Rollercoaster Conquerer

I’ve only ever been on proper rides twice in my eleven and a half years and both with my Uncle and Auntie.  One was in the July of 2014 and the other was yesterday, the 29 June.

My first experience of theme park life was at South End. The whole atmosphere didn’t really suit me like it did my brother.  I’m not a very loud, adrenalin seeking, crazy kinda person, but I was enjoying it anyway until the moment we turned a corner and saw Rage.  The biggest baddest rollercoaster ever.  Even watching made me feel nervous.  It all just got worst when Evan shouted out, “Uncle Martin, Uncle Martin! I want to go on that one. Come on it with me, come on.” “Oh no,” was my initial  thought, but slowly a mix of curiosity and not wanting to be the one who didn’t do it came upon me and I joined the queue along with Evan and Uncle Martin. After about 30 minutes of queuing it was almost our turn, Ev was absolutely hyper by then and Uncle Martin and I were wondering if this really was a good idea. Too late now, we climbed into our carriage and away we went. There’s not really much I can say about the actual ride, but what I do remember is the agonizingly slow climb up a vertical track, backwards, then the not knowing when your going to flip forwards and plummet at an incredible speed downwards. The rest was a blur of falling, rising, flipping upside down and finally staggering off to the sound of Ev’s super hyper whoops and shouts. There, in South End Amusement Park, was where my fear of rollercoasters began.

 

The biggest baddest rollercoaster you ever did see.

The biggest baddest rollercoaster you ever did see.

I'm in that carriage somewhere!

I’m in that carriage somewhere!

We talk about it often enough, Ev laughs at how scared I was. I couldn’t help it. One day recently, Dad talked to me about it. “You should go on them, Gracie,” he said ” Think of it as a challenge, a fear to overcome. What does Bear Grylls say? When you have nothing left to give and you are scared, don’t give up. Dig deep into your soul and bring out some adventurous spirit and strength. Once you’ve done it, you won’t be afraid anymore, you’ll have overcome it. So take my advice and next time, which will probably be when you go to LegoLand with Uncle Martin and Auntie Carol, try.”

Well, it was hard, extremely hard, but I felt inspired by Dad and Bear Grylls, so when I found myself at LegoLand I decided to give the big ones a go.

Irys and my cousin, Olivia , were off with my other grown up cousin, Kurt.  While Evan and Uncle Martin were waiting to go on something, Auntie Carol and I wandered off to see what we could find.  We came to a big track so high off of the ground it towered above every other ride or building in the LegoLand Resort.

Wow!

Wow!

I looked at it in absolute awe. “Wow, isn’t that huge, Gracie! You want to go on that one?”  “Actually, yes” I said, remembering Dad’s words of wisdom. ” On your own?” gasped Auntie Carol, ” Are you sure?”  “Yes.” I answered decisively, as I joined the long snaking queue. As I got nearer the front, I started worrying and getting really anxious. I kept swallowing and shaking.  I felt sick.  Suddenly I was called onto the ride. Terrified as I was, I stepped onto the round platform and sat down on a plastic horse. ” There will be a slight delay of the procedure of this ride”, came a booming voice. ” Oh great”, I thought.  I wondered whether to pull out, give up, call the lady and say I wanted to get off.  I decided to stay on, then I gagged and puked over the side.  That was pure fear.  I almost burst into tears, but the ride started spinning and I soon forgot all about it and was having the time of my life.  I went on it again with Uncle Martin and Ev, even he screamed, ha ha.

I'm on the right, on a black horse.

I’m on the right, on a black horse.

I left something behind that day, now I’m free from the fear that may have held me back all my life, had it not been for the wise words of Dad and Bear.

 

Really Wild!

 

Breakfast Time

Breakfast Time

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

 

 

 

I wake to the sound of birdsong and the faint smell of wood smoke. The early morning sun shines brightly through white canvas of our bell tent. I glance at the clock, 6:30, forty five minutes to wait until I can venture out of the little tent crammed with six (well, five now) sleeping children all worn out from their previous days full of fun activities, laughter and jokes at the Really Wild Home Ed Camp. Each and every day so far has been amazing and jam packed with fun. Silently I look about me, I can see five heads on five pillows, their bodies wrapped in sleeping bags, blankets and layers of clothes, safe from the cold air. One by one the campers awake, their bed heads very noticable, I grin at them and we all start to chat. I rummage about in my clothes pile and pull out of a pocket my camp programme. We all pour over it and discuss the day’s plan. Everyone’s heading in different directions at different times, but I manage to figure it all out. Stella and I smile at each other through the confusion, us older girls are so organised, we planned it all yesterday.

 

Mornin' Spenser!!

Mornin’ Spenser!!

Evan at 7:15, day 4

Evan at 7:15am, day 4

Caedmon: some look better than others first thing in the morning!

