A Tale Of Two Ends

A Tale Of Two Ends
By Laura Cadman

In the most remote part of the sea was a beautiful reef with the most sublime colours in both the coral and its inhabitants.  The reef was vast and its beauty was beyond compare, so much so that as you sit here you can hear the gentle waves upon the surface.  

On the edge of the reef was a drop off leading to the depths of the ocean.  All the colourful fish of the reef knew to stay away from the edge and its dangers.  Not too far from the edge lived a family of Powder Blue Tang fish.  The littlest fish, the most playful and open minded, would venture closer and closer to the edge day by day.

On a particularly lovely day while little Tang weaved along near the edge, a large slow shadow approached.  Unbeknown to Tang the shadow belonged to Benny, a young blue whale looking for a new friend.  He spotted Tang and opened his mouth wide to shout” hello” when …. to his surprise Tang let out a little yelp and swam for cover.  Tang, I’m sure you can imagine was in shock after the encounter and told fish from all over the reef about his escape from the whale.  

Despite Tang’s fright the previous day curiosity once again drew in.  Again a shadow drew close but today something was odd.  The whale was covered in seaweed of bright colours and was adorned with a coral crown.  Tang was wise to the beast’s tricks of camouflage and quickly swam home full of the new tales of the day.  Benny, however, was confused, he had even dressed to impress today with the finest gifts of the reef to make himself inviting to his new potential friend.

The following weeks brought similar encounters.  Benny made noises like a friendly dolphin, painted himself in squid ink, perfumed himself with a rouge coconut floating on the surface and even shown his playful side by tossing about a boat paddle he had found.  

Tang however had been further alarmed by the beast with its many disguises and tricks and even arrived one day to see the whale finishing off a boat (which he had surely capsized and eaten its inhabitants!).

Finally Benny came to the conclusion nothing would encourage the little fish to be his friend.  He stopped trying to impress, took a deep sigh and decided to go for an enjoyable long swim.  He smiled a contented smile and off he went feeling confident with himself once again, when…… “Excuse me would you like to play”?

The Polar Bear’s New Path

The Polar Bear’s New Path
By Graham Tomlinson

Once upon a time there was a little Polar Bear who lived in the icy snowy lands of the north and when he was young the little bear used to follow all the other bears around as they went about doing their business of being Polar Bears. He watched them as they swam and ate and if he wasn’t very sure they would always tell him which way to go.

As the years went by and the little bear grew up he started having thoughts that he might not want to always follow the other bears. He began to wonder whether there could be other ways to get where he wanted to go but every time he started walking a different way the other bears told him that their way was the best way to go and that going the way our little bear wanted to go would only lead to trouble.

Every night as he went to sleep in his snow cave our bear thought about what he might find if he did take a different path and as he lay dreaming as he listened to the wind howling outside he became more and more sure that there must be more than one path to take and each night he felt determined that tomorrow would be the day that he ventured off to find his own new path.

The next morning our bear woke up and had a lovely breakfast of fresh fish and as the sun came up he pushed his nose out of his snow hole and set off on a new path. He hadn’t walked more than ten paces when from behind him he heard the growly voice of one of the older bears from the pack…

“Where are you going little bear?”

Little bear replied

“I’m going to find a new path and see if there’s a different place to play and catch food”

“Don’t be silly, you can’t go that way little bear” growled the growly old bear. “Follow me, I know the way to go and we all know that this is the right way because we have always gone this way before”

“But why can’t I go a different way today” our little bear said.

“Because it will end in trouble, now follow me little bear and all will be well” replied the old bear.

Little bear stood in the snow and looked at the old bear, he thought about what he had been told and he thought about his dreams and his own ideas and he turned around and walked his own way leaving behind him a new path in the snow.

The Tale Of Peter Rabbit And The Pond

The Tale Of Peter Rabbit And The Pond
By Mike Rawlins

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits and their names were –

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton- tail,and Peter.

They lived with their  Mother in a sandbank underneath the root of a very big fir tree.

One morning, old Mrs. Rabbit said to Peter, ‘I have to take Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail to buy new shoes.  While we are out I want you to stay here in the garden. You are not to go into the fields and you are not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden – not after all that fuss we had last time with the carrots and the cabbages and so on. Now you be a good boy and we’ll be back soon.

So off they went leaving Peter to sit in the garden with the bees in the flowers and the wind in the grass.

It was a sunny day and Peter soon began to feel hot and sticky.  He tried sitting in the shade of an old apple tree but the Summer air was warm and thick and he felt no better.

As he closed his eyes he thought he could see and feel the cool waters of the pond at the edge of Mr. McGregor’s field.  It was one of his favourite places – the shade from the willow trees that edged the bank made it cool and peaceful, even on the hottest of days.  And today was one of the hottest days that Peter had known.

