Monday, September 19, 2011

Charlie goes to Clumber Park

Charlie was very excited. It was the first time he had visited England. Charlie usually lived in the forests of Uganda but Granny had brought him to see Miho during his summer holidays. And Miho and her Daddy had brought him to see Great Granny Margaret in Yorkshire.

'What are we going to do today?' Charlie asked Miho, when he got up.

'I think we're going to run around chasing each other,' said Miho. 'I like running around.'

'Oh yes, so do I! Shall we swing through the trees?' asked Charlie.

'That would be great fun,' said Miho. 'I don't know how to swing through trees, but you could show me, couldn't you? But I can't see any trees at Great Granny Margaret's house, at least not big enough to swing through.'

'What are we going to do then?' said Charlie. 'Chimpanzees need trees for swinging.'

'There's a swing in Great Granny's garden' said Miho. 'Will that do?'

'Afraid not,' said Charlie. 'I need lots and lots of trees, not just one small swing. Oh dear.' And Charlie looked quite miserable.

'I know,' said Granny. 'Let's go somewhere where there are lots and lots of trees.'

'I wonder where that could be,' said Daddy.

'I've got a good idea,' said Great Granny Margaret. 'Why don't we go to Clumber Park? There are lots of trees there.'

'A good idea!'

So they all got into the car: Granny and Daddy and Great Granny Margaret and Miho and Charlie. What a lot of people!

Soon they arrived at Clumber Park. Granny parked the car and they all got out.

'I think we need to run around and let off some energy first,' said Daddy. 'Let's play ball.'

'I'm not so sure about this,' said Charlie.

'Don't worry. I'll help you,' said Daddy.

'Well caught, Miho!' shouted Granny.

'Time for a little walk before lunch,' said Great Granny Margaret. 'Come along Miho. Let's go and feed the ducks.'

'But I've got to clean the path first,' said Miho.

'I think the ducks are getting quite hungry,' said Great Granny Margaret.

So off they went to feed the ducks. Great Granny Margaret had given Miho some left over bread before they left the house. No sooner did Miho stand at the edge of the lake than all the ducks came swimming towards her. They were very greedy.

'Feed me first! Feed me first!' they quacked.

'Humph, greedy ducks,' muttered Charlie. 'Be careful!' he shouted . 'Don't feed me to the ducks by mistake.'

Miho looked down. There at her feet was Charlie.

'Oh dear,' I didn't mean to drop you,' she said. 'You nearly fell in the lake! I hope you can swim, Charlie.'

'Chimpanzees don't like swimming,' said Charlie. 'Chimpanzees like swinging through the trees.'

'I think it's time for lunch,' said Daddy.

'Yummy, a sandwich and a pear,' said Charlie. 'I can help you if you like, Miho.'

'I'd rather have a banana sandwich but cheese will do,' said Charlie.

'Oh look,' said Miho. ''Charlie fits inside my lunch box!'

'I'd rather be swinging through the trees,' said Charlie.

'I know,' said Miho. 'I'll give you a ride on the horse and cart. Gee up! Gee up!'

Granny looked a little nervous.

'I think I'd better take over the driving,' said Charlie.

'I quite like driving the cart,' said Charlie. 'But I like swinging through the trees better.'

'Let's go off to the big lake and see what we can see,' said Daddy. 'Perhaps there'll be some big trees for swinging there.'

So they all went down to the big lake at Clumber Park. And guess what they saw there?

Lots and lots of big birds.

'What are they?' asked Miho.

'They're geese,' said Granny. 'They've flown thousands of miles across the sea to spend their summer holidays here in England, just like Charlie, but they used their own wings whereas Charlie came in an aeroplane.'

'They'e chasing me,' said Miho. And so they were. Everywhere that Miho went, the geese were sure to go - here, there and everywhere.

'You can't catch me!' called Miho. But the geese tried as hard as they could to catch her.

'Humph, I'm not too sure about those geese,' said Charlie.

'Don't worry, said Miho.' I'll introduce you. Come along, Charlie.

'If you must, said Charlie.

'Be careful you don't drop me again,' said Charlie. 'I don't want to end up in the lake.'

'Whoops, it happened again,' said Charlie.  'I think trees are better than water. Can we find some trees to swing in?'

'I'm sure we can,' said Granny. 'Let's go for a walk and see what we can see.' So Miho put Charlie back in the lunch box.

'I think there are better ways to travel,' thought Charlie.

Soon they came to lots of trees.

'It's a forest!' exclaimed Charlie.  'Just like Uganda, though perhaps a little colder.'

'Please let me out of the lunch box, Miho,' called Charlie. 'I'm getting dizzy.'

'All right,' said Miho. 'You can climb the tree with me. Do you know how to climb trees? I can help you.'

'Miho, I'm a chimpanzee, said Charlie. 'What do you think? I think it should be me who's helping you!'

'Let's climb along the branches, Charlie, Like chimpanzees,' said Miho.

'Look at me balancing,' said Miho. 'Can you do this, Charlie?'

'I am particularly good at balancing, Miho,' said Charlie, 'Not to say swinging. I'm a chimpanzee. Of course I can do it.'

'I can dance and I can run,' said Miho. 'Can you do this, Charlie?'

'But I can swing,' said Charlie. 'Look at me Miho!'

So Miho ran around and Charlie swung on the branches. Great Granny Margaret, Granny and Daddy got quite dizzy.

'Where do you get all the energy?' asked Granny.

Soon it was time to go home.  Great Granny Margaret was tired, Granny was tired and Daddy was tired. And do you know, I think even Charlie and Miho were tired.

'I think it's time for an ice cream before we go home,' said Great Granny Margaret.

Miho and Charlie shared an ice cream and it was very very good.

