The Candle

 

thecandle

I wrote this poem to enter into the poetry category of the Amnesty International Youth Awards. It took  me a long time to write the poem I really wanted to enter, like, five hours and eight attempts. Not to mention discussing it with and receiving advice from  various people, such as my Mum, Dad and friend Ollie.

In the end I was just honest with myself and wrote a poem based on my own experience. Here it goes:

The Candle

Every morning I get up and light my candle,
in the midst of darkness it can be seen for miles.

My candle shines freedom, beams truth and radiates justice.
My candle makes a difference.

Sometimes my candle burns strong and bright,
but other times a slight breeze makes it dwindle.
Sometimes a gust of wind blows it out completely,
but I always relight it and nurture it back to life.

thecandle2

When ever my candle does start to dim,
I remind myself of all those who need me,
who may otherwise feel alone.
I don’t want to let them down.

I look around me and see all the people who are like me,
feel the same passion as me,
a passion for humanity.
And I feel bound together with all those who desire to keep their candles alight.

So I smile to myself and continue to shine.

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”

thecandle1

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

 

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.

 

 

 

A few helpful tips and points from Andy

Today I was sitting in the manor house kitchen, sipping yannoh and chatting, when Andy came in.  “Hey Gracie,” he says, ” I’ve just read your blog.”  ” Is it all correct?” asks Mum, ” I mean all of the facts and figures?”  ” Well,” Andy answers ” I’ve made a few notes of things you could change, add or include.  Do you wanna come up to the office now?  We could discuss it, you can make some notes of your own”.  ” Sure.” I reply and I follow him up the creaky wooden staircase to what all of us call the ‘Top Office’.

The next hour or so was spent in a comfy chair, with a view out onto the wheat field, discussing extra information concerning wheat, illnesses, spelling mistakes, varieties, questions and so on.  I learned a lot in this short period of time, these are the main points that Andy talked about.

Now for Summer Harvest! Part 2.

 Why Do We Grow Heritage Wheat?

Heritage wheat is taller than modern wheat.  The reason why our ancestors grew tall wheat is because it grew higher than the weeds and so cast a shadow over them.  Obviously no plant can live without sunlight, so, simple as, the weeds died.

Now farmers want to put chemical fertilizer on, if they put it on the tall varieties of wheat they’d get super huge and topple over.  Therefore they have to create a small type of wheat so that when they put the fertilizer on the wheat grows to the right height.  But the weeds can grow easily in short wheat, so now what do we do?  Easy, we spray the field with weed killer!  Ah, but what if you’re an organic farm, like us?

Now you’ve covered your wheat field in weed killer,all the weeds are gone.  In most fields of modern wheat it’s all the same variety, unlike a lot of heritage wheat where it’s lots of different types.  Without the weeds the illness just passes from plant to plant to plant.  Whereas if there were weeds the disease would hit one and stop because that species isn’t affected by it.  Because all the plants are identical the illness spreads mega fast. So?  We can easily spray the plants with fungicides to stop diseases.  Oh no!  The organic problem has just popped up again. Eeeeeeeeeeek! Here come some pests, ahhhhhhhhhhhh, what can we do?  DON’T PANIC, we’ll just put some pesticides on. Grrrr, why does that same old prob keep ruining everything?!

So you see how many chemicals and horrible, disgusting, artificial substances are in the bread that you eat?  If we all just grew heritage wheat, all these things wouldn’t be needed.

Thanks Andy for your advice.

If you want to learn more about heritage wheat visit Andy’s wesite:

http://brockwell-bake.org.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Harvest!

Harvest weekend is here at last!

Harvest weekend is here at last!

Imagine this:  a field of beautifully  golden wheat, it’s perfectly ripe and sways gently in the warm, humid, summer breeze.  Harvest  weekend has finally arrived!

Where I live, on a farm in Sussex, the harvest is a big deal for everyone, men, women and children alike.  Everyone  has to muck in and pull their weight.

DSCN9829

Tiger enjoying herself.

Tiger enjoying herself.

