Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Choice, choice, choice - so many out there, and which is the right one?

Or maybe you don't want to stop at one? Not even one at a time...

Even Darwin had to acknowledge that evolutionary changes in the area of increased sexual attraction don't always make practical sense.

We always make space for tellers from the floor, but this is one of those nights, like Halloween, when we welcome as many as possible to share stories. Go on! Give it a go! You know you've always wanted to!

And maybe you'll go away from the club with someone other than the person you came with...

Monday, January 8, 2018


Iron teeth are not just Stalinist dentistry. They are the sure sign of a Russian witch. Beware. Be very, very ware!

We are in Siberia. Home of Baba Yaga. Endless forests. Look at the picture. Birch trees, all identical, all different. No way to know your way. Only the noise of pursuit - unless it's just the trees in the wind. What do you think? Dare you believe it? Dare you not believe it?

Come with us. Come with our storyteller. She'll keep you safe. Probably. Nothing's certain, after all.

Except that you won't want to miss this evening... with Katy Cawkwell...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017



A story, of course. And a bit of magic. And a bit of tradition – a link with the past, with Christmases gone by.

Then you want Gawain and the Green Knight. It starts off at Christmas, in the court of King Arthur, where the King refuses to sit down and eat until he has seen a wonder. If the knights daren't grumble, their stomachs do.

But then, there rides into the hall where they're not yet dining a Green Man, on a green horse, with an axe in his hand, and he issues a challenge: which one of these knights is bold enough to strike a blow at him, in return for having a blow struck in return the following Christmas?

Only Gawain is foolhardy enough to risk his life to keep up the reputation of King Arthur's knights. But he thinks he's sorted the matter when he strikes off the Green Knight's head with one stroke of the axe: no return match!

However – and here's where the magic comes in – the Green Knight picks up his head, picks up his axe, mounts his horse, reminds Gawain of what he has sworn to do, and gallops off into the night.

Is this something new from Pixar, or Peter Jackson, or even Spielberg? No, it's in the theatre of your mind, in the cinema behind your eyes: it's a story – the oldest art in the world, before there was fire for them to see to paint in the caves.

And you can hear the whole of it told by Sarah Rundle, widely acclaimed professional storyteller for everyone, and not just children, at the Boston Tea Party in Ringwood, starting at 7.30pm on Thursday, December 21st, admission £5. Get there earlier if you want coffee and cake!

What a way to start Christmas!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


How did he get from this                                    to this


to this                                                             to this?


Come along and find out on Thursday, 16th November!


Sunday, October 22, 2017



Halloween – when the unseen is all around us... but not the unheard, because we have stories to make the hair rise on the back of our necks!

Raph took us to China for both his tales. The late Mandarin Wang made a ghostly appearance, turning the spout of the tea-pot to point at his murderer! And later in the evening Lo Shin made a good bargain with his purchase of words from the Wise Man in the market. By heeding the advice he was given, he avoided death and disaster in a number of ways, and by repeating two simple phrases to the magistrate investigating the murder of Lo Shin's wife he was able to point the finger at the criminals guilty of it.

Maddie stayed more or less in Europe with two traditional tales: the Soldier and Death from Russia, with the magic sack, which you can read here https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Russian_Folk-Tales/The_Soldier_and_Death ; and The Juniper-Tree, which you can read here http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm047.html [though I must point out that reading the texts is only a pale substitute for hearing the stories told.]

Janet told a version of the Lorelei story, the rock above the Rhine haunted by the spirit of the woman who killed herself over her faithless lover and then lures men to their deaths by the beauty of her song.

Mike told the tale of a deserted house, told to him by the grand-daughter of a woman who had worked there. It had belonged to a man who became so possessive of his wife that he shut her away from human contact. What happened next is left deliberately obscure: in any case, she vanishes, and he is inconsolable. In response to his weeping and prayers, she re-appears mysteriously. But for all his protestations he has not changed, so, according to the bargain he had made, as she returned to him, so he must go with her, and both vanish mysteriously. An archaeologist, drinking in the same pub, [where else does Mike get his stories?] relates the finding, by Wayland's Smithy, just up the hill from the deserted house, of two bodies from the 19th century, a man and a woman, the woman's skull damaged by a sharp blow, and yet her skeleton has its arms round the man, tight, very tight.

