The Tamworth Two

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A couple of weeks ago we visited The Rare Breeds Centre in Kent. It was here that I learnt the tale of the Tamworth Two. It’s pretty cool.

The Tamworth Two

One day, in January 1998, a load of pigs were sent, by lorry, to an abattoir in Wiltshire. As they were being unloaded, two Tamworth pigs escaped.

The brother and sister squeezed through a fence and swum across the river Avon. No one could catch them. The story went to local press and soon reached the ears of major newspapers such as the Daily Mail.

The escapee pigs caused a huge media sensation and they became like celebrities. People all over Britain and even abroad wanted to hear about Butch and Sundance , as they had been nicknamed.

The pigs were on the run for more than a week before they were eventually captured. The owner of the pigs still wanted to slaughter them, but by now they were too famous. The Daily Mail bought the pair off of him for excruciating sum of money. They were sent to live at The Rare Breeds Centre in Kent were they were happy as could be. Sadly Butch died in October 2010 and Sundance wasn’t slow to follow.

But, hey ho, their legacy lives on. And people still talk about their magnificent escapade today.

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“No, it wasn’t us. We didn’t do anything.”

Off To A Flying Start

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I am about to describe one of the best experiences of my life.

It all started off like an ordinary day, we were going for a picnic with some friends, it was beautifully sunny and, yeah, everything seemed normal.

About an hour before we were going to leave Dad told us that, yes, we were going for a picnic, but we were doing something else first. I was intrigued, as I’m sure you are now. Dad revealed, after a while, that we were going flying in a plane!

Our friend built his own plane, which he flies quite regularly from an airfield near Lewes. He often flies over our house and sometimes we wave. He had offered before to take us up, but I never thought it would happen. Now it was.

A strange feeling crept up inside me, I was utterly excited and a bit nervous, as I’d never been in any sort of plane or flying machine. I’m sure my stomach flipped when Dad said the words “flying in Dave’s plane”.

I’d always fantasize about flying high up in an aeroplane. I’d dream about it too, but then I’d wake up because I couldn’t really picture what it would be like.

The plane is called a Streak Shadow and it seats two people. It was amazing to think that Dave built it all by himself. My sister went first, then me.

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Irys coming in to land

I clambered into the cramped cabin and sat down. I had to undergo a safety check where I was shown how to undo the seatbelt in an emergency and how to open the hatch. I had to wear headphones with a speaker to communicate during flight.

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Then we were ready for takeoff. Dave, the pilot, spoke into the radio to tell them that we were departing. Pilots talk in a sort of code with coordinating words and long series of numbers. I learnt that you never say the words ‘take off’ unless you are actually about to take off.

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Dad and the Streak Shadow

You should always try to take off into the wind when in a plane. Sometimes there is what is called a crosswind, where the wind blows across, not down the runway. There was a slight one today, but we looked at the windsock and judged the best direction to go in.

Soon we were racing down the runway at almost 150mph. Then we were in the air. Gradually we gained height until we were 2000ft above the earth. We slowed to about 80mph. Finally, I had the chance to get a proper look at the ground below. Immediately, I thought of my Granny’s dolls house! Everything was miniature. The sheep in the fields looked like ants and the fields themselves stretched away into the distance like a patchwork quilt with hedge stitching.

Because the plane was so small and light, you felt every little, tiny movement. Every jerk and every lurch, and every gust of wind.

Dave took me on a tour of the area, pointing out the sights. Then we flew over and saw the coastline. I was absolutely loving it.

Then Dave asked me if I’d like to have a go at using the controls. I said, over the intercom, that I definitely would. He showed me how everything worked and I had to use the joystick, which is the steering instrument.

Right is right, left is left, forward is down, backwards is up. What I didn’t realise is that only tiny jiggles are needed. I pushed forward really hard and we literally plunged downwards. That was very, very, very scary.

After a while I got the hang of it. Dave put his hands on his head to prove that I really was flying the plane alone. I practised picking a point on the horizon and steering towards it, keeping it in the centre of the dashboard.

The landing was a little nerve-wracking since we came in at a weird angle due to the crosswind.My whole flight in one word: exhilarating.

At the end of the day, I received a Young Aviators Certificate. It was brilliant.

I would like to thank Dave for giving us such an awesome experience. He was so willing to teach us and share with us, we really loved that. He also taught us a lesson in generosity. I hope that other people will be like this as we journey through life.

