and a quite extraordinary week for me, really quite out of my depth.

this is Ty Newydd, the National Writing Centre for Wales, also, David Lloyd George’s last home. he lived there for the last three years of his life and died in the library in 1945, overlooking Cardigan Bay; he is buried a little way down the road into Llanystumdwy near the river Dwyfor.

it’s a beautiful place, both the lane and the river, and the woods that surround them.

tall sessile oaks and ashes line the drive

the garden is full of trees – here a huge maple

and the light everywhere mellowed by autumn leaves

it seemed to me a very colourful landscape

here enhanced a bit by the hipstamatic app on my phone

but still, there was a glow that I’m not finding back in Norfolk.

the course I was on, Heightened Speech, was sub-titled “a Spell on the Tongue” and was just one in an annual series of storytelling courses that have been going on for about twenty years, led by Eric Maddern and Hugh Lupton. almost everyone had been on one before, some people have been attending them for years, and are professional story tellers.

as I haven’t even got one poem by heart I did feel a little bit of a fake.

here’s the back of the house, looking out over the lawn to a small gate where there’s a footpath to the sea, about a mile and a half away. some of the accommodation is under the same roof as offices, libraries, kitchen, dining room – which is the medieval heart of the house, the old hall where we did a lot of the work – warming up body and voice, and taking the oral tradition up its “ladder to the moon” from riddle and nursery rhyme, to the heights of invocation and praise-singing

via Lloyd George himself, other speechmakers like Martin Luther King

curses, charms and spells,

prophesies, song, poetry

and storytelling. stories were told from the Welsh Mabinogion, from native American and First Nation Traditions, Aboriginal Australian, from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, from India, and further east.

the course was a rich smorgasbord of magical worlds and the voices are still in my head