Monday, 30 March 2015

Guest Post by Jan Williams

I can’t help it. I cannot stop telling stories either telling them aloud or writing them down because I was born in a magic place full of stories. These included Cantre Gwelod , a city beneath the waves; Ceridwen, the witch, who threw the baby Taliesin into the ocean in a leather bag, and a white lady who emerges from caves in the cliffs. This place is Borth, a tiny seaside village on the west coast of Wales.
The village of Borth

 It was a lovely place to grow in because it had the most beautiful beach with a splendid prehistoric submerged forest, which even now is becoming increasing visible as more and more storms arrive. The village stretches out in a long line along the beach and behind it lays a great stretch of bogland, which because of the danger of sinking into peat, is always treated with respect. The old hag who lived there on the bog was said to afflict all who met her  with a shaking sickness. Then at the far end of the beach was a cliff pocked with holes which could become caves where mysterious creatures lived. Out at sea there where porpoises and maybe the odd mermaid gambolled  and best of all there are the most glorious sunsets.
The cliffs where the white lady lives
I was a sickly shy child, who missed a lot of school when I was very young. My mother was such a good storyteller that I was slow to read for myself and then when I did learn to read, I read everything I could lay my hands on including those great favourites  of the 1950’s - Enid Blyton’s adventure stories, any illustrated books of fairy tales and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ , just the sort of books we call Vintage now and of which March books have such a fine selection.

 My battle with shyness meant that I was determined when I was an adult to help children overcome this problem. When I became a teacher, I began to teach more and more Drama.  I spent 4 years in Moncton, Canada where we used Drama to try to deal with the difficulties of the French – English hostilities in the town.

Secretly I was feeling the urge to become a performer myself and was delighted to discover the art of traditional oral storytelling from Taffy Thomas and so for several years I wandered around Essex telling stories in schools and historic buildings.  By this time I was living in Brightlingsea, Essex, which still has fine sailing boats Then to my delight, I was asked by History Press  to put all these stories  in a book called ‘Essex Folk Tales’ and I discovered more tales of smugglers, ghosts, battles and witches and surprising six dragons!

           It was hard work but I was always encouraged in my labours by Mrs Puskin, my cat has always sits by my side while I type.  She even sometimes tries to press the keyboard to help! So to please her, my latest book has been “An Amazing Storytelling Cat”. 

The Amazing storytelling cat

Now this cat is called Kiyoko and he is a Japanese bob tail cat with one green eye and one blue eye who tells enchanting tales to his five lost cats. What a collection the stories are as they include is a ghost story from China, a Halloween tale from America, a humorous tale of the mouse who fell in a beer barrel, an Egyptian cat goddess and a queenly white cat from Ireland ! 
The lost cats who listen to Kiyoko

To find them, just look me up on Amazon or go to my web site   www.Janwilltell.co.uk

Jan in Essex
Thank you so much Jan, I'm sure readers of this blog will enjoy your lovely post, Barbara.


18 comments:

  1. Excellent post. What a delightful series of stories which I would have loved as a child, and still as an adult.

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  2. Lovely photo's and illustrations and Borth looks like a lovely place to visit.

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  3. Looks like a lovely place to have grown up in. I did enjoy this post.

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  4. Hello Barbara, hello Jan! I so enjoyed your storytelling here. We have some things in common. My mother was the sickly and shy child and unfortunately, only finished 5th grade. She was unable to read to me when I was growing up, but her oral story telling developed in me, I believe, an imagination. I then went on to study theatre and dance, and there's nothing like the performing arts to cure you of shyness! I too am a teacher, and I thank my acting training for the boldness I need to stir up in me sometimes!

    I loved your description of your hometown in England. Barbara knows I love your country, and hope to visit one day. I am a French teacher so I've been to France and Italy, but England is my next stop.

    Thanks to both of you for a rich adventure into a real-life story! Anita

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    1. I do indeed Anita. I hope you make it to England one of theses days. Hugs Barbara

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  5. Amazing post, so interesting. I loved it. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. How wonderful that Jan grew up to tell her own stories...I wish I could meet you both on a cold winter's evening beside a roaring fire!

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    1. Now that sounds like a perfect idea!

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  7. I really enjoyed getting to know Jan. The photos to go with her post are beautiful. Stunning! I love that she grew out of her own shyness and as a teacher she helped others come out of their shells. So important! Thanks for sharing! Wishing Jan the best of luck. :)

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  8. How lovely to hear from you all and have such a positive response. Its very heartening as I am now working on developing that story about the 'white lady for a children's book and doing some research about my great grandfather who sailed a splendid schooner in the 1870's. Borth is 7 miles north of Aberyswyth but I am afraid it does not always look so blue. It rains and blows a lot!
    Love Jan

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  9. Excellent post and the pictures show the topography which is apt for a fertile imagination! Totally loved the cat Kiyoko and the 5 lost cats with such well defined characters...Hmmm... Egyptian cat-Goddess and a queenly from Ireland ! great ..
    I am sure the stories are great fun Jan :) All the best to you :)
    Thank you Barbara for the awesome guest post :)

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  10. You are very welcome Kokila, I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post.

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  11. Wow, the village of Borth looks beautiful. I'm so curious about the white lady, and the baby who was thrown into the ocean in a leather bag. No wonder Jan absolutely has to tell stories. Her world is brimming with them! Shy children need stories to feel less alone and to be slightly bolder so they can have their own grand adventures one day. Great success to Jan with her stories and thanks for introducing her to us, Barbara! Have a pretty weekend ahead. xoxo C.

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    1. I thought you would enjoy it Claudine. Thank you for your weekend wishes, I wish the same for you. Barbara xxx

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  12. Hmmm... I commented last night but can't see my comment. Anyway, I can sometimes be found rushing to Borth to capture the sunset on my camera and love it there. It's our nearest seaside from here by the border. It was quite a surprise to see it featured on your blog, Barbara. Jan, despite having been to Borth many times, I've not heard of it's folklore. I'm definitely going to have to look that up now! :)

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    1. Hello Nikki-ann, I’m so sorry about the disappearing comment. I have no idea where it went but thank you for having another go. :-)
      I’m very envious of your proximity to Borth; it looks absolutely stunning.
      Happy Easter, Barbara

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  13. Wonderful guest post Jan! Such interesting stories and love the illustrations and photos!

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  14. The pictures say it all, don't they? They would stimulate creativity, I think. I love the idea that the cat helps you write. My dogs just sleep through my typing.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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