Blog

Intergenerational Penpals

Recently, our group has reached out to the wider community and formed new connections across the generations.  Part of this has involved a joyful exchange. We shared our blog post on our much-loved toys and games with a class of Year 5 pupils at Chorlton Primary School and then, after reading our memories, the children wrote back to thank us and tell us about their favourite toys and activities.  Read on to see what they shared.

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Getting Together Again

Recently, some brighter days inspired the group to meet outdoors at the Tea Hive in Chorlton. It was a real treat and we had a very lovely get together – the first in-person one since lockdown!  Many members had not met each other in person before and we laughed in surprise about the fact we had bodies below the shoulders and heads we had got so used to seeing on screen. 

We shared tea, coffee and some lovely cake whilst getting to know each other in 3D again.  We also spent some time reflecting on our experience of the group and ideas of what to do next.  Watch the video below to see the uplifting feedback.  Alternatively, read the quotes separately below if that works better for you.

“I enjoy the opportunity to speak and connect with others.”

“As we get older, it can often get treated as important or having worth but this group helps us participants feel valued and purposeful.”

“Listening to people as we do, shows that ordinary people have fascinating lives, even when they might think they don’t!  This also then reminds me to value myself too; realise that I have had an interesting life also.”

“The group is warm, inclusive, friendly, encouraging and HAPPY!”

“You can get as much or as little out of the group as you like.  You can use it as an opportunity to simply tell and hear stories or you can write something up inspired by the storytelling.”

“We are in unprecedented times.  The best way to break the cycle of uncertainty and worry is by connecting, creating community and sharing with others is good for everyone involved.”

“The group is a chance to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise.  It is a diverse group, very intergenerational and we have great, often surprising, conversations. “

“I like having an incentive to write on a regular basis and I also enjoy the sharing of memories on a topic, how they are sometimes similar and sometimes so very different.”

“This is good place to improve writing and storytelling skills and also a good place to talk and manage mental health conditions like anxiety.”

“You could just come and listen first or read the story book to get a feel for the group.  Or jump straight in a share some memories with us all during a session!”

“We have more in common than we realise!”

Memorable books, film and art

In our minds’ eyes, Jolene asked us to picture ourselves in a place where we’d felt moved or inspired by a book, a film or a work of art.  It’s no surprise that afterwards we buzzed with things to say to each other on Zoom, on a topic which followed on so well from our previous meeting about great storytellers we had known. We all enjoyed recalling powerful emotional, visual and auditory responses to the creative works of others, and sharing our reactions to those books, films and paintings with each other.   Your comments are welcome too, after reading the reflections some of us have written after such a rewarding session.

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Great Storytellers We Have Known

When I heard this topic suggested by Anne and Alberto, I was intrigued and also not sure how I might go about presenting it to the group.  Where to start?  Storytelling has come to mean such a lot of things!  

My first thoughts had me reflecting on the heritage of oral storytelling, particularly the variety of traditional stories we grow up with.  I also started thinking about people I know who are great at the skill of telling a spoken story.  Then my mind jumped to how all modern entertainment, including films, games, t.v. and adverts all use storytelling to deliver a message or way of seeing the world.  Finally, I found myself pondering the many ways that psychologically, spiritually and culturally, we tell ourselves stories all the time, about who we are, where we come from and what the meaning of this often confusing thing called life is.  

I had no clue how to weave these thoughts and more into a brief intro. Instead I chose to start the session with the beginning of a poem called The Storyteller by Mike Jones. I followed this with a couple of simple questions, trusting that the group would perform its usual magic and inspire each other and me into deeper reflections which we could then connect through. The following blog is a testament to the group’s magic which I was right to trust, what great storytellers they all are and how yes, I am truly grateful to know them.

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Spring and Easter

We had such a joyful time sharing our thoughts and memories about spring at our Zoom meeting on Easter Saturday morning.  We hope you enjoy seeing our photographs and reading our writing inspired by the session. If so, we’d love to read comments and reflections from you too.

I love the spring, the feelings and the memories it brings.  My partner and I have shared some wonderful early holidays in Crete, Cyprus and Spain: walking in places we’d find too hot later in the year, along coasts and on hillsides, seeing orchards of apple and almond trees in blossom and cyclamen growing wild. 

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Toys and Games

Listening to the group this week as they recalled their tales of childhood toys and games, I was struck by how important and impactful play really is.  Amongst other things, it has brought us joy, connection, freedom, learning, imagination and many precious memories. 

I heard of stories of objects that are long lost, but still wistfully longed for, games where play became a serious business, the creation of quirky characters and whole inner worlds as well as daring deeds of daftness/ bravery (depending on how you look at it).

With every snippet of story shared, I found myself going back into my own past and reliving happy, exhilarating moments of learning and play.  I hope you have the same experience as you read this and can take some time to add some of your recollections in the comments below.

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About us

Jolene asked us to picture someone from our past, asking us about our lives since we last saw them, a long time ago.  What would we say to them?  In the break out rooms, she asked us to share our responses, and also to discuss what drew us to the Stories of our Lives group.  What do we gain from being part of it?  What do, or can, we give to others?  What do we want to say about ourselves in the “About us” section of our blog site?

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Silver linings

Was I deceived or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?


John Milton, Comus, 1634

Gently, Jolene posed a series of questions for us to consider privately, in silence, before we split into smaller groups to discuss our responses.

 “How are you being challenged or stretched by your current circumstances?  What moments of hope and joy do they nevertheless contain?  What silver linings can you see?  What about any past circumstances that you have been through? What silver linings were there? How can you bring self-compassion and kindness to your current experience of the challenges we collectively, and you individually, are facing?”

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Winter

This week’s winter and Christmas themed session, led by Lucy, revealed so many similarities between different people’s experience, despite any variations in geography or date of birth.

Other people’s recollections helped me recall many things I had entirely forgotten about.  Most of them were food related! Christmas “treats” I didn’t enjoy but didn’t want to miss out on, like Turkish delight.  The special hostess trolley that was wheeled out heavily laden with a Christmas tea in front of festive TV specials at my Nanna and Grandad’s house.  I also was reminded of some more recent winter holidays involving lots of snow, and in the breakout room during the meeting, had a lovely laugh with my friend Sue. We giggled about how, one winter 10 years ago, our tiny little cars managed to somehow get us to work up two separate, very icy hills.  We both remembered the surrealism of the moment, seeing much larger, newer cars abandoned roadside due to their ABS literally putting the breaks on their trip! Both of us ended up being sent home again once we got there, but it was worth it for the memories.

There are some rich and scrumptious pieces of writing in here for you to savour, suggested accompaniment – cup of tea (or even something mulled!). We hope you enjoy reading this lovely blog and it helps you remember times you have enjoyed and remember.  Let us know in the comments what memories came up for you!

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Getting around

Joe led us in a second great session on journeys and transport, this time concentrating on the ways in which we regularly got around, whether on foot, by bike, train or in the cars we owned.  There was so much to talk about!   We shared stories of travelling to school, holiday outings, regular commutes to and from work, some within Manchester and some far away.  As well as vividly re-living those frequent journeys, the people we were with, or were on our way to, featured strongly in our fond memories.   

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