Destination Coope Farm

Hello Everyone! People of the world!

As some of you may know, me and my family are on a journey in Mo, our 1968 Morris Traveller camper van. We are pioneers in a way, venturing out into the world to try and live life differently.

I have always had this dream of being somewhere where everyone lives together, working towards creating a better world and doing their bests to help others. Someplace where strong and committed relationships and friendships are forged and tested. Where me and my family can flourish and extend a hand to those who are struggling. Where people will care about us when we struggle.

So I saw going away in Mo as the perfect opportunity to start searching, to begin the journey of finding the right place, learning and experiencing along the way. So, months previous to our actual departure, I started doing my research.

One of the places I found was Coope Farm, a small holding down in deepest Devon run by a family with hopes that they can make a difference.

It’s best to let them explain more:

A Coope Farm Quote:

We believe that the sustainable lifestyle is much more than just about trying to reverse the harm that mankind has wrought upon the planet.
For us it is a decision to turn away from many of the things that we find unpalatable about our modern society.It is a conscious decision to act out the idea that wealth is about much more than money.
For us wealth is the ability to enjoy as much of each day as we can, which demands that we find time to smell the roses – to chill. It is about turning our back on a culture that celebrates celebrity over the vital spark of individuality and teaches, through advertising, that a persons worth is measured by his possessions. It is the belief that more money does not get us off the treadmill, but more often than not, just makes us go faster and faster.
Currently, in the UK, 1 in 5 people are suffering from depression. As a nation we are lonely, stressed, unfit and bored.
We, at Coope, want our lifestyle to give meaning to tasks, to people and to the moment.
We will, of course, fail to achieve such lofty goals, but we will live well in the process. And hopefully meet others along the way​!

My whole family agreed that we would really like to find out more and perhaps visit at some point. I resolved to email straight away.

I did and so Destination Coope Farm was formed. The plan was simple, head West in Mo until we got there, we left it pretty flexible, you know what travelling in ancient vehicles is like! It only took us three weeks.

Being here has already been amazing and we’ve only really just arrived. There are people to have both meaningful and fun conversations with, a common purpose to each day, hard work to do, delicious homemade food to share, laughter to ring out, animals to feed and muck out, friends to make.

Living like this is my absolute dream, but it isn’t easy or simple. Everything comes at a cost and the biggest cost is committment. At the moment, my family has big decisions to make, regarding the next chapter of all of our lives.

I have always had big ideas and big ambitions and sometimes it’s difficult for me to acknowledge that they may not always walk hand in hand with reality. I’m being honest when I say that one of my greatest struggles is accepting that life can’t always be how I want it to be, that problems exist and that things are complex and ugly and hard to achieve.

I want so much to change the world and I cling on to any opportunity that arises, but the people I love try to tell me that I can’t make things happen to fast. Life isn’t that straight forward, sometimes I have to go with the flow. It affects me and I have to stop it becoming a negative thing.

Recently I have been reading a book called Out Of Bounds, it is a collection of fictitious stories about the experiences of young people during the period of apartheid in South Africa. One of the pieces details a grandmother who’s granddaughter is sixteen and a freedom fighter who risks her life every day to do what is right.

The old woman can never understand why her granddaughter fights so hard and tries to force things to change. Then one day, when the child is in trouble, the woman sacrifices herself so that the girl can be free and keep fighting. It is incredibly moving and powerful and I learnt a lot from reading it.

My Dad says I will always struggle, it is part of my character, I know he’s right. It is my strength and my weakness, it’s where I thrive and where I fall.  Although I will keep on fighting for my dreams, I must learn to control it.

Being at Coope Farm is great for me, I made it happen and I am here now enjoying it. Even though I am just thirteen years old and I can’t possibly change the world, I can jolly well do my best to try!

See ya later,

Gracie

P.S If anyone’s interested in reading more about Coope Farm, please click this link: http://www.coopefarmdevon.co.uk

 

Advertisements

That Time When I Stood Up For What I Believed In

Hello People!

