Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Charlie finds a bit of Africa in a bit of England

'What do you want to do today, Charlie?' asked Uncle Tim.

'I don't know,' said Charlie miserably. 'I wish I was back in Africa. Africa is full of colours and music, and it's lovely and warm.'

'Well, why don't we find a bit of Africa in England, then?' said Uncle Tim.

'Africa isn't in England, silly,' said Miho.

'Miho, don't be rude,' said Daddy.

'Well, it isn't,' said Miho.

'No, Africa's not in England, but some bits of Africa are. Are you ready to find out?' said Uncle Tim.

'Yes!' said Charlie and Miho together.

'Right, off we go!'

Soon Miho, Charlie, Daddy, Granny and Uncle Tim arrived at the Horniman Museum. There at the door of one of the rooms was a very large.....



...lion.

'Hey!' said Charlie. ''I'm not too sure about this. That lion's got his mouth wide open and he has enormous teeth. I'd really rather look at him from a distance! This is worse than Africa.'

'Scaredy cat,' said Miho. 'All right then, let's see some of the other things then.'

They saw a brightly coloured object in the middle of the room.


'What's that, Charlie?' asked Miho.

'I'm not sure but I think it's very special,' said Charlie. 'I can see elephants and people.'

'And I can see birds and hands,' said Miho.

They walked on round the corner.

'Oh look,' said Charlie. 'There's a model of an African chief and his wife. They've got special clothes on. They must be going to a party.'


'The chief's got lions on his clothes,' said Miho. 'I wonder why.'

'Because the lion's the king of the jungle,' said Charlie, 'and the chief's the king of the village. That shows he's important.'

What else is the chief holding to show he is important?

The next thing Charlie and Miho saw was a cabinet with lots of strange objects in it.


'What are those, Charlie?' asked Miho. 

'Those are special hats which African chiefs wear to show they're important.'

One hat was spiky, one looked as if it was made of lots of hats sitting on top of each other and another hat had bobbles stuck on it. Which hat do you think is the smartest?

Miho and Charlie went on to the next cabinet.



'Look Charlie,' said Miho. 'There are some African dollies.'

'Yes, said Charlie. 'They're Tswana dolls. They've got little hats and necklaces made of beads.'

'I like all these African things,' said Miho.


The last thing they saw was a display of lots of very special dolls and pictures from Haiti, an island in the middle of the sea where lots of African people were taken to live. The display was of mermaids.

'I don't think I would like to have a fish's tail instead of legs, Charlie.' said Miho. 'Would you?'

'I don't think a fish's tail would be much use for swinging through the trees, do you?' answered Charlie.

'No I don't,' said Miho.

Charlie and Miho left all the African things behind and went into the next room. It was full of musical instruments.  Charlie and Miho had a go on every single instrument.  First there was a set of pipes. Miho hit them with a rubber sandal to make a noise.


Then Miho hit the pipes with a stick and made a completely different sound.  Charlie thought she was very clever.


Then Charlie caught sight of a glockenspiel. This one came from Africa. Charlie really wanted to play it but the stick was too big for his hands.


'Charlie, I think you'd better sit down here,' said Miho. 'You can watch how Daddy and I play it.'



'Hmph,' said Charlie. 'You could at least make sure I'm facing in the right direction! How do you expect me to see from here?'




Daddy and Miho played the glockenspiel together. It made a lovely soft sound.  Then Miho played a drum called a bodhran. This kind of drum comes from Scotland and Ireland.


'I fancy having a go on the harp,' said Charlie. 'Let's play it together.'


The harp made a lovely rippling sound.


Then Miho found a little brass ball with a stick to hit it with. It made a little tinkling sound. 

The last thing Miho found was a big yellow bowl with strings to pluck inside. Plink, plonk it went.


And that was the end of Miho and Charlie's visit to the Horniman Museum.

