Action: Part 5

Action: Part 5




Voice and Amnesty looked so solemn and tired when we burst in that we actually felt quite ashamed for being so happy. But then we looked at each other and remembered the plan and all of our elation was renewed. “Did you get it?” asked Amnesty. “Yes, here.” I handed her a bunch of aromatic, dried out herbs. “And that’s not all.” put in Liberty. She breathed deeply.”Empathy and I have devised a plan, Action, so listen carefully. We are going to give the children their futures back, the futures that have been cruelly snatched from them. Meet the new teachers of St Mary’s School, Action, Miss Lib and Miss Em!”

The others looked at us with admiration. “Are you sure you want to do this, Empathy?” asked Voice, with concern. “It will be tough and you will sacrifice yourself. I doubt you will be able to ever come back to this life. You will be threatened.” I looked at him with kind eyes. ” Thank you, Voice, but I have made my mind up. Nothing shall deter me from my fate. This is my will and it is God’s will too.”

” I believe that you were always meant to help us, Miss Em. We were guided here by something….” Amnesty cut off. “Goodness!” cried Liberty ” He’s wakening!”

Sure enough, I watched Equal’s eyes flutter open and then close again. “Liberty, water!” I instructed and the girl poured a few drops on the twelve year old boy’s lips. He croaked and coughed as the cool mineral water ran down his throat. I crushed some of the herbs between my fingers and popped them into the water. Then I ripped some of the material from my fine silk dress and poured the water on.

Being as careful and quick as I could, I pulled back the bandage and washed the wound with the infused water. Equal groaned as I swabbed it with the healing liquid. Then I ripped off a long, thin piece of silk and wrapped it gently round his sore leg. I grinned at the other’s surprise. “I won’t be needing this garment anymore!” I said ” I need something like what Amnesty’s got.” I nodded at the girl.

She wore a skinny blue trousers and a green t-shirt and, of course, her belt, which had all sorts of pouches and holsters on it. She wore a scarf around her neck and had boots that came up almost to her knees. He jacked was tassled and ripped. Her entire appearance was tough.

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At that moment Equal cried out and all attention was turned to him again. He was half sitting up and his eyes were wide open. “Liberty!” he called “Where are we?” Holding him in her arms she spoke to him quietly. “The Palace City, Equal, the house of the King. Remember? We rode here after the accident.” Equal blinked hard. “The accident?” he asked wearily. ” Yes, we were in the square and Amnesty was speaking, yeah? And the rebels came? They cut your leg? Oh Equal, don’t you remember any of it?” “Yes,” he spoke slowly “but it is blurred. I can see Amnesty giving her public talk. Proper rousing one wasn’t it?” “Uh huh” Liberty smiled through her tears and looked over at Amnesty who was hugging me and trying not to sob. ” I can see the men, on horses, coming in. Voice’s shouting is hurting my ears. I remember feeling quite peaceful, not scared at all. Were you shaking me, Liberty?” ” I was and Voice was yelling at you.” scolded Liberty. ” Then a shocking pain seared up my leg and into my body.” continued Equal. ” Someone grabbed me and threw me onto a horse and then we were riding for eternity. The whole way I felt as though I was slipping off the horse and into some sort of dream world. Anyway, may I look at my leg?”

“I don’t think you’ll like what you see.” I said, jokingly. Equal looked over at me. I must have looked a sight with my red cheeks, windblown hair and tattered gown. “Who are you?” he asked curiously. Amnesty answered for me, she went and knelt beside him. “Equal, I’d like you to meet Empathy, the new member of Action. She brought herbs to save your life and she ripped her own dress to make you a bandage.” “More than that,” Liberty added “Em and I are going to get the village school up and running. And as soon as you’re well enough I’ll expect you to come along too.” Equal looked thoughtful. “Why can’t I help Voice with his work?” “Because you ought to have an education. Voice already has an education. What’s 4 +4, Voice?” Voice stared at her as if she was mad. “7” he said, decisively.


Action: Part 4


Here is Part 4!!!

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We rode in silence, the horses trotting quietly over the sand, hooves dancing, tails swishing irritatedly. ” We’ll be good friends. ” Liberty spoke suddenly. ” You and I Empathy. Many of my old friends have disowned me, you know. Some are ashamed of me for what I do, others are simply frightened of being associated with me. There is a girl though, her name is Jaan, she is my oldest friend. She would never leave me. She goes against her family to help me, I have often asked her to join Action, but she won’t. She doesn’t want to leave the village. She’s courageous, but she’s a very homely girl.”

