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

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Ecotherapy at St Nicks

With my ‘Patron of St Nicks’ hat on, let me say how proud I was to attend the launch of the new Ecotherapy project there today. Run by Kathy Sturgess, the project has its very own Ecotherapy Chalet right next to the main St Nicks building.

Project leader Kathy Sturgess outside the new Ecotherapy Chalet at St Nicks, York

Project leader Kathy Sturgess outside the new Ecotherapy Chalet at St Nicks, York

Ecotherapy promotes good mental and physical wellbeing through outdoor activity in the natural environment. I’m looking forward to contributing to the activities on offer there as part of the project. Today’s launch offered the chance to sample some of the upcoming activities, which will take place under four umbrella headings:

  • Connecting to Nature
  • Green Fingers
  • Bearing Fruit
  • Plot to Plate.
Sampling the Ecotherapy activities that will be on offer at St Nicks

Sampling some of the Ecotherapy activities that will be on offer at St Nicks

We had absolutely beautiful weather for the launch, so visitors were able to enjoy the very best St Nicks has to offer (including delicious cake!)

St Nicks in the sunshine on Ecotherapy Launch Day

St Nicks in the sunshine on Ecotherapy Launch Day

If you, or someone you know, might benefit from taking part in this Ecotherapy project, just contact Kathy on 01904 411821 or ecotherapy@stnicks.org.uk to find out more. Meanwhile, there’s more information here.

Finding out more inside the St Nicks Ecotherapy Chalet

Finding out more inside the St Nicks Ecotherapy Chalet

The Ecotheraphy Project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. I’m looking forward to it making a Big Difference to people’s lives.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Buzzing! for grown-ups

For a Buzzing! review with a difference, may I point you in the direction of Mark Avery’s blog?  There you’ll find an assessment not only of the content of my book, but also of my drinking habits and even the quality of my handwriting!

The bit about my book is interesting as it gives you a grown-up’s perspective on Buzzing! Which, in Mark’s case, is that:

‘The poems are very catchy and often contain a lot of information – learning the poems is an easy way to learn the information … This seems like one of those rare successful mixtures of science and art … I really like the book.’

Phew! And I, as it happens, really like the book Mark Avery has written called Fighting for Birds. I shall tell you more about his book on another occasion, but for now you can find out more about it here and more about Mark (whom you may recall I met at the Hay Festival recently, when we were both recording programmes for BBC Radio 4) here.

If you too are a grown-up and would like to experience a live grown-up version of Buzzing!, then come along to the ‘green heart of York’ that is St Nicks this coming Tuesday 15 July, where I’ll be performing a promenade version of Buzzing!

The nature reserve at St Nicks is a fabulous place to wander through on a summer’s evening (weather permitting), so who knows what flora and fauna we’ll find there. Indeed, some of its fauna found their way into my Buzzing! book, and I’ll be showing you exactly where I found them and took the photos.

A Cinnabar moth caterpillar that features in my Buzzing! book and that I found and photographed at St Nicks, York

A Cinnabar moth caterpillar that I photographed at St Nicks, York, and that features in my Buzzing! book

The evening starts at 6.30pm with formal St Nicks matters. You can arrive in time for that or come a little later, at around 7pm, when the promenade will begin.

Either way, the evening’s events are free, and will be followed by a (discounted!) Buzzing! book signing session at the end of the promenade, with 20% of the price going to St Nicks.

St Nicks is just off Melrosegate in York. You can find directions here.

I’ve performed lots of Buzzing! shows for grown-ups before, but I’ve never done a promenade version, so this will be a world first! I do hope you can come and join us.

(P.S. Older children are welcome along too!)

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

St Nicks – then and now

What a difference 6 months makes!

Last December I was at St Nick’s (aka York Environment Centre) lamenting the demise of the much-loved York Rotters, as you can see below:

Today I was back at St Nicks (now minus apostrophe) for a much more upbeat occasion: a triple celebration!

We were celebrating the relaunch of the 16-year-old charity that is St Nicks (now aka ‘The Green Heart of York’) , celebrating 20 years of turning this former landfill into a wonderful green haven, and celebrating 10 years of its being designated a Local Nature Reserve.