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So happy!

Me, A Shortlistee?

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Remember the poem I wrote to enter into the Amnesty International Youth Awards?
Well, it was shortlisted for the top ten! I felt so excited, I just couldn’t stop laughing and jumping up and down.This was a national competition and  thousands of people had entered.  I rung everyone, telling them the great news. I was thrilled. The feeling was amazing.

I had to wait a few weeks to find out if I had made it into the top three, unfortunately I didn’t, but I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t expect even to get into the top ten.

A couple of days ago I received my certificate, which is very grand, and a small prize: an Amnesty International book. It is the Human Rights Act in sketches and it is by the children’s laureate, Chris Riddel.
If you haven’t read my poem you can read it here at:https://graciechicksblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/the-candle/

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Four Birds

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I hope you like this short story that I wrote. I’m working on my story writing and I do believe it’s slowly improving. This story is like a fable, it has a moral, and the moral is that your parents may make you work hard and learn lots, but they’re doing it because they want to prepare you for life. And they want the best for you, because they love you. Dad and Mum talk to us about this all the time. They are always teaching us things and it’s because they care.

FOUR BIRDS

There once was a family that lived peacefully up in the High Hills. They lived a simple life, in a simple little cottage, on a simple little farm. The children never knew anything about the outside world, but the parents did. Every evening they would sit by the crackling fire, the littlest on the Father’s knee, the other three curled up on the rug. The Father would tell stories of big cities, millions of people, great palaces, schools, brightly coloured markets, beautiful sunsets not blocked out by hills, mountains that touch the sky, majestic forests and exotic animals and oceans that stretch further than the eye can see.

The children listened in awe and one by one they decided that one day they too would see all these wonders. They spoke to their Father about this and he nodded, smiling. “My children,” he began ” I would like nothing more than for you to go out and explore the world, follow your dreams, settle down and help our world to grow.” The children’s eyes grew wide with anticipation. “But,” their Father continued, “but first you must be ready. The world is not just wonderful, it is dangerous too. You must be able to think for yourselves. At the moment you are fully reliant on your Mother and I. Before you go, you must learn and put the effort in. If you do not work hard, you will not be able to go out and adventure.”

The four children walked away, their wise Father’s words resounding in their ears ” You must be able to think for yourselves.”

That night, as the children lay asleep in their warm cosy beds, their Mother and Father sat talking. “Must we make them think for themselves?”, asked their Mother, “Can we not think for them?” ” My dear, the time has come. We cannot think for them always and forever. They must begin now otherwise they will be adults who have no idea how to live. They will always have to rely on someone else, they will never live their lives to the full. Surely that is not what you want for them?” “No,” sniffed the Mother, “I want them to spread their wings and fly.” “Good” smiled the Father “I’m just giving them a little push. That is my job as a Father, to help my children be the best they can be.”

At first the children worked extremely hard, watching and learning from their parents and trying to think for themselves at every opportunity they got. But their Father knew it wouldn’t last long. Slowly, they grew tired and less motivated. Their Father took them aside and reminded them. “Children! How many times have I told you the importance of thinking for yourselves?! You mustn’t keep relying on me and your Mother. It is my role to guide you , but I can’t do everything for you. If you want to go, you must do it for yourself.”

The children felt refreshed and inspired after their Father’s speech and they set about it once again. This time they stuck to it. They learnt more and more and they began to do things for themselves ever oftener.

Their Mother watched them with tears in her eyes, but also pride and joy. Their Father just looked on, content. He rarely had to say anything nowadays.

Eventually the time came when the children were ready to leave. Their parents stood on the hilltop, outside the little cottage, and watched them go. Four birds, flying free.

The Father put his arm around the Mother’s shoulder. “My dear,” he said “our children are off to live their lives the best they can and we have helped them the best we can. They are part of the future and, because we love them, we have made them as ready for it as they possibly could be. They will contribute to a bright and hopeful world.”

THE END

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Foraging And Herbal Medicine Day

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Alice, along with her friend and fellow herbalist Lucinda, has started running a home ed foraging and herbal medicine group.  On Wednesday I went to their first one. It was great! I like identifying plants and then finding out how you can use them to help you v, it’s really really interesting.  I love hanging out with Alice, she teaches me so many helpful bits of knowledge. I’ve certainly learnt a lot from her and I learnt even more yesterday.

