Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Bedtime Story (21/3/2018)

Yesterday was... not a good day.  Consequently, I struggled for a while to even think of anything to write, but then I thought: We all have bad days, now and then.  So why not just write about that?!

If you would rather, you can click to give the podcast version of this story a listen!

A Bad Day For Denzil

From the moment he woke up, Denzil had a feeling it wasn't going to be the best day.

His alarm clock buzzed and wrenched him out of a brilliant dream.  In his haste to stop the noise, Denzil bashed the clock so hard, it fell off his bedside table with a thud, knocking down a glass of water at the same time.  When Denzil groaned and swung his legs over the side of his bed, his toes landed straight in the puddle the water had made on the floor.

And it didn't stop there.  No matter what Denzil did, everything seemed to go wrong.

He dropped his toast and it landed upside down, leaving sticky strawberry jam all over the kitchen floor.  

He couldn't find his PE shorts anywhere.

His hair kept sticking out at odd angles, no matter how much he tried to brush it flat.

Denzil hoped that once he left the house and headed off to school, things would improve.

But they didn't.

Denzil's favourite pencil snapped when he was trying to sharpen it.

His water bottle leaked all over the new comic he'd brought in to show his friends.

And when everyone went rushing out into the playground after lunch, Denzil slipped over and grazed his elbow and his knee on his right side, meaning he wasn't as good at football as he usually was.

In the afternoon, Denzil was determined that things would get better.

But they didn't.

He got four questions wrong in his maths test.

He accidentally leaned in wet paint whilst finishing off a picture he was working on, leaving a big, blue blob on his sleeve.

And as he finally started walking home, it began to rain.

That evening, as Denzil sat on the sofa, watching TV, he still felt glum.

"What's up?"  Mum asked.  She came over to sit beside him, with a worried look on her face.

Denzil let out a long, slow sigh.  "I had a bad day," he confessed.  "Everything went wrong."

Mum frowned.  "Everything?"  She cocked her head to one side.  "Did anything really serious happen?"

Denzil pointed to his sleeve.  "I got paint all over my school jumper.  And my favourite pencil snapped.  Plus, my comic is ruined and my knee and elbow hurt from falling down."

Mum nodded.  "Okay, well...  I can put your jumper in the wash.  And this weekend, we can go into town and get you some cool new stationery to take to school.  We'll try hanging the comic over the radiator to dry off and if that doesn't work, I'm sure we can replace it.  As for your elbow and knee, they'll heal in time."

Denzil pulled a face.  "None of that makes me feel better right now," he pouted.  "It's still raining outside and I'm tired and fed up."

"That's alright," Mum replied.  "You're allowed to be.  Nobody likes having a bad day."  She got up and closed the curtains.  She switched on the lamp and made the room nice and cosy.  "But you know, it's warm and dry indoors, even if it's wet and cold outside.  And you're at home, safe and sound.  This is the best place in the world to moan about your bad day, because it's also the number one place to make it all better, again."

Denzil stared back at her, thinking about her words.  The sofa was ever so comfy.  And his favourite TV show was going to come on, soon.  Plus, he could smell his favourite dinner cooking in the oven...

Suddenly, he realised Mum was right.  Nothing really serious had happened.  Just lots of annoying things, one after the other.  It was okay to be cross and grumpy, but it was also okay if he wanted to let go of those feelings and start to feel better.

"There's chocolate ice cream in the freezer for pudding," Mum smiled.  "You know, just in case that helps turn your bad day around, a bit..."

A smile began to creep across Denzil's face.  "Chocolate ice cream does make most things better..."

Mum gave him a hug and grinned.  "Whatever happened today, it's over now," she told him.  "Tomorrow, you can start again and hopefully it'll be a good day."

With that, she disappeared into the kitchen, to finish cooking dinner.

Denzil could feel his tummy rumbling as the smell of dinner wafted through the house.  He sank deeper against the sofa cushions and curled his legs beneath him.  His favourite TV show started.  The smile on his face got a bit bigger.

