Let me edu-tain you!

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Welcome to theBigBuzz, home of poet and performer Anneliese Emmans Dean. Let me edu-tain you with my award winning:

and my acclaimed:

I’m all about learning through laughter, rhythm and rhyme. So whether you’re a primary school looking for a poet or photographer to visit, a theatre or festival looking for an edu-taining family show, a club looking for an edu-taining after-dinner speaker, or a parent looking for a photography workshop to give your child as a present, then just get in touch, and I’ll see how I can help.

Mooch around this site, read the feedback (from schools and from events) and scroll down through the blog posts below to learn more.

And to find out where you can see a show or take part in a workshop, click here.

Anneliese Emmans Dean

Quick: Buzzing! sale – 50% off!

Quick – time to grab your copy of my award-winning book Buzzing! at a mere £5! That’s the cheapest the book has ever been! It’s part of my publisher, Brambleby Books’ Black Friday 50% off weekend sale – which ends tonight (Sunday 27 Nov 2016).

Buy your copy here – while stocks last!

A perfect present for any nature-loving/giggle-loving/rhyme-loving primary children (and all young-at-heart grown-ups too!) And the perfect antidote to  nature deficiency disorder!

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Whilst you’re at Brambleby’s site, check out the discounts on their other great natural history books too!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Autumn at Skelton Grange

I’ve been wanting to visit Skelton Grange for ages. It does in Leeds what our St Nicks does here in York. Both are environment centres in urban settings offering, amongst many other things, conservation volunteering opportunities and the chance to frolic (or stomp around – as you prefer) in nature and learn more about it.

St Nicks held its Autumn Fayre on Saturday 15 October (where I presided over the creation of a community poem). The Saturday before that, Skelton Grange held their Big Green Weekend Open Day, and invited me to come and put on an event for visitors. An invitation I couldn’t refuse!

So, I got to Skelton Grange at last! And took families with younger children on Rhyme Time Rambles round their grounds.

The setting for Skelton Grange is urban. Very urban:

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

But step inside, and you’re in a different world, with woodland and ponds and fruit trees and bird hides …

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

… and minibeast hotels and mosaics and sculptures …

A Skelton Grange sculpture

Skelton Grange sculpture

and, and, and!

There was *lots* going on at this Open Day, from spinning to willow weaving to charcoal making to … a tug of war. Oh, and spoon-making, of course, by Dan of 2carvedspoons!

Dan with his carved spoons

Dan with his beautiful carved spoons (and bowls)

Thank you to everyone who came and joined in my Rhyme Time Rambles. And to the Robin that came along for the ride!

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Thank you too to Freya for suggesting me to Skelton Grange in the first place. And to Toby for all his admin and organisation.

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

If you live in Leeds and haven’t been to Skelton Grange, then I thoroughly recommend it as a place where both you and the kids can run around through bird- and minibeast-rich woodland and meadow and get a real sense of being in the great outdoors slap bang in the middle of a big city. A place where you can breathe.

They run all sorts of activities and courses too. Check out their website for more details.

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

And if you’d like me to put on some Rhyme Time Rambles for your upcoming outdoor event, then just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

St Nicks Autumn Fayre

I love putting on community poetry activities. They’re a great way of getting everyone involved in an event. And anyone who was anyone was getting involved in the Amazing Autumn Acrostic being created at St Nicks Autumn Fayre yesterday. From York’s MP Rachael Maskell and the Sheriff’s Lady, Brenda Tyler, through to both the junior and senior winners of this year’s Longest Apple Peel contest, young and old alike helped create our acrostic poem, as you can see from the slideshow below.

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The weather was kind to us, and it was a delight to see people of all ages and from all backgrounds stream into ‘the green heart of York‘, to look around and take part in a host of autumnal activities, from apple juicing to apple olympics, bird walks to water vole wanders, Nordic walking to sloe gin tasting.