The great and the good turned out for this occasion, and they were introduced by St Nicks Chair Yashpal Anand:

St Nicks Chair Yashpal Anand introducing the speakers at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

St Nicks Chair Yashpal Anand introducing the speakers at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

Speeches were given by the MP for York Central, Hugh Bayley:

Hugh Bayley MP speaking at St Nicks, 10.5.14

Hugh Bayley MP speaking at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

by the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Julie Gunnell:

Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Julie Gunnell, speaking at St Nicks, 10.5.14

Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Julie Gunnell, speaking at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

by the Chief Officer of St Nicks, Tom Waring:

St Nicks' Chief Officer Tom Waring gives his speech

St Nicks’ Chief Officer Tom Waring gives his speech, 10 May 2014

Oh, and by yours truly – in my role as a newly appointed Patron, no less:

St Nicks Patron Anneliese Emmans Dean gives a speech at St Nicks, 10.5.14

Giving my first speech as a Patron of St Nicks, 10 May 2014

I was ably assisted in my speech-giving by Bethany who, at the crucial moment, provided the ‘Ta Daa!’ moment, by unfurling (what we boldy claim to be) the world’s longest apple poem, written by visitors to St Nicks on Apple Day 2011:

Bethany unfurls The World's Longest Apple Poem, written by visitors to St Nicks' Apple Day 2011

Bethany unfurls The World’s Longest Apple Poem, written by visitors to St Nicks’ Apple Day 2011

I read out a portion of this poem at the end of my speech, as it – inadvertently – encapsulates the history of St Nicks, from a forgotten seed in a desolate landscape, to a richly biodiverse community hub.

(from left) The Lord Mayor of York, me, Hugh Bayley MP, and Tom Waring admiring (what could be) the world's longest apple poem

(from left) The Lord Mayor of York, me, Hugh Bayley MP, and Tom Waring of St Nicks admiring (what could be) the world’s longest apple poem, 10 May 2014

After the speeches came green activities for all ages, including smoothie-making by pedal power:

Making smoothies with pedal power! St Nicks, 10.5.14

Making smoothies with pedal power – as invented by Alfred Chow.  St Nicks, 10.5.14

and a tour of the Nature Reserve, led by my former English teacher Mrs Green. (Now there’s a terrifying thing – giving a speech with your former English teacher present!)

Mrs Green leads a tour of St Nicks, 10.5.14

Mrs Green leads a tour of St Nicks, 10 May 2014

If you haven’t been to St Nicks yet, then I thoroughly recommend it. It will recharge you, body and soul. Today the chiffchaffs were singing, the newts were swimming in the pond, and there was delicious home-made cake to eat. What more could you ask for?

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

The very last Buzzing! photo

Time has been running out! My Buzzing! book – to be published in Spring 2012 – will include over 170 close-up photos of garden minibeasts. It’s taken me 8 years to take all the photos in the book, most of them in my small garden in York. But I’ve been two photos short!

Since I handed the manuscript to the publisher (Brambleby Books), I’ve been on a hunt for the last two photos for the book: a honeybee hive, and a wasps’ nest.

In October, friends of mine let me take photos of their hive – as you can see here. So that just left me with a wasps’ nest to locate and photograph.

I put out an SOS on Twitter and Facebook and was thrilled to get replies from two local organisations that each had a wasps’ nest I could photograph.

First of all I went off to York Environment Centre/St Nicholas Fields, where I often put on shows and workshops (like this one and this one), to take a photo of their wasps’ nest:

Anneliese holding the St Nicholas Fields' wasps' nest, Winter 2011

Anneliese holding the St Nicholas Fields’ wasps’ nest, Winter 2011

A few days later I went  round the corner to the University of York, where the good people of OPAL had another wasps’ nest for me to photograph:

Anneliese with OPAL's wasps' nest, Winter 2011

Anneliese with OPAL’s wasps’ nest, Winter 2011

I took lots and lots of photos of each of these nests. Then – after much agonising – I chose one photo to send to the publishers. Just in time!

Which nest did I choose to include in the book? Well, you’ll have to have a look and see!