“How do you know her?” I asked. “We went to school together.” she replied “Back before the rebels came and it was too dangerous. I wanted to go and would have, but even the teachers deserted it. I cried that day that the teacher’s stopped going. There was no hope now, even teachers, good, strong, pillars of the community submitted themselves.” She spoke with passion and anger.

“Nothing is more important to me than education. It is, as the others say, my specialist area. Anything to do with learning and human rights, I’m on it.” she said. I beamed at her. “So you want to be a teacher?” I asked eagerly. She nodded. “Me too.” I laughed. I think we both thought it at the same time ’cause we looked at each other and our faces lit  up with optimism. We knew at that moment that we could, together, get that school up and running again.

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I let out a whoop of joy and Liberty clasped her hands in excitement. I dug my ankles into the side of my horse and went galloping across the desert, Liberty followed. For a moment we forgot all of our worries and went streaking round the desert, shrieking like  wild things in our ecstasy.

Gradually we came to a halt and stayed there, breathless with the thrill of the idea. “We really can do it.” said Liberty, as she couldn’t quite believe it. “We really can.” “Yes,” I cried “We can, but first we must make Equal well again, come, let’s find these herbs.”


Aspinall’s Animals

For my sister’s 9th birthday we went to Port Lympne safari park. We went round the Kent countryside in a big safari truck with a canvas roof. What was especially cool was that none of the animals were fenced in! Giraffes meandered up to check us out, we came within metres of a sunbathing rhinoceros, huge cow like things with big horns walked by in their herds and we even saw a zebra, camouflaged in the trees.

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This is the description of a mother gibbon and its baby.

Its tiny little hands clung to its Mother’s soft grey fur. She bent down to look at it and gently picked it up and placed it on the wire fence, some 10 metres above the ground. The baby squealed and hung on, looking over its shoulder at its Mother, who was dancing around on a branch. “Come on!” she seemed to be calling “Come on, little one.” It scurried up and down the fence, looking down and holding tightly with its long, spindly arms. The Mum ran back and forth on two legs, clapping her hands and nodding her head.

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Still the baby was too scared. The Mum ran back, scooped it up and swung from branch to branch with one arm, holding the baby under the other.

We also saw a Mother gorilla and it’s young, that was so magical.

The enclosure echoed with the sounds of grunts and shouts and all sorts of gorilla noises. They jumped and played and fought high up above us in the swings and ropes that hung from the ceiling. They were the teenagers. The big silver males, sat around on platforms that were just above the ground, eating fruit and patrolling up and down.

A tunnel led from one part of the enclosure to another and a nervous gorilla head appeared in it. Cautiously, the Mother shuffled out, cradling her baby in her arms, it was so small, its body basically fitted in its Mother’s big, black hand, whilst its head lolled to one side. Carefully, she put it down on a pile of straw and bounded towards  us, pulling the baby, on its cushion, with her. It sat on its straw for a while, looking around sleepily with wide eyes. The Mother seemed to be showing it off. She sat nearby, watching it and us closely.

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After a while she picked it up and carried it back through the tunnel.

At four ‘o’ clock we were lucky enough to see the tapirs being fed. They are strange, big animals with a long nose and short hair. They are related to the domestic horse and also the rhino. What is funny about them is that they are exactly half black and half, with a very distinctive line between the two. They come from South and Central America and also South East Asia. They live in swamps and grasslands and sometimes forests and mountains. They are extremely good swimmers and enjoy water.


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This is a Malayan Tapir, the type we saw and the largest of five species.

When they are babies they are dotted with unusual streaky, white markings, but they grow out of them.

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Tapir baby, awwwww!

We also saw meerkats, we got to see them really close. One standing stiff as a post, on look out duty. The others all scurrying around in the mud and it was funny because, however many people stared and looked at the lookout, he never moved a muscle! They are very cute, but also highly intelligent.

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The animals were all lovely to see, some of them aweing and others adorable, but many of these creatures are either critically endangered or even extinct in the wild. A place like Port Lympne is doing essential work to keep these animals alive and raise awareness. They breed a lot of animals in a plight to keep their numbers up and their population going. They also release animals into the wild in the hope that they will establish themselves and thrive.

