Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Interview: Paul Lyalls

Paul Lyalls is the current writer in residence at the Roald Dahl Museum
This blog has been lucky to track down this whoopsy-splunkers writer, and he has kindly agreed to be interview by us!!! 
I hope you agree Paul is Phizz-Whizzing and Whoopsy wiffling for getting involved- and his answer are whizz-popping!

Photo Credit: Paul Lyalls

1) How did you get involved with The Roald Dahl Museum? 
RD appoint a writer each year.  This year they wanted a poet.  I applied and got it.  To get the job you had to write for both children and adults and also be published for both and be able to perform and workshop with children and adults.

 2) What is your favourite aspect of the Museum? 

I like the dinkyness and old worldlyness of the place.  I like the fact that it's a museum with a lot to read and what a good read it all is.  I like the fact that it is in the writers home town and that it is just a converted stables or some such thing, full of quirky bits and pieces of his life.  It's like he's just popped out for a Kit-Kat, and will be back in 15 minutes!

3) What is your favorite Roald Dahl work? That's a tough one. Maybe Matilda because she is such a heroine and ultimate best friend.  I like the Twits as well because of the originality of the humour and the situations.

4) Do you feel Roald Dahl has influenced your work at all? 
It's starting to, I'm taking to branching out in some of the themes and making some situations much more surprising and much more extreme which is what RD did. My latest Kids collection which only came out a month into the residency reflects his influence, particularly in poems like 'Two types of parents' and 'Heaven'.

5) You run workshops at the Museum, what does this involve?  
Part show, part writing exercise, aimed at adults and children.  I have been getting people to write poems and also I've spent time sitting in the chair writing poems to order from people wandering past on whatever they've wanted (Dreams,  turning six, Spitfires etc).  Also I am visiting schools in Buckinghamshire on behalf of the Museum. These involve performing whole school assembly shows  and visiting selected classes for focused writing workshop.

6) How to both Children & Adults react to Roald Dahl's work? How do they react to the your workshops? 
Everyone seems to love RD's work and the fact that I am poet for RD goes down a storm.  Adults and kids are in awe at my appointment. It's the champions league of the residency world! 
I don't want to be the one to say it, but everyone loves my workshops and work.  All the stuff I do is fun and funny from start to finish and adults and kids love my poems and performances. 

Paul will be sitting in Roald Dahl's chair again and writing poems for anyone on Sunday 12th Jan 11am to 3pm if you would like a poem written there and then, come along,  if you can't make it contact him here- see if you can arrange to tell him what you'd like a poem about and he'll write it in the chair for you.
You can also follow Paul on Twitter (@PaulLyalls) or have a click around his website.

Paul's latest books show that poetry is necessary for all ages! 'Catching the Cascade' (adults)& 'A Funny Thing Happened' (kids) can be found on Amazon and at most good bookshops (and probably a few indifferent ones too).
His latest collection "Do me a favour & favour" is new this year!  Available from The Roald Dahl Museum or The big Green Bookshop.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Merry Christmas

"Where art thou, Mother Christmas?
I only wish I knew
Why Father should get all the praise
And no one mentions you.

I'll bet you buy the presents
And wrap them large and small
While all the time that rotten swine
Pretends he's done it all.

So Hail To Mother Christmas
Who shoulders all the work!
And down with Father Christmas,
That unmitigated jerk!"

Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake wrote this poem for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in 1988. It part of a full anthology found in the Roald Dahl Treasury

Mother Christmas- the busiest mum on earth at this time...
Picture: Quentin Blake

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a happy new year and a lovely break from work (giving you more chance to read some Dahl books!)

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre

The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre, in Great Missenden Buckinghamshire, is an interactive, dream world dedicated to the promotion of Dahl's life, achievements and works. Central to the museum are Dahl's Children's Books, but it is also home to the 
Roald Dahl Archives
Photo Courtesy of Britain Magazine
 The museums was opened as a charity in 2001, stating its aim to "further the education of the public in the art of literature by the provision and maintence of a mseum and literature centre based on the workds of Roald Dahl"

This aim is realised through an extensive interactive collection, referencing Roald Dahl's Characters as well as his life. Discovering Dahl is made possible across all the floors of the museum, the Boy Gallery, the Solo Gallery and the Story Centre

Photo Courtsey of Hawkins Brown Architects
 The museum is set in a former Grade II coach house, with a courtyard guarded by the gates of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
The museum includes three galleries, an archive, a café, a writer in residence studio, a shop, offices and interactive education spaces.