I’d like to share with you two personal experiences that I hope will shape and inspire my future.

In return, I’m asking you to send me the experiences that have affected the way you live your life. I had the idea of creating an anthology of all YOUR most memorable and meaningful life events. All you have to do is comment your story, along with what it taught you in life. Then I’ll put them all together in a post (or two!), like a virtual book. P.S. If it’s a bit longer or more detailed, post it on your own blog and send me the link. Anyone is welcome to take part, so please don’t hesitate.

I’ll start off the anthology with mine. One of mine happened a long time ago and the other only yesterday, but both of them have made a huge impact on my life and thoughts, they’ve both taught me priceless lessons and showed me things I never really saw before.

I’m sorry that this post is so long, but please keep reading, as it’s so important to me and I’d love you to give me some feedback.

Today I’ll start with the first one, which was about three and a half years ago. The second one will be coming very soon……!

That Time I Stood Up For What I Believe In by Gracie Chick (ME!!!)

 I walk across the shiny wood floor, my walking boots thud dully and I listen to the sharp clackety- clack of all the other kids smart, black polished school shoes. I stride towards the other ten year olds, my usual shy smile replaced with a proud, confident beam. The source of my strength comes from the two gold lines that run down the sleeve on my ironed green sweater. Last week I was made a Sixer, an honour given to a few responsible, respected cub scouts. 

As I stand beside my fellow cub scouts, I can almost feel those lines radiating heat. “Gracie Chick!” A voice snaps me out of my imagination.  As I hear the leader’s words, I learn that the legendary Sixer’s conference has been called and I am told to join them, I need no encouragement.

All the younger and newer cubs, that I had once been a part of, whispered about what went on in that back room and, although everyone had their theories, none of us really knew. I knew that I was entering a new and exciting world now.

I watch as the more experienced and older members discuss what we’ll do on the special day that we get to ourselves, to practice team building and leadership skills. 

The suggestions keep on coming and I listen with interest. Suddenly someone says “What about laser tag?” and everyone agrees. “Yes! Yes! Laser tag. Perfect.” “Okay, well that’s settled then.” The leader glances round the room. Slowly and nervously I raise my hand.

“Yes, Gracie?”

“Um, what’s laser tag?” I asked tentatively. 

Everyone jumps in to try to explain it to me. 

“Basically, it’s a dark room and you get a laser gun and run round trying to shoot each other.”

“Kill as many people as you can.” 

“It’s just a game really, but it feels like a proper war.” 

I leave cubs that night with a furrowed brow and troubling thoughts on my mind. In the car on the way home to the farm where I live, I relay all the information to my Dad. I finish with “I can’t believe they find that fun!” 

My Dad thinks for a while and then says this, “Me neither Gracie, killing is never a game. Pretend guns or real guns, shooting is shooting. For too many people all over the world, war is real life. What would a kid who’s lost his family to war say if he saw people treating it like a game?” 

“I don’t want to go, Dad.” I whisper “I think it’s wrong, totally wrong.” My Dad nods sadly, he knows how much it meant to me. 

When I go home that night, I tell my Mum too and between my parents they come up with an idea. “Why don’t you email your leader and tell her how you feel about laser tag? Maybe you could talk to all the others about your reasons.” 

So I sat down and wrote this email to my cub leader. 

Dear Akela  (That’s what we call our leader)

I just wanted to talk to you about why I’d rather not do laser hub.
I feel that running around shooting people is not a game, because war makes people suffer and die!
If you’ve already booked it, it’s ok! I’d just rather not come. Maybe if you haven’t already booked it we could have a meeting about it in sixer and seconder council and I could share my views? Then we could have another vote? I’ve got some suggestions if it’s not too late.
I’ve never played shooting games with other kids and I don’t really feel comfortable doing it at cubs, if that’s all right.
I’ll mention my ideas when we have the meeting (if we can have it).
Yours,
Gracie

