Dolphins, dogs and the Place Where Peter Pan Began

Falon Oliphant is nine and already writing her first book - it's all about the lovely dogs she has met. Recently she had a wonderful experience swimming with dolphins in Turkey. Falon is a member of the JMB Creatives at Moat Brae house and garden in Dumfries. That's the place where JM Barrie played the games that inspired Peter Pan. And now the group named in his honour is setting out to inspire a new generation of young imaginations.

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I'm Falon, I'm nine and since I was really young I have been interested in reading and writing stories. In fact my Mum tells a really cringy story about how when I was 2 and a half I told my nursery teacher: "The trouble is I can't read or write." 

My Mum has kept a little book I made back then with the help of my nursery teacher after I had enjoyed visiting a farm and petting zoo, I had told my teacher what I wanted it to say on each page, to illustrate it I had then drawn pictures of the animals and glued in objects such as the brightly coloured wrist band you were given to wear at the farm admission desk. 

So yeah, I guess I've always loved writing and books! It is a big thing in my life. I'm a member of Moat Brae JMB Creatives, Moat Brae is Scotland's National Centre for Children's Literature and Storytelling. I think it is absolutely brilliant how huge and majestic and inspiring the Peter Pan house is, I love it. I have so many creative thoughts in the Garden Room where we meet. I really do love it and it puts me in that creative mood. 

I like imagining the young J M Barrie who wrote Peter Pan there and I like reading his sayings like: "When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about and that was the beginning of fairies." 

I have been on the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland Paris, it is just so magical once your carriage takes off, just so believable flying across the dark twinkling starry sky to Neverland. 

Last year I won my age group category in the Moat Brae Writing Competition, it was such a big surprise, I screamed and did a handstand in the living room when I found out! It was really really exciting. In my story about time travel and the future I made it rain chocolate! I also wrote about unicorns and the rainbow watch my friend had given me for my birthday because I think everything can inspire us. It was awesome to see my story published in D&G Life Magazine and to read it out live on the radio, although I did have lots and lots of butterflies in my tummy. 

Alongside writing stories I love animals so it's no surprise that I am writing a book of short stories featuring all the dogs I know - there's Betsy my Aunt's well behaved Shihtzu, handsome Brucie the super fast whippet, Lola my cousin's naughty Bichon Frise and guess what? They can all speak and all have their own special magic powers. I add new dogs I meet such as Bailey, the beautiful beach dog I befriended on holiday in Turkey last month. 

Speaking of Turkey, it's time for me to talk about something amazing that happened to me there... I swam with dolphins! It was AMAZING! I have always loved dolphins. I wore a black and purple wetsuit and the dolphin I swam with was called Elvis, he was adorable and didn't feel smooth, he felt really tough like reinforced leather. Swimming with him was very very fast and bumpy, up and down we went like cantering on a pony. It is important to make eye contact and little noises when swimming with dolphins but not to touch their heads. 

I fed him slippery silver fish and we took photos together. My tremendous time swimming with Elvis has inspired me to next write a book about a dolphin and an underwater world where mermaids live. I can't wait to start it and am really looking forward to more JMB Creatives meetings, travelling more and meeting more enchanting animals to feature in my tales. I hope you might read them one day.

Matthew Shelley

Moat Brae PR, Scottish Festivals PR

Matthew is a journalist and freelance PR who works with the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust and a number of other arts and cultural organisations across Scotland.