Peter thought that, if he was careful, and didn’t go near Mr. McGregor’s garden, it would be alright for him to go and cool off by the pond.

‘I’ll be very quiet,’ he said to himself, ‘and I’ll be back before Mother comes home.’

So he set off, through the hedge and into the quiet, dusty lane that ran past the garden, down by the field and led to the quiet, cool shade of the pond.

He reached the pond without any misadventure.  There was no one to be seen – the day was too hot for anyone to be out in the sun, unless they had shoes to buy of course.

Peter sat on the bank for a while and threw small stones and sticks into the pond, watching how the ripples he made spread slowly but surely across the still, smooth surface of the water, all the way to the far bank.

After a short time, he grew tired of this and decided to sit with his back against a particularly large willow that dipped it’s branches, like fingers, into the cool water. And as he sat, the warm air wrapped around him and the soft buzzing of bees and the rustling of leaves whispered in his rabbit ears.

Some-time later he woke suddenly. He had heard something but he could not tell what.

Again, there came the snap of a twig and he realized that someone was coming to the pond. A big someone, a someone with a familiar walk and a familiar shadow and a familiar cough. Mr. McGregor was there, standing before him.

Peter froze. There was nowhere for him to run. Nowhere to hide. And as he sat, silently shivering, the shadow fell across him and the face of Mr. McGregor was before him.

And then Mr. McGregor was gone, walking away muttering to himself:

‘Strange, I thought I heard that Peter Rabbit snoring here but he is no-where to be seen.’

Peter could not believe his ears – and they were fine ears to be believed.

How had he not been caught?

He was still wondering this when he heard his Mother’s voice coming closer, together with the voices of Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail.

Soon they were there, by the side of the pond.  Peter ran to them crying out:

‘Oh Mother, I’m sorry. I thought I would be safe but I fell asleep and Mr. McGregor came and found me only he didn’t see me and then he went away and …’

But his Mother walked past him as if he wasn’t there and so did Flopsy, and so did Mopsy and so did Cotton-tail.

And as they walked away he cried after them:

‘Where are you going? Why are you leaving? Why can’t you see me?’

Then they were gone and all was quiet, apart from the breeze and the bees and the trees.

Peter sat in the quiet shade and sobbed.

‘What has happened to me?’ he asked.

And then he had an idea.

He ran to the pond, slid down the bank to the edge of the water and, slowly, he leaned forward and looked into the smooth, still, glass like surface of the pond.

And there he saw …

… the sky …

… and the dark shape of trees blown in the wind …

… and bright flashes of sunlight …

… and the white clouds above him.

And that was all.

‘Where am I?’ he asked in a whisper as darkness gathered him in …



His Mother’s voice came as if from a long way away.

‘Peter, wake up. We’re back and it’s time for tea and we’ve brought you a carrot.’

Peter shook his head and slowly he saw that he was in his garden, lying beneath the old apple tree.

He sprang to his feet and ran to his Mother.

‘Oh, Mother. Mother, I’m sorry. I went to the pond and I thought it would be alright but Mr. McGregor came but he didn’t see me and he went away and then you came with Flopsy and Mopsy and Cotton-tail but you just walked past me and then I looked in the pond and I wasn’t there and … and …’

‘Now, now, Peter,’ said his Mother. ‘You’ve just been dreaming, and no wonder in this sunshine.’

And she took him gently into her arms.

‘Now you are safe. Now you are real. You are here – of course you are.  And we see you. I see you.  I see everything you are and everything you have been and everything you will become. And you are my Peter Rabbit and always will be.’

‘Now come with me and we will get you some delicious carrot juice to drink and maybe a leaf of lettuce to nibble and then, later when it is cooler as the sun sets, we shall both go to the pond and look into the deep waters and you will see yourself as you are … and as I see you … a fine young rabbit who makes me proud.  Even if he does find it hard to stay in the garden… when he is told.

Why do the stars shine?

Why do the stars shine?
By Jamie Butcher

There once was a painter who lived in sleepy fishing village. All his life, the painter had painted the little harbour full of colourful fishing boats. He painted the beach, the sea and the cliffs, and the pretty little cobbled streets with all the people whole lived and holidayed there.

In recent years the old fishing village had become more popular with other painters. Many of them had fallen in love with the place and stayed and many of them were accomplished in the modern techniques. The painter admired their work, but the competition had slowed his sales. He began to worry. Adding to his problems, in the last couple of weeks, he seemed to have lost his old ‘brush magic’. He had to put extra time and effort into his canvases to produce work he was happy with.