Mike finished the evening with Mary of Eling, the tale of a zombie in a churchyard to the east of Southampton Water.

Anne of Salisbury and Juliet of Frome listened – but who knows who else was present?

Friday, September 22, 2017



Janet Goring, aka Bluebird the Storyteller, came all the way from Portsmouth to tell us stories – and what a range of stories she has to offer!

She began with the tale of The Handsome Young Sailor and Betty Mundy, a full-bodied fairy lass who gave the aforesaid youthful and well-favoured tar three magic gifts, an ever-full purse, a travelling cloak, and a summoning horn, out of which he was swindled by a scheming princess from Stephen's Castle. Instead of reproaching her contrite swain, Betty showed him the secret of the nose-lengthening apples and the nose-shortening pears, by means of which he was able to recover the magic treasures, and, recognising that, as a man, he was not really fitted for responsibility, he agreed to place his future in Betty's hands, in recognition of which [and you can check the OS map if you don't believe this] Sailor's Lane leads to Betty Mundy's Bottom. [Mike O'Leary's book of Hampshire Tales contains a version of this story.]

Then Janet told us Why the Sky is Far Away, a Nigerian folk-tale which has been retold by Mary-Joan Gerson. She followed this with a Celtic story about a young mother whose baby is taken by the Sidhe, and who, with the advice of a wise-woman, manages to recover the child and live happily ever after.

Janet's second session began on a much more personal note, as she discovered and explored the fate of her great-uncle Henry Whitmore Turner in the First World War, and visited those acres of war-graves that stretch across France and Belgium, and saw the fields of corn where the plough still disinters remnants of humanity.

Finally, she told us how a travelling fellow found a wishing-well, and with his wish spread the well's powers into all the water that falls from the sky. Open your mouth when it rains – you may be lucky! [But – be careful what you wish for...]

In the third session, Raph told us of The Remarkable Coincidence, and then gave us The Sword and the Trumpet, in which communication triumphs over simple aggression. Maddie followed this with The Island where Dreams are Made, from the Western Isles. Alan shared his personal regret that he had not asked in more detail about his great-uncle's connection with the Angels of Mons, and told us that story. Jason, with an excellent crow-impersonation, gave us his own story, The Boy who Turned into a Bird, and Mike told his 10-day old story, The Truth about Nettles, to finish the evening.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Cliff, The Travelling Talesman, shared with us a pick'n'mix selection from his storybag. First came some tales from his Oy! Sunshine! tour, including Torch-Woman looking for her baby, as she also goes looking for food; the Inuit custom of 'dousing the lights', with all that implies, especially the male moon forgetting to eat as he pursues the female sun, and thus getting thin and pale as he crosses the sky. Then there were the rival sisters, one of whom fools the other into eating her own children. After that came the jakata tale which shows how we are all the instruments of karma, because it has no hands, and teaches us not to mess with quail, because they have long memories and many favours to call in. In the story of The Girl [headgear unspecified] Cliff is still looking for an ending that he finds both convincing and satisfying [though he did give us one]. Everybody loves Skeleton-Woman [especially with Cliff playing the drum], and nobody could resist the story of Amaterasu, which you can read here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaterasu .

The third session saw Nicole make her debut as a storyteller, in a way which made everyone think she'd been telling for years. We were quite prepared to believe she was an old man from the Appalachians who wished he'd been stolen away by the Nunnehi when he'd been young [he had the chance...] and then he wouldn't have been old and creaky and cranky. You can read about the Nennehi here

No one could have followed that, but Maddie had to, and resorted to three Hodja tales [they always go round in threes, for self-protection] including The Washing of the Cat, the Bath-House, and the Sausage after which Raph told us how Coyote persuaded Mouse to exchange certain body-parts with him, and the consequences. Mike closed with Little Dog Turpie and the Hobiyahs, in Leila Berg's version, which you can find here:

Saturday, August 12, 2017


You may have seen Cliff before - he's been around a while, as even he will admit! He does the Wickham Festival, he's done The Larmer Tree, he's been at The Art House in Southampton, at The Barge Inn in Honey Street on the Kennet and Avon Canal, London, Reading, Cambridge, Salisbury, and all kinds of places in between.