Perhaps the day wasn't all bad.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Bedtime Story (14/3/2018)

We've all had that moment at some point in our lives, where we've met someone and instantly felt as though they're just meant to be our friend.  It's hard enough as an adult, navigating the whole "can we be buddies?!" situation, let alone for a child!  So, this story is dedicated to anyone who has ever set their sights on friendship with someone they think might be out of their league.

You can also listen to this story as a podcast, by clicking here.

The New Girl

She'd started school on Monday.  Jenna had watched her walk into the classroom, looking all nervous and shy.  But as it turned out, the new girl - Annie - had nothing to be shy about.  She was the coolest, funniest, cleverest and most interesting person Jenna had ever met.

On Monday afternoon, when the whole school joined together for assembly, Jenna couldn't help but notice how sweetly Annie sang.  Jenna could never hit the high notes, but Annie sounded like she should be in a choir.

When their class had PE on Tuesday, Annie had taught them a dance routine she and her friends at her old school had made up.  Everyone agreed it was really good.  Some of the moves were tricky for Jenna to get to grips with, but Annie made it look easy.

When they had a science lesson on Wednesday, Annie told the class about a really cool experiment she'd done at home once, making a bottle-rocket that really flew.

On Thursday, Annie had arrived at school, wearing a brand new coat.  The same coat that Jenna had been gazing longingly through the shop window at for weeks.

Now, as the last day of the school week rolled around, Jenna wished she was brave enough to really talk to Annie.  She'd spoken to her a few times, but she'd never been able to chat to her properly.  Annie was so cool, it made Jenna feel nervous, as though she couldn't find the right words.

Annie sat on a different table to Jenna, too, so she'd made friends with everyone who sat closer to her.  Jenna wasn't sure Annie would want to be friends with her, as well, even though being Annie's friend was what Jenna wanted more than anything.

They were just finishing off an English lesson, when the teacher explained: "After break time, we'll be getting into groups for a maths activity.  I've already planned who's going in which group, so make sure you're listening when you get back in from the playground, or you won't know which group you're going to be in."

With that, everyone got up to go and play outside.  Jenna watched Annie skip off with some of the children from her table.  She had brought a special snack to eat at break time; her cousin had sent it over from America.  Everyone wanted to try a bit, but Jenna hung back.  Annie was the most awesome person.  Whereas Jenna was... Well, she was just normal.

Jenna spent most of playtime with a couple of the girls who sat on her table.  They told stories and played games, but Jenna felt a bit left out.  The girls were best friends and she didn't really have a best friend of her own.  When the bell rang for the end of break, Jenna trudged back to the classroom, feeling more than a little fed up.

"Right, listen out for your names," the teacher called.  "Jack, Simon, Annie and Jenna:  you're Group 1."

Jenna couldn't believe it!  She barely listened as the teacher explained what they'd be doing.  She and Annie were going to be in a group, together!  Suddenly, Jenna felt horribly nervous.  What if she couldn't think of anything to say to Annie?!  She held her breath as she walked across the classroom and stood beside the new girl.

"Are you any good at maths?"  Annie asked.  Her big blue eyes were wrinkled with concern.  "I'm rubbish at it!"

Jenna blinked back at her.  How could Annie be bad at anything?!  "I...  I'm okay at maths," she stammered.  The truth was, Jenna was top of the class, but she didn't want to sound big-headed, or set herself up for a fall.

"Can you help me?"  Annie asked her.  "I'm not sure I really understand this exercise."

Jenna beamed.  "Of course I can help," she said.  "But...  You're good at everything.  You don't really need my help!"

Annie laughed and her cheeks turned pink.  "Oh, there are loads of things I'm not good at," she chuckled.  

Jenna frowned.  "But you seem so confident about everything!"

