Author: David Atkinson

I am an independent #media professional: #journalist #author and #blogger for hire. Sign up for my #writing workshops as a media tutor.

Student feedback for my storytelling online course with Journalism.co.uk

My storytelling online course for Journalism.co.uk has completed its first run.

The four students learnt more about the key ideas behind telling your story to engage readers.

Here is some of the feedback from students on the course.

Sarah Farrell said:

“I really loved the course and have some great ideas for structuring features and interviewing from it. Thank you.”

Sarah says the key things she learnt from the course include:

  • Different ways of writing the intro
  • Handling tough interviews and controlling the interview
  • Importance of knowing your reader and how to write for different audiences

Louise Skinner said she had learnt the importance of the following, amongst others:

  • Make sure you include the human interest in your story – make use of strong, direct quotes as much as possible.
  • Interviews – don’t be afraid to ask probing questions – you should be in control of the interview and steer it in the direction to get the best content for your readers.
  • Make sure there’s a hook in your piece – why publish it now?

Read more about my ideas for better storytelling in my guest blog, How simple storytelling techniques can make you a better writer.

Walking Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail as it marks its 50-year anniversary

This year marks 50 years of the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail.

There are local walking festivals to look out for and a revamped visitor centre in the Welsh border town of Knighton to open later this summer.

An ITV series about the Path, Wonders of the Border, will be shown over summer.

The 177-mile national trail, which runs from near Chepstow on the River Severn to Prestatyn on the North Wales coast, divides into 12 day sections.

As lockdown restrictions eased, I walked the trail for a day from Castle Mill [pictured above] near Chirk Castle in North Wales into the Shropshire Hills to get a taste of the path.

The earliest reference to Offa’s Dyke is attributed to Asser, King Alfred’s biographer, who wrote:

“A certain vigorous king called Offa … had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia.”

Offa was the king of Mercia (the modern-day Midlands) and ordered the construction of the dyke around 785AD to mark a de-facto border between England and the rebellious Welsh tribes to the west.

National Trail Officer Rob Dingle says: “King Offa is something of a shadowy figure from history, but we do know that he was keen to expand his kingdom, and the design of the Dyke was quite deliberate, acting as a warning shot to the west.”

National Trails is encouraging walkers to share their memories of 50 years of Offa’s Dyke. Read more.

Read my feature coming soon to the i newspaper.

  • Liked this? Sign up to my new monthly newsletter, Hit the North, for more travel news around Northwest England and North Wales.

 

A post-lockdown visit to the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire

Here’s a new concept: the post-lockdown day out.

With restrictions easing, but overnights stays still off limits until April 12, I made a day trip to the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA), the year-round centre for remembrance in Staffordshire.

As an outdoor attraction, the Arboretum has managed to remain open throughout lockdowns and, with the Rule of Six back in force from yesterday, it’s a good place for socially distanced small gathering.

Many of the memorials, such as the Shot at Dawn memorial [pictured above], are thought-provoking and rich with symbolism.

More importantly, it offers a tranquil place for reflection set in nature to digest the events of the past year that have changed our lives beyond measure.

That could be why the Arboretum has been mooted as a potential site for a new national, government-led memorial to recognise all those who have served their community during Covid-19 pandemic, including NHS keyworkers.

The Arboretum celebrates its 20th anniversary on May 16 and I have a feature coming soon in the i newspaper — look out for details.

It’s like Chris Ansell, the Arboretum’s Head of Participation and Learning, told me this week:

“We have a responsibility to those who have given their lives for their country but also a responsibility to ourselves to take time and reflect in order to look forward with hope.”

More about the NMA here

 

How to celebrate St Patrick’s Day by climbing Ireland’s holiest mountain

Today marks St Patrick’s Day.

Normally I’d be raising a glass of the black stuff to celebrate. But, like everything else, it looks be a bit different this year with Visit Ireland live streaming the craic via YouTube.

But, pre Covid, I had celebrated the big day in the west of Ireland, joining walking guide Ged Dowling to climb Croagh Patrick, the holy Irish mountain towering over County Mayo.

I had gone to discover why some 120,000 people hike the treacherous trail to the summit each year, and to learn more about the man behind the folklore-shrouded myth of St Patrick with which is it so closely associated.

Patrick spent 40 days and 40 nights atop the summit of Croagh Patrick in 441AD, fasting, praying and communing with God in a lonely vigil, which established this formerly pagan peak as the new summit of Irish spirituality.

Ever since, the annual Croagh Patrick pilgrimage for St Patrick’s Day has felt like walking in his holy footsteps.

“Croagh Patrick was revered as a place of ancient spirituality long before Patrick was in town,” says Ged. “To me, it feels reassuring — like visiting an old friend.”

Read the feature in full via Independent Travel

See also Terra Firma Ireland