And now he'll be in Ringwood on August 17th, tellling A Mixed Bag - all kinds of stories from his themed tours of the past few years, together with some that have never made it on to those programmes. There may be Tales of Ra from Egypt, there may be a Red Riding Hood variant, something from the Kalevala, The Padisha's Daughter Who Married a Donkey's Skull, Skeleton Woman...

The only thing predictable is that the stories will be worth listening to!

See and hear him now

Wearing a wide brimmed hat in a sun dappled forest, the Talesman leans in closely

Friday, July 21, 2017



Out of brightly coloured threads of narration and description Paul wove a dazzling tapestry of stories from the world of the Arabian Nights. Under the guidance of the old woman who looked after them, the orphans Masud and Miriam brought back the mysterious Bird from the land of Gibur to the Garden with the Fountain of Laughter and the Fountain of Tears, during which adventure it was the girl who saved the boy, and not vice versa – but after that, the bird just sat and watched the stars go by, until one day it said, “It is time!” and flew away.

Meanwhile, Hassan the Archer was taken on an expedition to find the Lost City of Iram by a Sheikh who knew a lot more than he did. They found it, but, of all the treasures there, they could only take a small box of red sulphur, which nevertheless had the power to transform everyday objects into gold and jewels. Riches and luxury were a poor compensation for Hassan, whose wife and children had mysteriously disappeared in his absence.

Suleiman the Magnificent's fascination with the Lost City of Iram enabled him [with the help of the Oldest Stork in the World] to find it under the desert sands, but all he could do then was contemplate it, until Death, the Destroyer of Friendships and the Breaker-up of Feasts, took him, and he was buried in the city he had sought, and the djinn covered it again with the sands they had removed at his behest.

All things change, and Mahmud the Merciful succeeded to the throne of his father, known as the Merciless, and found, in the depths of his father's prisons, an old man with a small box of red dust, who had refused to divulge its secret to the former ruler, and, even as the new sultan released him, so a large bird arrived in the city, followed by a young man and young woman, whose identity, gentle listeners, I'm sure you can guess.

As if all that hadn't been treat enough for an evening for the thirteen of us gathered in an upper room, John played guitar in our first interval, and the last session brought another five stories: Janet told The Businessman on Paradise Island, Alan told The Car and the Horses, Misha told The Fish in the Grass, the Buns in the Trees, and the Sausages in the Lake, Raph told The Slippers of Abu Kassim and Mike raced through The Princess with the Golden Hair from Howard Schwartz's Elijah's Violin.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


... and The Lost City of Iram, and many another Tale of the East will be brought to us on Thursday, July 20th, starting at 7.30 p.m., by Paul, one of our regular tellers, who also tells at Southampton and Salisbury Story Clubs.

Friday, May 12, 2017


The future is always subject to change, but we have fixed on some things:

In June, Maddie will tell us stories related to Trees.

In October, our regular in-house tellers, Maddie, Raph, Paul, Mike, Alan, Darren and any others we can attract, will celebrate Samhain, or Halloween, or whatever you want to call it, with a selection of stories appropriate to the season.

In November, we will again present Epic in an Evening, which this year will be the story of Hercules, from his birth to his death and his deification.

Who else will be coming, and what they will be telling, we'll let you know as soon as we do.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017



Four strangers meet at a remote Cornish inn. At the fireside, each tells a tale, but each has a secret to hide, and not all are sure of surviving the night.

Pirate tales and songs entwine with eye-witness accounts to take us back to a perilous time.

Cath has a warm and witty style of telling, and a wonderful sense of humour.

Entrance £5 on the door.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Jason headlined, with Something in the Water, a collection of stories about monsters and magical creatures. He introduced us to the Onamazu, the giant catfish responsible for earthquakes, and Kashima, the thunder-god, who [mostly] keeps it pinned down under a big stone. Read more here.