Annie shook her head.  "You can fake a bit of confidence when you need to," she explained.  "Coming to this new school was the scariest thing I've ever done.  I've tried really hard to be chatty and to take centre stage now and then, but really, half the time, all I want to be doing is sitting, curled up reading a book, or something.  It's hard being the new girl.  Everyone wants to get to know you, but you don't know them, so you're not sure whether you can totally be yourself.  Does that make sense?"

A big, broad smile crept across Jenna's lips.  "You can be yourself with me," she promised.

"You're the first person to make me think I can be myself, here," Annie grinned.  "Do you think we can be friends?"

Jenna nodded, beaming.  "Definitely."

She could hardly believe that the cool, confident, outspoken new girl was actually just as unsure and nervous as she was.  

By the end of the lesson, Jenna's face hurt from smiling.  She and Annie had learned all about one another and discovered lots of things in common.

Annie was still the coolest, most interesting and funniest person Jenna had ever met.  But now, she was something much more special as well. 

She was her friend.


Friday, 9 March 2018

Getting To Know Me

I had this vague notion, as a kid, that I'd reach an age at which I knew exactly who I was.  I even thought, as an adult, that I had reached that mystical point.  But the fact is, I don't think we ever know ourselves, completely.  Not because we don't grow more aware of ourselves and more understanding of how we think and feel as we get older, but because we never really stop growing and evolving.  We can never know all there is to know about ourselves, because each new experience has the power to teach us something that sparks a change in us.  And sometimes, we discover something new about ourselves that we never even realised existed.

As my sister put it, rather beautifully, a few days ago: "When you're most open to the universe, the universe has the most to give."

I think that's absolutely true.  And I think the more open we are to the world around us, the more open we are to learning new things about ourselves.

In the last twelve months, I feel like I've learned an awful lot about myself.  I've learned things about myself that came as a massive shock, at first.  Things that confused and even scared me.  Things that I now see as simply new parts of myself that I want to get to know better.

I no longer look at things from the perspective of "some day I will know myself completely."  Instead, I tell myself that I know who I am right now, in this moment.  And I know that whatever else I discover about myself as I go through life, I will either embrace it or work on changing it (if it's a negative trait).

But, as my sister so rightly said, to know ourselves and to learn more about ourselves, we have to be open.  That doesn't simply mean that we're looking inwards.  We have to look outwards to truly be open to everything the world has to offer.  New experiences, new places to visit, new people to get to know...  Everywhere we go, everything we do, everyone we do those things with is capable of teaching us something, not only about life and the world around us, but about ourselves.  And only by being open to new things - perhaps things we never even considered, before - will we make those discoveries.

This is only a short blog, because I'm still not done cooking, yet.  I've got a lot more to learn about myself and my place in the world and that's fine.  I'm going to have fun finding it all out.  What I really want to say to anyone reading this, is just be open.  Do the thing that scares you.  Feel the emotion that confuses you.  Push yourself a little further out of your comfort zone and see what happens.  

I look forward to getting to know you, just as soon as I've gotten to know myself.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Bedtime Story (7/3/2018)

This Sunday is Mother's Day, here in the UK.  I dedicate this story to the most awesome mum in the world - mine!

As always, you can also listen to this week's story as a podcast.

My Mum Is REALLY Awesome!

My Mum is REALLY awesome,
She makes me smile each day.
Whenever life gets me down,
She knows just what to say.

She's always there with cuddles
And she gives such great advice.
Any time we spend together
Is guaranteed to be nice.

We have so much in common,
We like loads of the same things.
We sit for hours talking.
We smile and laugh and sing.

My Mum is REALLY awesome.
She does so much for me.
Like taking me on fun days out,
Or cooking me my tea!

I like the clothes my Mum wears.
I like her pretty perfume smell.
I like the way she makes me better,
When I don't feel too well.

She's always very funny,
She makes me laugh a lot:
Sometimes when she's joking
And sometimes when she's not!

