‘Gracie’s School’ Q and A Post + An Exciting Blogging Announcement

In my last post I introduced to you to my very own school, students and classroom. I shared my happiness at being able to fulfill my dream and making it happen through my own determination.  I  also asked you to submit your questions for my school themed Q and A. Well, many of you had lots to ask so read on…and enjoy!

Questions from Mukta:

When and how did you realize you wanted to be a teacher?

I’ve always loved learning and, to me, nothing sounds more like paradise than a place where young people can gather together to learn and share and pursue their passions.

School, and the modern education system, are supposed to provide that service, but I don’t believe they are. The majority of my generation view school as a negative place, a prison, something they’re forced to attend. School should be a place everyone wants to go to.

I am home-educated and the above is precisely the reason I don’t go to school. The reason I decided to become a teacher is because I want to create the school that I dream of, the school I want to go to.

What time do you begin/end teaching?

Nothing is set in stone yet, at the moment I’m being pretty flexible. Usually we start at about 10am and finish about 4pm??? 😀😀😀

Questions from Loren:

When you start a real school, will you want it to be elementary, middle, or high school?

I hope that my school will be a place where kids and teens of all ages can come together and learn. I want it to be an environment where they help and teach each other. I am from the UK so I’m not exactly that familiar with the US education system, we say ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’ schools here!

Questions from Melissa:

Are your pupils allowed to direct any of your teaching and follow their own interests or are you quite strict in following your lesson plans?

There needs to be a balance. I do make lesson plans (which I try to stick to), but if I see that my students are interested in or enthusiastic about a particular subject, I’m more than happy to focus on it. I also welcome my students suggestions and ideas. I have certain parts in each lesson where I ask one of my students to lead the activity and I just watch. It teaches them teamwork, leadership and creativity, all equally important lessons!

Questions from The Girl With IronWings

Are you guys going to travel around the farm place and learn things practically or…..?

Yeah, I guess so. It’s important to include a bit of reading, writing, maths and theoretical science, but most of the activities we do are outdoors, hands on and practical. I find that my students learn better when out and about on the farm. For example, we went fishing in the stream and then identified and learnt about what we caught. They loved it! Way more than reading about the affect humans have on natural habitats! 😀 I bet they remembered more of the former too.

How is the teaching going to be – How different from today’s schools? 😊

Hehe. I would say it’s pretty different. Here’s a quick list.

  • All different ages and abilities taught together.
  • We learn about things that are important in life, like knowing and appreciating your surroundings and how to protect them. 
  • The learning (and teaching!) is FUN!!!
  • I try and think about what suits my students individually, what they need help with and what their strengths are. I keep that in mind when making my lesson plans, unlike school with its ‘one size fits all’ attitude.

Also, since it’s about the environment will you be using gadgets?

We have a few gadgets… a camera trap that we’ve used to try and capture the secret lives of wildlife on the farm. We don’t use a lot of technology, just the internet to research things and find information.

Questions from Misabella :

What is your favourite subject to teach?

I’m about to start doing a book club + English and creative writing classes. I don’t enjoy maths very much, just because I teach out of a book and have to follow a set system/curriculum. These ‘environment’ lessons are great, I get to be creative and come up with fun, unique ideas that really engage my students. 😁

Do you find particular methods of discipline more effective than others?

I’ve googled the different ‘methods of discipline’ and would say my style is a mix of them all! I do try to set boundaries, but I also try and be positive and humorous. I wouldn’t say I’m strict, I try to be patient and listen to my students – although that is something I struggle with. I think this is an area I need to look into a bit more – especially if I want to be a successful teacher!

Questions from Tom:

How long do you hope to be keeping up with this school for?

Well, we’re living at the farm over the autumn, winter and early spring so the lessons will probably continue through those seasons. After that my family and I are off on our travels, maybe into Europe, maybe even further, searching for a place to settle down and call home. When we find that place I have no doubt that my school will re-establish itself and begin again, stronger and better than before. 

School is an interesting word, I wonder if it’s Greek?

Well, thanks to your research, Tom, we now know that it is a Greek word meaning ‘lecture place’. It would have looked like this in its original text: skholḗ or σχολή. Great fact! 

 I hope you all enjoyed that little Q and A! I loved sharing my thoughts and ideas on education, I even learnt a few interesting things in the process. If anyone still has any questions, please feel free to comment them and I’ll try to answer.

Okay, now I have an exciting and important announcement to make: I am getting some newly designed features on A Light In The Darkness soon! Not saying anything more, but watch out for a post revealing those. This is me at the moment: 🤐☺☺☺🤐 

Xxx

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NEVER WEAR YELLOW IN THE SUMMER: A LESSON LEARNT!