'Time to go home,' said Granny. 'I think we've had a really good day at Clumber Park, don't you?'

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When Charlie went down to the woods today...

When Charlie went down to the woods today, he was sure of a great surprise.

'Time to get up, Charlie,' said Granny. 'We'll have to get a move on.'

'Why?' said Charlie.

'Because we're going on an expedition,' said Granny.

'What's an expedition?' asked Charlie.

'An expedition is an adventure with lots of surprises.'

'Great!' shouted Charlie. 'I love surprises! Where are we going for our surprises?'

'We're going to the woods,' said Granny. 'And who knows what we'll find there.'

Charlie washed his face and brushed his teeth as quickly as possible.

'I'm ready, Granny!' he called.

'Off we go then,' said Granny.  So off they went.

Charlie and Granny stood at the top of the valley. It was a long way down into the woods. 

Granny asked a ranger to come with them in case they got lost.  The ranger's name was Jenny. Jenny knew all about the woods and all the animals who lived in them.

Right at the bottom of the valley was a shoogly bridge over the river.  Granny wasn't all that keen.

'Come on Granny,' said Charlie. With a hop, skip and a jump Charlie soon reached the other side.  Granny took a bit longer.

Granny taking a long time to get across the bridge.

'Where are the surprises?' asked Charlie.

'The surprises are all around us,' said Jenny.  We've just got to look very very carefully.'

'I'm looking carefully,' said Charlie.

'Oh look,' said Jenny. 'Here's a surprise.'

'What's that?' asked Charlie. 

'Those are toadstools,' said Jenny.

'Can chimpanzees eat toadstools?' asked Charlie.

'I'm afraid not,' said Jenny. 'They would give you tummy ache.'

'Look, I've found some toadstools too,' said Granny. 'Brown ones, hidden right under the leaves.'

'Are there any more surprises?' asked Charlie.

'You'll have to keep a look out,' said Jenny. 'Surprises are secrets, and we have to look very carefully.'

'I've found a surprise!' shouted Charlie.

'Oh yes, so you have,' said Jenny. 'Some tiny little red berries.'

'Charlie,look over here,' called Jenny.  'Look what I've found - some lovely yellow berries.'

'And I've found some more red ones,' said Charlie.  'We've found lots of surprises today, haven't we?'

'Have you found any more surprises yet, Granny?' asked Charlie.

'Yes, look what I've found,' said Granny.

'What's that?' shouted Charlie. 'It looks like a huge curly green snake.'

'It's not a snake, Charlie,' explained Granny. 'It's a liana. It's plant which wraps itself round a branch.'

'Oh look, I've found one too,' said Charlie. 'I can swing on it.  Watch me!'

'Mind you don't fall off!' called Granny.

'Come over here,' said Jenny. 'Look what I've found, a tiny little white flower.'

'Here's another surprise,' said Charlie.

'It's a big black caterpillar,' said Granny.

'Can you guess what my surprise is?' said Jenny.

'I can't see anything special,' said Charlie. ''Just some leaves.'

Jenny laughed, 'It's a butterfly, Charlie, but it looks just like a leaf, doesn't it?'

Just then, they heard some loud banging and hooting.

'What's that noise, Jenny?' asked Charlie, feeling a bit frightened.

'Those are your friends, the chimpanzees,' said Jenny. 'Let's see if they'll come down from the trees and talk to us. I think they're right up there.'

'How can we get them to come down?'

'We'll give them a present,' said Jenny. 'See what I've just found. I think your chimpanzee friends will like these.  They're palm nuts.'

'I love palm nuts too,' said Charlie. 'But how will we let them know we're here?'

'We're going to bang on these big tree roots like the chimps do.  They're called 'buttresses'.  Banging on the buttresses is how the chimpanzees speak to each other. Look.'

'Can I do the banging?' asked Charlie.

'Of course you can,' said Granny.  'I'll lift you up.'

'Now start banging, Charlie,' said Granny.

So Charlie banged the buttress as hard as he could.

'Oh look,' cried Jenny.  'I can see the chimpanzees at the top of the trees!'

And there they were.

'Hello!' called Charlie.  'My name is Charlie. What are your names?'

'My name is Hector,' said the biggest chimp. 'This is my troop of chimpanzees. We live here in the forest.  Who are you and what are you doing here?

'I'm a chimpanzee too', said Charlie.  'And I live with Granny in Kampala.  We're on our holidays.'

Hector started coming down the tree and all the other chimps followed him.

One after another they climbed down the trees.

'Hello Charlie, they said. 'What a surprise! We weren't expecting any visitors today.'

'We're on our way to a picnic.'

'A picnic?' said Charlie.  'I love picnics.'

'Why don't you come with us, then?' said Hector. 'But you'll have to help collect some fruit first to take with us.'

'I can do that,' said Charlie. 'Look the fruit is all around us.' And so it was and Charlie, Granny and Jenny quickly helped the chimpanzees to pick up as much as they could carry.

'Right, I'll lead the way,' said Hector.

So Hector led the way through the forest.  The trees were thick and it was difficult to find the path.

The roots of some of the trees were so big that Granny had to walk under them.  Charlie just climbed on top!

And then they peered through the trees and guess what they saw!

It was a teddy bears' picnic! There were little cakes and marshmallows and chocolate crispies. All the children and the teddy bears were tucking in already.

'We're just in time,' said Hector.

Charlie and the chimps sat round the edge of the mat.  They were much too big to sit  on the mat with the children and the teddies. They tucked into their fruit and had a wonderful time at the Teddy Bears' picnic.

'That was a great surprise, wasn't it Granny?' said Charlie. 'It was a real adventure.'

If you go down to the woods tonight
You're sure of a great surprise
If you go down to the woods tonight
You'd better go in disguise
For every bear that ever there was
Is gathered there for certain because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.