The Boy and Solo galleries details Dahl's History, whilst the Story Centre is home to the museums Writer in Residence: David Lyalls.

Snapshots of the Museum can be found on the website, and you can also take a virtual tour.
One of the main attractions of the museum is Roald Dahl's writing hut. When Dahl moved to Great Missenden in 1954 the shed at the bottom of his garden became his private study and writing area. Dahl would retreat to the hut twice a day, working on a very strict writing timetable. The hut was full of curiosities and notes from his imagination, however the space was off limits to anyone but Dahl
Photo Courtesy of London Calling
Thanks to a refurbishment project the Hut is now inside the museum, where it can be better preserved as well as enjoyed as you can sit in Roald Dahl's writing chair.  
Explore the hut here.

The Museum employs professional staff, has a board of Trustees and is supported by five Patrons.

Find out more about visiting here.

Friday, 22 November 2013

PREVIEW: The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre

Find out more about tomorrow's blogpost with this Phizz-Whizzing video:

Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity

Image Courtesy of RDMCC

Roald's Dahl Marvellous Children's Charity, also based in Great Missenden near the Roald Dahl Museum, was founded by Roald Dahl's widow Felicity in 1991.

Alongside being responsible for many great literary achievements, Dahl is also responsible for amazing work on the improvement care for neurology patients and brain conditions, especially with regards to swelling and brain fluid problems. Following a car crash with his baby pram, Roald Dahl's son Theo was left with a shattered skull. Theo developed "water on the brain", or, to give it its medical name, hydrocephalus. This is a condition that requires continual draining in order to survive. 

Seeing the impact this was having on Theo's quality of life, Dahl worked with hydraulic engineer Stanley Wade, and neurosurgeon Kenneth Till to design a mechanism working to help the brain and it's volume of fluid.
The full sciency story can be found here, but the tale has a happy ending as Theo celebrated the birth of his first daughter, Roald Dahl's granddaughter, in 2005. 

The Wade- Dahl- Till Valve is now one of many valves used daily in medicine.

Dahl's helping hand and passion for charity is now so much more then his invention. His charity, the Marvellous Children's Charity, works to employ nurses, careers, as well as offer grants and support to poorly children and their families.

As a small charity they make a huge difference. Please consider them next time you think about doing something Gloriumptious for charity, and let this fantastic, touching and much needed work continue.

Image Courtesy of RDMCC

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Dahl's Childhood: An Overview

Dahl's Childhood played a phenomenal part in his writing, drawing influences for characters or wonderful ideas from his own life. Many ideas come from the tales his mother use to tell him from her Norweign folk stories, as well as his childhood hate for teachers, rules and punishments. 

Tales such as Matilda, the BFG, the Witches and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory are written from a child's perspective and portray adults as the Villans.

Photo Courtesy of the Reading Project
Dahl's childhood experiences formed the tales behind Boy: Tales of 
Childhood (1984).
Photo Courtesy of The Telegraph
An exert from Boy details The Great Mouse Plot of 1924.
Aged Seven, when Dahl attened Llandaff Cathedral School in Cardiff, he and his friends had a grudge against the local sweet-shop owner, Mrs. Pratchett. Mrs Pratchett was a sour, elderly widow who gave no thought to hygiene. They played a prank on her by placing a dead mouse in a gobstopper jar. They were caned by the headmaster as a punishment, while Mrs. Pratchett watched, laughing and encouraging him to cane them harder.

Aged 13, Dahl moved to Repton School in Derybshire. Having had the choice between Marlborough and Repton, Dahl choose Repton because it was easier to pronounce. 
At Repton the boys were delivered sweets and tasters from the Cadbury factory. The weekly deliveries inspired Young Dahl to dream of working as an inventor for Cadbury. An idea he has said later bore Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. 