My Mum is REALLY awesome,
She's my number one best friend.
Every single day with her
Is a happy one to spend.

Sometimes we disagree a bit,
Or get cross with one another.
But we always make up in the end
And say sorry to each other.

I love my Mum so very much,
I tell her all the time.
Of all the mums across the world,
The very best is mine.


Friday, 2 March 2018

Let's Be British And Talk About The Weather...

I have an apology to make.  I swore I was going to blog more often this year and yet in February, aside from my weekly children's bedtime story feature, I wrote the square root of nothing.  Zilch. 

So, here I am, with the first shiny, new blog of March and - like the stereotypical Brit I am - I'm going to talk about the weather.  Whilst slurping from a cup of tea and fantasising about eating a crumpet.  Tally ho, chin-chin, what-what.

Britain is famous for being rainy and kind of grey.  We're used to it.  We're almost weirdly proud of it.  But in the last couple of weeks, Britain has seen the kind of weather we're much less used to: snow.  Lots and lots of snow.

If I had a pound for every person who has referred to me as "Storm Emma" in the past week, I'd have... Well, probably only a fiver, but still, I'm poor and an extra fiver would be nice.

The thing is, I was guilty of thinking that both Storm Emma and "The Beast From The East" (why must weather have names?) were going to pass Cornwall by.  Let's be honest, we just don't get particularly bad snow, down here.  Bodmin Moor might get a dusting now and again in the winter, but for the rest of us, it's generally a case of just carrying on doing our thing, whilst the rest of the country gets all the white stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, it snowed enough for me to get excited about it.  I was at work, when the heavens opened and flakes started cascading down to Earth.  Just seeing snow was strange enough, but when it settled for long enough to take the nursery kids down into the garden and play in it for a while (it was meant to be them playing, but come on, this is me talking), that was a proper treat.  And, like the best treats, it disappeared way too soon.

That was that, or so we all thought.  That was Cornwall's snow quota for the next five years or so...

And then came this week.

My family in Birmingham had snow.  My family in London had snow.  Friends in Gloucestershire had snow.  Friends up North had snow.  Cornwall... Well, we were sort of expecting a mild dusting that lasted about two minutes before melting. 

Or at least, I was.

You see, I had some kind of weird belief that I knew better than the weather forecasters.  The MET Office issued a severe weather warning and I just sort of... Scoffed.  It worries me that I take the idea of randomly stumbling upon a hitherto undiscovered ability to travel through time more seriously than I do the threat of adverse weather, but hey.  I've watched a lot of sci-fi.

So, when schools started to close on Tuesday/Wednesday, I figured it was surely just an overreaction.  Even by yesterday morning, when the weather app on my phone was telling me there was a 90% chance of heavy snowfall, I was still pretty sure that I was feistier than Storm Emma would turn out to be.  At least down here, anyway.

Aaaaand then it started to snow. 

And snow.

And snow.

And continue to snow.

By late afternoon, I was sitting in my room (having been sent home from work due to the weather), watching snow fall until I couldn't tell where the driveway outside the house actually ended and the pavement began.  Kids started sledging down the street.  The dog went outside and was monumentally confused.  Plans were cancelled, cupboards were checked to ensure we'd survive such a BLIZZARD and many photos were taken and put on Facebook, just in case anyone online wasn't sure as to who had snow and how much of it they had.

I conceded that maybe - just maybe - Tomasz Schafernaker was more than just a dude on telly, whose name my Mum adores, and actually his weather-predictions had been spot on. 

Of course, today, almost all of the snow has gone (at least where I am).  Little piles of brown-tinged sludge are dotted around and most people's back gardens have the odd white patches left, but other than that, you'd never know yesterday even happened.  Up country, lots of my friends and family members still have plenty of snow and I'm told other areas of Cornwall still have it too, but right here, it's been and gone.

Probably for the best, seeing as I've got to drive places this weekend and I have history when it comes to skidding on ice and ending up in a hedge...