As the title states, I think I’ve learnt my lesson. Never wear yellow in the summer, or this happens:

 

 

Most people would be hyperventilating screaming in that situation, but it doesn’t bother me. Like, at all. They were like little beetles with wings and were actually pretty cool. It makes me wonder how humans have become uncomfortable, even scared, around bugs? Where has this come from?

If people calmed down and thought about it rationally they’d realise that, although bugs may not be particularly ‘pleasant’, they’re not exactly disgusting or terrifying either. Are they?

These little fellas weren’t doing me any harm and it was actually quite funny to laugh at my mistake.

It’s crazy to think that there are people in this world who are absolutely horrified to even see a spider and then there are others who tuck into them like a snack. Sorry if this makes you feel queasy, it’s the truth though! The crazy, crazy truth.

This is the result of different cultures and societies. Are phobias of insects what comes with our ‘advanced modern society’?

What do you think? Apologies for the rant…!

I hope this sparks a discussion, please leave a comment with all your thoughts and opinions on this topic! I’d love to hear from you. 

A Light In The Darkness Part 6: The Ambassador’s Name

Demons haunted my sleep. “You have seen us and so you will die.” they hissed. I tried to wake up, but there was something about this slumber that was different. It felt like I was in a prison, trapped in the darkness and unable to free myself. I struggled for every minute of the seemingly endless sleep to wake up and find my way out.

Finally I broke through, gasping and sweating. My fingers closed around my cloak, it was covered in dried, crimson blood. I eased myself back down and stared up through at the canopy of leaves. Sunlight seeped through the gaps between the branches and touched my skin. It was so bright! I never knew how good the light was until that moment. I glanced around me.

I was laying on a sort of mossy bank and I could hear what sounded like a brook, bubbling somewhere nearby. I reached up to touch my head, it was pounding in a most peculiar and painful manner. My hand brushed a ragged cloth, again I could tell that it was crusted with blood.

“Faith.” my voice came out like a croak. “My name is Faith.” This made me laugh, despite myself. I don’t know why I was so deliriously happy. Perhaps it was because I knew I didn’t have Amnesia. I remembered the Ambassador and his strange behaviour in the moments before my accident. I even remembered the force of his hand pushing me hard to the floor.

Salty tears run down my cheeks. I trusted him. I thought he was good and kind and wanting to be my friend. I was so naive and now I had paid. I struggled to my knees and gritted my teeth against the searing, throbbing pain that plagued my head. “Ah!” I used the tiny incy bit of strength I had to heave myself to my feet and stumble off into the trees.

I had only walked a couple a steps when I began to feel extremely dizzy. I tried so hard to hold myself up, but it was no use.

I fell.

I don’t know how long I laid there, half conscious and moaning. It could have been minutes, even seconds, or it could have been hours. I only recollect two familiar arms folding themselves around my body and lifting me gently up.

Up, up, up.

High.

I was on top of the world.

All I could see was a deep, never-ending blackness, and I felt lost. “What if I’ve gone blind?” Stupid thoughts filled my barely conscious mind. Then I heard his voice and I didn’t care either way. “It’s ok.” he soothed, sitting me back down on the moss, I could feel its comforting springiness. I couldn’t see his eyes so I had no idea how he was feeling.

“I can’t see your eyes.” I whimpered. “Try opening your own.” he laughed. I did and was so overjoyed that I forgot to feel silly for not thinking of it before.

“Phoenix.” I spoke the word slowly, cocking my head to one side. An understanding passed between us.  “The bird that rose from the darkness in a glorious burst of flames and lit up the world with its light.”

This was so different to the way I had imagined telling him the name I’d chosen, but it seemed like the perfect moment. “I’m sorry, Faith.” he whispered. “You will forgive me, won’t you?”

“Of course!” I cried. “But why did you do it?”

His answer distressed me even further. “Because you’re my friend.”

“Then why did you push me?” My head started pounding again.

“I didn’t want you to leave. I knew they’d come to take you away from me and I, being the selfish person I am, wanted you to stay. I’m sorry, Faith. It wasn’t your fault. I was just hurt, and angry that you had to be taken away from me so soon.” he hung his head “Now I’ve ruined every chance I ever had of changing. I can never change, the dark side has crept into my mind and is poisoning me. I understand if you don’t trust me any more.”

I began to laugh and he glared at me. “Phoenix-” “Call me Ambassador.” He was angry with himself, I think he was on the edge of absolute despair. I had to make him understand.