Anneliese's Buzzing! book

Anneliese’s Buzzing! book

Many thanks to Ivana at St Nick’s, to Sarah at OPAL and to Andreas at the University of York for their assistance in this important photographic mission!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – info@theBigBuzz.bizwww.theBigBuzz.biz

Bringing poetry to life

The World’s Longest Apple Poem?

Not to be outdone by the ‘Longest Apple Peel’ competition happening just behind me, last Saturday at St Nick’s (aka St Nicholas Fields/York Environment Centre) I presided over the writing of  ‘The World’s Longest Apple Poem’.

Anneliese presiding over the creation of the World's Longest Apple Poem, St Nick's Apple Day, 2011

Anneliese presiding over the creation of the World’s Longest Apple Poem, St Nick’s Apple Day, 2011

The poem was called ‘The Amazing Adventures of Pip the Apple Seed’, and as Apple Day wore on, more …

Adding to the World's Longest Apple Poem, St Nick's Apple Day 2011

Adding to the World’s Longest Apple Poem, St Nick’s Apple Day 2011

and more …

Adding to the World's Longest Apple Poem, St Nick's Apple Day 2011

Adding to the World’s Longest Apple Poem, St Nick’s Apple Day 2011

and more people came to add their couplet to the poem …

Adding to the World's Longest Apple Poem at St Nick's Apple Day 2011

Adding to the World’s Longest Apple Poem at St Nick’s Apple Day 2011

The poem got longer …

Adding to the World's Longest Apple Poem, St Nick's Apple Day 2011

Adding to the World’s Longest Apple Poem, St Nick’s Apple Day 2011

and longer …

Adding to the World's Longest Apple Poem, St Nick's Apple Day 2011

Adding to the World’s Longest Apple Poem, St Nick’s Apple Day 2011

And Pip’s adventures became more …

Adding to the World's Longest Apple Poem, St Nick's Apple Day 2011

Adding to the World’s Longest Apple Poem, St Nick’s Apple Day 2011

and more amazing …

Adding to the World's Longest Apple Poem, St Nick's Apple Day 2011

Adding to the World’s Longest Apple Poem, St Nick’s Apple Day 2011

Until finally, the poem we created was this long:

The Amazing Adventures of Pip the Apple Seed - The World's Longest Apple Poem?

The Amazing Adventures of Pip the Apple Seed – The World’s Longest Apple Poem?

And if you’d like to read the poem, and find out what amazing adventures Pip the Apple Seed had, then click here.

Thank you to everyone who joined in creating such an amazing adventure for Pip the Apple Seed. And to all involved in putting on a wonderful Apple Day at St Nick’s. (Especially the person who booked such gorgeous sunny weather for the event.)

Apple Day at St Nick's 2011

Apple Day at St Nick’s 2011

At the end of the day, one little girl who’d helped write the poem handed me a note on which she’d written:

‘Thank you for organising apple day. This is the best day I ever had.’

I hadn’t anticipated ending Apple Day with tears in my eyes, but I did when I read that.

If you’d like some poetical fun injecting into your event, contact me

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life

Moth Day magic

Well, our first ever Moth Day at St Nick’s went well. A packed venue and it even stopped raining long enough for us to be outdoors and go on a moth walk round the nature reserve!

Yorkshire Moth Man Dr Dave Chesmore’s morning session consisted of an introductory presentation about how to identify moths, followed by the opening up of the moth trap  set up the previous night at St Nick’s.

Dr Dave Chesmore opens the moth trap at the St Nick's Moth Day

Dr Dave Chesmore opens the moth trap at the St Nick’s Moth Day

Then we set about trying to identify these moths, using the skills Dave had taught us …

Identifying moths at St Nick's Moth Day

Identifying moths at St Nick’s Moth Day

After a moth walk round the nature reserve, the day ended with a Buzzing! Moth Show from me – with more moth photos and poems than ever before.  One lady who came along said it was ‘her special treat to herself’!

You can listen to the last poem in the show by clicking below:

Thank you to Ivana for all her organisational work setting the day up, to Dave Chesmore, and to everyone who came along.

Happy Moth Hunting!

To put on a Moth Day where you are, email me

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz