Saturday, January 17, 2015

Charlie goes on a sausage hunt

'It's a great life,' said Charlie, stretching out on the couch.

'This is the life for me,'

'I don't think so,' said Granny. 'You can't spend all day sitting around.'

'Yes I can,' said Charlie.

'I think not,' said Granny firmly, taking Charlie by the hand. 'Why don't you go for a swim?'

'Chimpanzees don't swim,' said Charlie, equally firmly. 'I think I'll do some sunbathing instead. I'll just stretch out in this bush.'

'No, you need some exercise. We'll go for a nice healthy walk instead,' said Granny. 'Come on Charlie. There's a big rock over there. We can climb to the top and look out over the savannah. We might see some animals.'

'Oh, all right,' said Charlie.

Charlie climbed the rock. It wasn't as good fun as climbing trees, but it would have to do. You can't really swing on a great lump of rock.

'You're making heavy weather of that little slope!' came a little voice out of the middle of nowhere.

Charlie looked all around him. and then he suddenly caught sight of the strangest creature.

'It's a baby dragon!' cried Charlie.

'Well, I suppose it is a sort of dragon,' said Granny. 

'I'm not sure what a dragon is,' said the strange creature.'I'm actually a gecko. My name is Gordon. What's yours?'

'I'm Charlie. I'm going for a healthy walk but it hasn't been a very interesting walk so far.'

'Geckos are useful,' said Granny, who never missed an opportunity to keep Charlie well informed. 'They eat flies and mosquitos.'

'I don't know about useful,' said Gordon.' I just happen to like flies and mosquitos. In fact, I'm feeling pretty hungry. Would you like to come and eat some insects?'

'I don't think so,' said Charlie. 'I'd rather have mangoes. Do you have any mangoes on this rock?'

'Sorry,' said Gordon. 'Not seen any, but I'll keep looking. See you later.'

And with those words, Gordon darted away.

Granny and Charlie carried on. It was getting hot and Charlie was beginning to feel hungry.

Suddenly Charlie caught sight of some strange white objects. He rushed over.

'What are they, Granny?'

'I have no idea, Charlie.'

'They're sausages,' came a little voice. It was Gordon again, 

'Sausages?' asked Charlie. 'Are you sure?' 

He moved closer and sniffed. He rolled one of them around the rock.

'Of course I am,' said Gordon. 'I live here, remember. They're sausages and they grow on a sausage tree.'

'They don't seem very tasty,' said Charlie. 'They're dry and hard.'

Charlie took a bite of sausage and quickly spat it out.

'Perhaps they taste nicer if you pick them from the tree and eat them fresh,' said Gordon.

'Don't be silly,' said Granny. 'There's no such thing as a sausage tree.'

'I beg your pardon, Madam,' said Gordon, snorting. 'And what would you know about it? You don't even live here. Just you follow me.'

Gordon led the way down the rock and past the banda. They went out of the lodge and down the path. The grass grew high on each side of them.

'Are you sure this is all right?' said Granny uncertainly. 'It doesn't look very safe.'

'Nonsense,' said Gordon. 'Anyway, we're almost there.
Look, behind those zebra.'

'What are you pointing at?' said Charlie.

'It's the sausage tree,' said Gordon. 'Let's go a bit closer.'

And there indeed was a tree, with sausages hanging from every branch.

'Wow!' said Charlie. 'Yum, yum. I'm going to pick as many sausages as I can.'

'Be careful!' called Granny. Too late. Charlie was already bounding across the savannah.

It was hard going. The grass whipped at his legs, but Charlie could think of nothing but sausages.

He was getting closer.

He was nearly there.

'Watch out!' shouted Gordon. 'There's a....'

'There's a what?' laughed Charlie. 'I can't see anything. I've got grass in my eyes.'

'There's a leopard!' screamed Gordon. 'There's a leopard in the tree. Come back, Charlie!'

But it was too late. The leopard turned round and fixed his eyes on Charlie.

