“That's typical Birmingham, there’s something round every corner,” says Charlotte Goodwin as we reach a clearing in Moseley Bog.
We’re following the paths and impressive new boardwalks through the former playground of Lord of the Rings’ creator JRR Tolkien and have chanced upon father Jonathan Lee with his three young sons.
They’re all playing delightfully in the woodland, with dad throwing ropes over branches and attaching different types of swings to them.
There’s a traditional two-legged one for youngest son Henry, almost two. And a hammock style net for Henry and siblings Ted, 5, and Barney, 7.
Watching these simple adventures captures the spirit of the bog.
Just like Light From the Shadows, a new Neighbourhood REP audio guide to the area developed by the Birmingham Rep in conjunction with Hall Green Library, The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, Sarehole Mill, and Cole Valley South District Scouts.
As well as the story of an adventurous young boy at its heart, the guide features interviews with local people plus music by Derek Nisbet.
Accompanied by ex-BBC producer Alison Burnley and my own youngest daughter, Madison, we’re walking round the Bog while listening to the stories Charlotte has compiled with co-writer Kate Chapman.
The audio walk features children talking about ordinary things, but it also has adult contributors and music.
Instead of being a ‘this is here, this is that’ type service you might find with an audio guide at a National Trust property, it’s more of a go with flow atmospheric piece.
The guide is being launched on Sunday when a programme of activities will take place despite the beauty spot being vandalised earlier this week. Up to £3,000 of damage was caused when the attackers ripped a post out of a Bronze Age mound and destroyed new signs
The event will include creating a magic wand, building a den, investigating the pond wildlife and bug hunting expert from The Wildlife Trust.
There will also be the opportunity to sample a writing workshop and to see specially-created free performances. Thirty sets of MP3 players will be available from the office at Sarehole Mill and two people can share one set, each of which requires a £5 deposit.
The players will be available for at least the rest of the year and the guide can also be downloaded too. As well as families at any time, schools will be encouraged to visit during the week and it’s feasible that more than 200 people per week will soon be enjoying the experience.
Charlotte, who has had made four audio adventures with Kate, including one for the Commandery in Worcester, says: “Now feels like a good time to be doing radio drama. The Old Rep used to radio plays so it’s nice to be revisiting that.
“Twelve years ago, Birmingham would have had four or five producers. Now we’ve got two or three so we are not getting that much experimental work.
“In the past, we’ve taken our own stories and developed them alongside each other, this time we sent ideas back and forth. And we had the community involvement with local cub scouts from Kings Heath, den building and talking about things that might live in the Bog.”
Kate Chapman adds: “We decided that we didn’t want to make it an audio walk that was wholly about Tolkien but we did incorporate some of his life experiences and some aspects of his relationship with his wife Edith, which is a beautiful love story.”
Launch of the audio walk
The Light From the Shadows free fun day takes place at Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog on Sunday from 11am – 4pm.
MP3 players will be available to borrow from the audio walk’s starting point, Sarehole Mill, on the day.
To book a slot on the audio walk visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk or call 0121 236 4455. Walks take place every half hour. Sensible footwear advised. Sarehole Mill will also be open to visitors wanting to look inside one of only two working watermills in Birmingham (admission charges apply for Mill, grounds and courtyard are free).
Sarehole Mill is at Colebank Road, Birmingham B13 0BD. Open: Tues-Sun, noon-4pm. Closed Monday, apart from Bank Holidays.
To download the audio guide visit: wwwbirmingham-rep.co.uk/lightfromtheshadows .
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