Lost Found and Told : Modern Fairy Tales for Northumberland

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You may remember that last year, we watched November Club perform 'A Night of New Fairytales' in a community centre in Blyth. It was a brilliant evening with traditional fairy tales being given a modern (and Northumberland) twist. It was nice to watch a theatrical performance and recognise the places mentioned, the accents spoken and to have the North East at the very centre of the story (you can read my full review from that evening here). 

Lost Found and Told : Modern Fairy Tales for Northumberland

Times have been tough for local theatre during the pandemic and November Club are no different. They are a registered charity with their prime purpose being to engage local communities and create original performances about people and places. 

They really are fantastic and have won awards for their work so I am delighted that they have been able to pivot (apologies for using the cliché word of the moment) and have been able bring their work and creativity into our homes instead. 

Northumberland Club has taken their Northumberland Fairy tales (written by Fiona Ellis) and transformed them into an audio book with short stories available for all to enjoy. 

Lost Found and Told - Who are these Northumberland Fairy tales for? 

As much as I love live theatre and really miss it, transforming the stories told into a series of audio tales does have it's benefits and has made the stories much more accessible. You don't need to be able to travel and visit a community venue to enjoy the stories now and can appreciate them from the comfort of your sofa or perhaps you might like to listen on your phone and enjoy whilst visiting some of the locations mentioned in Northumberland (keeping Gov restrictions in mind of course). 

I would recommend the tales to older children (some of the stories can be a little scary) and grown ups. As they are available to stream online or download, the tales from Northumberland can now be sent around the globe instantly making them an ideal gift to send those who have connections with the region but no longer live here. 

Snuggled up listening to Northumberland fairy tales is a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon together. 

Lost Found and Told can be downloaded and enjoyed at home or sent as a digital gift. Here are a few people I think will enjoy the tales: 

  • Families with older children (I would say aged 7+) and adults looking for something to enjoy whilst they stay at home / during self isolation. We have been listening on Sunday afternoons. We get all cosy in the living room with blankets and listen to a couple of stories at a time. It is super relaxing and entertaining. They would also work as bedtime stories and listening together would be a lovely way to reconnect after a busy day. 
  • Those who used to live in Northumberland / have a connection to the region / love Northumberland or maybe take holidays here in normal times. 
  • People who are looking for a mindfulness activity and something that will give them a lift / feel thankful for the place they call home.

  • Walkers or drivers looking for something to listen to when out and about in Northumberland (follow Government guidelines and stay safe/road aware). 
  • As a gift for relatives, local older people will love listening to the regional accents and dialects and hearing local places feature. Perhaps they will bring up some memories. 

  • If you know somebody who enjoys local music, they will enjoy the tales as they feature lots of original local music, vocals and instruments. 

  • A family who are visiting Northumberland for their holidays (when restrictions allow). I bet listening along in the car journey here will really set the mood. 

  • A gift to someone who is self-isolating or working from home and needs a little pick-me-up
Although I have called them fairy tales, they are more like folk tales and are suitable for all / not just for children. 

Lost Found and Told - Review 

The full collection of Lost Found and Told lasts 1 hour 34 minutes, this is broken down into 9 short stories and songs. You can listen to the full collection in one go, but I personally prefer to dip in and out and spread them out and enjoy on those dark winter evenings where a bit of comfort is needed. Listening to familiar voices and locations really is like a much-needed warm hug at times. 

A few of the stories are interlinked and you may recognise recurring characters. 

How the Forest Came to Be (Set in Kielder)

Have you ever wondered how Kielder Forest and Reservoir was formed? You may be surprised at its origins which are shared in this tale not too dissimilar to Rumplestiltskin. We are due to visit Kielder in January (fingers crossed) and I will definitely not look at the reservoir in the same way again now. If you know Kielder or have visited, you will enjoy this tale.  

Kindness to Strangers (Set in Amble)

This tale is a Northumberland version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and shares a story of Jemeela who has had to flee her home country otherwise she will face death. Jemeela ends up in Amble - the friendliest port. I love the local miner names and regional accents, especially 'Gobby' , the way this modern version deals with issues such as asylum, how they have switched the traditional apple for some local ice cream and how there is no sight of a handsome prince to save the day. 

The Boy in the Tower (Two Parts) 

This tale follows on from 'How the Forest Came to Be' and shares what happened to the stolen child. This tale shares how something that can seem bad to some people, is actually not so bad to others and shares how there are always two sides to every story. There are also some beautiful descriptions of the Northumberland countryside in this tale which shares the message of helping strangers and a beautiful song too.