Port Lympne is run by The Aspinall Foundation which was set up by a man called John Aspinall in 1957, when he bought Howletts Wildlife Park, a park near to Port Lympne. In ’73 he bought Port Lympne, today they house over 1000 animals and 100 different species. They are world leaders in breeding and in recent years they have released black rhino, javan langurs, javan gibbons, western lowland gorillas and european bison back into the wild.

Today the work is continued by John Aspinall’s son, Damian. John Aspinall loved all animals, but his gorillas were his pride and joy, he always dreamed of helping them and releasing them into their natural habitat.

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Damian Aspinall

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Damian’s daughter, Tansy. 

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John Aspinall

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Summer and Autumn

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I wrote this short story to celebrate the coming of Autumn! Enjoy! (Autumn is my favourite season! Then it goes summer, then spring, then winter. Though I do love them all.)

Long, river-blue curtains hung from their hooks like weeping willow branches, a shaft of soft, marigold sunlight formed a stream that swam across the room. Following the stream to the furthest corner of that shadowy place, you would see a young girl. Her hair is blonde and falls like a cascade down her back. She wears a light green dress that looks like it flows around her body.

She sat with her legs drawn up to her chin, her head tipped to the side, her deep, feeling purple eyes shining as she gazes at the sunlight stream, her imagination taking her away from the darkness of her humble home, to the place of her dreams.

Then she’s in that sunlight stream, swimming down it, bathing in it.

Suddenly she’s underwater and she’s gasping for air, bright colours dance around her, she’s tossed in a swirling rainbow and then dunked in the golden waters. Her head rises and her eyes glow in the radiant light that’s everywhere, covering everything. She floats down the river, her beautiful hair merging with it. Silvery fish leap and play. She is gently washed to the shore, onto pale yellow sand, stepping out of the water, her clothes are immediately dried.

Wherever she steps, flowers are growing and birds with magnificent plumage fly to and fro, gracing the sunrise and sunset skies with their presence. Coconut scents fill the air, fresh and wonderful. The sky is sugary pink of candyfloss, baby blue of the ocean abroad, crimson red of pirate’s blood and orange of a butterfly’s delicate, painted wing.

Another girl walks towards her, she smiles shyly and holds out her hand. The girl looks around her and then, hesitantly, takes hold of her hand. They look at each other, their soft, round eyes meeting and then they’re off. Flying across the land, feet barely touching the warm ground, hands brushing against tall, rocking meadow grasses. Then above the sea, arms outstretched, skirts flapping in the cool air. 

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They grin at each other and keep on soaring, soaring through the cloudless sky. Suddenly clouds begin to race in, filling up the blue with their greyness. The air becomes chilly and a brisk wind picks up. The two children look at each other and, as they do, their light blonde hair, begins to darken. And it keeps darkening until it’s as black as night.

The green trees below them begin to turn yellow, red and orange. Then they fall, fluttering around and swirling in the breeze. The girls clutch each other tightly and, as they do so, their thin summer dresses turn to thick wollen coats and hats and their bare feet are suddenly fitted with wellies.  

Autumn has arrived. 









Action: Part 3

Read part 1 and 2 here:

Action: Part 3

“So, Empathy, tell us about yourself.” Voice said.

“Well, I’m thirteen years old and I’m the daughter of a king. Although I always knew I didn’t belong as a Princess. I believe in destiny and believe that being an activist is mine.” I said earnestly

“I’m a good and fast runner and I can hide as well as any animal. I speak many languages, am skilled in medicine making and nursing and I’m used to the desert heat and sun. I go for daily walks and I know the land well. I can sniff out a storm from miles away and I know which plants are edible and which are poisonous.”

These words all came out in such a fast stream that Voice put his hand on my arm and laughed gently. “Don’t worry, Empathy. We don’t judge you by this, but by your character. And we all see that you have a kind, compassionate, honest heart. So it doesn’t matter if you’re the most useless soldier in the land, we’d have you by our sides in any fight.”

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Amnesty hadn’t said a word since I had arrived, but now she came up to me and grasped my hands in hers, they were rough and I could see scars on her beautiful, young face. ” Do you think you can help Equal?” she asked, hopefully. She looked at me with such pleading, distressed eyes. ” I think so.” I said. Liberty beckoned for me to join her at his bedside. I pulled my hands gently from Amnesty’s, she seemed reluctant to let go.