“But I was never going to go with them! I decided that long before you found me!”

“What!? Don’t be stupid, Faith. They’re your friends.” he smiled ruefully. “So are you.” I said softly, turning sadly away.

“Huh?”

“I said you’re my friend too!”

He hugged me then, tightly like he’d never let me go. “Are you sure?” he asked, doubtfully. “Yes!” I exclaimed. “Phoenix, no one has ever been a better friend to me. No one has ever shown me so much, inspired me more, trusted me with their very identity. Honestly, please believe me.”

He gave a slight nod of his head, too overcome with emotion to speak. I nodded back happily and then sank, exhausted, back onto the mossy bank to sleep.

Da da da! All has been revealed! I find character’s motives in stories quite fascinating, don’t you? What did you think of The Ambassador’s name? I decided to stick with the original one that I chose. I think it suits him. Do you like the sort of prose-y vibe that I snuck into this installment? I hoped it would compliment the drama of this part of the storyline. Please leave me all your thoughts, questions and ideas in the comments below! It’s much appreciated, guys. 

See ya….😉

Gracie

Xxx

 

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

 

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,

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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.

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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. 

 

The Right To Be A Kid

Young people can be inspirational, empowered, passionate and aware of the world. They can make big differences, but in the end, kids are kids. They are entitled to a happy, safe and enriching childhood. An environment to play and learn and be themselves. But not all kids have this opportunity and it’s not just children that are poor or unprivileged that face this problem, even the richest and most famous of children can be forced to live in this situation.

This story is based on a true event involving Barron Trump and Chelsea Clinton. I found it incredible and it restored some of my faith in humanity.

The Right To Be A Kid by Gracie Chick (me) 

Snap! Snap! The cameras swarm like flies around the boy with the slightly bewildered expression. He is wearing an expensive blue suit and every now and then someone shoves into him, pressing a microphone into his face. His Mother is tall and glamorous beside him. She poses and then takes him by the hand and leads him up the steps, past the huge columns and  through the doorway that’s protected by tough security guards. 

His head is pounding and looks over his shoulder to see the guards closing the door on all the jostling reporters. 

He wanders around the hundreds of rooms that make up the mansion he has to call home. He feels lost. The boy gazes out of a window, watching the kids playing in the street and wishing he could do the same. But every time he steps outside he’s plagued by a cavalcade of paparazzi that descend upon him. Then there’s the fact that he moves school so often and he has no friends. No one. There’s so much pressure on his young shoulders. 

He knows what people think. As much as his parents may try to hide it from him. He knows people judge him on who is father is. He wishes they wouldn’t, he’s just like any other kid. 

The boy logs onto his fancy laptop. His Dad is the hottest topic, every news page has something to say, mostly negative. Social media is brimming with hateful comments, some regarding himself.  He scrolls through them,  each word a stab at his wounded heart.

But then he sees something different, nestled amongst the mocking messages is a glinting nugget of hope. The tweet reads:

‘Barron Trump deserves the chance to be a kid.’ The author is Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of his Father’s old rival to the presidency.

His heart is lifted as he reads through some more. 

‘Whether you support Trump or you don’t, you can’t attack Barron Trump just because of whose son he is.’ 

‘He didn’t run for office, did he? He is ten years old.’

The End.

And in the raging social media battle that ensued, Democrats and Republicans alike, set aside their differences to defend the rights of a child. I am glad that they made the decision to stand up for Barron Trump together and to fight against prejudice.

It just goes to show that there is always one thing that can join us together. Maybe if we find that one thing then the people of the world that are fighting can stop, the people who are taking can give, the people who are lying can tell the truth, the people who are sad can be joyful and the people who are crying can laugh.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know what you think, your feedback always means a lot, especially on my more thought-provoking posts.

 

 

 

#CookForSyria

I would like to introduce #CookForSyria.  This amazing idea was created by UNICEF ( an organisation that helps children in need all over the world ), Clerkenwell Boy ( an award-winning food instagrammer ), Serena Guen ( publisher, businesswoman and philanthropist )  and a few top chefs, as a way to fight the terrible humanitarian crisis in Syria.

#CookForSyria is a recipe book full of traditional and modern delicious Syrian, Middle Eastern food. Each recipe is donated by world-class chefs who want to make a difference! Any profits made on the sales of this incredible book are donated to aid the people of Syria affected by the tragic events.

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Food is about sharing and hospitality, we may only have a little for ourselves, but we will give some to you because we are all hungry. Food can form friendships and relationships and is an integral part of a community.  This book aims to capture that and bottle it, to use it to work towards peace.

