Windsor Hill Wood: New Friends, Ariel Drilling and L’enigma!

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The first step of our journey, not including a sneaky little holiday on the North Devon Coast, landed us up at Windsor Hill Wood, a community in Somerset.

Windsor Hill Wood is just a family who live a large house with their own small farm and woodland. But they’ve done a very selfless thing, they’ve opened up their home to anyone who needs help. Whether they’re needing help with rehab, dealing with grief, homelessness or depression, anything where they’re in need of kindness and support.

We spent a long weekend with the Jones family and we all really loved it.

There was always something to do, a constant hub of business and new people going in and out. The men sat round the stove, drinking tea and discussing the design of a woodland shelter, the women laughed and talked in the lovely kitchen, cooking the next meal we’d all eat together, us kids sat in the sitting room writing songs and comparing musical instruments. Either that or we’d be outside by the goats or the chickens. Maybe on the trampoline doing tricks or in the dusty workshop pottering about.

They had three really nice kids, all roughly our ages, Benny, Emma and Leo. We had such fun together, forming a band called L’enigma, with Evan on his uke, Emma as our incredible pianist, Irys playing her recorder, Benny and I singing, and Leo dancing.

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Evan in costume

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Irys

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Me!

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The singers

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From left to right: Evan, Irys, Emma, Gracie, Benny, Leo. L’enigma!

Benny and I were put in charge of making the sign for the woodland shelter our Dad’s were building. We took the responsibility very seriously. We were in the workshop for ages designing and crafting it. We drew giant letters on pieces of cedar and then we cut them out with a power tool called a jigsaw. That was super hard. The jigsaw is deadly, it could easily take your fingers clean off. I had to follow a very thin pencil line too. I got quite stressed! I had to go really slowly as not to let the blade get off course. You have  to understand that you are in control. I don’t think I’m the best at using power tools!

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We smoothed them off with sandpaper and oiled them ’til they shone a dark bronze colour. Benny made S & M and I made C & W: Shepton Mallet Community Woodland!

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A bit later we took a walk through the woods to the shelter. We cut long poles and helped the men put the roof on by pushing and shoving. It worked. Now me and Benny had the trickiest job, but we couldn’t give it to anyone else. We had to do the honours.

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Helping with the roof

We climbed up the ladder and grasped the drill passed up to us, then we had to screw the letters to the shelter, it was hard work. I was trying to use a heavy, powerful drill and not fall off the ladder at the same time. We did it, and were given the title of ‘Design Consultants’ for our efforts.

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Concentrating.

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Benny’s turn.

I had a great time at Windsor Hill Wood, made lots of new friends and I hope to go back soon.

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Ev and Leo, off to feed the chickens.

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My First Published Article

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The aspiring author.

Remember Viva magazine? The one my friend Alice and I were interviewed by? Well *clears throat*, after reading this blog, they decided to ask me to write them an article! The article is about how me and my family are on a journey, at the moment in Mo (our Morris Traveller campervan). It’s also about our learning and our home education, my hopes and dreams and more.

You can read it online here, at http://www.vivabrighton.com/#!viva-lewes/c58g

It’s page 79. If you can’t get to it, tell me in the comments and I can always copy it over onto here!

 

Verity

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Verity is a statue that stands proudly on the seafront at Ilfracombe, North Devon. We visited and saw it. It was created as a piece of modern art by Damien Hirst. It represents the word verity which means: a true principle or belief.

She stands on a pile of strewn law books, she holds the symbols of truth and justice – a sword and scales. She is pregnant which shows how she may not be a likely person to fight for what’s right, but she needs it the most for her baby and it’s future. Here is my poem that I wrote about her…

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Here I stand,
my sword in hand.
This fight is no computer game,
justice is my middle name.

Perhaps I am not who you would think or expect,
the face the fear with the risk of death.
And although the battle is raging and wild,
I would die for my unborn child.

The future of the world,
you see,
rests in the hands of you and me.
And what unites us?
Verity.

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A Rambling Journey Through My Thoughts

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When the world feels like a huge place and your head is full of questions whose answers all lead to another question, don’t be distressed.

It’s true, the world is a big place and it’s filled with billions of different people who all have different beliefs and ideas. Diverse and confusing as it is, most things have some meaning if you look close enough. Sometimes you have to be prepared to dive deeper.

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, about questions and why are we doing this and why are we doing that. My head is always full of thoughts (and daydreams!) which, to be honest, do distract me from the present sometimes.

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But me and my family are in a situation at the moment, where we have left our home and set off into the pit of possibilities. Now, more than ever, questions fill my head. Sometimes I worry and stress over the future and I want to know answers and it annoys me that I don’t.

This is an example of the train of thoughts that crowd my head quite often: Why have we left our home and all our friends? For an education, to prepare us for life. How does this prepare us? It gives us experiences and opportunities to learn, it shows us new things and opens our eyes to the world. Why is this necessary? It will make us well equipped and more self-reliant adults. Why do we need to be well equipped adults? Because we will be able to challenge the world and help it be a better place. What is the point of making it a better place? More people will be happy and healthy and safe. See where this is going?

It feels like I’m in a maze.

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But what’s in the centre? Another question?

 

 

A Hope For Afghan Women

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Upon looking through an old box of National Geographics I found a magazine with an article about the day to day lives of Afghan women. It really intrigued me and made me feel angry.

Life is tough for women from Afghanistan. It’s a harsh reality. They suffer all different types of abuse, mainly domestic, and many of them are denied an education. Here are the stories of three, they are all true, but put into my words.

