark,
To steal people’s things
Especially their rings
And say ‘Boo!’ awfully loud in the Dark.

He’s always thinking of food,
Or ways to be naughty or rude
If you give him an inch
Your butties he’ll pinch,
Then he’ll giggle out loud “I’m the dude!”

Though it’s mightily tricky to tell,
His home is down deep in the Dell.
There’s a bridge made of stone,
Where he lives all alone,
Creating a very bad smell.

He washes himself in the stream,
While planning a devilish scheme,
To be a bit sly,
and purloin a meat pie,
Which he’ll eat with stolen ice-cream.

It’s a work in progress. Might try and polish it up.  Maybe.  Or walk away…

So.  The plan now is to type up all the snatches of stories and put it together with my work and make a book.  December is the planned launch date… if you want to be notified – let me know.

I’ve absolutely loved my time in Stubbylee, andmeeting all the people and dogs!

I know I’ll be back.  Many times.

Till then… ta-ra.








Friday was our presentation!

I put a load of comments from the people I’ve met in park into a box, then asking the people attending to choose one and then attach it to the tree of comments…

Alison from the council came, as did Rosemary from the friends of Stubbylee – it was great to have the support as I performed a poem and a monologue about a grumpy squirrel.  It was lovely to see and hear what the other artists had been up to  – some BRILLIANT stuff.  Really original and all so different. A long but lovely afternoon.

Winding things up…

On Thursday I managed to catch up with Alison on the council communities team.  She was really enthusiastic about the project and we had a good talk about Stubbylee hall and the possibilities for the future if the council move out.  I had a quick snoop inside…

Then the lovely Keith at the Greenhouses recorded a monologue I had written:  ‘The Bacup Stewart Grainger’ about an older man talking about being in the park with his late wife.  I haven’t edited it yet – but he choked up a couple of times when he was doing it,  “Sorry Joyce.  It just struck a chord”.



Pathways to Freedom

Spent the morning at Olive House which is a residential home right next door to the park.  Janet Eaton, who I’ve met on my perambulations round the park, works there and kindly introduced me to everyone.  I talked in particular to Peter who was telling me Butch Cassidy’s father came from Oswaldtwistle (is this true?!), and Liz who told me all about picking wild Winberries with her Mum on the hill above Stubbylee.  Lyla, (who’s in her 90s), was at first struggling to remember the park, but then a few clicks seemed to happen, and she started to talk about playing tennis and being on the swings  “Eee, now that’s taking me back!” she kept saying.  The sad thing was she kept asking me if I ‘remembered the park’ – as if it was something that was long lost… when actually it was only a hundred yards from where she was sitting.  The staff used to take all the residents over to the park regularly, but then a new extension was added, which closed off the path.  Now the journey’s a bit of an obstacle course for the less mobile residents, and for those in wheelchairs.  But apparently there are plans for a new path.  I hope so.  It seems that as there’s such a beautiful natural resource (and source of memories) on the doorstep, it’s a shame that it’s not being used by the residents all the time.

Then this afternoon I went off to visit Orly in Marsden park, we worked with some students to signpost the park in unusual ways…

And a very talented lass made some temporary graffitti – a bird flying away from a tree -created out of birdseed in a flowerbed.

All of these were Orly’s ideas in practice – I was performing the part of her glamorous assistant.  Tomorrow we plan to take the signpost to Stubbylee and see what my dog-walkers make of it all…

Old and New (with a bit of dog poo)

Well it rained.  But were we deterred?

Well a little – it was a bit quiet in Stubbylee today but I still had a great day - meeting up with old park acquaintances, like Gary with his chickens…

…and new people, like Rose and her dog Tiny…

…and also taking quiet moments to write-up some of the stories floating around in my head.  I’m currently writing a monologue about a fictional dog-walking widower, (based on an amalgam of lots of stories I’ve heard), and one of the Greenhouse volunteers has agreed to record it with me on Thursday.  So I better get it written now…

A lot of the people I’ve met are dog-walkers, so if you can’t beat ‘em – borrow a couple of dogs and get dragged around the park for half an hour.  Meet my husky team – Moomin and Cookie:

Cookie initiated me into my first ‘Poo-bagging’.  Which was nice.  And at the end of the day Laura, ’The Grand Fromage’ (Terry’s words, not mine), came to visit, and started to carve out a new career for herself.

And now – back to writing that monologue…






The Circus of Life

A lot more walking round the park with people today.  Heard lots more stories, including when the circus came to Stubbylee Park: a Camel looked over the back fence, and an Elephant had a wee on Tony’s foot.

The day started off a bit grey






Then got sunnier






And by the time evening was drawing in, it was rather glorious…


Scooting around Stubby

I was worried that today would be so cold, that I would be wishing the time away, but it turned into one of the loveliest days I’ve spent in the park.  I started doing very short audio recordings of people’s comments about the park.  My plan is to edit them all together into a montage of descriptions – all different opinions in different voices – showing directly what Stubbylee park means to this community.

