Let me edu-tain you!

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 blogposts 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

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

 

Bowled over by Bolton-on-Swale

It was my second visit to Bolton-on-Swale Primary School. I spent half a day there last year celebrating World Book Day, as a result of which Mrs Dobson, the Head Teacher, invited me back for a full day this year.

And what a day it turned out to be!

I kick-started the day with an interactive poetry show for the whole school in which I performed poems from both my award-winning Buzzing! book and my forthcoming Flying High! book too.

Then Mrs Jones’ Class 4 (Years 5 & 6) knocked my socks off with the fabulous minibeast poems they wrote in our Minibeast Magic workshop. Each and every one of the pupils imagined really well what it was like to be a particular minibeast, and they used lots of magic tricks I showed them to make their poems sparkle.

Mr Ramsbottom’s Class 3 (Years 3 & 4) and I went on a wildlife walk. After which the pupils tickled me pink with the rhyming couplet poem they came up with, all about the things we’d seen. My favourite couplet was:

‘Rooks retreating to their nest
Trying to avoid the Class 3 test’

Rooks' nest at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School

Rooks’ nest at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School

The rest of the school giggled at that too, when Class 3 performed their poem in the sharing assembly at the end of the day. In which Reception warmed everyone up with their Warm-Up Rhyme from our Rhyme Time Ramble, and KS1 performed the brand new minibeast poem that they’d created outdoors in our Millipedes Galore workshop.

What a great day’s poetry from fabulous children. And what lucky children they are, too, to have such lovely school grounds to enjoy – including their very own Reflection Garden. There we spotted bumblebees, hoverflies, spiders and even the cuckoo spit of froghopper nymphs.

The Reflection Garden at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School - complete with storyteller's chair

The Reflection Garden at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School – complete with storyteller’s chair

Thank you to all the teachers and teaching assistants who pitched in so enthusiastically with my workshops. Here’s some of their feedback:

‘This session (in which the children were writing minibeast poems) was brilliantly modelled with enthusiasm and fantastic creativity/subject knowledge. As a result the children were excited, inspired and consequently wrote poems of a very high standard.’
Mrs Jones, Year 5/6 teacher

‘A very inspiring morning! All children were engaged and took an active role when learning the rhymes.’
Victoria Moodie, Reception teacher

If you’d like a poetry visit to your school, then just get in contact!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Berberis sawflies 2016

They’re back again! For the 11th year in a row we have Berberis sawfly larvae on our Berberis bush here on the outskirts of York- as you can see below:

Berberis sawfly larva on our Berberis bush, 8 July 2016

Berberis sawfly larva on our Berberis bush, 8 July 2016

I first saw the adult sawflies here this year on 12 June:

First adult Berberis Sawfly of 2016, spotted on 12 June

First adult Berberis Sawfly of 2016, spotted on 12 June

Despite minor depredations by the larvae, the Berberis bush is still stonkingly healthy.

Our Berberis bush

Our Berberis bush

This year its beautiful orange blossom attracted the daily attentions of a Hornet – the first time I have seen this happen.

Hornet feeding on our Berberis bush, May 2016

Hornet feeding on our Berberis bush, May 2016

You may recall that when I first spotted Berberis sawfly larvae here, it caused a minor sensation – in the sawfly world, that is. To read the full Berberis sawfly larva story, click here  and here. It’s a long story, and includes the Natural History Museum in London and a World First for me here in Heslington. You might want to brew a cuppa before you embark on the saga …

Meanwhile, if you’ve got Berberis sawflies – or any other sort of sawflies – where you are, there’s a British Sawfly recording scheme that would like to hear from you. Email your sighting (including date and location) to britishsawflies@liverpoolmuseums.org.uk.

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

New mini-beast magazine for mini-people

OK, so you’ve just missed National Insect Week this year, but fear not! You’ve still got loads of time to take a peek at Instar, a great new – free – online insect magazine for kids aged 7 upwards. (You can click on the image below to read it.)

I especially recommend your perusing pages 18 to 21, where not only will you be able to read a couple of my insect poems (from my award-winning minibeast poetry book Buzzing!) but you’ll also find my tips to help you write your own poems inspired by insects.

Instar magazine is brought to you by the Royal Entomological Society – who know a thing or two about insects! – and contains loads of fascinating articles.

Enjoy!

Oh, and feel free to send me any insect poems you write. I’d love to see what you think it feels like to be a particular insect …

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life