Loading up the trailer

Loading up the trailer

Long ago scythes and sickles were the only means of harvesting, but recently they have been forgotten because of modern technology such as combine harvesters.  Not only do combine harvesters do the job in a very short amount of time, they also save a vast quantity of human sweat.

Working in the early evening sun

Working in the early evening sun

Everyone helps out.

Everyone helps out.

Andy, our chief baker here on the farm, is incredibly knowledgeable about all sorts of grains, baking and the whole process from grain to loaf.  People say that he is one of the most learned people about wheat.  He specialises in something called heritage wheat.

DSCN9842

Heritage wheat is very old wheat.  Wheat that you might say is not used by any farmers anymore, except growers of this heritage grain.  It’s Andy’s passion to reintroduce these old varieties back into use.  You may wonder how he gets hold of the grains, well, that’s simple enough.  There are two different ways.  Number one is a seed bank, there are usually one each country.  For every type of grain that is ever cultivated, they save about 180g.  People can get it from the bank in tiny quantities. Number two is more romantic, but probably less used.  It’s  where you visit an old mill and with special permission, take up the floorboards and gather the ancient grains that have fallen through over hundreds of years.  The absolute maximum age that you can still grow wheat at is around 40 years old.

The main reason why types of wheat get wiped out, is because of illnesses.  Most types last 8-9 years before an illness that can take them over forms.

Once you have the grains, maybe fifty or so of them, you sow them.  Then when you harvest them, you find that each head has say fifteen grains in it.  Again you sow all of these seeds and the numbers keep multiplying.  Soon you have a whole field of heritage wheat.

Anyhow, because we were harvesting heritage wheat, it seemed only proper that we did it traditionally.  Plus we were all wanting to do it with scythes and sickles.

We must get it in before tommorrow, because it is due to rain.

We must get it in before tommorrow, because it is due to rain.

Before the harvest Andy worked extremely hard, sowing, reaping, sowing again, reaping once again, he’d been nurturing this wheat for 7 long years.  We just came to help with the cherry on the cake.

All weekend long us workers harvested, sometimes having breaks to sit in the shade and sip cool icy water or run down to the river and have a refreshing swim.  Our wide-brimmed straw hats bobbed among the long yellow stems, as we waded through, collecting the heads of the Orange Devon Blue Rough Chaff, which is dark and furry and leaving the tall, light, velvetty Old Ken Hoary.  Us kids would run up to the taps and fill jug after jug of cold water, then pour it into cups with a splash of ginger cordial for the other workers.  We’d cut sheaths of a certain type of wheat and tie it with tape, writing its name, whether Welsh Hen Gymro or Chidham Red.  We separated the weed from the wheat, all the while munching on crunchy grains.  Each tastes a little different, Old Kent Hoary is slightly spicy, ODBRC is more sweet.

Evan working hard

Evan working hard

Chewing grains of wheat

Chewing grains of wheat

where's Irys?

where’s Irys?

Ah! There she is!

Ah! There she is!

At noon we all walked down to the manor house for a delicious and totally traditional lunch of pickles, cheese and , of course, bread! We all talked pleasantly and discussed the afternoon’s work.  The puddings were all made by me, they included flapjacks and rhubarb & plum crumble. In the evening there was music, meat, a campfire and beer.

Yum!

Yum!

The grand finale of the harvest weekend was when we loaded all of the sheaths onto the tractor trailer and followed it up to the bakery were we unloaded and had a team photo taken on the trailer.  Then we all rode back to the field to do it again!

Such a wonderful photo, full of beauty

Such a wonderful photo, full of beauty

Daddy!

Daddy!

Tiger looks like a proper country girl here!

Tiger looks like a proper country girl here!

This is Andy proudly showing off his the product of his hard work

This is Andy proudly showing off his the product of his hard work

 

Lulu waiting to catch the sheaf that is about to be thrown down to her.

Lulu waiting to catch the sheaf that is about to be thrown down to her.

Well done!

Well done!

Overall I loved doing the harvest, getting a feel of how it used to be for people in the books I read, like Laura out of Little House on the Prairie, and learning so much.  This weekend has been part of my homeschool life education.

 AwesomeTeam photo!

