Unschool Learning; Ponies, Dragons & Fairy Tales in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne, North France.

Our family home school adventure has currently got us parked up in the campervan in Normandy, France.

We have been lucky enough to be shown the sights by our friend Carl, who is a wealth of local knowledge and history.

Carl invited us for a fun day with the ponies at his friend’s riding school, exploring the woods and hunting down a castle that may or may not be guarded by a fierce dragon.

We met a beautiful little pony who was happy to explore the grounds with us and listen to Carl’s stories.

Lily is very motivated to learn everything she can about how to care for and ride a pony right now, so it was amazing for us to be able to support her in this endeavour.

Archer loves meeting new animals but thinks it’s a crazy idea to actually sit on one.

Carl introduced us to a beautiful white unicorn with sparkling blue eyes (who was still very young and waiting to grow his horn). We searched for the lady of the lake and discovered a secret wigwam hideout whilst trekking through the forest.

The children had such a great time telling all sorts of fairy stories inspired by the things we had seen on our walk.

Luckily when we actually spotted some dragon’s later perched on top of a church…they were sleeping. We could tell they were asleep because as everyone knows, dragons turn to stone when they are fast asleep..phew!

Just to be sure though, we tiptoed quietly past so as not to wake them.

Next Carl showed us a beautiful Chateau and gardens to run around and let of steam after lunch, a sculpture trail and a play park in the stunning spa town of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne.

Before heading home we stopped by a brocante in the town hall and the children bought a new toy each (after a quick haggle in some broken French!) for 50 cents.

A wonderous day with excitement, magic and fun hidden round every corner.

Carl is a natural storyteller and had the children captivated at every turn. The children were still buzzing with excitement a week later…making up their own fairy tales and acting out the roles of knights, forest fairies, dragons and unicorns.

It got me thinking about the value of being able to tell a good story. It feels like a dwindling art in our modern world.

Most stores these days are told to us by a screen. Yet a screen doesn’t allow interaction between storyteller and audience, you can’t touch or smell what is inside the screen.

A good story teller needs confidence, wit and an ability to pick up on cues from the audience…an audience can help shape a story. The audience can become the story teller.

Stories create an environment where an exchange of ideas is possible.

Stories can create something, where there was nothing.

A story can be a powerful tool.

Stories create our inner world, connecting one moment to the next, moulding our self concept and providing a backdrop for all our interpersonal interactions.

People use stories to bond, create an atmosphere, sell a dream, rally support or gather like minded souls to unite for a greater cause.

We all tell stories. Stories about ourselves to others, stories about others to ourselves and perhaps most importantly stories about ourselves to ourselves!

What do our own stories say about ourselves? Is it time to transcend some of these stories? Discover a new ending?

Can’t help pondering that storytelling is a skill that we could all dabble in a bit more.

If nothing else, it makes gathering around a fire extra entertaining!