Summer at RHS Harlow Carr

There can be few more beautiful places to work than RHS Harlow Carr on the outskirts of Harrogate in North Yorkshire.

RHS Harlow Carr

RHS Harlow Carr

If you have time on your hands, I definitely recommend a visit.

RHS Harlow Carr

RHS Harlow Carr

I spent the summer putting on Great Garden Adventure children’s activities there. Mondays were Pioneering Poets days:

Poetry Workshops at RHS Harlow Carr

My Poetry Workshops at RHS Harlow Carr

and Tuesdays were for Rhyme Time Rambles:

Rhyme Time Rambles at RHS Harlow Carr

Rhyme Time Rambles at RHS Harlow Carr

I’d like to thank all the children who joined in our haiku writing on Mondays, creating fabulous illustrated poetry necklaces and medallions:

Poetry necklaces and medallions at RHS Harlow Carr

Poetry necklaces and medallions at RHS Harlow Carr

waterfalls:

Poetry Waterfall at RHS Harlow Carr

Poetry Waterfall at RHS Harlow Carr

and more:

A creative haiku writer and illustrator at RHS Harlow Carr

A creative haiku writer and illustrator at RHS Harlow Carr

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, some of the grown-ups joined in too – including a Dutch couple who wrote us some bilingual haikus:

Grown-ups joining in with bilingual haikus at RHS Harlow Carr

Grown-ups joining in with bilingual haikus at RHS Harlow Carr

After months of making wet weather back-up arrangements for our Tuesday Rhyme Time Rambles, we didn’t actually need them at all. We had 5 straight dry Tuesdays on the trot! Can you believe it?! So, we were able to Rhyme Time Ramble outdoors, exploring Harlow Carr in rhythm and rhyme …

Rhyme Time Rambling at RHS Harlow Carr

Being a coiled-up millipede on one of our Rhyme Time Rambles at RHS Harlow Carr

and looking for honey bees and bumblebees and butterflies …

Looking for butterflies on our Rhyme Time Ramble at RHS Harlow Carr

Looking for butterflies on our Rhyme Time Ramble at RHS Harlow Carr

A huge thank you to all the RHS volunteers who helped me to deliver these activities over the summer. And to Events Coordinator Sarah Purves, for making sure everything ran so smoothly.

Apologies if I promised to include your photo in this blogpost and haven’t. I wasn’t using my own camera, and consequently some of the photos I took came out a bit blurry! I’ll make sure I have my own camera with me next time!

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

Colwall Orchard Picnic

OK, so it wasn’t warm, but nevertheless the Colwall Orchard Picnic on Sunday was fabulous! It took place in idyllic surroundings, in the largest surviving cherry orchard in the West Midlands, teeming with cherry trees in full blossom.

Colwall Orchard, Herefordshire

Colwall Orchard, Herefordshire

I had the great honour of inaugurating the Colwall Renga.  A renga is a traditional Japanese poetry form, composed of 3-line haikus and 2-line linking verses. The Colwall Renga is a year-long project, with members of the community adding verses throughout the year.

The whole community joined in haiku writing at the picnic …

Contributing to the Colwall Renga

Contributing to the Colwall Renga

… creating a poetry blossom tree.

The Colwall Orchard poetry blossom tree

The Colwall Orchard poetry blossom tree

The champion haiku writer turned out to be 5-year-old Matilda!

Matilda, the champion haiku writer

In awe of Matilda, the champion haiku writer

Not to be outdone, Toby the Dog joined in with a haiku of his own too.

Toby the Dog writes his haiku

Toby the Dog writes his haiku

Other events for everyone to join in with included minibeast hunting with Dr Roger Key and his wife, and a Rhyme Time Ramble through the Orchard led by yours truly.

Bug Hunting at Colwall Orchard Picnic with Dr Roger Key and his wife

Bug Hunting at Colwall Orchard Picnic with Dr Roger Key and his wife

What with delicious home-made cakes and Colwall Orchard apple juice, it was a day not to be missed!

Well, that’s my version of events. You can read the official version here: Report from the Blossom Picnic 2010

The Cake Ladies writing their haikus

The Cake Ladies writing their haikus

If, for some reason, you did miss this Blossom Picnic, then make a date in your diary for the next Colwall Orchard event, and add your contribution to the ongoing renga.

Huge thanks to Tim and Helen and the other members of the Colwall Orchard Group for organising the event, and for  inviting me to participate.

Tim Dixon, co-organiser of the Colwall Orchard Picnic

Tim Dixon, co-organiser of the Colwall Orchard Picnic

And to Carole, for her taxi services well above and beyond the call of duty!

Anneliese Emmans Deaninfo@theBigBuzz.bizwww.theBigBuzz.biz

Wiggly worms in West Bank Park

We wiggly wormed into the wood last Thursday as part of my York Literature Festival event for pre-school children in West Bank Park.

This ‘Mad March Hares’ Rhyme Time Ramble took us right to the top of a Very Tall Tree (in our imaginations), and also all the way underground (for real) to where the worms live. The children enjoyed digging up all sorts of worms, from long fat brown ones to thin little grey ones.

Digging up worms on our Rhyme Time Ramble

Digging up worms on our Rhyme Time Ramble

We all enjoyed watching the different sorts of worms we’d found, especially when they wriggled themselves up into a big ball.

Looking at the different worms we'd dug up

Looking at the different worms we'd dug up

I performed my special earthworm song for everyone.