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I went and put my hand on Equal’s head, it was burning hot. “He has a fever.” I confirmed. ” Amnesty, will you give Equal some water please. Just drip it onto his lips, they look very dry.” I lifted the bed sheets from over his legs and saw the thick, white bandage. I looked at the others. “May I?” “Go ahead” said Voice. “Do whatever you need to do to make him well again.”

Gingerly I peeled back the bandage to reveal a nasty, inflamed wound. I looked to Liberty for an explanation. “It was three days ago, the day before we came here.” she said, biting her lip in pain at the memory. ” We were standing in the square in our home village. Amnesty had just delivered the most moving, inspiring speech. The crowd was cheering, I guess some rebels must have been patrolling nearby. Suddenly five men on horseback charged into the square, wielding swords and other weapons. The crowd scattered, leaving a direct path to us. ‘Stand your ground!’ I cried. ‘ Stand your ground, Action!” Liberty’s eyebrows quivered in anger. ” The horsemen split up, two went tearing towards the villagers, who screamed and fled in terror. One headed for where Voice and Amnesty were standing. They too ran, shouting for Equal and I to follow. I shook him, yelled at him, but he wasn’t coming. The men were almost upon us. I ran, sobbing, to safety, from there I watched the man, laughing, slash out at Equals leg with his sword. He sheathed it and they rode off with a peal of evil laughter. It still sounds in my head now, a reminder of why we need to fight. This is no French Revolution, no oppressed rising against their tormentors, this is people who want to dictate, who wish to become the oppressors, the tormentors, the tyrants. This is not good fighting for power over evil, it is the other way around.”

I was silent for a while. Finally I spoke. “Liberty, I need some herbs for that wound. Will you come and get them with me?” “I will, Empathy.”Liberty smoothed down her hair and composed herself. Amnesty smiled at me as I went past her. “Thank you, Sister.” she said.


Let The Audience Look to Their Eyes!

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Titania, queen of the fairies, in the spectacular A Midsummer Nights Dream Live from the Globe.

I’ve been watching Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare Live from the Globe on Iplayer this morning. It’s so good! It incorporates music, dance, comedy and, of course, the wonderful, enigmatic, meaningful language of Shakespeare.

The title is a quote from Nick Bottom, the comic part in this play, when he is describing how good an actor he thinks he is. He wants to play all the parts in the play, the hero, the villain, the lady and the animals. He is saying, in this quote, that when he kills himself (as the hero) he will need to produce some tears so he says: Let the audience look to their eyes! Which is silly really as you can’t exactly look to your own eyes, can you? Shakespeare’s good like that.

I love, love, love Shakespeare. I’ve already read all of his 37 plays, I can quote whole passages, translate them into modern English, I’ve written a few adaptions of many of his plays, completed in depth study guides,  I just love the language. It draws me in, makes me think.

Anyhow, A Midsummer  Nights Dream is two and a half hours long, so I’m watching it in half hour parts.

Here is a quote that I particularly like: “My soul consents not to give in to sovereignty.” Hermia. sovereignty means supreme power and authority, in my own words. I like Hermia a lot because she stands up for what she believes and she isn’t afraid of anything. She even tells the Duke of her land what she thinks is right and sticks to it even when he threatens her with death.


Here’s my favourite dialog from the first part, between Hermia and Helena. If you don’t know the storyline, I would go look it up now. Not only is it intriguing, it will help you understand this next passage.

Basically, this is Helena complaining about how Demetrius doesn’t love her to Hermia, who Demetrius does love.

Helena: Teach me how you look and how you sway the motion of Demetrius heart. 

Hermia: I frown upon him yet he loves me still.

Helena: Then your frowns could teach my smiles some skill! 

Hermia: I give him curses yet he gives me love.

Helena: Then my prayers could such affection move!

Hermia: The more I hate, the more he follows me.

Helena: The more I love, the more he hates me.

Hermia: His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.

Helena: Except your beauty! I wish that were mine!

Hermia: Take comfort, he shall no longer see my face. Lysander and myself will fly this place! 

Helena: No!? 

Note: Lysander is Hermia’s love.

