Test Valley Tales
From dragons and magical fish to enchanted trees and spectral horses, 'Test Valley Tales' brings the stories and legends of this beautiful borough to life through the Test Valley Tales illustrated book of short stories and its associated podcast.
With 10 story locations to choose from to visit, families can immerse themselves in the stories as they enjoy the wonderful walks and picturesque places Test Valley has to offer.
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The Test Valley Tales Book
The Test Valley Tales book is suitable for ages 7 - 107.
This first edition is a limited edition hardback.
It has been a joy discovering and retelling these stories and has given me the opportunity to find a variety of new places locally to explore. I also learnt so many historical facts and interesting curiosities, that I have included some of my findings after each tale.
Working with artists Maija Liepins and Susan Merrick on the book, has been really inspiring. Their artwork has been informed both by my words and the location.
I was keen for the stories to be told in a way that is inclusive and not stuck in a place long ago or far way, and Maija and Susan have used a combination of digital and mixed media techniques. This has enabled us to express the folklore and magic in the stories as well as keeping them contemporary and relevant. I hope the reader can imagine something magical like this could happen to them.
Prints of Maija and Susan's artwork are also available to buy at:
Maija Liepins: www.TheDreamForest.Maija.co.uk/testvalleytales
Susan Merrick: https://susanmerrick.co.uk
Test Valley Tales Podcast
To listen to the latest episode, please Click on the player below.
If you would like to listen to other stories on my Podcast, you can find it as 'Test Valley Tales' on the Podbean app, the iTunes Podcast app, Spotify and most other podcast apps.
The Test Valley Tales podcast is a free resource.
Each episode features one of the tales, a few facts and an interview about the story, story location or one of the story themes.
Folk musician and composer, Paul Sartin has created and sourced some wonderful folk tunes to accompany the tales which gives the podcast a distinctive sound and helps bring the stories to life.
As well as listening at home, I hope people will use the podcast when visiting the locations to explore and discover the magic of each place as they listen to its story.
The Test Valley podcast is hosted on Podbean at:
It can be also be found on all your favourite listening sites.
Test Valley Tales Map and Walks
To download the Test Valley Tales Map with postcodes for all the story locations, please click here
To download a list of websites with suggested walks for the locations, please click here. (I will be updating this list and adding some of my own favourites over the next few weeks)
Test Valley Tales Story Crafts
The Ghost Vicar of Vernham Dean - How to make a Posy
All you will need for this craft is an A4 piece of paper, some pens, scissors, glue and a piece of string. To watch my 'How to make a Posy' video, please click here.
The Baker's Daughter of Amport - Owl Mask
For my printable Owl mask template. Please click here.
The Cockatrice of Wherwell - Simple Cockatrice Puppet
To download my puppet template. Please click here.
The Magic Fish of Mottisfont - Magic Fish Puppet
All you need for this craft is an A4 pice of card, some pens, scissors and glue. To watch my 'How to make a Magic Fish' video', please click here.
The Enchanted Flute of Sadler's Mill - Enchanted Flute
This flute is made out of a piece of paper and actually works! To watch my 'How to make an Enchanted Flute video', please click here.
I have created some simple crafts to link in with the stories. All crafts are designed to be made with simple materials I hope most people will have at home. I have also made sure to include some crafts which do not need a printer.
The Project story
In 2019 Test Valley Arts Foundation asked for project submissions to celebrate Test Valley as part of their 2020 Borough of Culture Festival.
I thought, what better way to celebrate this beautiful part of the world than through its stories!
Then 2020 arrived, and the World went into lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Things were inevitably put on hold.
Patience bore out and, in January 2021, I was thrilled to be awarded an Arts Council National Lottery Grant for 'Test Valley Tales', and for it to be one of Test Valley Arts Foundation's Borough of Culture Legacy Projects.
Test Valley Tales is an integrated project of three parts: An illustrated book of short stories, a storytelling podcast and school storytelling workshops.
For the project, I have researched and re-imagined ten stories, and linked them to ten locations in the Test Valley borough area.
Based on traditional folk tales and legends, the stories bring Test Valley to life,
revealing some wonderful places of interest for families to visit.
I hope the book and its associated podcast will encourage you to go out and find
the story location. And if it is already one of your favourite places, I hope its story
will enable you to explore the area with fresh eyes.
Artists, Maija Liepins and Susan Merrick have created original artwork for the book, taking inspiration from both the stories and their locations.
Composer/Folk musician, Paul Sartin has
created original music for the podcast as well
as sourcing traditional music to complement
the story themes and locations.
We are keen to have lots of community involvement with the project.
If you are interested in becoming involved or would like further information.
Please contact me directly at: email@example.com