Evan’s Uke

My brother has been learning the ukelele for a while now, but just recently he has really taken off. This is his first music video…….

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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!

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!

Chased By A Stag!

 

stag

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

 

Day 15 – London Canal Museum

IRYS

When I was walking down the towpath dad told me and Evan about horses pulling boats and what happened when they fell in the river.

The horses might fall in the river because they slip or get spooked.

There are slopes at the side of the canal for them to walk back on to the towpath and tow the boat again.

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They have to wear a full harness, one of the bits is called a head collar, it helps them pull the weight of the boat.  The head collar has to be the right fit because if it’s too tight it will make the horse choke and if it’s too loose it rubs on the horses neck and it gets really sore.

The  Romans used mules to tow boats on their waterways.  In the 1960’s people stopped using horses to tow work boats.

There are still used for towing passenger boats today.

Outside the London Canal Museum

Outside the London Canal Museum

GRACIE

We visited another Museum, ‘ The London Canal Museum’.  Here I learnt the life story of Carlo Gatti.

Carlo Gatti was born in the Italian -Swiss Alps, the only Italian speaking region of Switzerland.  He was a bad scholar so, at only thirteen years of age, he joined his two brothers in Paris.  They had a business selling chestnuts on the streets.  Carlo longed for something bigger, more fruitful.  He wanted to be rich and successful.

So he travelled to London, where he figured he would be better off, he hadn’t imagined the poverty and squalor.  He, like most other Italian emigrants, had to live in a poor  part of town called ‘Little Italy’.  Nowadays it’s ‘Little Venice’.   He began selling chestnuts again and even sold waffles at a coffee stall.  He was very unhappy, his dreams weren’t coming true.

His fortune changed the day he met Ballo, who would soon become his business partner and good friend.  They set up the Gatti and Ballo Café Ristorante. Carlo put a cocoa grinding machine in the window.  It was his pride and joy.  Soon he became famous all over London for his chocolate.

The thing Gatti was most famous for was his amazing ice cream.  He got ice from all over London, mostly on the Regent’s Canal.  It wasn’t a success, the ice was dirty, thin and some winters, not even there at all.  So he began to look further afield.  Soon he started to send ships over to Norway and America.

The process of ice collecting is relatively simple. First horses pulled a plough over the surface to clear debris.  Then they pulled a sort of blade that cut the ice into large cubes.  The blocks were then lifted out of the water by a pair of metal blades with wooden handles, these were called ‘Ice Dogs’.  The ice was then hauled up the steep fjords and sent down the other side on a chute. Then they were loaded onto ships bound for England.

The ice was then transported up the canals and taken to one of Gatti’s ice wells.  The museum had two of these deep, dark, damp wells beneath it.  The ice was lowered in by hand cranes and left. It didn’t melt because it was cold underground. Also the sides were packed with sawdust that helped keep the ice cool.

Soon ices became all the rage and Carlo Gatti became really rich.

A model of the ice well

A model of the ice well

EVAN

In the afternoon we went to the London Canal Museum.  Up till about 60 years ago it was a place where they stored ice for fish mongers, ice cream makers and lots of other things, it was called The Ice House.

The ice  wells could hold 2000 – 3000 tons of ice at a time, the ice came from Norway.

Looking down into the ice well

Looking down into the ice well

The first way to move boats along the canal was to get horses to pull the boats, they then used steam engines, now boats have diesel engines .

One of the most famous and common diesel engines was the Bolinder.

The Bolinder engine was 9horse power.  If you still have a Bolinder engine in your boat it is worth a lot.

MO

Hi Everybody

I just wanted to let you know that a few months ago my family bought a Morris Traveller.  It’s an old banger of a car, all rusty and smashed up, but Evan, who is my brother, and Dad are turning it into a campervan.  They’re currently building a wooden house on the back of it.  It’s kind of a campercar!

We all fondly refer to it as ‘MO’.

Allow me to introduce Mo, who will be a campercar in the future, courtesy of Evann and Dad.

Allow me to introduce Mo, who will be a campercar in the future, courtesy of Evann and Dad.

Evan is very passionate about building and so is Dad.  Dad has a lot of experience, as he has been a carpenter for over 30 years. Mix this with Evan’s enthusiasm and you have an amazing project.  In fact, Evan loves Mo so much that he has started his own blog about the project.  He is doing so well with his blog and with Mo that I just wanted to support him and promote his blog to some of my readers.  Here is the link: https://mymorris.wordpress.com/

 

Evan and Mo

Evan and Mo

It would be really great if you could check it out, he would love it and I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,

Gracie

Taking Clairie To London

Yesterday we took Clairie, a young girl from Germany who is doing a bit of work experience at the campsite/farm where we live, into London to see all the sights.  It is her first time in the UK, so we made sure that she saw all the things that are unique to our capital city. We explained to her about British history, from Queen Boadicea of the Iceni tribe to Guy Fawkes and from KIng Henry 8th’s many wives to the legend about the ravens at the Tower.