Action: Part 2

If you haven’t read part 1 click here:

Action: Part 2 

“Hello?” I knocked on the wall beside the entrance to the room, which was covered by a silk curtain. “Come in” came a soft male voice. I drew aside the curtain and went in. The older boy was sitting by the bed, his arm was in a sling and his head was done up in a bandage. The young boy laid in the bed, his eyes closed in restless sleep. The blonde haired girl was stroking his head and murmuring to him. The other girl stood over them all, arms crossed, a worried frown on her face.

” I’m Sita” I said, ” I’m the king’s daughter.” The man rose and kissed my hand. “Oh no!” I exclaimed ” That’s not necessary for me. Just treat me like you would a friend.” He smiled, showing perfect white teeth. ” Thank you.” he said. He couldn’t have been more than fifteen.

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“My Father told me about you.” I said, sitting down on the floor. ” He told me how brave you’re being. How you’re fighting the rebels to ensure peace and security in our land.” ” We fight for the rights everyone has.” said the boy quietly. ” We are The Action when people are submittance.”

“Can you tell me about it?” I asked ” About yourselves and your story?” The man glanced across at the blonde girl and she nodded and smiled shyly at me.

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“I’m Voice” the boy began “And this is Liberty. Over there is Amnesty and here, lying sick and injured, is Equal. Together we are Action. A year ago when I was fifteen, Liberty here was thirteen, Amnesty was fourteen and Equal was eleven, we decided that young people can make a difference. We all lived happily, under your Father, our noble, fair and just King’s, rule. But the Rebels soon came. My Father is dead because of them and both of Amnesty’s parents are. Equal’s parents were abducted, no one knows if they are alive. Liberty’s Mum is a prisoner.

We started standing up. We started telling people the truth about these power hungry killers. We encouraged people to be strong. But each and every second of our lives we pay the price. We are always in danger. Never are we safe. We cannot enjoy our childhood. For me it is already gone, but Equal is just a kid. Conflict has torn our world apart.”

A tear ran down my cheek. ” And I didn’t know! ” I cried bitterly. ” No one told me. ” Suddenly I dried my tears fiercely. ” When do you go back?” I asked ” I’m coming with you.”

“But Sita!” Voice took my hand. ” How can you leave this?” he gestured to the splendour of the room around us. ” Your life. Your Father!” ” I don’t belong here. I never did. I won’t miss it one bit. Oh, and call me Empathy.” Voice shook his head in wonder. ” Empathy, welcome to Action.”


Action: Part 1

Here is a story that I am writing for this blog. It is called Action and it is about human rights. It will come in parts. Here is part one:

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My heroine, Sita.

Action: Part 1

My life changed the day the four strangers rode under the great Ivory Arch and into my Father’s kingdom. I remember it so well.

I was out in the desert, on one of my adventures, it was arid and almost unbearably hot. I was walking away from the sprawling, white  city behind me, gazing out to the dunes on the horizon, when I saw it. A light brown dust cloud against the pale blue sky. “Horsemen!” I knew at once what the meaning of this strange cloud was. Slipping on my jewelled sandals, I began to sprint into the distance, my feet flying over the sand.

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The horses were growing closer, I dived behind a windswept, gnarled shrub and flattened myself onto the hot ground. I saw them clearly now, four of them.

The boy rode first, their leader. He had tight black curls and coffee coloured skin and perspiration glistened on his forehead. His shirt was ripped and his arm hung limply at his side. Still he managed to look proud and dignified as he thundered across the desert. Shortly behind him was a teenage girl with blond hair that flew behind her in the wind. Her dirty, bloodstained white dress matched her light, scratched skin.

Beside her was another girl of around the same age. She was tall and had night dark hair pulled up into a high ponytail, her eyes were a piercing, searching jade. A knife and sword were on the heavy belt slung around her waist. It jangled as they rode.

Finally there came a boy, the youngest of them all. Grim determination could be read on his face as he spurred his steed onwards, He had short brown hair and his skin was the colour of caramel. His trouser leg was soaked with crimson blood and he wore no shoes.

Suddenly they were past me, I hadn’t noticed how close they were getting.

I wriggled round on my belly to watch them go. Once they were inside the gates of my Father’s palace, I rose and started for home.

My Father is the King of this land. What business did these strangers have with him?

