The P-Factor 2017

So excited was I by the prospect of judging the Ryedale Book Festival P-Factor Grand Final this year that I penned a poem. But I only penned it a couple of days before the event. Did I have time to learn it? Did I have the nerve to perform it at the event itself?

As the poem aimed to inspire the children to give the very best of themselves in their performances that afternoon, I decided to take my courage into my hands and give it a go. Here’s the result:

The results that really counted that day, of course, were those of the P-Factor competition itself. Schools from around Ryedale came to Malton to perform the poems they’d learned in front of a panel of three judges – poets Mandy Coe, Catherine Boddy and me (all of whom had performed for the children in the morning).

The P Factor 2017 Judges: Catherine Boddy, Mandy Coe, and me

The P Factor 2017 Judges: Catherine Boddy, Mandy Coe, and me

I knew from the last time I’d judged the competition (back in 2015, along with John Hegley, P-Factor founder Andy Seed and Steven Nash) that I was in for a treat! And this year’s contestants did not disappoint.

The props this year included a real live chocolate cake, which a child proceeded to consume in front of our very eyes as part of his rendition of Michael Rosen’s ‘Chocolate Cake’ poem!

Over the course of the afternoon children performed a wide variety of poems. They rapped, they made us laugh, they brought a tear to our eyes. They all brought poetry to life.

We judges were only supposed to come up with one winner and one runner-up. But the three girls from Kirkbymoorside Primary School were so good that we had to invent a special ‘Highly Commended’ prize category just for them!

The Runners-up of this year’s competition were … the team from Wellburn Hall School with their fabulous rendition of an Anansi Spider poem:

The Wellburn Hall School P-Factor 2017 runners-up, with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

The Wellburn Hall School P-Factor 2017 runners-up, with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

And the winners were … the Langton Primary School team, with their faultless performance of Michael Rosen’s ‘Strict’ poem!

The Langton School winners of the P Factor 2017 - with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

The Langton School winners of the P-Factor 2017 – with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

This is such an inspiring event. An entire auditorium full of children cheering about, and performing, poetry – for a whole day. Whoof! And the competition gets live-streamed back to all the schools involved!

Hats off to Karen Saunders and Sarah Tyson of Ryedale Book Festival for all they do to make this event happen. And to all the other Festival volunteers and tech people who made this year’s event go so well. Massive thanks too to the teachers and pupils of all the schools involved, for the time, energy and creativity you put into the competition.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

P-Factor 2017 Runners-Up from Wellburn Hall School in costume!

P-Factor 2017 runners-up from Wellburn Hall School in costume!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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Ryedale Book Festival at Scampston Hall

Just a quick heads up about the fabulous event on *tomorrow* (Sunday 25 June) in Scampston Hall’s beautiful Walled Garden, near Malton. ‘A day of nature-themed literary activities for all the family’. I look forward to seeing you there! Find out more here.

Article from the Ryedale Gazette & Herald

Article from the Ryedale Gazette & Herald

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

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

Family Fun at Ryedale Book Festival

‘Step through the magnificent gates into a magical woodland world …’ the Festival brochure said. And it wasn’t wrong.

On Sunday, children, parents, grandparents and godparents galore gathered in Malton’s ‘secret garden’, Castle Gardens, for the Ryedale Book Festival Family Fun Day themed around nature.

The day started off with artist and illustrator Matt Sewell teaching us all how to draw birds, in his Spotting and Jotting workshop:

Matt Sewell teaching us how to draw birds

Matt Sewell teaching us how to draw birds

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Then storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer and I took to the stage to perform our Flying High show all about birdsong – ably assisted by members of the audience, young and not-so-young alike.

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High, ably assisted by an audience member. Ryedale Book Festival, October 2015

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High, ably assisted by an audience member. Ryedale Book Festival, October 2015

And the entertainments kept coming! I had had a word with the Mayor of Malton on the previous Friday about securing us good weather for the day, and she didn’t disappoint. It was a beautiful sun-soaked Autumn day. So we were able to enjoy and explore the outdoor space with a book-cover trail, particularly fine face-painting

Face painting by Sarah Corner

Face painting by Sarah Corner of facepaintingcorner.co.uk

… freshly baked pizzas and coffee and cakes, all accompanied by exquisitely crafted book-themed songs written and performed by the fabulous Bookshop Band.

The Bookshop Band at Ryedale Book Festival

The Bookshop Band at Ryedale Book Festival

Waterstones was on hand to sell books, with a nice big space for us authors to sign and dedicate copies for our readers.