'What have we here?' he drawled. 'What's your name, little animal? What are you doing under my tree?'

'I'm, I'm, I'm Charlie.' 

'And what are you, exactly? Are you an antelope? I love antelope. They're delicious.'

'Nnnnno,' stammered Charlie. 

'Are you a zebra, then? You don't seem to have many stripes. I like zebra, to eat that is.'

'No! I'm not a zebra. I'm a ch, ch, ch....'

'A cha? What's a cha? You look quite juicy and tender, like a warthog.'

'No, I'm not juicy at all,' protested Charlie. 'I'm very tough. You wouldn't want to eat me.'

'Oh, but I think I would,' said the leopard. 'In normal circumstances, that is. The thing is, I've just had a big meal this morning and I'm feeling a bit full. Perhaps you could just sit down under that branch and wait. I'll get round to you soon, when I'm feeling a bit hungrier.'

'Oh no you won't!' yelled Charlie. 'I'm going back to my Granny.' 

And with that he turned on his heels and ran as fast as he could across the grass. He flung his arms around Granny.

'Come on Charlie,' said Granny. 'We're going straight back to the lodge. Say goodbye to Gordon.'

But Gordon had gone.

'Sausage tree indeed,' snorted Granny. 

Charlie kept quiet. That was the last time he'd go hunting for sausages. Mangoes would just have to do.

By the time that Granny and Charlie had got back to the lodge Abba had already started his lunch.

'Where have you been, Charlie?' said Abba. 

'Just here and there,' said Granny, looking sternly at Charlie.

'I'm starving,' said Charlie. 'What's for lunch, Abba?'

'Sausages,' said Abba. 'Would you like some?'

'Oh yes,' said Charlie. 'They look much nicer than the ones that grow on trees.'

'Grow on trees? What nonsense, Charlie,' said Abba. 'Tuck in.'

And Charlie did just that.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Charlie arrives at Kidepo

'Where are we?' asked Charlie, clambering on top of the aeroplane. 'I thought we were going to Apoka Lodge, but all I can see is grass!'

Charlie was right.There was nothing but grass for miles around.

Grass, trees.... and one of the biggest mountains Charlie had ever seen.

Charlie, Granny and Abba had just arrived by plane at the little airport at Kidepo in Uganda. The airport was in the middle of the grassland, hundreds of miles from the nearest town. 

'Get down this minute, Charlie!' shouted Abba. 'Come and jump in the car. We're setting off for Apoka right now.'

'Wow!' exclaimed Charlie. 'What a wonderful car!'

The car was like a bus with no sides!

'Oh great!' said Charlie. 'Can I drive?'

'Certainly not,' said Abba. 'Hop in the back with Granny and me.'

'Do I have to?' said Charlie.

'Yes,' said Abba firmly, picking Charlie up and climbing into the back seat.

'Why are there no sides on this car, Granny?' asked Charlie, as they bumped along the muddy track.

'Because we want to see all the wonderful animals,' said Granny. 'And anyway, it's far too hot.'

'Animals?' exclaimed Charlie. 'Cool! Where are they?'

'Look carefully,' said Granny, 'and you'll see animals all around you.'

'I can't see any animals!' said Charlie.

'That's because you're looking in the wrong direction, Charlie,' said Granny. 'Look behind you!'

Charlie turned round and there was one of the fiercest animals he had ever seen.

'Ahhh!!!' shouted Charlie. 'What's that?'

'It's a buffalo,' said Abba.

'Why's he got frilly ears?' asked Charlie.

'Because he's been in lots of fights with other animals.'

'He looks very angry,' said Charlie. 

'He is angry,' said Abba. 'I think we'd better get a move on.'

'I wish there were sides on this car,' whimpered Charlie. 'Let's get going.'

A few yards down the track, Charlie pointed to a brown animal, busily munching his way through the grass. 

'What's that?'

The strange animal came closer, so close that soon he was standing on the track right in front of the car.