I had hardly stepped inside the palace grounds when a hand grabbed mine from behind. I turned to see a boy with short black hair and soft brown eyes. ” Rami! ” I exclaimed. He looked excited. ” Sita, there are new visitors in the Palace City! “” I know, I’ve seen them! ” I replied. “I heard that they are hiding from something.” he whispered ” Something big and powerful and evil. ” His eyes grew wide. I smiled fondly at my friend. ” I’m sure I will find out soon enough ” I said ” I am the King’s daughter, you know. But Rami!” A thought hit me. ” Don’t listen to any of those rumours you hear in the palace kitchens. They’re just stupid, ignorant gossip, understand? ” He grinned and nodded, though I knew he wouldn’t keep his promise.

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I found out who they were quite quickly, Father summoned me to his throne room the very next morning.

I was led along the narrow corridor by a servant. My silk skirt rustled luxuriously and the beads on my silver headdress glittered in the sunlight. Rainbows danced through the glass prisms that hung along the ceiling, which was a great white dome. Colourful, chiffon scarfs covered the walls on either side.

My Father sat on his huge, magnificent throne. Solid gold lions and tigers kept him company, lolling either side of him. He was draped in scarlet, burgundy, sunset and forest green robes and an orange turban was on his head. He laughed merrily as I stepped into the beautifully decorated room and walked elegantly towards him. “Sita, my daughter.” he greeted me warmly.

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” I assume you are dying to know all about our visitors. ” he smiled knowingly at me. ” Well, yes Papa, as you ask. ” I replied eagerly. ” So are the rest of the Palace City. ” he rolled his eyes.

” I will tell you then.” he waved regally to the a small, elaborately carved, wooden chair opposite him. ” Sit down, Sita, sit down.” I did, the cushion was soft and springy. He began his tale.

” These are brave people. We are honoured to have them here, really. Now, Sita, there are bad people in this world as you know and some are closer to us than we might expect, but these good people are dedicated to fighting them. Even though it means risking their lives.”

“Further west from here there is a group of bad people, we call them rebels. They want power and they will stop at nothing to get it. They are trying to get the civilians on their side. When people refuse, tragically, they kill them. ” I shuddered, but my Father continued. ” These visitors were once our civilians, now they are our soldiers, Sita. They fight against the rebels and for me, but the rebels are getting stronger. Out of fear people join them. Seeking safety and help they have fled here. Not because they are afraid, but because their youngest member is seriously wounded.” “Member?” I asked

“Yes, they are a gang. They call themselves The Action.”

That was the turning point. I knew what my destiny was.



Dungeness Adventure


Saturday 10th of the ninth month, 2016, and it’s another windy day on Romney Marsh. Not wet or particularly cold, but bright and very blowy.

We’re at RSPB, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Dungeness, armed with binoculars and a keen enthusiasm.

I love birdwatching. My parents tell me that when I was just learning to walk, in our house, there was a Gracie height window that looked out over the garden and I would stand or sit and watch the birds for ages. Maybe that’s where it started. I’m quite good at identifying birds, I know a lot of different kinds, species and families. But my favourite bird has to be the Wren, it’s so tiny, but it has a huge voice. Once when I was playing hide and seek with some friends, I hid in a hay pile, at the time we kept goats, I completely buried myself and a little wren came and was jumping around on me, oblivious to the fact that, underneath the unusually human shaped hay stack, was me!

Anyhow, Dungeness now being our local nature reserve, we wanted to check it out. The first highlight was almost as soon as we walked through the door of the visitor centre. One of the walls was completely made of glass and looked out over a vast expanse of water  with many, many sandbanks and little islands dotted across it. The guy at reception smiled at us clutching our binos and membership cards. “Look out there,” he said “See the two white blobs on that island?” I’d guessed before he said it. “Great white egrets!”

I’d never seen a Great White, though I’d always hoped to after seeing so many little egrets when we lived on the boat last year. These Great Whites were magnificent. Looking through a magnified lens, I saw them, their big bodies covered in vanilla coloured feathers, their necks long and arching, their beaks thin, curved and the colour of sunset, their legs stick-like and a dark grey.

