Taking a fresh look at our local folk tales

Lea Taylor of Bonnyrigg who has written a book called "Midlothian Folk Tales" and is about to commence a promotional tour around libraries and schools in Midlothian
Lea Taylor of Bonnyrigg who has written a book called "Midlothian Folk Tales" and is about to commence a promotional tour around libraries and schools in Midlothian

A Bonnyrigg author has spoken of her joy at pulling together some of Midlothian’s most interesting tales for her new book, launched this month.

Lea Taylor’s ‘Midlothian Folk Tales’ covers the likes of Camp Meg, the Gorebridge Riot, Lasswade Jenny and many more colourful stories. A special local launch event will take place at Dalkeith Library on Saturday, February 10 at 11am.

The English-born author enjoyed finding out more about her adopted home. She said: “I interviewed people. I did some digging. I picked up the Gorebridge riot story in a chippy. It’s just having your ear to the ground.

“If I got a snippet I would go to the local studies archive to learn more.

“I’m a professional story teller by trade so I have added to some of the stories. With Camp Meg I have certainly embellished her early years. I had an absolute blast writing it. And the illustrator, Sylvia Troon, is second to none. Really good. I have worked with her for years.

“She has worked with all kinds of groups. She has got a fantastic way about her and is also an incredible artist.

“I hope everyone gets to read it and enjoy it. And learn something about their area.

“It’s got a story about a man who sold his wife at market in Edinburgh. Who knew!? It’s fantastic telling these little-known stories.

“It’s an interesting way to go about it. A lass from Gloustershire has to come up tell you guys your own local tales. I have lived in Scotland longer than I lived in England so I’m dyed in the wool Scots. I’m proud of my adopted heritage.”

Lea has been delighted with the reaction in local schools. She said: “It’s a great little book because it fits with the schools’ Curriculum for Excellence, under local studies and social history.

“I went into schools with the book before it was published and the kids loved it. They went up to see where Camp Meg’s cottage would have been. The kids learnt a lot from it.”

The author is now looking forward to the launch event in Dalkeith next week: “It will be great, lots of fun. It’s a good way to engage children and stir up their imagination. It shows what they can do.

“It’s open to everyone. It should be a good event. I’m looking forward to it. I’m just going to have fun with it.”

Lea is also involved in ‘The Purple, White and Green - The Story of the Scottish Suffragettes’ which is being held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on February 6, 7.30pm. Tickets are available from the booking office.

Specifically written to mark the centenary of women’s right to vote, this powerful piece of storytelling is both timely and compelling. Focussing on the Scottish Suffragette movement, storytellers Nicola Wright and Lea Taylor passionately present this important piece of social history. A mix of historical facts and prose presented with verve and vigour, where deeds and words come together.