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!)
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)
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
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.’
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
If you’d like some ‘amazing’ eco-edutainment at your event, just get in touch!
Let’s face it, an AGM can be a little … lacking in pizzazz. However worthy the organisation. And Edible York, the organisation holding its AGM last night, is a *very* worthy organisation. It’s a ‘lively local charity that aims to support people to become closer to the food they eat’. Take a look at what they get up to here.
To counter the ‘lack-of-pizzazz’-ness of the evening, Edible York invited me to come and perform for them, after the formalities of the agenda were over. So I did just that. A set of poems all about what they get up to, which is growing fruit and veg.
Entertaining at the Edible York AGM
How did it go down? Here’s what one attendee tweeted afterwards:
‘Spectacular performance poetry this eve from the ever effervescent Anneliese’
Where would we be without bumblebees? Edu-taining at the Edible York AGM
And another comment:
‘I loved the way you tied everything together with merry words and buzzing characterisations. It made our AGM such a happy, memorable event!!’
Adding to the festive atmosphere was Tim Pheby playing and singing some beautiful songs (and updating us on the England v Slovakia game).
So, as we head towards the end of January 2015, it’s high time I looked back over the wildlife wonders of 2014 here in my little garden in Heslington, on the outskirts of York. As ever, there were plenty of wildlife surprises over the course of the year. Here, in chronological order, are some of the highlights.
Moving away from the buzzing of bees, do you happen to know what this sound is:
The astute amongst you may have guessed that what you were listening to was courting hedgehogs. On several nights in July we had a pair of hedgehogs wandering – warily – round and round and round each other in circles, making a noise that explains where they get the name ‘hogs’ from! This courting goes on for quite some time.
Courting hedgehogs, 11 July 2014
We’ve been lucky enough to have hedgehog couples come to our garden for their amorous ‘getting to know you’ routine before, and it was great to see them back here in 2014.
Newly hatched Berberis sawfly larvae, 24 June 2014
On the moth front, the highlight was undoubtedly the appearance of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on our honeysuckle in late September. With the added bonus that I managed to get my camera out and the settings sorted in time to take this photo.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth on our honeysuckle, 24 September 2014
It’s not brilliant, but it’s my best Hummingbird Hawkmoth photo yet – and a distinct improvement on the ‘blur at a fleur’ pix of said moth that I’ve managed on the two previous occasions I’ve seen this beauty in our garden. (Yes, a grand total of 3 sightings in 18 years!)
You can find out more about the Hummingbird Hawkmoth in my Buzzing! book.
Our Memorable Amphibian Incident of 2014 happened late in the year when I found a frog in the dining room. (Tricky things to catch, leaping frogs. But I did eventually manage to escort it off the premises.)
And finally … staying indoors, I noticed a speck of dirt on our living room carpet in early November. I was making a mental note to sweep it up at some point, when it jumped. Now, I’m no physicist, but I’m pretty certain specks of dirt don’t jump.
So, out came the camera, and when I zoomed in on the photo, I saw that far from being a speck of dirt, it was in fact an insect. The same insect I had mistaken for a speck of soil outside on our patio the week before.
Yorkshire Orthoptera Recorder Dr Dave Chesmore confirmed it as a Slender groundhopper (Tetrix subulata):
“It is a species that has been really under recorded,” he said.
I’m not surprised – it’s tiny!
Slender groundhopper – just 1cm long.
This is the first indoor record Dave has of a Slender groundhopper. Moral of the tale: don’t be too assiduous in your hoovering. It may be you are in the presence of an important biological specimen that needs recording! (And then releasing into the outdoors before you continue with your housework.)
So, that’s a brief rundown of the best of 2014. What wildlife wonders will 2015 bring to Heslington? Who knows. However, the year has started well, with a visit from a Lesser Redpoll – a bird I’ve only ever seen once or twice here before. An excellent start to my BTO Garden Birdwatch year.
Lesser Redpoll on our sunflower seeds, 16 January 2015
I wish you a 2015 filled with wildlife wonders, wherever you may be. And don’t forget to let the relevant recording organisations know what you’ve seen. There’s a list of who to tell about what at my website.
I had the great good fortune to spend this year’s National Poetry Day in glorious rural North Yorkshire, where the sun shone brightly and the flags were hoisted in celebration!
Flag hoisted to celebrate National Poetry Day 2014 in rural North Yorkshire
(Well, I like to think that’s why they were hoisted!)
I was the guest of the Hutton Rudby Ladies Luncheon Club, for whom I performed my Buzzing! poetry show in which I introduced a range of garden heroes and garden villains in ‘edu-taining’ rhythm and rhyme. After which came a delicious lunch!
I met some very interesting ladies in the course of my visit – and was lucky enough to be given lifts to and from the nearest station by two of them. (Thank you Margaret and Barbara!)
Enjoying National Poetry Day in North Yorkshire
So, what did the ladies think of their National Poetry Day entertainment? Well, here’s some feedback from their Speaker Finder:
‘Your poems are very clever and your photos are beautiful. You kept everyone interested in your talk with your enthusiastic, lively approach. It it is an inspired way of getting a message over to people of all ages. Everyone I spoke to enjoyed your visit and I am sure went away a little wiser.’
Well that’s good to hear!
If you’d like some poetry entertainment for your event, you don’t have to wait until next year’s National Poetry Day. Any day can be Poetry Day! Just contact me to find out more.
Meanwhile, thank you to Hutton Rudby Ladies Luncheon Club for inviting me to share National Poetry Day with them, and for making me so welcome. (And for arranging such glorious weather!)
I was thrilled to discover this week that South Africa is Buzzing! Take a look:
Aaliyah and Zawadi with my Buzzing! book in South Africa!
These two gorgeous girls, Aaliyah and Zawadi, were photographed with my Buzzing! book in a garden in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Gosh, that’s a long way from my garden in North Yorkshire, England, where I wrote the poems and took the photos for the book. I hope the girls are enjoying Buzzing! in the spring sunshine down there!
A big Thank You to Madeleine for sending me this lovely photo – which has put such a huge smile on my face!
I returned from my summer putting on poetry workshops and Rhyme Time Rambles at RHS Harlow Carr to discover that the Journal of Biological Education had given my Buzzing! book a 5-star rating – twice over! Five stars for ‘Usefulness to student (primary)’, and another five stars for ‘Usefulness to teacher (or parent!) (primary)’. What a lovely welcome home surprise.
‘This is a book that will certainly deliver in terms of educating younger children about invertebrates. A really nice combination of the whimsical with the scientific – surely what we would want when trying to get our very youngest interested in the natural world’ writes the reviewer, Peter Anderson. Which is great, as that’s just what I was aiming to create.
Buzzing! by Anneliese Emmans Dean
He concludes that Buzzing! is ‘highly recommended for primary school shelves and, indeed, for parents of younger children. It is certainly a book for making learning fun – a great little book!’