AwesomeTeam photo!

ME!

ME!

Lulu, Evan, Tiger, Irys, Dad and Me

Lulu, Evan, Tiger, Irys, Dad and Me

Tiger and Ev on the trailer

Tiger and Ev on the trailer

 

A good view!

A good view!

Holiday Snaps!

The beach

The beach at Lyme Regis

 

Buried in sand!

Buried in sand!

 

Last week my family and I went on holiday to the lovely little seaside town of Lyme Regis. We had such an amazing time I thought I’d share a few photos and memories.

Most of our time was spent on the beach, building sandcastle, swimming in the sea and burying each other in the sand.

Dad, Evan and Irys spent ages making me such a beautiful mermaid tail!

Dad, Evan and Irys spent ages making me such a beautiful mermaid tail!

Struggling to get out!

Struggling to get out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week while we were there so there were loads of awesome activities on. We took part in a few of them.

Morris Dancing and we got to join in! It was really fun swirling hankies and skipping.

Morris Dancing and we got to join in! It was really fun swirling hankies and skipping.

 

 

 

 

Irys and Evan joined in a treasure hunt on the sandy beach. Here's irys digging for her life.

Irys and Evan joined in a treasure hunt on the sandy beach. Here’s irys digging for her life.

There was a pavement art competition. This was my entry. I didn't win.

There was a pavement art competition. This was my entry. I didn’t win.

 

 

 

 

 

Because it was lifeboat week the RNLI (royal national  lifeboat institution) put on lots of displays.  At one point we actually got to board the boat and have a look inside!

 

Ev trying on a crew member's helmet.

Ev trying on a crew member’s helmet.

This photo says it all. My bro is in absolute paradise, he LOVES the RNLI.

This photo says it all. My bro is in absolute paradise, he LOVES the RNLI.

Us with the small lifeboat, named 'The Spirit Of Loch Fyne'

Us with the small lifeboat, named ‘ The Spirit of Loch Fyne’

 

A rescue reanactment

A rescue reenactment

Me sitting in the lifeboat navigator's seat.

Me sitting in the lifeboat navigator’s seat.

 

We did a few walks on our holiday. Some long, some short. On one short walk we saw a stunning viaduct, so impressive. Another time we walked about 9 miles to Seaton, got the bus back to Lyme and then had to walk 2 or 3 miles back to the campsite. I must admit, my feet nearly dropped off!

Mum and us kids in front of the viaduct

Mum and us kids in front of the viaduct

Map reading

Map reading

Walking.....

Walking…..

This was taken just over half way through the walk.

This was taken just over half way through the walk.

Clambouring precariously along a fallen down tree which was resting against another tree. It was about 20 foot above the ground.

Clambouring precariously along a fallen down tree which was resting against another tree. It was about 20 foot above the ground.

 

This photo is of a water mill that was on our daily walk into Lyme.

This photo is of a water mill that was on our daily walk into Lyme.

 

We took some really cool selfies while on our hols. I tried to be creative and do something a little different when I took the one of me laying on the stones.

Me and Evan.

Me and Evan.

My Mum and Dad with Lyme Regis in the background.

My Mum and Dad with Lyme Regis in the background.

 

I love this pic.

I love this pic.

 

I love fireworks, they’re magical. I love to come up with names for all the different types, gold sparkles, fairy dust and lily flower. Watching them shoot up from the end of The Cob and explode above the sea, lighting it up in a thousand different colours, beautiful, just beautiful.

WOW!

WOW!

Fire Shower is my name for this one.

Fire Shower is my name for this one.

Squiggle and Swirl!

Squiggle and Swirl!

 

The Cob is a long wall in Lyme Regis that encircles the harbour. It is fun to walk along, you can feel the fresh sea breeze and it whips your hair around. My Mum and Uncle used to spend all of their holidays in Lyme, doing all the stuff we’ve done.

Looking down into the sea.

Looking down into the sea.

Irys (with a lovely smile)

Irys (with a lovely smile)

Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

Evan about to walk along a rickety pontoon and then board the lifeboat. It's a dream come true for him.