The Civic Party arrived by tuktuk (100% electric; zero emissions):

The Lord Mayor's party arriving by tuktuk

The Lord Mayor’s party arriving by tuktuk

and joined in events with gusto:

The Sheriff and Sheriff's Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

The Sheriff and Sheriff’s Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

And as for the cake competition – mouthwatering in the extreme!

Some of the entries in the cake competition

Some of the entries in the cake competition

At the end of the Fayre we had two complete Autumn Acrostics that celebrated what visitors had enjoyed about the day, and about St Nicks in general.

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

I realise it’s a tad tricky to read these, so let me quote some of the lines for you here:

‘Totally blown away by apple-juice making scrumptiousness’

‘Bobbing apples was amazing’

‘Nature in the middle of town and the community’

‘Really, really, really looooong apple peels’

‘Acrobatic minibeasts’

‘Song thrushes, sycamores and sawflies’

‘Talking with old friends’

‘Amazing autumnal activities’

‘Swinging on the swings’

‘Carefree autumnal strolls’

‘Looking for butterflies makes me feel happy’

‘Going through the bendy paths is fun’

‘Gaining my potter’s spot’

‘Sloe gin after Nordic walking’

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

If you missed this year’s Fayre, look out for the upcoming events at St Nicks. But you don’t have to wait for a special event. Come and walk around your local nature reserve any time you fancy. (Directions here.) Who knows, you might even spot a water vole!

Thank you to Ivana and all the other staff members and volunteers who made St Nicks Autumn Fayre such a success. It’s a privilege to be a St Nicks patron.

Oh, and if you’d like me to put on a community poetry event where you are, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Performing at Le Moulin Rouge

Well, I never thought when I started up theBigBuzz back in 2007 that I would end up performing at Le Moulin Rouge in the company of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec. But that’s exactly what happened this Yorkshire Day (= 1st August, for the uninitiated!)

Perhaps I need to unpack that a little. Le Moulin Rouge in question was a fantastic Spiegeltent temporarily erected in the centre of my home town York, as part of The Great Yorkshire Fringe Festival.

Le Moulin Rouge (The York spiegeltent version!)

Le Moulin Rouge (The York spiegeltent version!)

And Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec were in fact present in the guise of face masks only, aka local volunteers judging the Yorkshire’s Got Talent portion of the day’s events. (And boy, has Yorkshire ever got talent! The contestants all sang amazingly!)

Simon Cowell (almost)

Simon Cowell (almost)

What was the day? Well, it was the family part of the Yorkshire Day Festival, a whole day and night’s worth of acts performing to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s charities, one of which is St Nicks (of which I am a Patron).

It was fabulous to watch so many other talented acts over the course of the day – and in such an amazing performance space.

Ukelele Sunshine Revival performing in Le Moulin Rouge

Ukelele Sunshine Revival performing in Le Moulin Rouge

My contribution to the day was an edu-taining ‘Birds and the Bees’ poetry show. I’m pleased to say the feedback was great – including this on the day:

‘The Birds and The Bees act was very good. My granddaughter loved it and was up on stage holding up drawings. Very good day indeed.’

and this from @FamiliesYork on Twitter:

‘Loved it. Anneliese was amazing of on

Can’t ask for more than that!

I hope that much money was raised for the Lord Mayor’s charities. And that the families who came along were inspired by my portion of the day to do plenty of minibeast hunting and birding over the summer holidays.

Thank you to the friendly and professional crew at the venue who were a great help to us all. And to Emma Courtney of The Social Octopus and Kellie Taylor for organising the event.

The Moulin Rouge crew in action

The Moulin Rouge crew in action

If you’d like some ‘amazing’ eco-edutainment at your event, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

A tale of two (beekeeping) cities

I learned a new word when I was in Münster, York’s German twin town, a couple of weeks ago. That word was: Imker. It means ‘beekeeper’.  And beekeeping doesn’t get much more local than at my friend Margret’s house. Look carefully and you’ll see the beehives (Bienenstöcke) are on the roof of her house!