In the morning we went on a walk around the farm, collecting all the wild herbs and plants as we went.

Together, Alice and Lucinda explained how to work out which family a specific plant is in.  The answer is that every family has a unique code. For example the mint family code is 554:  5 united sepals, 5 united petals,  (2 up, 3 down) and 4 stamens,  (2 long, 2 short).

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All mints also have a square stalk, opposite leaves and a very strong smell.  If you can tick off all these factors then you should be able to determine that your chosen specimen is in the mint family.  Did you know that most of the herbs we cook with are in the mint family?  These include rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and marjoram.

We gathered a fresh and colourful spring harvest of daisies (poor man’s arnica, for bumps and bruises), dandelions (every part is edible), hawthorn shoots (tender and flavoursome in salad), ground-ivy (warming), red dead nettle (good on wounds), wild garlic (pungent and spicy), cleavers (like a natural pipecleaner), nettles (good for so many edible and medicinal uses), ladies smock (my favourite and in the mustard family), elder leaves (inedible but good for bruises) and much more!

Here's everything that we foraged laid out on display

Here’s everything that we foraged laid out on display

Wild garlic

Wild garlic

Nettles

Nettles

 

 

 

A mix of edible wild flowers and leaves

A mix of edible wild flowers and leaves

In the afternoon we got busy making! We made a herbal salad with the daisies, dandelions, wild garlic flowers, young hawthorn shoots, ground-ivy and a bit of spinach (to bulk it out a bit).  We made sauerkraut with nettles and dandelions as well as cabbage. We also prepared a spring tonic, an infused vinegar, a daisy and elder leaf ointment, nettle and wild garlic pesto and dandelion fritters.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

Dandelion fritters

Dandelion fritters

 

 

The little yellow pellets are beeswax, when they melt you strain the plants out and leave the liquid to set. You've got ointment!

The little yellow pellets are beeswax, when they melt you strain the plants out and leave the liquid to set. You’ve got ointment!

Ointment and fritters

Ointment and fritters

 

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my day. Thanks to Alice and Lucinda for being so willing to share what they know, which is very valuable.  Next time I’m out and about and I cut myself I’ll be delighted because I’ll know what to do: Chew up some red dead nettle and apply it!

A close up of the ground ivy flower.

A close up of the ground ivy flower.

My cleavers juice

My cleavers juice

Tiger's enjoying herself

Tiger’s enjoying herself

The fire

The fire

The salad

The salad

Blackthorn flowers: delicious!

Blackthorn flowers: delicious!

Bumps & Bruises Balm made from Elder Leaves & Daisies

Bumps & Bruises Balm
made from Elder Leaves & Daisies

Staff And Rachel’s Wedding

Staff and Rach

Staff and Rach

We were invited to our friends, Staff and Rachel’s, wedding. It was a lovely day, everything was perfect, exactly how they’d wanted it.

The whole room fell silent, I remember the silence ringing in my ears. Only the fairy lights twinkled from their places entwined over the wooden boughs of the ceiling. The atmosphere was expectant and people turned to look at the little doorway through which the bride would enter, causing a rustling of fascinators.

The curtain was drawn and the guests drew in their breaths, a bridesmaid stood there quietly.  She wore a navy blue dress and reminded me of an ancient greek goddess. Clinging onto her hand was little Charlotte.  She was wearing a white dress and the hair on her head was curled into sweet, wispy curls.  People smiled as she walked by, swinging a little wand of willow.  The next bridesmaid walked quickly and I could hear the hard clack clack of her heels on the shiny floor.  Her dress swayed softly as she went, her head bowed, her hands clasped together.

The curtain was drawn again and I looked over to Anna who was pulling a bow across the violin she held. Her eyes were closed and a smile much like the Mona Lisa’s played on her lips. Secretive, but happy, as if only she knew the secret to making such heavenly sounds. The music rose and fell. I turned back round to see the curtains opening.

Through the tiny gap, rapidly widening, I saw a swish of ivory. I watched as, slowly, a beautiful bride appeared. Her Father stood beside her, he was proud and smiling. She looked straight ahead to her future husband, a gentle happiness and eagerness in her face. Rachel’s dress was stunning. Dainty lace, a woven web of tiny flowers and leaves, covered her chest and arms. Silky ivory folds cascaded down her body and swirled around her feet, like a waterfall into a whirlpool.