'Well, Charlie,' said Uncle Tim. 'We've seen lots of African things, lots of colourful things and have played a lot of music. I'm afraid I couldn't make it warm, though. For that you'll have to go back to Africa!'



Monday, November 28, 2011

Charlie visits the Tower of London

One weekend, Daddy and Miho went to London on the overnight bus to visit Granny and Charlie. They were all going to stay with Uncle Tim and Aunty Ruth.


When they woke up on Saturday, Granny asked Miho and Charlie what they would like to do.


'I'd like to see a castle and a prince and princess,' said Miho.


'In that case,' said Granny, 'I think we should visit the Tower of London.'


'Yippee!' said Charlie.


When they arrived at the Tower there waiting at the gate was a very smartly dressed man.




'Who are you?' asked Miho.


'I'm a Yeoman of the Guard,' said the man. 'I make sure no one steals the Queen's jewels and I look after the ravens.'




'I would quite like a uniform like that,' said Charlie. 'particularly the hat. Are many of the Guards chimpanzees?'


'I'm afraid not,' said the Yeoman. 'but I'll suggest it to the Queen. However, if you look round the corner you might see some chimpanzees.'


Charlie and Miho ran round the corner.


'They're not chimpanzees,' said Charlie scornfully. 'They are baboons. They're not half as good looking as chimpanzees.'






'They don't look half as friendly either,' said Miho.






'Look,' said Daddy. 'There's another African animal here.'


And so there was. It was an elephant.




'These animals are all very well,' said Miho, 'but I want to see the prince and princess.'


'I'm sure we'll find a princess somewhere,' said Granny. 'Let's go and look inside this big tower.




First they saw lots of horses. They were all wearing clothes, metal clothes.






'That's called armour,' said Daddy.


'I really did want to see the princess,' said Miho.


'Look, there's armour for a very small person,' said Granny. 'Just about your size in fact.




'But that's still not a princess,' said Miho.


'Oh look over here,' said Daddy. Miho ran over.






'What's that?' asked Miho. 'It's got shiny red eyes. It looks very fierce.'


'I don't think I like it,' said Charlie.


'It's a dragon,' said Daddy.


'Chimpanzees don't like dragons,' said Charlie. 


'It's not a princess,' said Miho. 'I can't find a princess anywhere.'


Daddy and Granny and Miho and Charlie went up and down stairs. They looked everywhere for a prince and princess. Where could they be?


'Here they are,' said Charlie. 


And there was a big bed and lying on it was a prince. Miho knew it was a prince as he was wearing his crown, even though he was in bed.




And there at the end of the bed, talking to the prince, was a lady.




'I wonder if that's the princess,' said Miho.


'Let's go and see,' said Charlie. So Charlie and Miho crept up behind her.




'She's not wearing a crown,' whispered Miho.


'She's got a sheet on her head instead,' said Charlie.


'Those are the sorts of hats ladies wore a long time ago,' said Granny. 'Why don't you go up and say good morning?'


'Good morning, your Highness,' said Miho.


'Good morning,' said the princess. 'Who are you?'


'I'm Miho and this is Charlie,' said Miho.


'You've got a lovely pattern on the bottom of your dress just like mine,' said the princess. 'It's a very pretty dress.'




'My Granny gave it to me,' said Miho.


'And I do like your stripy tights,' said the princess. 'Mine are quite boring but I do have some nice red shoes.'


'I bet your shoes don't flash when you walk,' said Charlie. 'Miho's do.'


'Indeed you're right, Charlie,' said the princess. 'A pity they don't sell flashing shoes at the royal shoe shops. I'll let the queen know what a good idea that would be.'


'Then everyone would see you in the dark,' said Miho.


'So they would, 'said the princess. 'They'd be very good for going up and down the spiral staircases. Everyone would see me and get out of the way.'


Daddy said,' I think it's time we were moving on. Say goodbye to the princess, Miho.'


'Goodbye,' said Miho.