 

She replied the next day: 

Dear Gracie.
Thankyou for your thoughtful e-mail, I do completely understand your point of view, my own children were strongly discouraged from playing with guns when they were growing up for exactly the same reasons.
Having said that I do feel that Laser gaming is just that – an  imaginative game which has developed with all the new technology out there & I suspect that those Cubs who came up with the idea & who voted in its favour do not necessarily equate it with real life warfare. You are absolutely right that if at all possible we should discuss it.
I have added it to next week’s programme (Sixer / Seconder Council) although suspect it could develop into quite a debate. Just so you know where we are with planning,
Keego & I had discussed the possibility of going to a centre in Eastbourne where there is a laser quest option but there is also bowling. Can I talk to you tomorrow at X Country?  Akela
I started thinking immediately. What would I say? How would I explain myself? To this day, I still swear that it was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life. I wrote draft after draft on paper and then I scribbled it out and started again. 
Finally I decided on the words I would use and I was ready that next Wednesday nightthough my heart kept doing somersaults and I was scared of what the other kid’s reactions might be. They’d been so adamant about laser tag, how would they take to my suggestion? Would they think of me differently after this day?
I clutched my piece of paper as I walked through the door that night. I still remember the clean white kitchen, with out-of-date custard creams and black currant squash on the side. The other kids all gathered around the table. My Akela nodded at me and I managed a quick nervous smile before I began reading off of my paper. 
Last week we discussed the possibility of doing laser tag as our Sixer’s day out. For my own personal reasons, I’d rather not do that. If you’d like to know what they are, please feel free to ask me later.  However, I have another idea. I’d like to invite you all to come to my farm and play night games in the woods. We can light a campfire and cook over it.” 
Akela stepped in. “Who likes Gracie’s idea?” She asked brightly. A flurry of enthusiastic voices filled the air and almost made me fall over with surprise. I’d been gearing myself up for disagreement and disappointment, yet everyone seemed to positive.
And so that’s how it happened, my boldness changed their minds. We ran around the woods for hours, laughing and joking. We made our own food and stuffed our faces with chocolate fondue. Our bonds as a team certainly became stronger and we all made memories that night. 
And what did I learn from that experience? It taught me that I had to be the change I wanted to see in the world. It taught me that people will listen if you give them good reason to.
I want to know about the experiences that have shaped your lives? What’s the most meaningful thing that ever happened to you? Tell me your stories, I’ve told you mine. As I always say, your beautiful comments always fill me with hope. 
I especially value your opinions on my more personal and thought-provoking posts, so please send me a few words and I’ll reply. I’m also welcoming of comment discussions! 
Don’t forget that the second experience is coming soon, so watch this space….
Goodbye for now and remember to send me your own stories and thoughts!
Gracie
 cropped-a-light-in-the-darkness-button.jpg

Livin’ In A Bubble

Hello There Everybody!  Trust Katy Perry to bring out another catchy song just as I was beginning to get ‘Roar’ out of my head. Every time I turn the radio on, Chained To The Rhythm is playing over and over and over again. And again. And again. And again.

At first I didn’t like it. Then I started listening to the lyrics, I didn’t have much choice, it’s being blasted out of speakers wherever I go.  Then I began to see the message behind this previously annoying pop song. Just read these words:

Are we crazy?
Living our lives through a lens
Trapped in our white-picket fence
Like ornaments
So comfortable, we live in a bubble, a bubble
So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, the trouble
Aren’t you lonely
Up there in utopia
Where nothing will ever be enough?
Happily numb
So comfortable, we live in a bubble, a bubble
So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, the trouble

Ah, so good
Your rose-colored glasses on
And party on

They got me thinking, maybe she’s right. Perhaps we all live in a bubble, thinking everything’s fine within our own little world. Maybe we don’t want to open our eyes to the rest of the planet and see what’s going on beyond our comfort zone. If we did, we’d have to do something about it, we’d see the poverty, fear and oppression that exists outside of our ‘bubble’. I guess everyone has one, though they’re all very different. Some people wear dark rose-coloured glasses and can see very little, others wear light ones, but rose-coloured all the same.