Great Egret Photo



Moving out into the reserve, past a pond of flitting dragonflies and noisy frogs, past ditches full of tall, conferring reeds, alongside the shimmering lake.  We reached the first hide. Pushing open the door the hide was jammed with serious looking birders, all sporting several pairs of binoculars round their necks and peering through huge, high power telescopes. We sat down on the bench and, putting our binoculars to our eyes, began scouring the scene for any interesting birds.

I like to watch them going about their daily life, fighting, feeding, tending to their young, mingling, flying. After a while we’d seen some ringed plovers, some curlew sandpipers, a lot of great crested grebes with young, coots, swans, cormorants, tufted ducks and shovellers. Quite good for under an hour of birding.

Ringed plover walking in shallow water

Ringed Plover. Very cute!

More and more people kept pouring into the hide. Eventually a nice lady with a European, maybe french, accent told us that everyone here was looking for a very rare bird that had been spotted on the reserve the previous day. It was called a Buff Breasted Sandpiper and lived in Canada and northern North America and was supposed to migrate to South America, but had got very lost and ended up here.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Suddenly a man gave a jubilant cry. “I’ve got it!” he said excitedly, not looking up from his telescope. “Where? Where?” asked everyone else. “On that island with a coot and lapwing. The one with a post behind it.” This is precisely what he told us.

After a while my binoculars set eye on a very small light coloured bird scuttling around the island. “I’ve seen it.” I told Dad and he directed Evan and Irys to its whereabouts.

It was hard to see against the sandy coloured pebbles, as it was much the same colour. But you easily see it because of its movement. It ran back and forth, to and fro, like it was on fast forward.

After a while of watching this lovely little unexpected visitor and all the other birds around it, we had to end our Dungeness adventure, it was back to the car for some of Gracie’s home-baked tea loaf.

Happy Days……….!

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Imaginary Interview with Inspirational Fundraiser.

Meet Peter Larson, 22 year old fundraiser from Minnesota. Based on my research about him, here is my imaginary interview.

Hi Peter. Who do you fundraise for?

Hi Gracie, I’m a fundraiser for homeless charity Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners and I raise money and awareness by sleeping out, on the street, in a cardboard box for all my holiday nights per year and, yeah, even in the freezing winter month of December. Even Christmas.

Wow! How old were you when you decided to start doing this? What inspired you? 

Well, I was six years old and my Dad was a scout leader. His troop slept out in tents in the middle of the winter because of a man called Bob Fischer, he had started this movement called Sleep Out, where he slept outside every night of the holiday season. I was allowed to go along. Bob Fischer came to talk to us and, although I was just the little one scurrying around collecting tinned food donations, I really took notice of what Bob told us all that day.

That night, as I lay shivering in my sleeping bag, Bob’s words echoed in my head. ” Tomorrow you will all go home to a warm, safe home. Imagine if you weren’t. This is the reality many people, some children like you, face. But for just $500 a month, they can be housed.” I was only in first grade, but I thought “I can do what Bob’s doing! I can raise that!” 

Does the money you’ve raised get sent to other countries?

No, all the money I raise is used in my county, Hennepin, Minnesota. I’ve even helped people in my immediate neighbourhood. 

How many people have you helped so far? 

I don’t know for sure, but my campaign has raised a lot of money over the years. I’ve also raised money from my congregation at church and received many kind and generous donations. It has been estimated by members of IOCP, Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, the organisation that Bob was connected with, that I have helped over 1500 people find a home. 

Have you ever got to visit a family you’ve been able help out of a tricky situation? 

Yes, I went to visit Abdulahi and her kids quite a few years ago, she was shocked and touched that it was just a boy who gave her and her family a chance at being happy. 

The little house was so cosy, so homely and the folk seemed so relaxed and content. It really made my heart sing. 

Finally Peter, we hear from your Mother…

” If Peter deems something to be important, he goes at it with his entire heart…I’ve seen him with ice on his body and snow on his box…I wouldn’t stop him. You have to step back and let your child figure out what touches them, and with Peter it comes from the heart, not because he’s supposed to.”

You are truly amazing Peter and all of today’s children should aspire to be like you, including me. I know that the world would be a better place if the future generation thought like you do. Here are some photos of you over the years. 

10-13-09 submits placed on server by Marta Aldrich.

The little Peter

10-13-09 submits placed on server by Marta Aldrich.

You don’t look at all cold!


Great Slogan!


A seventeen year old Peter celebrating his eleventh year of sleeping out.