'Goodbye,' said Charlie.


'Goodbye,' said the princess.


In the next room, they saw a very special chair.




'That's a nice chair,' said Miho. 'Can I sit on it? My legs are tired.'


'That's the prince's chair,' said Daddy. 'It's called a throne. No one else is allowed to sit in it.'


'That doesn't seem very fair,' said Charlie. 'My legs are tired too.'


'Why don't we go outside and have a rest and a snack, Miho?' said Daddy, 'then you won't feel quite so tired.'


'What about me?' said Charlie.


'And you too,' said Daddy.


So they sat down outside the tower and ate some orange jelly left over from lunch.




'Charlie as well, Daddy,' said Miho. 'Don't forget him.'




Just then they heard a thump, thump, thump behind them.


'What's that?' asked Miho.  Daddy lifted her up so she could see over the wall.




'Look,' said Granny. 'It's soldiers marching.'




Miho peered down and there they were. They were great big men in furry hats.






'Where are they going?' asked Charlie.


'They're going to guard the Crown jewels,' said Granny.


'What are the Crown Jewels?' asked Miho. 


'They're the jewels that the Queen wears on special occasions,' said Granny.


'Can we go and see them?' asked Miho.


'Of course,' said Daddy.






When they got to the building where the Crown Jewels were kept, they saw one of the men in furry hats standing outside, making sure no one stole the jewels.




'He must be very cold standing there all day,' said Charlie.


'He has a little house to go in when it's rainy,' said Miho. 'Let's go inside and see the jewels.'


There were lots and lots of jewels, all shiny and sparkling. Some were red rubies, some were blue sapphires and some were brilliant diamonds.  They saw the crown which the Queen wore when she was crowned, a long time ago when Granny was almost the same age as Miho.




The crown Miho liked best though was the Scottish crown.




There was a great big sword beside it and a sceptre.


'What's a sceptre?' asked Charlie.


'It's a golden stick which the Queen holds to show she's in charge,' said Granny.


'I like it,' said Miho.


'So do I,' said Charlie. 'I'm going to get a sceptre so everyone does what I say.'


'So am I,' said Daddy.


'I think we're all very tired,' said Granny. 'Why don't we go and have an ice cream?'


'That's a good idea,' said Daddy.


So they all left the Tower of London.


'Look, there's another castle over there,' said Miho.


'That's Tower Bridge,' said Daddy. 'Trains and cars cross the river that way.'






'Look, here's Granny with the ice creams.'




So they all sat and ate their ice creams.


'That was a wonderful day out,' said Charlie. 'I'll definitely become a Yeoman of the Guard.'














Thursday, November 10, 2011

Charlie goes on safari

Charlie was very excited. He was going on safari with Granny, Abba, Uncle Tim and Aunty Ruth. A 'safari' is when you make a long journey and go to lots of different places. Charlie hoped that they would see lots of animals. He had messages to give to some of them from the new friends he had made when he visited the safari park in Yorkshire with Miho.




First they had to drive a long way in the big Landcruiser. Eventually they arrived at a lake and parked at the edge. Charlie peered across it. He was hoping to see flamingos so that he could give them a message from his friend Olive.




Charlie couldn't see any flamingos. However, he could see lots of children gathering round the Landcruiser. Abba kept a good eye on it in case it got scratched.



Some of the children wanted a ride!





'Sorry, boys,' said Abba. 'We're just about to go for a boat ride. Will you look after our car?'



'Of course we will,' said the boys.


Abba was relieved that no one would take the wheels off the car now.


Granny, Abba, Uncle Tim and Aunty Ruth all climbed into the boat and put their life jackets on.










'Oh look!' said Aunty Ruth. 'What are those animals in the water?'


They all looked very closely.




'I don't know,' said Uncle Tim. Shall we go a bit closer?'


Then all of a sudden, an enormous animal got out of the water.