I think the challenge is to be able to pop your bubble and step out into the big, wide world. So much awaits you and you can do so much to help others.

 

I’d love to know how you feel? Your heartfelt, encouraging, kind and thoughtful comments always make my day so please don’t hesitate to leave me one. I am interested in all your opinions, comment discussions are always welcome. Thank you in advance,

Gracie,

 cropped-a-light-in-the-darkness-button.jpg 

Into The Sunset: My Purpose In Life And My Dreams For The Future…

Hi Everyone! There’s something I’ve got to tell you all. In a few weeks, me and my family are setting off into the sunset in our unusual, slightly cramped, but quirky and beautiful Morris Traveller. Some of my readers may be classic vehicle enthusiasts, but for those who aren’t (including me!), a Morris Traveller is a 50-year-old British car.

My Dad converted it into a camper van, affectionately known as Mo,  that will house me and the rest of my crazy family for the next stage of our life. We’re journeyers, literally and figuratively. We’re searching for the way forward, a way to contribute to making a better world, a way to come even closer together, a way to learn and teach, give and take.

Image result for morris traveller camper van

Home Sweet Home!

Being the enthusiastic, maybe a little mad writer that I am, I decided to sit down and write my life’s ambitions on paper. I needed a plan in my head, I needed some sort of map, a way to let my feelings out, be completely and utterly honest about going away and starting a different life.  For me the only way was writing, and I mean serious writing, pages and pages. I sat up long into the night, head bowed over notepad, scribbling furiously until I was happy with it.

 

And I’d like to share bits of it with you guys today.

I’ll start off near the beginning:

I was born a writer, but I always wanted to teach. I love the sense of empowerment and delight that learning gives me, I thrive on it and want to share it with others, even those who find hard and unrewarding. I want to bring out the best in every person I teach.

I’ll have to learn a lot, teaching doesn’t come naturally to me. But I’m willing to work hard, make sacrifices and be determined if it means I can have my school one day. The one I’ve planned for years and years. You wouldn’t believe the amount of excitement and motivation it gives me, just thinking about it.

I don’t know exactly what shape or form the school will take, but I know that people will be central to it. It will be based around a strong, fair and kind community who want to teach the next generation the skills they need to live in the world and make it a better place.

This is all I want, it’s simple really. Just to live in place where I can learn and teach, make a difference in the world and be surrounded by people who care about the planet and each other.

I then go into the future, describing the school that I want so much:

I can hear the sound of laughter getting closer, the kids pile into the large, homey kitchen. The tinkling of water mixes with their joy to create the perfect melody as they wash their hands. I can feel the soft smoothness of dough as I knead and they copy, studying my hands in concentration. They are so eager to get it right, this will be their lunch.

We sit down around the table and I begin to read them a piece of poetry. I taste the words on my tongue, rolling them out into the air, popping each one like a giant gum bubble. Their young faces are filled with wonder and fascination. I tell them to write their own, using the emotions in their bodies to inspire them. They put their heads down and start scribbling.

Some of them take longer, savouring the language they use. Others rush through it, dashing to put on their wellies and run outside into the sunshine.

When they come back in they’re smeared with mud and grass stains and they smell like summer. They’ve been chasing each other around the meadow, foraging some salad ingredients from the hedgerow. They argue over who’s going to tell me about the lamb they saw being born.

We all sit down for lunch. Warm, happy voices and friendly, but passionate debates mingle together, filling my heart with contentment. The pasta is delicious and the children feel so proud of their work.

When darkness falls and they’re in bed or they’ve gone home, I log onto my computer and sign into WordPress. I type furiously, my fingers flying over the keys. I whip up a whirlwind of words that challenge, inspire and inform the reader. I become graciechick, writer, blogger, Light In The Darkness. Changing the world from her desk.