My first victims were the lovely ladies of the ‘Friends of Stubbylee’ who I’ve been meeting up with fairly regularly.  After initial horror at being recorded, they all gave me some lovely and varied responses.

For the rest of the day I then seemed to bounce from person to person  - Gary, Alan, Roger, Steve, Tom, Christine, Dennis, Sarah, Pat, Vicky, Pat (a different one), Scott, Aidan, Fabio, John, Katie, Hannah, Lucy – chatting, walking and recording snippets all day.

Just before I left the park I popped into the skate park, where I noticed this.

I showed the poem I’d written about scooter-riding to the young lads who were…well, scooter-riding and doing stunts at the skate park.  I wanted them to check that it made sense and that I’d used all the scooting terms correctly.  My poem passed muster!  And they let me video them doing their ‘ollies’ and ‘flips’.  (I can’t put it up till I’ve got permission from their folks but), they were really good, and apparently they’ve not been doing it that long.

This is the poem -
(btw Luke Pickett is a famous pro stunt scooter-rider.  But you knew that):

I May Not Be Luke Pickett

I may not be Luke Pickett
But I can still kick-it
On the jump-box,
I out-fox
And fly.
I may not be Luke Pickett
But I’ve got the golden ticket -
With a grind
I unwind,
Find sanity,
So high.

I have flair
Getting air
I’m sorted
With my MGP
I’m floating free
Way above Stubbylee
Just my scooter and me.

I’m hoping I can get someone to read the poem over the film of the boys scooting…

Fingers crossed!



Wielding my Sword

I spent all of today at the residency house typing up my notes and doing lots of WRITING!

It’s brilliant at the Greenhouses in Stubbylee, and I have a great space to write there – but everyone is so friendly that you find yourself constantly getting involved in conversations, (which will all feed into the work), but today was about peace and quiet and getting my head down and putting ideas that have been floating around my head for days finally down on paper.

One piece is transcribed verbatim from a recorded conversation I had with a man who remembers when there was an Aircraft Museum in the park, with an old aeroplane (a Canberra B1 – I learnt!) which all the children used to play on.  He spoke about a using a ‘Trolley Acc’ which he described to me, but I realised when I came to write it down that I didn’t really know what the word ‘Acc’ was.  Having looked it up today, the full technical term is a ‘Trolley Accumulator’, and I found a picture of one which exactly matched Stan’s description:

“A Trolley Acc?  It’s a trolley they use in the Air Force. On two wheels.  Like a little trailer, packed with batteries. So you could plug that in to engine starter.  And that fired the engine up till it fired up and then you pulled the plug out and the aircraft was going then, it was ready to fly.  They had one up there and they didn’t know whether it worked or not.  I had a look at it, plugged it into starter box off engine, pressed the button and it fired up.”

I’m also quite excited about a monologue I wrote today which is heavily influenced by the rather dour man I met yesterday.  So, I’ve written a tirade of negativity about the park, from his point of view, but turned him into a pompous disgruntled squirrel.

The pen is mightier than the sword.

A day of negatives and positives

Had an odd day of being around energy-filled excited young people having leaf fights around the Greenhouses and so surrounded by youth and endless possibilities…

and daft moments of brilliance…

… and then meeting an older man who seemed to be negative about everything – the Greenhouses, the park, the council, the town,….LIFE….!   I did my best to put forward the better side of things – but he was not having it!   (Well, he did eventually concede that he used to love playing in the park when he was younger).  I’m sure I will see him again.  I will play him the Andrews sisters singing:

“You gotta accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Hold on to the affirmative,
Don’t mess with Mr In-between”

I then met Rosemary, one of the lovely ladies of the Friends of Stubbylee and we had a great wander round the park with her dog Izzy, and my faith in humanity was restored!  We worked out the statistical fact that - as Rosemary has walked her dogs 3 times a day nearly every day since 1984 that, - she has walked around the park roughly…

28,140 times!

Oh yes.

Children and Chickens

Made-up stories today with a family walking round the park.  So I’m now currently trying to write up the story of ‘The Amazing Feat of the Stubbylee Princess’… there’s magic cats who speak French, dancing in the sunken garden, and realisations involving ducks.  All from the fevered imaginations of a 3 year old, 6 year old, and their game Granny!  We also had some off-time on the out-door gym…

We also had a good look at the chickens when we were walking round, and Emma in our group named all the chickens.  Inspired by this I wrote a daft pome:

On the Chickens in Stubbylee Park

Bella the Hen
Lives in a pen,
With her four chicks snuggling tight.

In the midst of the day
They all like to play
Though Thomas and Jack mostly fight.

For Rosa and Izzy
Their day is quite busy
It’s all about finding their tea

So they all peck and pout
And at times give a shout
When they find a good worm that is juicy.

When night starts to fall
And they’ve given their all
Bella squawks out: “There goes the light!”

Then they cuddle in snug
On an old tatty rug
And they all chime out loud “Nighty night!”