'Look out!' called Abba. 'It's a hippo. It's rocking the boat. I hope we don't tip over!'



'I think we should steer in the other direction,' said Uncle Tim. 'It's a bit safer.'


Soon they could see lots of birds, but not one flamingo. They could see black birds and white birds and lots of black and white birds, but not one pink bird.




'What's that big white bird?' asked Charlie.


'It's a pelican,' said Aunty Ruth.


'Hello pelican!' called Charlie. 'Are there any flamingos around here?'


'Hello young chimp,' said the pelican. 'What do you want with flamingos? They're very snooty creatures and keep themselves to themselves. Look, they're right over the other side of the lake.'


'Oh dear,' said Charlie. 'I wanted to speak to one of them. I met a flamingo called Olive when I was in England. She wanted me to say hello to all the cormorants, herons and other birds on the crater lake.'


'Hmm, I dont' really like being called "other bird". Still, I'll keep a look out. Oh, there's a flamingo coming over just now!' said the pelican.


'Hello, did I hear you say "flamingo"?' said a big pink bird. 'I'm in a dreadful hurry and can't stop for long.'


'Do you remember Olive?' asked Charlie.


'Oh yes, she flew to England and never came back,' said the flamingo. 'I'm her cousin Fred. We really miss her. Do you know where she is?'


'She's in the Yorkshire Safari Park,' said Charlie. 


'Well, send her my best wishes' said Fred, 'and give her this worm. It's a particularly juicy one. Goodbye.'


'I will!' called Charlie, 'Goodbye!' 


Charlie was quite glad to get back to dry land. Chimpanzees don't like boats very much. Abba was quite glad when he found out that the car still had its wheels on.


'That was a wonderful boat trip,' said Aunty Ruth.




Charlie sat down to write his first postcard.



Uganda
6th November 2011

Dear Olive
What a surprise I had when I passed
the lake today! I suddenly saw a
flock of flamingos. In the middle was your cousin Fred. He flew over to say hello and asked me to give you a message. He said please come home soon as everyone misses you. He sent you a worm but it wriggled away when I tried to stick it to the postcard.
Love Charlie XXX


Olive Flamingo
Yorkshire Safari Park

Warning Tongue Lane

Doncaster

DN4 6TB

England





'I wonder if I'll see any more of the animals I saw in Yorkshire,' said Charlie.



'I hope so,'said Granny. 'Oh, look, I can see a huge herd of Ankole cattle.'


'We saw some Ankole cattle in Yorkshire,' said Charlie. 'I wonder if they know any of my friends from the safari park.'




'Hello!' he called. 'Do any of you know a cow called Christabel?'


'Moo, moo,' lowed one of the cows. 'I know Christabel. She's my best friend. I was very sad when she went to live in England. I really miss her.'


'I met Christabel in Yorkshire Safari Park,' said Charlie. 'She said she missed you too. She didn't think the grass was as good as in Uganda. I agree with her. Would you like me to send her a message?'


'Oh yes,' said the cow. 'Tell her you met Caroline - that's my name. Send her our best wishes and tell her that we hope she's not too cold.'


'I will, said Charlie. ' Goodbye Caroline.'


'Goodbye, Charlie,' said Caroline, and all the cows mooed together.


Charlie quickly wrote his postcard.

Uganda
5th November 2011
Dear Christabel,
You’ll never guess who I saw today! I saw your best friend Caroline and the herd she lives with.They Were very excited when I said I had met you in Yorkshire. They  sent their best wishes and hoped the weather wasn’t too cold. Caroline hoped that you had managed to find a good Supply of grass.
Love from Charlie xxx


Christabel Cow

Yorkshire Safari Park

Warning Tongue Lane

Doncaster

DN4 6TB

England




Charlie, Granny, Abba, Uncle Tim and Aunty Ruth continued on their way. They soon entered a huge area of grassland. 


'There are lots of animals here,' said Granny, 'but you've got to keep a good look out so you don't miss them.'