Then I talk about the struggles of leaving everything behind and going out into the world:

I’ve got  friends here, I’ll have to leave them behind. In a way I feel like any other thirteen year old, the idea of having friends over and carrying on all the fun activities is quite tempting. But I want to teach and I’m dedicated to my future.

Going away will be enriching and I’ll experience things I never imagined was possible. I’ll learn from life and learn to teach. I’ll gain the experience and knowledge needed to be a good teacher. I want to quench my thirst for understanding. I’ll meet people who already possess the wisdom needed. I’ll visit places that will inspire me and push me to the limits, but it will all be worth it. I’m working towards that dream of starting my own school and changing the world.

I don’t want to travel forever. When I find a place I feel I belong and an environment where I can grow and flourish, I’ll definitely think about wanting to stay. I’m not one of those people who travels for the sake of travelling, I’m looking for something.

Travelling is brilliant. Every day, every place I go, every person I meet is an opportunity to learn something new, to add to the library of my mind. But friendships can’t really be formed when you’re always moving on. Friends are so important to me, just like they’re central to any kid’s life. I want to able to forge good relationships with people my own age. Of all the things about the lifestyle we are about to adopt and have experienced in the past, the only bad one I can think of is friendships.

I want to be able to have my friends over to stay, to be more independent and to go out with them by myself. I want to be able to laugh and have fun with them and to see them more than once a month.

You could see this as a negative thing, but I can see through that and see the good in it. I’m searching for a place where we, as a family, can find the right friends, like-minded people who’ll join us on our journey through life.

I apologise that this post was so long and I hope that you enjoyed it. Blogging on A Light In The Darkness is extremely important to me and I will never stop writing my thoughts, ideas and stories on this site, although I may not always have an internet connection! So bear with me, good followers, for I will never abandon you.

Goodbye for now and wish me luck!

Gracie 🙂 🙂 🙂

 Do you have ambitions for your life? Can you relate to my dreams and struggles? I always deeply appreciate your comments and feedback, so please don’t hesitate to send me a few words, they always make me smile. 

 

A Quote From Gracie Chick In A National Newspaper!

On my blog I aspire to write about the world from different angles, in different styles, from different viewpoints and opinions, to challenge and to support, to make a difference through what I love, which is writing.

I am passionate and inquisitive about the world and everything that goes on in it, good and bad, and so are many other kids and young people across the UK.  That’s why a newspaper called First News has been produced, to quench our thirst for an understanding of the things happening on our planet.

It’s brilliant because it really recognises the fact that informing children is extremely important. After all, we are the next generation. It tells me and the other 2 million readers all about politics, the environment, immigration, events, sport, local issues, world issues, interesting stories, crime, interviews, advice and more.

They also have a website, feel free to check it out if you too are someone who wants to know about the world. You can watch daily news bulletins, find out about being a child reporter, enter competitions, have your say in polls, watch videos that explain things like the Refugee Crisis and make a difference. http://live.firstnews.co.uk/

I regularly visit this website and only this morning I found out all about youth courts, gun crimes in America, a plane crash in South America and children making journeys to school and what dangers they face in different parts of the world. You can comment on all the articles they write too and I often do, as I like to express my opinion.

Also this morning I was reading my weekly newspaper when I came across the ‘Quote Bubble’, the place where they put a comment from one of their readers.  I read it with interest, as I saw it was on Donald Trump. But when I saw the author of the comment I couldn’t believe it. It read:

Quote: First News Reader, Gracie, on Donald Trump:
“I think people voted for him because they wanted change. I wonder what sort of change he will bring?!”

A few days before I had written those very words on their website and now they were in the newspaper for everyone to see. I felt so privileged to have my views published like that and so proud that they had seen them interesting and thought-provoking enough to put in.

Thank you First News!

 

 

My First Published Article

DSCN9897

The aspiring author.

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

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

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

 

Four Birds

4

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

birds