Then there was the Umibozu, the spirit who enjoys wrecking ships, and haunted the dreams of young Akiko, until her grandfather told her about Baku, the Dream-Eater. You can read about them here and here.

In his second session, Jason took us to such exotic places as Pakistan and Northumberland, telling us of the Lake Saif ul Malook and the love-story that took place there, and of the River Wear and the Lambton Worm. Read more here and here.
Nor was the Silkie of Skule Skerry omitted!

In our open mic spot, Raph told us The Hidden Moon, a tale from the Lincolnshire Carrs, which you can find here.

Maddie told us how important conversation was in a marriage, with TheMeat of the Tongue.

Mike sent us home and to bed with the last tale from Eleanor Farjeon's The Old Nurse's Stocking-Basket, which you can read here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Starting at 7.30, two intervals, finishing at 10 - get there early, please, so you can be ready with coffee and cake to hear Jason Buck, whom you will already know from previous performances, including his part in Loki Live.

Something in the Water is a collection of stories about the strange creatures believed to live in the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world, from the giant fish that causes earthquakes in Japan, to the shape-changing selkie seal-folk of Scotland and the [almost] unkillable wyrm that terrified the English countryside. Jason also explores some of the facts behind the real animals that have inspired some of the legends.

The third session will be open for other tellers.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Graham Rogers posted this on the Facebook page of The Sting in the Tale:

Many of you will have heard the sad news of Pete Gritton, who died last week in Spain. For many years he performed in the Sting in the Tale festival, New Forest Storytellers, Heads & Tales storytelling club, Jigfoot band and took part in many other events and theatrical performances.
He was a lovely storyteller and talented musician, with a passion for Vikings and Norse sagas, a commanding presence and wonderful sense of humour. His storytelling and music must have left an impression on thousands of people and he will be sadly missed.
However, our loss is Odin's gain and if you gaze up into the moonlit sky this Spring you'll surely hear all those in the great hall of Valhalla, in Asgard, roaring with laughter as Pete tells his tale of Loki and Thor.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Tim is a singer and musician as well as a storyteller and a guardian of Dorset heritage.
He will be occupying the first two sessions of our meeting on Thursday 16th March - this is the new format, with an earlier start and two intervals - and in the third session the floor will be open to other tellers. So come along and listen - and then tell!

Thursday, February 23, 2017


... which is a much nastier tale than one might imagine. The rich man, who has been trapped up there, is waiting for the crows to peck him to death with their iron beaks...


Russian Tales spiked with Stalin [the narrative equivalent of vodka with chillies, which Stalin used to serve at the parties he held in his dacha in Kuntsevo] included the following: The Golden Mountain, Master Misery, The Hare, the Bear, the Peasant and the Fox, The Snow-Maiden, and Beautiful Vasilisa. They were spiked with Proverbs from Mingrelia. After Mike, Jason told The Bride among the Pines [of his own composing], Janet told us about Yuri and the Geese of Baba Jaga, Raph told us about the Russian fear of people with ginger hair, and Maddie was overtaken by time.

Here are the Mingrelian proverbs: http://sacred-texts.com/asia/geft/geft27.htm#page_142

Here's The Golden Mountain http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34705/34705-h/34705-h.htm#ch1

Here's Master Misery http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34705/34705-h/34705-h.htm#ch6

Here's The Hare, the Bear, the Peasant and the Fox http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45214/45214-h/45214-h.htm#ch5.1

Here's The Snow Maiden http://sacred-texts.com/neu/oprt/oprt11.htm

And here is Beautiful Vasilisa https://archive.org/stream/russianfolktales00afanuoft#page/108/mode/2up

Friday, February 10, 2017


This is a great chance for anyone who wants to get started - and it's run by two of our storytellers!

Saturday, February 25th, 10am to 4pm in Christchurch Library

A snip at £5!


The first half will be occupied by Mike Rogers, telling Russian Tales, Spiked with Stalin - rather like vodka with chillies in, he says.

The second half will be open to anyone who wants to tell a story...

Remember, to fit all this in, we will be starting earlier than we used to, at 7.30pm...