It's not as though Cornwall has battled against the most almighty storm since storms began, or anything.  I'm sure readers from places like Canada are throwing their heads back and laughing at the idea of us Brits, huddled around the fireplace when the temperature outside drops to minus five and making a big fuss when there's all of about two inches of snow on the ground.  But for the people of Cornwall, who - I can't say this enough - just don't get this type of thing, usually, the last couple of days have been a pretty big event.

Besides, if nothing else, over the last forty eight hours or so, I learned an important lesson about not being so quick to mock predictions, just because the predicted things don't have a habit of happening very often.  And from now on, I promise to concede that the MET office probably knows more about the weather than some short girl with unmanageable hair does.

I was going to end this by also promising to write more often, but...  Well, I'll try, how's that?!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Bedtime Story (28/2/2018)

One of my new year's resolutions at the start of 2018 was to lose some weight.  Although I'm doing okay with it, I've realised I'm never going to stop being a bit of a greedy so and so!  This story is dedicated to one of the big loves of my life: FOOD! ;-)

You can, as always, also listen to this week's story as a podcast.

Elliot's ENORMOUS Sandwich

"Can I make a sandwich for lunch?"  Elliot asked, clutching his rumbling tummy.  

Mum eyed him curiously.  "You're going to make it yourself?" 

"I'm starving!"  Elliot groaned.  "So yes, I'm going to make it myself.  I can do that, you know.  I'm almost seven!"

Mum chuckled to herself.  "Go on, then," she smiled.  "What are you having on it?

Elliot wrinkled his nose and glanced around the kitchen.  "Probably cheese.  Or maybe ham.  Or perhaps peanut butter."

"Sounds like you've got a decision to make," Mum laughed.  She picked up her mug of tea and carried on reading the newspaper at the kitchen table, knowing she could keep an eye on Elliot, as he went about creating his sandwich.

Elliot grabbed two slices of bread and spread them with butter.  He grabbed the cheese and decided to grate some.  Mum helped him to carefully cut a small piece and reminded him to watch his fingers on the grater.  Once the cheese was grated, Elliot put it on one of the slices of bread and was about to pop the other slice on top and settle down to eat, when he decided the sandwich didn't quite feel finished, yet.

"Shall I add some ham, seeing as I couldn't decide between that or cheese?"  He called to Mum.

"If you like," Mum replied.  "It's in the fridge."

Elliot added a slice of ham and then frowned.  "I did want some peanut butter as well, didn't I?"

Mum pulled a face.  "I don't know whether that will go with ham and cheese..."

Elliot shrugged.  "But I like them all on their own," he said.  "So, why shouldn't I like them together?"

Before Mum could reply, Elliot had spread a thick layer of peanut butter on one slice of bread.  But, suddenly, he had a thought: if he was just going to add things he liked on their own, to see if they tasted nice all together, why stop with just three things?  Elliot rubbed his chin, trying to remember what all his favourite foods were.

"Crisps!"  He declared.

Mum looked up from her newspaper.  "Crisps?!"

"Yep," Elliot said.  "I'm going to add some crisps to my sandwich.  I love ready salted crisps, so I think they'll taste delicious on here."

Mum watched Elliot tip a packet of crisps on top of the slice of bread that was already covered with cheese and ham.  Then, he grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl.  Elliot peeled it, carefully sliced it and balanced the resulting pieces of banana on top of the crisps.  "Banana's are my favourite fruit," he explained.

"I think that sandwich is probably done, now," Mum said, staring at it as though it was the very last thing she'd want to eat. 

But Elliot was far from finished.

He added chocolate biscuits, Gummy Bears, gherkins and a handful of popcorn.  "These are all things I like to eat as a snack," he explained, as the unusual sandwich grew ever larger.  "So, why shouldn't I put them all together?!"

