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.

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