'I think he's as interested in us as we are in him!' laughed Granny.

'He looks fierce as well,' said Charlie. 'What is it?'

'It's a warthog,' said Granny. 'A kind of wild pig. Can you see his curved tusks?'

'Yes,' said Charlie, unsurely. 'I don't think I like them very much. Are there any animals in Kidepo which aren't fierce?'

'Of course, laughed Granny. 'Just look over there. Can you see the antelope?'

'I can't see anything,' grumbled Charlie.

'That's because they're hiding in the grass,' said Granny.

'What are they hiding from?' said Charlie with a shiver.

'Lions,' said Granny.

'Lions! Oh no!' 

'Don't worry, Charlie, there aren't lions just here. Anyway, I'm sure lions don't eat chimpanzees.'

'I wouldn't be so sure,' said Abba under his breath.

Charlie soon forget about lions, however, for there, just in front of them were some antelopes, dark brown waterbuck.

Some of them were playing at fighting.

And over the other side of the track there were some magnificent antelopes, just behind a spiky thornbush.

'They're some of my favourites,' said Granny. 'They're called Jackson's haartbeest. But look! Here we are at Apoka Lodge.'

And indeed, while they had been looking at the haartbeest, the car had pulled up outside the lodge.

'Are we staying here?' asked Charlie, finding it difficult to believe his eyes. There was a thatched banda (cottage) surrounded by grassland full of different kinds of animals with their heads down grazing away.

'Yes, we are,' said Abba. 'And this is the bedroom where you're going to sleep.'

'Why are there big white curtains on the bed?' asked Charlie.

'They're mosquito nets so we don't get bitten and catch malaria. And look, here's the balcony. We can look right out over the grassland.'

'Can lions get in?' asked Charlie. 

'Don't worry, they won't come too close, but look at all the other animals.'

And everywhere Charlie looked he could see animals. There were lots of zebra.

Some of the zebra were standing in the shade underneath the diningroom!

There were Abyssinian hornbill...

...brightly coloured starlings...

...more antelopes...

...and even a Patas monkey. Charlie could see them all just by standing outside the banda.

'I think that's a distant cousin of mine,' sniffed Charlie. 'but quite distant. Chimpanzees like me live in tropical forests, not grassland. Still, I might make friends with him later on.'

Charlie yawned.

'It's been a busy day,' said Granny. 'Time that you were in bed. We'll see lots more animals tomorrow.'

'All right,' said Charlie. 'Make sure the lions don't get in.'

'I will,' said Granny. 'Look, I've locked the door.  Goodnight Charlie.'

'Goodnight, Granny and Abba.'

And with that, Charlie fell fast asleep.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Charlie takes to the air

'Hurray! I'm going on my holidays,' said Charlie. 'Look, I've packed my rucksack.'

'What have you got in that big bag?' asked Abba.

'I've got my pyjamas and my toothpaste and my favourite book to read at night.'

'Well, it certainly looks as if you've got everything,' said Abba. 'Let's go downstairs and put the luggage in the car.'

'But I thought we were going by plane,' said Charlie.

'We are,' said Abba, 'but we have to drive to the airport first.'

'Wow, that's a posh car!' said Charlie.

Robert the driver loaded the rucksack into the car. 'Not you, Charlie,' he said. 'You have to sit on the car seat.'

'Oh all right,' said Charlie, 'But don't leave my bag behind.'

'I won't,' said Daniel. 'I'll make sure it goes to Kidepo with you.'

They all got into the car: Granny, Abba, Granny's friend Sue and Abba's friend Tommy - and Charlie himself, off course!

Soon they arrived at the airport.

First they left their bags at the passenger terminal and then they walked down to the airstrip itself.

'Here we are, Charlie' said Abba. 'Time for a wander around before we leave. Let's see if we can find our aeroplane. I wonder if it's still in the hangar.'

'What's a hanger?' said Charlie.

'It's a big shed where they keep the aeroplanes when they're not being used,' said Abba.