Mum stuck out her lower lip and recoiled in horror.  "Just because you like them on their own, doesn't mean the flavours will go when you mix them all up," she explained.  "I think that's enough now.  You won't want to eat it and it'll be a waste of food."

But Elliot still wasn't finished.

He added marshmallows, raisins, lettuce and a dollop of chocolate spread.  "This is going to be the best sandwich ever," he declared.

Mum looked like she might be sick.  

But Elliot still wasn't finished.

He added cucumber slices, a squeeze of honey and, finally, a slice of salami.

"That looks..."  Mum began, but she couldn't quite find any words to describe the sandwich that Elliot had created.

Elliot squeezed the peanut-butter slathered slice of bread on top and pushed down.  It took a lot of effort to flatten the sandwich enough to take a bite; he could hear the crisps and chocolate biscuits crunching under the weight, as he pushed down.

"Elliot, you can't seriously eat that," Mum said.  "And it's such a waste of food, because..."

Before she could finish her sentence, Elliot had taken a massive bite of the enormous sandwich.

Mum stared at him in horror, waiting for him to spit it out, or pull a face.  But, to her surprise, he did neither.

"Delicious!"  Elliot insisted.  "It's like dinner and pudding all in one!"  He held the sandwich out to her.  "Want to try some?"

Mum practically turned green at the thought.  "I think I'll make my own sandwich," she replied.  "That's if you've left me any food to use!"

Elliot grinned.  "I think I'll make all my own lunches from now on," he declared.  "And maybe when I grow up, I'll be a famous chef!"

And with that, Elliot settled down at the table to eat his very strange, very big sandwich, whilst Mum wondered just what she was going to have for lunch.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Bedtime Story (21/2/2018)

Today, as is my general wont, I've been overthinking various situations in my life.  Even as a 35 year old adult, there are many things I simply don't understand - and probably never will!  So, I started thinking about just how confusing the world can be and realised it's doubly so when you're a child.  That's where this story came from.  Hope you and your little ones enjoy it!

You can click here to listen to this story as a podcast.

The World Is SO Confusing!

All was quiet in Jacob's room;
His parents couldn't hear a peep.
But although he lay, tucked up in bed,
Jacob was not asleep.

A million questions were in his head,
Keeping him wide awake.
Jacob needed to find some answers,
No matter how long that might take.

He scrambled from the duvet
And gazed up at the black sky.
He watched clouds move past the moon
And the stars, so way up high.

"The world is so confusing,"
Jacob whispered to himself.
"I can't find answers anywhere,
Not in all the books on my shelf!"

He took a long and very deep breath,
And decided to ask out loud
All of the questions that kept him from sleep
To the sky and the moon and the clouds.

"Can you cry underwater?
And if chocolate is made from beans,
Does that make it a vegetable?"
Came Jacob's questioning pleas.

"And if my grandparents are called 'old people',
Why aren't kids called 'new people' too?
And were staircases built to go up or go down?
These are my questions to you!"

"Why doesn't cat food come in mouse flavour?"
Jacob asked the world, as he warmed to his theme.
"And if you're in bed, tucked up at night,
Can you still daydream?"

"What do you call a female daddy-long-legs?
Why is the third hand on my watch called the second hand?!"
Jacob rubbed his head and frowned at the sky.
"There's so much I don't understand."

"Like, how do you know when you run out of invisible ink?
Why is a boxing ring square?!
What do sheep count when they can't sleep?
Can you get nits if you have no hair?!"

But as he stared at the moon and stars,
In Jacob's mind, a thought had begun:
Perhaps not knowing all of these things
Was what made life such fun?!

After all, a mystery keeps us wondering.
Staying curious is good for your brain!
A smile crept across Jacob's lips, 
As he leant against the window pane.

He may never know all the answers
To the questions in his head.
"But I'll keep asking, anyway,"
A sleepy Jacob said.

But from that day on, it was okay not to know
The answers to every question through history.
Jacob was content to wonder and dream,
Enjoying all of life's mysteries.