During an unseasonably warm week in early spring I read about Noo Saro-Wiwa’s trip to Dagona lake part of a wetlands conservation project, near Nguru, Nigeria’s most northerly town. In a chapter of her book “Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria”. Her description really captured my imagination; Saro-Wiwa describes her journey to the area on the back of a motorbike:
“…through the arid savannah dotted with acacia trees and down palms; there was not a house or building in sight. Every so often a lake appeared, transforming the parched landscape into a quenching patchwork of shiny blue water and quenching reeds.” (p164).
Given recent developments in the last year I wonder if the trip will be possible to repeat anytime soon…..
Reached by canoe, I spent a night camping on Inchcailloch Island in Loch Lomond national nature reserve. Arriving late afternoon stepping off the Canoe and walking up the stone steps to be greeted by a carpet of bluebells covering the Island. My initial ideas for my project had been inspired by reading Noo Saro-Wiwa’s book. Saro-Wiwa visits a wetland that is under threat from the growing population and their need for more resources. This is a problem echoed around the world, site designations like RAMSAR and National Nature Reserve help to provide a management structure and protection for these areas.
One a hot summer’s day in July 2013 despite engineering works adding an extra hour to my journey I made it to the north shore of the Solway Firth, south-east of Dumfries. I suppose my perseverance was due the thought that it was a great day for cycling along an unknown coast. I wasn’t disappointed. As part of my research for the Ankur Ha Ha writing project I planned to visit several nature reserves/ wetlands for inspiration. Caerlaverock, a national nature reserve was first on my list. From Dumfries train station I made my way south cycling along the River Nith for part of the way. Then along quiet winding country roads. I had been advised that some of the most dramatic scenes occur between September and April when large numbers of Barnacle geese are resident for the winter but there is still plenty to see in the summer. At the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre, I explored the bird watching hides and viewed the large expanse of Merse and mudflats supporting a variety of wildlife. Merse is low-level ground by a river or shore the soil is sandy and fertile.
In October 2013 a few scenes from a play I had written were performed as part of the Ankur Ha Ha Scratch night at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow. The Ankur experience pointed out details I would never have noticed alone, the support and expertise I encountered was really helpful in the on-going development of my skills as a writer.
Many thanks to
All at Ankur productions
Mentor – Shabina Aslam.
Production manager – Fi Johnston.
Tron Technician – Ryan Jones.
Dramaturg – Alan McKendrick.
My fellow Ankur Ha Ha artists on the night; Iyad Hayatleh, a Palestinian poet who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria in 1960. Rachel Thibbotumunuwe, an artist, photographer, curator and arts educator based in Glasgow. Ama Josephine and Nima Sene; Ama Josephine, a writer, musician and performance artist and Nima Sene, a performance artist and dancer with a text and movement based practice. Bigg Taj and Ammie Sekhon; Bigg taj a beatboxer, singer, songwriter, producer, youth worker, actor and performer.and Ammie Sekhon, a film maker. Rachel Jury, a writer, director, producer who works predominantly with text and music.