She took her first few graceful steps. She held her head high, her golden hair pinned up. She reminded me of a swan, the way she glided down the aisle, her snowy train trailing behind her.

Staff stood waiting, his expression emotional, his eyes full of love and adoration. For a few moments all they saw was each other. Until the celebrant broke their trance.

Everyone present there that day could not help but be mesmerised by the sight of Rachel meeting her groom. They held hands and looked at each other with such fondness that it brought a wide smile to every guest’s face.

Photos!

Rachel and her Dad

Rachel and her Dad

 

Outside taking wedding photos. Staff and Rachel, Staff's parents in background.

Outside taking wedding photos. Staff and Rachel, Staff’s parents in background.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Staff making his speech

Staff making his speech

 

 

 

All dressed up

All dressed up

Me, Evan and Irys

Me, Evan and Irys

 

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Lavender biscuits

Lavender biscuits

 

I thought this was really cool

I thought this was really cool

These showed us where to sit. Aren't they lovely?

These showed us where to sit. Aren’t they lovely?

Irys looking pretty

Irys looking pretty

Evan wearing a proper tie for the first time!

Evan wearing a proper tie for the first time!

Selfie with Dad

Selfie with Dad

 

Selfie with Irys and Mum

Selfie with Irys and Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum and Dad in the photo booth

Mum and Dad in the photo booth

All having fun in the photo booth

All having fun in the photo booth

Dancing with Charlotte in after the ceremony.

Dancing with Charlotte  after the ceremony.

Pose!

Pose!

The delicious wedding cake. Four layers: red velvet, victoria sponge, chocolate and lemon drizzle. WE ate this whilst dancing along to a energetic folk band!

The delicious wedding cake. Four layers: red velvet, victoria sponge, chocolate and lemon drizzle. We ate this whilst dancing along to an energetic folk band!

My Honest Diary

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This is an entry from the diary I have begun to write. Dad speaks to me often about being honest and honesty’s importance so I decided to start this diary. It will allow me to me honest with myself and occasionally, through this blog, honest with the world.

10th March 2016

“No matter how stupid it sounds, honesty is your friend. It is only when people are honest that wrongs can be righted. If you are honest you can be forgiven. When you are honest you can live without guilt and fear of being uncovered. Honesty is another word for truth. And the truth is the truth, whatever you do to it, it will remain the same.”

And at the moment I’m not always honest. I’m not a liar or a fraud, but I am defensive and I don’t like to admit that I was wrong. If I was honest with myself I would see that I was not right and accept it.

Gracie…..

 

Another Blog About Botho

 

A while ago I wrote a blog called Botho and I promised more blogs about the same subject. If you don’t know what Botho is or you didn’t read my first blog you can read it here: https://graciechicksblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/botho/

This blog is about how I apply Botho to life in my family.

To be honest, I  don’t always think about Botho, but in some situations I do. For example, the other day we didn’t have much milk and I was first, Botho was absent from my mind so I used too much and there wasn’t enough for my Mum. But then another time when my sister wanted to walk a friend’s dog before school I remembered. She really loves to do it, but she had to do her jobs as well and she was going to be really late so I thought: “I’ll do her jobs for her!” and I did. The reason I did this was because I wanted her to be able to enjoy her walk and not worry about being late. I also wanted to use this opportunity to live Botho style!  Afterwards I felt good because I had thought of her before myself.

The key is to think about Botho in everyday situations you find yourself in and try to make your decision based on what’s best for the people around you.  I need to try as well, we all do if we want harmony and peace for our world.

 

 

Botho may start within one country, Botswana, but I believe that it can spread around the whole world. Then we will live in peac and harmony, no more fighting.

Botho may start within one country, Botswana, but I believe that it can spread around the whole world.

Botho can bring people together

Botho can bring people together

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Chased By A Stag!

 

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On saturday afternoon our good friends, Benny, Sam and Neve came over to play, as they often do. We saw them coming down the driveway so we climbed to the top of a large wooden throne and waved our arms wildly. They stopped and we set off across the field at a fast gallop.

We met outside the secret base, I am afraid I cannot disclose any more information about this location, and entered. After working for a while, Benny and I walked home to get a few extra tools, everything was going fine until we were on our way back…….