Caedmon: some look better than others first thing in the morning!

At roughly 7:15 we all stumble out into the fresh morning air, all dressed and ready to go. It’s Thursday morning and the last day of the camp. We shovel down our muesli and Stella, Irys, Tiger and I all head off into the main meeting area ( called the village, even though it’s a fenced off section of a field with a marquee and a giant tipi in it) to gather for the animal kingdom walk. The boys, Caedmon, Spenser and Evan stay back at the fire. Steve takes us all into Grassy field and does a little talk about animal tracks, homes, food, signs, bones, fur and lastly POO! I keep watching out for my friend Benny and eventually he  joins us. We walk up the side of the field, doing a little foraging along the way. I stop with Stella, Tiger and Benny, my three best friends, for a snack of ‘bread and cheese’. In the war children were told to go out straight after breakfast and not come back until tea time. “There’s plenty of bread and cheese on the hawthorn tree”, their parents would say. What they meant by this was that the leaves are bread and the whitey yellow petals are the cheese.

We enter Little Wood and Steve walks down to the stream. All the animals come to drink here and we spot plenty of tracks in the sticky mud. A dainty deer, a slinking fox, a colourful pheasant and even maybe a lumbering badger. We creep along the edge and for some reason I feel the need to whisper it’s so peaceful and tranquil. It’s almost as if the leader of the animal kingdom has you under his spell. I wonder what sort of animal would have this real magic?

After walking a little further we discover some rabbit holes. We inspect the poo and freshly dug earth. Steve wants to show us something else, something I have seen many times before, something I have always wanted to explore, something that is a Wowo secret and a place forbidden to any of us children. It’s exciting as we walk towards it, then we see it, the gaping hole, the hole that we know if any of us fell in we would disappear. We stare down into the darkness for a while then Steve beckons to me, I go over and he starts to lower me into that deep damp abyss. I have not a trace of fear in me, only ecstatic excitement. As my feet hit the bottom I call up to Steve and the others. Now only a my head is sticking out, I look down and see that I am only standing on a narrow ledge and that the bottom is still far below me. My eyes grow accustomed to the gloom and beneath me I see a tunnel that I could easily squeeze through, that I long to explore, but Steve is already pulling me up.

The camp really was wild, we were up from 6:30am until 11:00pm running around, going from knife craft to tarpology, camp craft to stalking, tracking to search and rescue and foraging to cordage making.  We hardly saw Mum and Dad, only at breakfast, lunch and dinner and when they forced us to brush our teeth before bed. Talking of brushing I’m almost certain there’s no need for hair brushes and clean knickers on camp, but that’s another adult rule. The freedom was pretty cool, being able to decide what activities we wanted to do.  We all enjoyed ourselves loads and none of us can wait until next years Really Wild Home Ed Camp.  Meanwhile it’s lots of early nights for us!

Really Wild Photo Gallery

Where's Irys gone?

Where’s Irys gone?

Dance, dance, dance

Dance, dance, dance

Dance on Lulu

Dance on Lulu

One happy camper

One happy camper

Fun fun, yum yum

Fun fun, yum yum

Tinder bundle alight!

Tinder bundle alight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bollywood dance!

Bollywood dance!

 

Eggy bread and Ketchup!

Eggy bread and Ketchup!

 

 

 

The campfire's roaring

The campfire’s roaring

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Caedmon cooking us all breakfast

 

Eating bannock cooked on the wild foods, nutrition and cooking course.

Eating bannock cooked on the wild foods, nutrition and cooking course.

Children, Unite!

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Children are 27% of the world’s people BUT 100% of the world’s future

We are the world’s future parents, teachers, prime ministers, farmers, bankers, builders, bakers, activists, scientists, ecologists, religious leaders, lawyers, pop stars, scout leaders, and most importantly, we are tomorrow’s peacemakers.

Across the world 58 million children aren’t getting the chance to go to school.

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FIRST NEWS, the weekly newspaper for young people, have launched Children United, a charity that is trying to help uneducated children all over the world to go to school.  They say their desire is to give kids a window on the world from wherever they are sitting right now.  It will help them to hear different points of view and understand different cultures.

They talk about all the different reasons why kids cannot and do not go to school.

They believe that all children have the right to education and have released a song , performed by Alesha Dixon and children from around the world, to share their message.  Check the song out it’s beautiful, emotional and full of passionate children.

http://www.childrenunited.com/song

I think the reason why children should go to school is because it gives them hope, a brighter future and a way to provide for their family.  If children are taught at home or are learning a practical skill like farming, then they should have the right to not go to school, but some for kids it’s a chance.

You may wonder why I, a home educated kid, am encouraging others to go to school.  Education is essential wherever you learn. Some kids can have a future that is promising and fruitful without going to school, but for others it is very important and an opportunity to seize because it can change their lives.