Spot the (German) bee hives!

Spot the (German) bee hives!

The day I went round to visit, the Imker – her brother-in-law Gerd – and his son Lukas were harvesting the honey from the hives. It was a fascinating process to watch (not least because the last time I’d seen Lukas, he was not much more than a toddler!)

One of the hives at ground level

One of the hives down at ground level, opened up ready for harvesting

So here is Lukas (all grown up now) decapping a frame of honeycomb – i.e. taking off the wax cappings. They’ll make candles out of this beeswax.

Lukas decapping a honeycomb frame

Lukas decapping a honeycomb frame

Then the frames go into Imker Gerd’s centrifuge, and the honey comes dripping out of the bottom, into the yellow bucket you can see below.

Gert with his centrifuge.

Imker Gerd with his centrifuge.

They harvest the honey like this twice a year, once in May and then again in August, when we were there.

Lukas decapping a honeycomb frame

Father and son at work harvesting the honey

This is the first time I’ve seen the honey harvesting process (and immediately tasted the delicious results!) The nearest I’d been to honey production before was when I visited John and Katy’s hives here in York, to take the penultimate photo for my Buzzing! book.

My husband and I were lucky enough to be given a jar of their May ‘echter deutscher Blütenhonig’ (genuine German blossom honey) to bring back home. ‘Spitzenqualität vom Imker’ it says on the label. And now I know what that means – both linguistically and taste-wise!

The Münster honey makes it back to twin town York

The Münster honey makes it back to twin town York

Actually, as I’ve been writing this I’ve discovered there are several English words to do with beekeeping that I didn’t know and had to look up. ‘Decapping’ being one of them. And it may well be that I’ve got some of my beekeeping phraseology wrong here too – in which case, feel free to set me straight!

I’m on much surer ground when it comes to performing my Honeybee poem (from p. 24 of my Buzzing! book). Maybe I ought to think about performing that in German in future … .

Meanwhile: Guten Appetit!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Sounds interesting …

The day after the momentous Brexit result in our EU referendum, we had the pleasure of welcoming a very special migrant to our garden here on the outskirts of York. Take a listen to this:

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s the first time I’ve ever, in the 20 years we’ve lived here, heard this bird singing in our garden. And it provided very welcome balm for the soul.

In case you’re wondering, what you’ve just listened to is a male Blackcap.

As anyone who has been to one of my Flying High! shows will know, I am a big fan of birdsong. And I’m very keen, through my Flying High! shows (often performed with storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer) and my forthcoming Flying High! book, to tune other people in to the joys (and occasional annoyances!) of the birdsong around them.

However, birdsong isn’t the only fabulous sound you might hear in your garden. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear all sorts of other interesting sounds.

For example, ten days after I heard the Blackcap singing, I was just about to go to bed when I heard a familiar sound through the bathroom window. We hear it every year at about this time. Have a listen. Do you know what it is?

The first time I heard it, I had no idea what it was. The answer is: two hedgehogs getting to know each other. They snuffle around each other like this for ages and ages. We feel very lucky that year after year, hedgehogs come to our garden for this special event in their lives.

Courting hedgehogs in our garden, 4 July 2016

Courting hedgehogs in our garden in Heslington, 4 July 2016

And here’s another intriguing sound. I heard it in the garden over the course of a few days last week. It was coming from our wooden trellis. Any idea what it is? (N.B. You need to listen very carefully!)

For the answer to this one, I’ll point you in the direction of my award-winning Buzzing! book. All is revealed on pages 20 and 21!

Meanwhile, may your life be enriched by tuning in to the sounds of nature all around you.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the effect of leaving the EU may be on our wildlife here in Britain, have a read of this interesting document, The EU and Our Environment, drawn up in advance of the referendum by the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and WWF.

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life