Image Courtesy of weheartit.com

While Dahl hardly excelled as a student, his mother offered to pay for his tuition at Oxford or Cambridge University when he graduated. Dahl's response, as quoted from his autobiography, Boy: Tales of Childhood, was, 

"No thank you. I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China." - Roald Dahl

Photo Courtesy of The Telegraph

Dahl's childhood was sprinkled with sadness as both his elder sister and father died when Dahl was three years old. His family remained in England to receive a British education- arguably the time that fueled Dahl's imagination the most. 

The wondrous childhood of Roald Dahl shaped the stories we now treasure.

After his education, Roald Dahl joined the war effort, but what exactly did this extra ordinary man do?

Monday, 11 November 2013

James & The Giant Peach

"But the peach ... ah, yes ... the peach was a soft, stealthy traveller, making no noise at all as it floated along. And several times during that long silent night ride high up over the middle of the ocean in the moonlight, James and his friends saw things that no one had ever seen before."
-Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach, released in 1961, tells the tale of a young boy- James Trotter- who escapes from his abusive aunt in a magic peach. He travels away from his problems with his new friends Grasshopper, Ladybug, Spider and Centipede.

This recipe is inspired by the Peach that grew from those Magic Beans... 

 You will need:
1 ripe peach
35g unsalted butter
20g plain flour
20g brown sugar (+ some for sprinkling)
Ice Cream, Honey, Cream, Crème fraîche or a topping of your choice
              Oven at 180°

Cut the peach in half and remove the stone.
  Sprinkle some sugar inside the peaches dip, adding 5g of butter into each half.

 Place these into the oven whilst you make the crumble topping. This is the same crumble topping found on apple or rhubarb crumble- so its super easy to make.

Crumble together, using your fingers, the flour and remaining cubes of butter.

  Once you've done this, you should be left with something that resembles breadcrumbs.  

The next step is tor stir in the brown sugar. Try to make sure it is even across the mixture.
 Once this is done, grab the peaches back from the oven and sprinkle the crumble mix over the butter and sugar mixture.

 I recommend piling the topping especially high, so the peaches are super Gloriumptious.

 Place in the oven for 20 minutes, whilst you help with the washing up!

Then remove and enjoy with Ice Cream, Honey, Cream, Crème fraîche or all the above!!


Please remember if you are in the kitchen under the age of 13, ask Mum or Dad for some help, especially when using knives or the oven!

"And James Henry Trotter, who once, if you remember, had been the saddest and loneliest boy that you could find, now had all the friends and playmates in the world."
-Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

Roald Dahl Gobblefunk- Gloriumptious: Glorious and wonderful.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


So welcome- welcome in many ways! Firstly to this blog, the brain child of a university module, but also to what I hope to be a wealth of new information- about Roald Dahl, his life, his books and what remains of one of Britain's greatest and well loved authors.

Before we head off on this wonderful journey- here's a bit of background so we don't all look so confused...

This Blog
It is truly a unique module specification that I get to blog as part of my degree. I get to blog about something I am passionate about and  something I think needs conserving, so I have choosen Roald Dahl & his surviving collection. I am very much a shutterbug and aspiring writer- so generally an all round nerd- and have been blogging personally for a while now. This archaeology module in Visual Media looks at how we can harness these social media outlets to make archaeology, conservation, heritage and histories constantly accessible. I'm very lucky to be able to now pour my love for Roald Dahl into part of my degree.

Roald Dahl
Novelist, poet, screen writer and builder of imaginative lands, Roald Dahl is one of the most celebrated English authors- for both children and adults. Some of Dahl's most famous incarnations- Willy Wonka, the Oompa Lumpa's for example- remain world famous characters. In this blog I hope to revisit this world and more as we chat about Roald Dahl's childhood, his role in World War II and the charity work Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity do.

The Roald Dahl Collection 
This collection forms the center piece of the blog, the material remains of Dahl following his death in November 1990. Behind the mystery and the magic of his written word survives the history of an incredibly interesting, lively and unusual lifetime. 

 You can read more about the collection and its curation on it's own website, as part of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, as well as clicking back here for updates and insights.

What do I hope to achieve from this I hear you ask? Well, although it is an assessed piece of work, I'm looking to really have fun, explore the forgotten memories that shaped my childhood and also draw awareness to the history of a fabulous human being! 
If I can achieve one thing through this blog, it will be to remind you to not forget about books- least of all Roald Dahl's.

Image courtesy of Ebay Images

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Roald Dahl

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men"
- Roald Dahl