Woolly Snotts : The Curious Case of the Wollaton Gnomes by Kate Ray

Pictured with the book is a ghost, crafted by Kate Ray that I adopted and brought home after meeting her during a recent trip over

There are two things I tend to keep quiet about when it comes to not only social media, but in life in general.
One is personal stuff. I’ve never felt the need to tell the world about the underlying stuff in my life. The personal things. Family, relationships, health and work issues, etc.
The other is my fondness for the idea of fairies, trolls, and the elusive and folkloric little people that dwell deep within the earth’s crust or populate the densest of un-trekked forestland.
Here in New Zealand, the mystical Patupaiarehe are said to inhabit the forests and mountains and usually only venture out at night. They are said to be fair-skinned, sensitive to sunlight with reddish or light-colored hair, with eyes either blue or black.
Over in my favorite part of the globe, in the UK, a fascinating story emerged. I read about it as a kid in one of those classic ”Unexplained Mysteries” type books and it intrigued and resonated with me.

It was 1979, in a beautifully landscaped Nottingham reserve called Wollaton Park. A group of kids snuck into the parkland one evening and encountered a group of what they described as gnomes. It was certainly no cute and fluffy experience like the fairy tales typically depict. This one was far from welcoming and far from fun for the children. I won’t repeat the full story here as it’s a long one, but I do recommend googling ‘Wollaton gnomes’. It’s an intriguing eye-opener for sure.
The author, Kate Ray does a beautiful job of setting the scene and drawing the reader in. The story is told from the gnome’s own perspective and not that of the children. So it’s largely a work of fiction, based on a true-life encounter, but done in an almost believable and natural manner. It could almost be autobiographical, on the part of the gnomes. It’s a wonderful insight into the possible and plausible mannerisms, lifestyles, social structure, thoughts, feelings, and emotional spectrum of a race of age-old beings, often misunderstood due to a lack of knowledge or experience.
This is their version of what happened on that evening back in 1979.
In my opinion, Kate Ray is, in some aspects, like another ”little people” expert who made waves on social media with the ingenious video journaling of his interactions with forest-dwelling pixies, Erwin Saunders; also based in the UK. (find his YouTube channel, it’s beautifully crafted and highly recommended)
Her extensive and dedicated fairy/gnome research work is wonderful, honest, and a joy to immerse into. Sometimes it’s nice to just escape the rigidity of reality, take a deep breath, and ponder a while on the ”what ifs” that lurk within our questioning, child-like imaginations.
A brilliant book that I read over a weekend, as I didn’t want to put it down. It’s certainly made me think a little differently now when out trekking forests and bushland!

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