It was a very exciting Rhyme Time Ramble. We marched like ants and we buzzed like bees. And one girl even saw a pink dragon!

And we were all very lucky because the Story Tree gave us a rhyme time story at the end of our ramble.

One of our successful worm hunters

One of our successful worm hunters

Molly’s mum wrote to me afterwards:

‘ It was a great session – such a good idea to inject a bit of magic into nature like that, because it got them all going – Molly got really into it, and didn’t want to leave!’

Conor’s mum wrote:

‘It was a truly wonderful morning … I loved watching them all staring up into the Very Tall Tree and really, really WONDERING what they would see from up there. Conor said to tell you his favourite thing was doing the ‘we’re off into the woods’ rhyme walking round the flowerbed in a circle!’

Thank you to everyone who came along, to Catherine Heinemeyer for her organisatorial skills, to the Friends and Very Young Friends of West Bank Park for their support of the event. And to Clare for the lovely ‘digging up worms’ photo above.

And if, like us, you enjoy digging up worms, then check out OPAL, who are running a worm survey across the country, and who need you to join in! Find out more

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

Scarcroft School visit

The Reception and Year 1 classes at Scarcroft Primary School in York were Buzzing! this morning, when I went to perform my minibeast show for them.

It was a great pleasure to visit Scarcroft School, on several counts.

Firstly, it was an architechtural pleasure. Scarcroft is one of the schools in York designed by ‘the Yorkshire Lutyens’, Walter Brierley. Built in 1896, it is considered his ‘masterpiece’, and though I have driven past almost it all my life, I had never been inside before.

Scarcroft School

Secondly, it was a personal pleasure, as the Head, Mrs Anna Cornhill, and I were at school together in York. So I was very pleased to catch up with her.

Thirdly, it was an educational pleasure, as the children were very enthusiastic, and told me all about the minibeasts they had seen in their gardens and houses and allotments. They also showed me the Painted Lady caterpillers they had in their classroom, which they were watching develop. And they also showed me the fantastic snails that they had recently made. Take a look at these. Aren’t they wonderful?

Scarcroft Snails

Scarcroft Snail

Thank you to the staff – including Mrs Cornhill, Karen Frizzell, Mrs Mason, Miss Bond and Mrs Woodhouse – and to the pupils for welcoming me so warmly to their school.

Rhyme Time Ramble

Hurray! It didn’t rain today! So the Very Young Friends of West Bank Park in York and I were able to go on our ‘Rhyme Time Ramble through the Woods’. (The last time we had tried to go on a Rhyme Time Ramble, the weather was so terrible that the council shut the park!)

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After we’d done our Warm Up Rhyme, we greeted Queen Victoria:

Queen Victoria in West Bank Park, York

Then we wiggly wormed into the wood:

Wiggly Worming into the wood

The children – all pre-school – were very observant in the wood. They found worms, and a snail, and a spider’s web, amongst other fascinating things:

Finding interesting creatures on our Rhyme Time Ramble

So I performed a worm poem, and a snail poem, and a spider poem for them. Amongst other poems …

Then when we got to the Story Tree, she let us have a Rhyme Time Story. Here the children are, listening to my Rhyme Time Story:

Rhyme Time Story at the Story Tree

Thank you to all the children and their mums/grandmas/carers who came today. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves as much as I did. What bits did you like best?

Thank you too to Catherine, for organising the event in the first place!

Organiser, Catherine

I now look forward to my next Rhyme Time Ramble. I wonder where that will be …

Anneliese Emmans Deaninfo@theBigBuzz.biz

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Imbolc Story Walk

The poster for our Story Walk round West Bank Park said it would be suitable for ages 0 to 100+. We didn’t quite manage to hit the top end of that age-range, but nevertheless, young and not-so-young alike turned out on a ‘fresh’ February afternoon for our walk to celebrate National Storytelling Week.

Patrick - West Bank Story Walk - 2.2.08 West Bank Story Walk - 2.2.08

We had a very inspiring walk through the park, with poems provided by me, and stories by … well, take a look below.

When we got to the ponds, Catherine (with assistance from some little helpers) told us a fascinting story from Lincolnshire about TiddyMun:

West Bank Story Walk, Tiddy Mun

Aidan’s grandma told us 2 stories, one about a fallen oak tree …

Telling us the fallen oak tree story, 2.2.08

… which inspired great curiousity amongst the children:

Children by a fallen tree - Story Walk - 2.2.08

As did her story about the Green Man:

The Green Man - 2.2.08 Story Walk

We also learned about the history of the park, and that it had been a plant nursery for over a hundred years:

Learning about the history of the park, 2.2.08

I finished the walk off at the Story Tree, with a poem about the seasons:

Me reciting a poem at the Story Tree

And thence to hot drinks and delicious cakes in the park cafe!

Our audience was very appreciative, and suggested we put on similar walks again at other times of the year. It turns out that today is the Celtic festival of Imbolc, which is half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. So, it was suggested that we meet up again for story walks on other Celtic festival days. A very good idea!

In the Irish calendar, today is the first day of Spring. And by the time we left the wood, it really did look like it, with blue sky and sunshine lighting up the trees.

West Bank Park in the sunshine - 2.2.08

A big Thank You to Catherine Heinemeyer for her vision and hard work in setting up this wonderful walk. I was not the only one to have enjoyed it enormously.

And thank you to Stephen Whittaker of City of York Council for supporting the event. Let’s hope it’s the first of many such story walks in the park

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