'Look over there,' said Abba. I can see giraffes.'



'And I can see an elephant,' said Uncle Tim.



'Good afternoon Mr Elephant,' said Charlie very politely. 'I wonder if you could help us.'


'Hmm,' trumpeted the elephant. 'Why should I help you?'


'Because we've come a long way,' said Charlie 'and I've got lots of messages to give the animals here.'





'Oh all right,' said the elephant, flapping his ears. 'What is it?'


'Are there any zebras here?' asked Charlie. 'I've got a message for them.'



'They're right behind you,' said the elephant.


Charlie turned round and there among the trees was a whole herd of zebras.




'Hello zebras!' he called. 'Can you spare me some time?'


'We're very busy eating,' said one of the zebras, 'so be quick about it.'


'I met a zebra called Zachariah in Yorkshire,' said Charlie. He asked me to tell you that his holiday is turning out to be a bit longer than expected. He doesn't like the grass but they keep the lions well away so he's quite safe.'


'I remember Zachariah,' said the zebra. 'My name's Alice. We were best friends.'


'Lions,' rumbled the zebra next to Alice. 'There's nothing you can't tell me about lions, horrible creatures.'


'You can say that again,' said a nearby impala. 'If there are any lions near here, I'm running away at once. Lions are an absolute menace. Remember me to my friends in Yorkshire!' Then the impalas sped away.




'Well, at least Zachariah's safe from lions,' said Alice, 'though I really miss him. Give him our best wishes.' And then she too disappeared into the trees.


'I will,' said Charlie. 'Goodbye.' Charlie wrote another postcard.



Uganda
7th November 2011
Dear Zachariah
I saw your friends at Lake Mburo today. I passed on your message to your friend Alice. She was sorry to hear you wouldn't be back from your holiday for some time, but she is glad you're safe from lions. She thinks lions are a real nuisance.
Love Charlie XXX


Zachariah Zebra
Yorkshire Safari Park

Warning Tongue Lane

Doncaster

DN4 6TB

England




'Grr, Grrr.' A loud noise came from behind them.


'What's that?' said Granny.


'It's a lion,' said Charlie, trembling. 


They all looked out of the window and there it was. It's mouth was wide open.


'I hope it doesn't want to eat us,' said Granny.


'It's just yawning,' said Aunty Ruth. 'Lions are very lazy creatures.'



'Did I hear people complaining about lions?' growled the lion. 'Stupid creatures. Don't they know I am the king of the jungle? It's not my fault I eat other animals. That's my food and very tough food it is too, sometimes.'


'Good afternoon Mr Lion,' said Charlie nervously. 'I have a message from England for you.'


'From England?' repeated the lion. 'Is that a message from my old friend Leo?'


'Yes, it is,' said Charlie. 'He said that he's doing quite well, though Yorkshire is quite cold. However, one good thing is that he doesn't have to chase after animals over there. He gets readymade meals.'


'Lucky Leo,' said the lion. 'We lions are really quite lazy. Suits us if someone else does the running around. Look at my brothers over there.'


Charlie looked. There were the lions, just lying around.




'Quite a good life being a lion,' said Uncle Tim.  Charlie thought so too. He wrote his last postcard, to his friend Leo.

Uganda
10th November 2011
Dear Leo
I am having a lovely time on safari in Uganda. I met some of your friends. I told them that I had met you when I was on my holidays in England with Miho. They were glad to hear that you are well. They thought you were lucky getting readymade meals every day.
Love from Charlie XXX


Leo Lion
Yorkshire Safari Park

Warning Tongue Lane

Doncaster

DN4 6TB

England





And that was the end of Charlie's safari. Granny, Abba, Uncle Tim and Aunty Ruth settled themselves comfortably for the long ride home.


'That was a wonderful safari,' said Charlie. 


'Yes it was, wasn't it,' said Granny. 'And now it's time to go home.'