'Oh look,' said Charlie. 'Is that our aeroplane?'

'I don't think so,' said Abba. 'It's a helicopter that needs to be mended. It's got no blades to go round and round and keep it up in the air.'

'What about this one?' said Charlie.

'No, that's too big,' said Abba.

'Too big!' exclaimed Charlie. 'It looks pretty small to me. What about this one?'

'No, that one's too small,' said Abba. 'Oh look, there's a plane taking off.'

'Oh no!' said Charlie. 'I hope it's not ours.'

'No, this is ours,' said Abba. 'Look they're putting our luggage in.'

'I hope they've got my rucksack,' said Charlie. 'I'd better go and see.'

'No need for that, Charlie,' said Abba. But it was too late, Charlie was already half way across the tarmac.

'Oh good,' said Charlie. 'That's my rucksack on the top. I'll just settle myself down here so I can keep an eye on it.'

'You can't travel in the luggage compartment, Charlie,' said the man in charge. 'Anyway, you've got to go back to the office and get weighed first.'

'Get weighed?' said Charlie. 'Why do I need to get weighed?'

'Because it's only a little plane,' said Abba, 'and the pilot's got to make sure that the passengers are not too heavy.'

'Oh, all right then,' said Charlie.

First Abba was weighed, and he was okay, as he'd stopped eating chocolate biscuits which used to make him fat.

Then Granny got weighed. She was just okay, but needed to do more exercise. Still, the pilot said they'd let her on the plane.

And last of all, Charlie got weighed, and he was just right.

'Is it time to go now?' asked Charlie.

'Yes, we're right on time,' came a voice behind Charlie's shoulder.

'Who are you?' asked Charlie.

'I'm the pilot. My name is Daniel.'

'Pleased to meet you, Daniel,' said Charlie. 'I'm called Charlie.'

'Time to climb aboard,' said Daniel.

'No, not there Charlie, you'll fall off when we get started. You're going inside the plane,' said Daniel.

So they all got into the plane, Granny, Abba, Granny's friend Sue and Abba's friend Tommy.

First Granny and Charlie climbed through the door.

'I think I'll sit in the front next to the pilot,' said Charlie, 'so I can help him. I can turn all the dials and click all the switches.'

'That might not be a good idea,' said Daniel. 'Why don't you sit in the back? You'll have a lovely view from there.' So Granny and Charlie got in the back.

'Look there's plenty of space, Charlie,' said Granny. 'You can have your own seat.'

Then Abba and Granny's friend Sue sat in the middle seats.

And last of all, in got Daniel and Abba's friend Tommy.

Daniel put his headphone on so that he could talk to the air traffic controller. He turned on the engine and switched some switches. The dials lit up and soon they were up in the air.

At first, Charlie wasn't too sure of things. It was a bit bumpy. Charlie snuggled down on Granny's friend Sue's cardigan.

However, after a bit, it didn't feel so bad. 

'Why don't you look out of the window?' asked Granny. 'You can see Lake Victoria.'

So Charlie turned round and looked out of the window.

He could see lots of things. He could see fluffy white clouds.

He could see rivers.

And trees.

Soon Charlie began to see mountains, lots of mountains.

And then, right in the middle of the mountains was a little airport. Charlie had reached Kidepo.

They all got out of the plane, Granny, Abba, Granny's friend Sue and Abba's friend Tommy.

They looked around them. 

 There was grass everywhere they looked.

Then Charlie saw something in the distance.

'What's that?' he said.

'It's the car that's going to take us to Apoka Lodge,' said Abba.

'Wow! It's fantastic. I've never seen a car like that before. It's almost as good as the aeroplane.' said Charlie.

He turned round and waved goodbye to Daniel the pilot.

'Thank you for a wonderful trip,' said Charlie. 'Now it's time to see all the animals.' 

However, if you want to read about all the animals Charlie saw at Kidepo, you'll have to read the next story!