Storytelling Walk through Bath
A Storytelling Walk through Bath, UK
The walk was organised by Creative Writing Tutor, author and playwright, Clare Reddaway, in conjunction with Bath’s Walking Festival and Kilter Theatre
I have to admit I have never been to a creative writing group before or to one of Clare’s well known “Story Fridays”, an event which invites emerging or experienced writers to submit their short stories based on a given theme. The winning stories are then read to an audience at “Story Fridays”. They are read either by the authors themselves or by actors from Kilter Theatre
The walking concept takes the idea of Story Fridays, but the theme’s are based around sites in the city, in this instance, the city of Bath. We start at Walcot Chapel and the short story read to us, evocatively describes a festival based in the field behind the chapel in the 1970’s: flares, spliffs, carnival, music, a parade…the scene is brought alive in our minds as we are transported back to Bath in 1975.
The next stop is Hedgemead park, a place formed by an unfortunate landslide which took away a row of terraced houses in 1870. A gentleman’s tale begins with him as a young boy lying under one of the large oak trees looking up through the leaves. It’s a story about the circular pattern of generations, and ends with the tree’s perspective as yet another generation embarks on the hamster wheel of life.
We find ourselves standing outside the Museum of Bath At Work. The building’s first incarnation was as a Real Tennis court built in 1777. Real Tennis, is one of several games sometimes called "the sport of kings” and is the original racquet sport from which the modern game of tennis is derived. We hear a delightful comedy by Clare Reddaway about a fictional character, who tries to gain access into the world of Bath’s aristocracy in the 1700’s. Her downfall is a wager she loses over a game of real tennis at the site we are now standing but she is saved by a toff with whom she marries. Witty, jolly and full of sparkling characters, it’s a story of fearless ambition and the underdog with her cunning ways, wins in the end
We move on to a small patch of grass near the Julian Road. Olly dramatically narrates historical fiction situated on an April night in 1942. The story describes the last few hours of the people who worked at the church which once stood on that site, and of course it happened to be the last few hours before the German bomber planes came and destroyed it and the surrounding houses. The tale sadly ends with the names of the true characters who lost their lives that night
Stopping in an archway near St James Square we hear a clever story about a man who lived in the square who had a house guest staying. As he grabs some fresh air in the central park he hears a young voice “please sir, can you help me?”. He sees a young girl who is asking him to save her life, and she briefly explains her situation. At the end of the tale, the man’s house guest comes out of the house and shouts out to him “I’ve decided to kill her off”. It’s a fictional character he has decided to kill off in his novel, and the house guest is indeed Charles Dickens himself. The girl is of course, one of his fictional characters. As we are all asked to turn around, we see a plaque on the house showing where Charles Dickens once resided
As we move into Victoria Park we hear of a man’s journey from his homeland as a refugee to the city of Bath, told through the eyes of a man answering his young childrens’ persistent questioning. “When I was a squirrel” once again is a humorous short story, with a hint of a man’s life’s journey enshrouded in the everyday. The hazel nuts and berries he foraged in the park on his first night in a new country which led to his hospitalisation and the start of his new life.
The short stories, a mere 5 minutes each, told with such verve and passion, and each inspired by the sites we passed on our stroll, provided a thoroughly entertaining two hours. Insightful, educational, funny and a wealth of inspirational writing talent. Most of all a truly pleasant way to spend an afternoon
Words by Heidi Laughton
Clare Reddaway will be teaching a creative writing retreat at a beautiful chalet in the Pyrenees on May 23rd - 30th, 2020. See the retreats page for more info
Clare will also be running weekend creative writing retreats in the city of Bath, UK - coming soon