I have already made four recipes out of his book and I’ve only had it a week and a half! They are so good! But the best one had to be this one:

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Syrian Onion and Parsley Meatballs on Spicy Cous Cous with Roasted Butternut Squash and a Tahini Yoghurt Sauce. 

It was seriously nice. Here’s the recipe for the meatballs, the sauce and the topping if you’d like to have a go:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 kg of minced beef

1 large onion

a bunch of parsley

1 butternut squash

For The Sauce

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp yoghurt

2 tbsp water

juice of one lemon

1 clove of garlic

For The Topping

Handful of pine nuts

Knob of butter

 

Method:

Cut the butternut squash into cubes, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven until tender. 

Very finely chop the onion and parsley. Put both in a bowl with the mince and season. Mix together with your hands. Form into meatballs the size of ping pong balls and roast in the oven at 180C/356F for 10 minutes. 

Mix the tahini, yoghurt, lemon, water and finely chopped garlic together with some salt until it forms a smooth, runny consistency. If too thick, add a little drop of water. 

Melt some butter in a pan and toast some pine nuts.  

Layer the meatballs and butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle with the sauce and then the pine nut topping.

Serve hot with cous cous, flatbreads, pittas or salad and enjoy……….! 

I encourage you to buy this book, not only shall I tempt you with tales of pomegranate, spices, olives, pistachios, figs, bread, houmous and more, it is also working to change the world and to raise awareness of these people’s plight.

Let’s #CookForSyria to show we care!

 

Sita Brahmachari’s Beautiful Books

 

I love to write, and to use words to weave a web of stories that reveal facts about our world and about what we can do to change it, but I also love to read. I always have. One of my favourite authors is Sita Brahmachari. She writes about real issues and real life whilst still managing to capture a beautiful novel on the paper.

Two of her books are written in diary form, from the point of view of a young girl from London called Mira Levenson. The first, Artichoke Hearts, is about Mira’s Nana, who is an activist and an artist, but is dying of cancer. It is heart-wrenchingly sad, but messages of hope and love are riddled through it and they lift it up and make it one of the best books I’ve ever read. Sita, the author, also talks about bullying and also about Mira’s relationship with a boy in her class who survived the Rwandan Genocide. I learned so much and it really inspired me to try even harder to make a difference.

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The second is called Jasmine Skies and Mira is older in this book. She is of Indian heritage so she decides to fly half way across the world to discover the culture and customs of the country she knows so little about. She is not prepared for the huge amount of poverty, inequality and human rights abuses she will witness, working at her Aunt’s refuge for street kids she realises what she wants to do with her life. This is a quote from the book:

I’ve seen real poverty and homelessness in London, but it’s not on the same scale. When you see it in pictures you don’t appreciate how extreme the difference between rich and poor can be, though they’re living side by side. I feel a heaviness in my gut that I can’t seem to shake off. Every day here someone is tapping on my conscience and saying “Mira Levenson, this is not fair. What are you going to do about it?” and the truth is I don’t know.

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The last book that I have read is Red Leaves, which I was given for my thirteenth birthday just over a week ago. It is a really intriguing and amazing book. It opened my eyes to so much. Homelessness, war, refugees, divorce, religion, journalism, kids who live in care.
Aisha sought refuge in London from war-torn Somalia when she was ten, traumatised and unable to speak, she was alone in the world and missing her family. Now she’s twelve and she lives with her foster carer. She is starting to feel safe and loved again when her carer suggests that she is adopted by a Somalian family. She feels betrayed and runs away to a nearby wood.
Zak is angry and sad and confused. His parents are divorced, his brother won’t speak to him, his Mother is a journalist in conflict zones. When she goes missing, it’s the final straw. He becomes tangled up in a mess of the past and present. Somehow he stumbles into the wood were Aisha is sheltering.
Iona lives on the streets, with her dog. She’s rude and sarcastic and tough, but underneath she’s hurt. She lies about her age and won’t accept help, but she was the victim of a broken family. She too seeks safety and security in the woods.
Elder is seen as a dotty old homeless woman, a free spirit. But she has a story too. She’s not just crazy. She cares about the children and watches over them as they begin to form friendships, forgive and forget, learn about each other.
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I would recommend any of Sita’s books. Not only do they help you understand the world, they fill you with a desire to make it a better place.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you’d like to! Has there been a book that you’ve read that has really inspired you? If so, why?

 

 

Let The Audience Look to Their Eyes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helena: Then my prayers could such affection move!

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

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

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

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

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

Helena: No!? 

Note: Lysander is Hermia’s love.