Benny and I were just wandering back, chatting and laughing, then Benny stopped dead. “What is it?” I asked, alarmed. “Over there” he said. Following his gaze, I saw, in the field next to us, the most magnificent stag ever! It was just calmly grazing the grass and Benny and I just stared. “WOW!” we both breathed.

It was just incredible, its short fur glistened in the sun and  just everything about it was beautiful. But what caught my eye the most was its huge antlers! They rose up out of its skull, sharp and tall and sinister. This in its self was an amazing experience, but more was yet to come.

It looked a bit like this

It looked a bit like this

Suddenly our trance was broken by the sound of shouts and talking from the base. “Oh please don’t scare it away!” I said in my head. It didn’t seem likely that the others had seen it because the stag was hidden from their view by a hedge. But the stag had heard them!

It lifted its head and looked their way and with a toss of its head (and antlers!) it began to walk towards them. Suddenly it struck me that this wasn’t a scared stag, this was an angry stag, ready to defend its territory! Benny must have realised too because he grabbed his bike and set off across the field shouting.

Meanwhile the stag had hastened his pace and was running straight towards our base and our younger siblings. It had its head down, in a charge.

I hastened my pace too but I couldn’t run fast when carrying tools and wearing wellies. I shouted at Benny to cycle as fast as he could and see if the others were okay. He nodded and sped ahead. The stag disappeared behind the hedge, closely followed by Benny.

Eventually I got there, only to find some confused children. “Stag? What Stag?” they asked ” You’re joking, right?” I asked in disbelief ” Don’t tell me you didn’t see that huge stag that just charged right through our base!” They shook their heads ” We were  working” they said.

” Okay guys” Benny said ” Lets get out of here” we hurriedly packed our stuff and skedaddled. After a while of walking we came to a place where we thought it would be safe to talk. We all collapsed on the grass and everyone began to talk at once. I explained what had happened and we came to the conclusion that, as Benny and I had run in screaming and shouting, the stag had run for cover in the long grass. “Then it must have been listening to us as we told you we hadn’t seen it” said someone. That fact made me feel slightly sick.

We decided to abandon the den as it was an angry stag with pointy antlers territory. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Imagine being charged at by one of these majestic yet deadly creatures

Imagine being charged at by one of these majestic yet deadly creatures

 

Botho

If change was a fire, then a small piece of tinder has been lit! And I’ve just smelt the smoke! The fire has started deep in the heart of Africa, in the country of Botswana, and it goes by the name of Botho.

 

 

A small village in Botswana

A small village in Botswana

Botswana is governed by five national principals, democracy, development, self-reliance, unity and Botho.

Botho is a philosophy that the people of Botswana follow.  It is based on a number of important things: Mutual respect, responsibility, compassion and realising your full potential as an individual and as part of the community you live in.

The people of Botswana  practice Botho everyday, at school, at work, at home and in their local community. They think about the decisions they make and see if they are good for others and not just for themselves.

Botswana’s vision for 2016 states:  ‘Botho defines a process for earning respect by first giving it, and to gain empowerment by empowering others. It encourages people to applaud rather than resent those who succeed. It disapproves of anti-social, disgraceful, inhuman and criminal behaviour, and encourages social justice for all. It means above all things to base your thoughts, actions and expectations for human interaction on the principles of Love, Respect and Empathy’

You cannot live  Botho alone. Botho is all about working together, about doing what is best for the community and not just for yourself.

I think that Botho holds the secret for the world living in peace and harmony. That is what it is all about, unity and in unity we have strength to stand up for what is right.

I challenge you, people of the world, to think about Botho and how you can apply it to your own life. I too am going to think about it. How can I apply it to life in my own little community: my family? We, as a family, feel like we already try to follow some of the principles of Botho.

I am going to explore it even more, so expect more blogs about it. As I journey I will share my thoughts . My final destination is to live Botho.

Tell me what you think in the comments, I’m really keen to know…….

They don't have a lot of things or a lot of money, but they have Botho and that makes them happy!

They don’t have a lot of things or a lot of money, but they have Botho and that makes them happy!

One family found the philosophy so important that they named their child Botho.

One family found the philosophy so important that they named their child Botho.

Caring about others is essential for the people of Botswana. They believe that it is important to do what is best for your community.

Caring about others is essential for the people of Botswana. They believe that it is important to do what is best for your community.