“Sorry, can’t smile”

The marching band

The marching band

Changing Of The Guard

Changing Of The Guard

First stop was Buckingham Palace to see the Changing Of The Guard.  This is a major tradition so Clairie had to see it.  The Busbies looked so smart in their uniform, it must be really hard to stay still and not smile all day while people are staring at you and snapping away with their cameras.

Wigeon ducks in the park

Wigeon ducks in the park

After Buckingham Palace we walked through St. James park.  Clairie and I took loads of photos of all the different breeds of birds, including wigeon ducks, black swans, mallards and even white pelicans.

Me, Evan and Irys with a member of the Household Cavalry.

Me, Evan and Irys with a member of the Household Cavalry.

We visited the Household Cavalry and had our picture taken with one of the horsemen.  Just like the Busbies, he couldn’t smile!!!

Big Ben

Big Ben

Clairie is taking photos

Clairie taking photos

We visited Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament too.  Clairie is really into photography, so she took lots of amazing shots.  Big Ben is stunning, I love all the gold leaf and the sheer height of it is incredible. The Houses of Parliament are also lovely, they’re rather posh and very beautiful.

We walked along the Embankment on river Thames. We saw the London Eye.

We walked along the Embankment on river Thames. We saw the London Eye.

Clairie and I had our pictures taken in one of London’s classic, red telephone boxes.

“Say cheese”

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My turn!!!

Next up is a little trip on the underground, it was a little busy so we had to stand. A London experience just isn’t complete without an underground journey.

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” Tower bridge and The Tower Of London, here we come!!!”

Such a cool photo of The Shard behind a bush. It looks like it's just exploded!!! BOOOM, BAAAM and BOOOOSH.

Such a cool photo of The Shard behind a bush. It looks like it’s just exploded!!! BOOOM, BAAAM and BOOOOSH!!!!!

The Shard is now the tallest building in London.

The Shard is now the tallest building in London.

The thing Clairie really wanted to see in London was Tower Bridge and as The Tower Of London is right next door we decided to visit both.  The Tower was really good, we saw Traitors Gate, but Tower Bridge was amazing. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a horn sounded and the bridge opened to let a wedding boat through. It was so cool, we hadn’t expected it to open at all!!!!

WOW!!!!

WOW!!!!

We saw the wall that the Romans built around London while they occupied it. They purpose of the wall was to protect the city from invaders. Eventually London outgrew it’s wall. Beside the ruins of it stood a statue of the emperor Tiberius.

My brother, Evan, is history mad. He enjoyed this part of the trip.

My brother, Evan, is history mad. He enjoyed this part of the trip.

Evan by the wall. I bet no enemies could get over that!!

Evan by the wall. I bet no enemies could get over that!!

Irys and I posing as royal emperor's assistants.

Irys and I posing as royal emperor’s assistants.

The next stop was my favourite part of the trip: Somerset House’s Fountain Courtyard!! Mum was explaining to Clairie that in the Winter there is a huge ice rink in the yard and in all the other parts of the year there are big fountains you can run and play in. As it was a really hot day, I asked if I may go in the fountains, I’m so glad that the answer was yes. Me, Dad, Evan and Irys skipped and jumped in the beautiful, sunny fountains. It was much to the amusement of lots of people enjoying the pretty sights and grand house. Loads of folks with snazzy cameras took pics of us , but I didn’t care, I was having the time of my life!!

Fun, fun , fun

Fun, fun , fun

Barefoot, with our trousers rolled up, in London? Mad!!!

Barefoot, with our trousers rolled up, in London? Mad!!!

Irys, lovin' it!!

Irys, lovin’ it!!

Time to move on again, this time to Covent Garden, Clairie’s favourite spot. We walked along all the shops, watched some street acts (including an opera singer and a man who performed magic tricks), Clairie bought a coconut full of coconut water and we saw the living statues. We also visited the Tintin Shop and bought a mask.

Clairie, me, Irys and Evan.

Clairie, me, Irys and Evan.

The living statue

The living statue

Trafalgar Square next!!! We saw Nelson’s Column and the Canadian and Ugandan Embassies.

Such a brave and proud man. He died for his country and so he deserves his place looking down over London.

Such a brave and proud man. He died for his country and so he deserves his place looking down over London.

Back down The Mall, all of our legs are aching now and our feet are sore.

The Mall, SW1, The City Of Westminster, London, UK.

The Mall, The City Of Westminster, London, UK.

The Union Jack

The Union Jack

One last Selfie at Buckingham Palace

One last Selfie at Buckingham Palace

The train home was a bit of a squeeze. Oh well, you haven’t experienced London properly if you haven’t been shoved in a crowded train carriage fighting for personal space and gasping for air.