Evan about to walk along a rickety pontoon and then board the lifeboat. It’s a dream come true for him.

I had to include this lovely photo of my sister.

This is Irys at our campsite, Hook Farm Camping.

This is Irys at our campsite, Hook Farm Camping.

Our camp, rather relaxed.

Our camp, rather relaxed.

 

Our great great grandparents used to be part of the bowling team on Lyme green. They have a bench here in their memory.

Our great great grandparents used to be part of the bowling team on Lyme green. They have a bench here in their memory.

After our lovely holiday in Lyme Regis we finally had to leave, but the fun was not over. We had a few places to stop on the way home, including the Cerne Giant, a village fete and Durdle Door, a place of wonder and tranquility, although it is invaded by hundreds of tourists every summer.

Coconut shy! Dad got two, but I got none.

Coconut shy! Dad got two, but I got none.

A lovely photo in front of the Cerne Giant.

A lovely family photo in front of the Cerne Giant.

The village fete we went to was in some one's garden and they had an outdoor swimming pool. Irys and I had a swim.

The village fete we went to was in some one’s garden and they had an outdoor swimming pool. Irys and I had a swim.

 

I took so many pics of Durdle Door, because I think it’s stunning. Here are the best ones:

My Siblings playing at dusk.

My Siblings playing at dusk.

The cove

The cove

Gazing out to sea......

Gazing out to sea……

The view of the beach, cove and arch from the cliff top.

The view of the beach, cove and arch from the cliff top.

Irys and the famous arch.

Irys and the famous arch.

Durdle Door

Durdle Door

 

This is a perfect picture. If I stare at it hard enough a poem starts to form in my mind.

This is a perfect picture. If I stare at it hard enough a poem starts to form in my mind.

 

I’ll finish with a few family shots and a big thank you to my Mum and Dad for such an awesome holiday.

Sitting on the step of our campervan.

Sitting on the step of our camper van.

Walking in the sea's shallows.

Walking in the sea’s shallows.

Dad and I

Dad and I

Summer Sunsets

Happy smiles

Happy smiles

Everyone has dreams, ideas, things that float about in your head, but only some people have a special and unique ability to put these thoughts and daydreams into a beautifully woven web of words, music or paint.  Some of these people are poets, artists, musicians, authors, playwrights, singers and lyricists.

I hope to become a few of these things. I would lovefor my name to go down in history as an author or a singer, but I know that it is unlikely, I am happy just to have these as hobbies that I enjoy. The thing I do hope to be successful with is poetry, it is something I love, I am passionate about and  I do a lot of in my spare time. I like to share my poems and inspire people to have poetry as a pastime. It allows you to get your emotions out, capture your feelings and grasp an aspect of life and pin it onto a piece of paper

Some boys, including my Dad and Brother, might think, “I’d rather go fishing”. Well, the way I see poetry is rather like fishing. I have a theory that everyone has words swimming about in their mind, your pencil and paper are like your rod and  net, you catch the words with your pencil and put them on your peice of paper.  Some people are naturally talented at poetry, while others are more practical, really it doesn’t matter, it’s the enthusiasm that makes a difference.

So let me know, whether you already love writing poetry or you have just decided to begin, what have you written about?

Here’s my latest:

SUMMER SUNSETS

A windblown, carefree figure
silhouetted on a hill,
summer sunsets swirling,
I will love you still.

Time freezes
when I’m with you.
The sun stoops down to kiss you,
she leaves an amber burn upon your cheek.

Will you stay with me forever?
Under the skies of beauty.
Will you answer me “never”,
when I ask if you will leave me?

We’ll swim in the moon’s waters,
dance with the planet’s daughters,
sleep in the sun’s quarters.

The stones will sing us songs,
the stars will bang great golden gongs,
the bells will ring,
a hundred birds begin to sing.

Rollercoaster Conquerer

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

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

 

The biggest baddest rollercoaster you ever did see.

The biggest baddest rollercoaster you ever did see.

I'm in that carriage somewhere!

I’m in that carriage somewhere!

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

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

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

Wow!

Wow!

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

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

I’m on the right, on a black horse.

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