BURN YOURSELF by Gracie Chick

A woman came to me in a dream, she symbolised the women of Afghanistan. “Burn yourself!” she told me, “It is the only way to escape.” She was wrong. I never escaped.

Slowly, my hand shaking, I lifted the tin above my head. I breathed the scent of fumes, they clogged my nose and made me splutter. Closing my eyes, I poured. The thick, oily liquid ran down my face, it matted my hair. Slickly, it dribbled down my neck, cold and sticky. I struck the match, holding it as far away from me as possible. Carefully, I brought it closer. I could feel the heat on my petrol coated skin.

I stared into the mirror at the new me, the deformed me. I blinked back tears, but it was no use, I watched them trickle down the red, bumpy surface that was now my face.

Wrapping my shawl tightly around me, I stepped outside. The other kids laughed when they saw me. “You’re ugly! Get out of here freak!” They cried. I was 11 years old. I had no hope. I was stupid. I regret my mistake.

FOUR YEARS A PRISONER by Gracie Chick

“No! Please!” I cry out, but the man ignores me. He slams the heavy metal door shut and locks it. I am left alone in the darkness. The darkness not only of my prison cell, but of my heart.

I am just a 22 year old woman, I could have a life ahead of me. Already I have wasted 4 years in this damp, forlorn cell.

At the age of twelve I was forced, by my own family, to marry a paralyzed man of around 70 years old. I was expected to carry him, but how could I? I was too young, too weak. He was heavy. So I was mercilessly beaten by his brothers fo my ‘crime’.

One day I decided to be strong. I asked for a divorce. The answer was obvious, I’ve been in jail ever since. 

A HOPE by Gracie Chick

My name is Sahera Shahif. I am the first woman to enter the Afghan parliament. I am the hope for Afghan girl’s futures. I am the hope for their freedom.

I stood up to my Father as a teenager, locking myself in a cupboard until he allowed me to attend school. I started a radio station as a young adult, teaching other women about health and hygiene.

I volunteered at a university. I threw off my Burqa. My male students were shocked. I decided to reeducate them.

My daughter is training to be a lawyer so she can help more women in Afghanistan have justice. She is translating children’s books into Pashtu so they will be able to read and learn more. She is writing her own novel. She is only fifteen.

THE END

I am a girl of almost thirteen years old, it would have taken just one slight change of circumstance for me to have been Afghan. I would be in the same situation as these girls and women. What path would I choose? Suicide? Fight for my rights? I don’t know.

Here’s what Amnesty International have to say on the matter, what do you think?

You can be jailed for the ‘moral crime’ of fleeing your abusive husband. Growing up, you might well have been denied an education, banned from working and moving freely, and seen as inferior to your husband, son or brother.

Now, you can do many of those things in theory, but the violence and oppression remain. Speak up for equality and you put your life in danger. Welcome to life as a woman in Afghanistan, where change has come but your hard-won rights are in danger of slipping away.

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The Crossing by Gracie Chick

I wrote this as a short story to carry on my favourite series of books, Swallows and Amazons. Yesterday we went to see a new film of the first book at the cinema. I was horrified at how my hero, Nancy Blackett, was portrayed. I wanted to show the world who she really is. 

To set the scene: With Captain John in command, Susan and Peggy have made a daring crossing of the sea to meet Captain Flint and Polly in their new boat and bring them back to Nancy and Titty, who are looking after the houseboat. Let the tale begin……

Crimson red hair and long black skirt flapping in the sea breeze, she leaves home, crossing the gangplank to the mainland. She turns her face to the wind, it’s streaked with ocean blue paint. The pistol in the holster on her hip sways dangerously. Her cowboy boot heels clack loudly, announcing her presence. She smiles mischievously and tosses her head. “I’d jolly well like to see how they get out of this one”.

“Thou art wedded to calamity, Nancy.” a younger girl comes up and cocks her head to look up at Captain Blackett. “Do shut up, Titty. Or at least talk like a man”. “But William Shakespeare was a man!” protests the girl. But Nancy isn’t listening, she strides determinedly across the dock and stands, hands planted on hips, waiting for a boat she spies on the horizon. “That’s them alright” says Nancy, a twinkle in her eye. Titty runs to join her “Oh Nancy, isn’t she beautiful? The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne, burnt upon the water.” She bounces up and down excitedly. Nancy turns and glares straight at her, fire in her spitting green eyes. “Stop it, you donk! Some pirate! Now where are they? Billygoats, the wind’s died.”

“From the barge, a strange invisible perfume hits the adjacent wharfs” murmurs Titty “Oh look here Nancy, I really can’t help it, honest injun, I can’t” ” I know!” growls Captain Blackett, scowling down at Titty.

The boat grows closer, soon Nancy and Titty can see four figures. “Ahoy!” shouts Nancy. “Ahoy!” comes the reply from the boat. ” Captain John! How was your journey? Was Polly seasick? Oh goody, you’ve brought cake, Susan! Hello, Captain Flint, how are you? I’m well thank you. Roger and Mother and coming later with the supplies. Superb! Peggy, here, pass me that box.” Titty gushes. “Why, that’s a jolly good little ship, Uncle Jim” Nancy catches their rope and moors them to the jetty. “What is she called? Calamity?” She glances across at Titty, who grins and mouthes “Told you so”. Nancy shakes her head and smiles.

“Well, everyone’s done very well on that crossing. I never thought you’d make it. You must all be famished and your throats must be parched. Goodness, I sound like Titty! Anyhow, come onboard the houseboat, I have gallons of grog and even more pemmican!” The crew clamber aboard.

Hope you enjoyed! Please comment below, constructive criticism welcomed!