Orange Canals and Three Legged Cows / by Lenni Sanders

Last week was a busy week for Curious Things. We delivered three days of workshops for Year Five groups, performed our Muddy Fingers Fête and re-branded (goodbye iOrganic). Phew! That was a busy week indeed. It was also one of our best. We were in full force, challenging ourselves and doing what we love with new audiences.

The story of The Bridgewater Canal is one that, predictably, has so much to it. There’s the story of a Duke that everyone wrote of at childhood; the mines that industrialised this rural hamlet; the orange water that royalty visited; a Georgian three legged cow… We got to learn this from primary source material, spending time with Kate, from Est.1761, Salford City Council’s Bridgewater Canal project, and our favourite way to learn, having a cup of tea with a local expert.

The first challenge was to devise a workshop for 20 Year Fives at a time to find fun and engaging - taking with them the key Science Week message of ‘Change’. The solution, as always, is poetry. Noise Poems. Inspired by Ernst Jandl’s avant-garde poetry, we decided to create noise poems, or noise stories, with our groups, following the theme of change. One group would evoke ‘Country Life’, the other ‘Deep Dark Coal Mines’ and the last group would evoke ‘Industry and Machines’. After telling stories and leading some theatre games, we supported this groups whilst they made their noise poems. I was struck by how mature and engaged these Year Fives were as they worked hard making excellent work. We were so chuffed at what each group made over the three days.

With the workshops aside, we went on to focus on Muddy Fingers Fête - a mash-up between an archeological dig, a museum and a fête. It was a truly muddy day with rain falling pretty hard at times, but the crowds came. They played Basket Weaver’s Quoits, did the Story Spinning Wheel, the Lucky Dip, guessed the nails in the jar and perused out definitely, 100% real, archeological finds. Visitors of all ages had a great time.

When we were packing up, trying not to get covered in mud, we were both smiling so much at the great week we had had. Long live Curious Things!