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Signing copies of Buzzing! at the Waterstones bookstall

And whilst we were roaming the Gardens, Matt Sewell was at the boundary wall creating a wonderful bird-themed mural – a flurry of Long-tailed Tits:

Matt Sewell creating his mural at Castle Gardens, Malton

Matt Sewell creating his mural at Castle Gardens, Malton

All in all a lovely, lovely day with a huge range of inspiring activities and experiences for all ages. If you missed it this year, then do put Ryedale Book Festival in your diary for next year.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Festival brochure:
‘The Ryedale Book Festival is an inclusive, community-led, not for profit organisation run by a team of dedicated volunteers with a passion for books. If you would like to get involved, contact the Festival team: events@ryedalebookfestival.com

And … it even has its own beer!

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Thank you to all the volunteers who put so much work into creating such a friendly and well-run Festival – especially Sarah Tyson, Audrie Woodhouse, Helen Lowdell and Pinelopi Bourke. It was a great pleasure to be part of it.

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Great food for a great life in Calderdale

Lucky primary-school children of Calderdale, I say! I do so with some confidence having attended the Calderdale Food for Life School Awards event in gorgeous Hebden Bridge last week.

There I heard first hand from teachers and pupils about the wonderful work they’re doing around growing, cooking and sharing healthy, fresh, seasonal, local food in their schools. From inviting farmers’ markets into schools to putting on Father’s Day lunch for their Dads to growing the brussel sprouts for their school Christmas dinner, there are oodles of inspiring food-related activities going on in these schools.

I also heard very moving testimonies from school chefs who had transformed the food culture and the place of cooking in their schools. These included Tony Mulgrew, who won the 2014 BBC Food and Farming Cook of the Year Award.

We even got to share a delicious buffet of locally sourced food – cheeses and breads and pickles and … and … and … Fabulous!

Delicious locally sourced and produced buffet

Delicious locally sourced and produced buffet

We were all gathered in the stunning surroundings of Hebden Bridge Town Hall (the only community-owned Town Hall in England) to celebrate the achievements of local primary schools that had gained their Bronze or Silver Food for Life Awards. It was an important occasion. So important that the Mayor of Calderdale and the Mayor’s Consort were in attendance – both bedecked in regalia. (Funnily enough this is the second time I’ve performed to Calderdale Mayoral personages. But that’s another story …)

I had been invited to this event to put on a poetry performance and poetry workshop themed around food. As I had done at the York Food for Life Awards in March.

As soon as I got off the train in Hebden Bridge I was greeted by this sign:

Welcome to Hebden Bridge sign

So I had a feeling I was going to encounter some very creative juices that day. And I wasn’t wrong! The children of Old Town, Ling Bob, Midgley, Bolton Brow and Riverside primary schools came up with fabulous mystery food poems – some of which will be displayed at the Town Hall for all to enjoy. (Will you be able to guess the mystery food?)

Even the Mayor and her Consort joined in the poetry writing, and came up with a corking poem all about … Ah, but that would be telling!

Mayor of Calderdale Cllr Lisa Lambert and her consort, Mr Ken Lambert

Mayor of Calderdale Cllr Lisa Lambert and her consort, Mr Ken Lambert – with their Buzzing! bookmarks

What I can tell you is that the Mayor, her Consort, and all the children and other important grown-ups present joined in with gusto as I performed – amongst other poems – the World Premiere of my Rhubarb poem (inspired by the fabulous rhubarb I encountered on a recent visit to a York FFLP school).

If you’d like to join in the Rhubarb poem – indeed, if you’d like a poetry day themed around food, growing and healthy eating for your primary school – just email me. I’ll be delighted to respond to your school’s requirements.

And if you’re a grown-up with an event or special occasion in mind, you might like to check out my Rhyme and Dine events, in which I intersperse rib-tickling food poems between the courses of your meal.

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(See some Rhyme and Dine examples here.)

Meanwhile, congratulations to all the FFLP award winners on Thursday. Keep up the good work!

Thank you to Chloe Smee, Kay Whitfield and Leon Ballin of FFLP, who organised this special event and made my contribution to it run so smoothly. (And thank you, Chloe, for remembering the rhubarb!)

FFLP grown-ups Chloe and Kay, with the all-important rhubarb!

FFLP grown-ups Chloe and Kay, with the all-important rhubarb!

Bon appétit to you all!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

 

 

 

Big garden thrills

You don’t have to have a big garden to have big garden thrills. Here are two of my highlights from the past week in my 8m x 8m garden in Heslington, on the outskirts of York. Both were ‘blink and you’ll miss them’ thrills – hence the less than 110% perfect pix!

The nearest thing to a hummingbird that I'm going to see in my garden - a Hummingbird hawkmoth, 7 June 2015

The nearest thing to a hummingbird that I’m going to see in my garden – a Hummingbird hawkmoth, 7 June 2015

Baby robins being fed on my recliner, 7 June 2015

Baby robins being fed on my recliner, 8 June 2015

Keep a beady eye out for big garden thrills where you are. It’s a great time of year for them!

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