Children United want children to come together to raise their voices to say that they want their fellows to be educated.  They have written a petition, #UpForSchool, its aim is to gather millions of signatures demanding education for all, a message that no world leader can ignore.

When the petition is signed by loads of people then it will be delivered by Gordon Brown (The UN Special Envoy for Education) to some very important world leaders in the hope that they will make a special effort to make sure all kids that want to go to school, go to school!

#UpForSchool petition reads:

” We, the world’s youth, teachers, parents and global citizens, appeal to our government to keep their promise, made at the United Nations in 2ooo, to ensure that all out-of-school children gain their right to education before the end of 2015. We are standing up to bring an end to barriers preventing girls and boys from going to school, including forced work and early marriage, conflict and attacks on schools, exploitation and discrimination. All children deserve the opportunity to learn and achieve their potential.”

I encourage everyone to sign this petition.  It will make the future so much better for so many people, it will go a long way to ensuring that kids achieve their potential, their hopes and their dreams.

You can sign the petition at:  http://www.childrenunited.com/petition

Thank You!

 

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Story Of The Snake

I have a rather dramatic story to tell of, it was the highlight of my half term.

When I think about it,  us children found it amazingly, tremendously, exciting, but to the adults it was probably only something that reminded them of the delights of their own childhood. Well, we didn’t care if we were the only people in the world who were absolutely hysterical over such a small thing as catching a specific, slithering, special specimen.

 

The specimen

The specimen

Well, the story starts like this, it’s half term and our good friends have come camping.  I’m at home when one of them, the older one at twelve years old, comes running up, all out of breath. “Gracie,” she says “want to come rabbit hunting with me ?”  Of course I agree and we set off.  We head up to a field at the top of the farm where no campers go and silently we creep through the grass and keep our eyes peeled.  Unfortunately the rabbits have super sharp hearing and are a mile off before we have them in range of our nets.

As the four of us (my fellow rabbit hunter, my brother, my sister and I) trudge across the field we wrack our brains for a solution to the rabbit shortage. The only sound is our feet in the swishing grass, until my little sister pipes up, “why not try looking under the corrugated iron sheets? There might be some mice or voles”. “Or shrews” adds my brother. “Great idea” we all agree. Trudging across the last half of the field with renewed enthusiasm, we get to talking about the time when Dad and I checked them and saw a very sleepy grass snake.  My friend, who is terrified of snakes, looks slightly worried, but I reassure her saying, “I’ve checked the pieces of metal hundreds of times and there’s only been a snake once, alright”. She smiles nervously, but carries bravely onwards.

A little later we reach the shoulder-high grass where the iron sheets are kept.  Pushing our way through the mega long grass, we feel like real explorers now.  I reach one first, closely followed by Evan and Irys, my friend is a little way behind. I open it, the moment of truth, we hold our breaths. A few mice scuttle out, but we don’t move a muscle, all our attention is taken up by something else, you’ve guessed it, a snake.  I yell and my friend freezes, I will never forget the look on her face.  I run to the next one and the next one and the next one and so on, until we’d seen four real live grass snakes. We run all the way home.

We start equipping ourselves properly, long trousers, proper shoes or boots, not crocs, tubs to keep mice or snakes in, nets to catch them, a forked stick and two more people, my friends younger sister and another friend of ours. The adults all trying to be encouraging and enthusiasic, but I’m sure they thought that it was all some childish game.  Well, we totally proved them wrong.

My friend over came her phobia and went along with everything we had to do without so much as a scared look or a squeal.  Eventually we came to the bits of metal, after about 3 or 4 we see our first snake. I hold the iron while the snake thrashes around dangerously close to my fingers, when I think about it now I get scared, but in the moment it was all too thrilling.  Evan seizes his forked stick and pins down his snake’s head, my other friend grabs his tail and pops him neatly into a big tub, we fasten the lid punched with air holes.

We’ve got him!!!!!!! None of us can believe we’ve caught this creature. We walk home and think up a name while doing so. He really is a beauty, so we call him: Amber Death Geoff Sierra Daisy Tiger. We choose a name each, mine is Tiger, because I can see the light in his eyes and I know that he’s a fighter.

Tiger, Tiger burning bright in the forests of the night. What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry

Tiger, Tiger burning bright in the forests of the night. What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?

When we get near, we parade.  Evan stands at the front with me beside him, blowing an imaginary trumpet of triumph, the others come behind.  Wild grins on all of our faces and looks of utter astonishments on those of the adults.

TRIUMPHANT!!!!!

TRIUMPHANT!!!!!

After having our photo taken, we marched back to the grass for the solemn ceremony of releasing our snake. We all went to bed feeling glorious and victorious that night.