The Brag, the Wish and the Well (Set along Hadrian's Wall)

A story for those who are interested in our Roman History and some of the clashes that may have happened with Scotland and the Romans along Hadrian's Wall. There is a bit of a magical twist in this tale and it is a good one for letting the imagination going wild. Listen out for lots of local references and places along the wall you may recognise too. 

Dutch Courage (Set in a Bothy near Hepple)

This story follows on from The Boy in the Tower and features our lovely Northumberland weather (especially the wind and storms which are all too familiar at this time of year), stargazing, foraging in the Northumberland countryside and what is the secret behind Dutch courage. 

I like that the main characters are called Ford & Etal  - a nice little nod to one of our favourite spots in the region. 

The Fisherman and his Wife (Set in Berwick)

This tale opens with a wonderful description of how diverse Northumberland's landscape is and how it came to be this way. Expect folk songs and a traditional tale of a greedy fisherman from Haltwhistle (despite it being miles from the sea) who now lives in Berwick and there are some brilliant descriptions of the wild Northumberland coastline. 

This tale also opens up the discussion on the ethics of whaling (something we have talked about many times in our family). Listen out for the talking whale and seabird who your kids (and you) will love.

Listen to a free sample of the tales here

Back to the Forest (Set in Kielder)

We revisit Kielder 16 years since the flooding of the valley to find out if everyone is happy.

The tale reminds us how quiet Northumberland can be and the importance of getting out into the countryside and enjoying it. The story also shares how industrialisation and the modern world has changed even our little quiet corner of the world and reminds us of the benefits of simpler times, community and forgiveness. 

She is  

The collections ends with a beautiful uplifting song about our beautiful Northumberland , our history and all we have to offer.  I love it. 

"She is salt spray flying , she is a crumbling coastline. She is tidal times and worries on the wind. 

Borders, wars and decisions, she is hard graft for a living. At the mercy of the weather - your end and your beginnings." 

Listening to Lost Found and Told is a nice way to relax

I really enjoyed all of the stories and they are brilliant for listening to with tweens with good talking points too. We reminisced about our trips to Amble and Kielder, talked about Whaling and the pros and cons (Harry studied this fairly in depth last year and made some good points) and about asylum seekers and our thoughts on what it means to be welcoming. 

The tales really made me smile, I enjoyed the local references and accents and the stories were all pretty fun. If I had to pick a favourite, I would probably pick the ones based in Kielder as the character of the Hob is fantastic. He actually reminds me of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings but after a little research, I discovered that Hobs are actually fairly unique to the area around the Anglo-Saxon border in legend which makes him extra special I think.  

I also love the last song 'She is' and after listening to it I always feel like we are a resilient, hard-working and welcoming bunch up here which does actually give me a little moral boost too. We really are lucky to call Northumberland home. 

The stories are recommended for ages 8+ but can be enjoyed by everyone - there are two parts which may be a little frightening for very young children (when the Hob steals a baby in the first tale and when a whale is killed and the blood fills the sea in The Fisherman and his Wife' but overall, they are child-friendly (no sex, swearing or drugs) and feature lots of fun and friendly characters. 

Lost Found and Told - Where to Listen 

You can buy or gift a digital copy of Lost Found and Told : Audio Tales from Northumberland for £10 inc VAT over on the Northumberland Club website here.  You can also listen to a sample of the tales here which will give you more of an idea of what to expect. 

Once you have purchased a copy, you can access unlimited streaming on the free Bandcamp app plus enjoy a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more which should be compatible with most modern phones / computers / tablets. We have listed via the app on our phones and via the files on our iMac with no issues. Like I say, I feel like the stories have a real comforting vibe about them and I imagine we will revisit them year after year during our 'chill-day Sundays' in the winter months. 

If you are buying the tales as a gift, the link to download and access is sent via email and what I usually do with gifts like this is to write a little about the gift in a Christmas card for the recipient to open on Christmas Day and say 'email to follow' and then email later in the day or on Boxing Day. 

November Club will also shortly be releasing the stories on a special branded USB stick which you will just need to plug into your TV / computer and can be sent as a physical gift. If you are interested in purchasing the USB stick, please email info@novemberclub.org.uk and they can organise this for you. 

If you would like to read more about November Club, the work they do in the community and upcoming projects, make sure you sign up to their newsletter here (scroll to the bottom of the page). 

Let me know if you fancy listening along and if you do, which is your favourite Northumberland tale. 


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