At the end of each day, he walked home to his house overlooking the village and harbour, where he lived with his wife and young daughter. After tea he answered his daughter’s many questions until it was her bedtime. Some questions were easy to answer – ‘Daddy, why do you sell your nice paintings?’ and some not so easy, ‘Daddy, were do babies come from?’

He tucked her in and read her stories until she fell asleep.

One night, as he was lying in bed worrying about the winter fuel bill, he began thinking about a time long ago when he had his daughter’s sense of wonder. Then suddenly, there was a memory of himself, as a boy, looking up at the sky and wondering, ‘Why do the stars shine?’

The question kept repeating in his head. He searched for the answer through all his memories, but it was no good. He was unsure that he’d ever found an answer or if he’d even asked the question out loud.

He mulled his problem over and, sensing that the answer must have something to do with sight itself, he decided he’d speak with his old friend the school teacher. She had a degree in biology and would know the answer.

Now he had a plan, he relaxed and drifted off.

The next morning on his way to paint the harbour, the painter stopped off at the school to speak with his old friend.

She was happy to help and explained how the eye worked. She said that the light from the stars enters the eye through the cornea and then is focused through the lens in the eye which makes an upside-down image on the retina. Electrical signals then travel along the optic nerve and the image is flipped back round when the signals are interpreted by the brain. It was fascinating learning about the inner workings of the eye.

The painter thanked his friend and headed off to the beach to paint. Armed with this insight he felt he inspired.

But try as he might, he couldn’t concentrate and after an hour had barely laid brush to canvas. The question was still there, prodding at him, ‘Why do the stars shine?’ Maybe it was something else he was looking for, he didn’t know what…

It was obvious he wasn’t going to get any painting done that day, so he decided to go for a long walk instead.

As he walked across the clifftops, he remembered the old Victorian observatory nearby, where a professor of astrophysics lived. The professor had lectured in the city and had decided to retire by the coast after a long career. He’s bound to know the answer.

And sure enough, the professor did have a LOT to say about the subject with enthusiasm and energy. The painter learned that the stars were unimaginably huge balls of burning gas, burning at unimaginably hot temperatures and the particles of light, deep within these huge, roaring, nuclear furnaces, took thousands of years to reach the surface of the stars. Then the light from the stars travelled across unimaginable distances at unimaginable speed until after years the light would reach earth… and eventually our eyes.

It was amazing to the painter, all very fascinating and educational. The painter vigorously shook the professor’s hand and bid him farewell.

Well the painter strode back along the clifftops in a buoyant mood. He was just descending toward the little village when suddenly, he stopped. There it was again… insistent. ‘Why do the stars shine?’ Augh, hadn’t he learned enough? He shook his head, took a deep breath and carried on.
That night, when he went to tuck her up in bed, the painter found his daughter staring out of her window. He joined her there and looked out across the village. He noticed its dark cobbled streets edged silver in the starlight, the shadows of the cove and the cliffs framed by an endless blanket of stars… and their light reflected in the harbour’s gentle waters. A smile crept across his face.

Same old, same old….

Same old, same old….
By Alyson Staines

It was a sunny day, warm too; unusual for the Lake District and a welcome change thought Nora as she lay on her comfy patch of bracken watching the humans. Various shapes and sizes in brightly coloured clothes, tramping up the same old well worn path to the top of the mountain.

This irritated her. Over the years the path had got wider and wider, more and more worn as the humans followed each other, up and down, day after day, rain or shine. More often than not, the former thought Nora and she gave a rueful bleat!

The lush sweet grass and other tasty foliage she and her flock had once enjoyed in abundance were gradually being replaced by stone and slate being brought in by big, noisy  mechanical birds, ready for humans to cover the worn, bare earth.

As a group of humans passed by, a skylark lifted, singing its lilty melody. Was that annoyance or a happy song?Nora could never quite tell and if she were being honest, it did slightly annoy her, un unnecessary fuss she thought.

Just then one of the humans stopped and grabbed hold of what Nora knew to be a camera. It pointed in her direction and started clicking. Nora stared nonchalantly as she chewed her cud (hoping they’d get her best side). The humans cooing and making strange baa-ing sounds! One of the smaller humans was starting to get uncomfortably close, little hand grasping out towards Nora’s beautiful, multi-coloured fleece, synonymous with her Herdwick breeding.

Enough is enough though Nora; she jumped up and backed away, bleating loudly. Ba-ah, I’m off, ba-ah, wait for me, ba-ah, don’t leave me with this lot! She turned on her hoof and trotted off along the same old familiar, well worn, bare sheep track behind the rest of her flock, one after the other, just as they always had done, day after day, rain or shine…….

The Little Pine Tree

The Little Pine Tree
By Dave Mason

Once upon a time there was a wood full of trees overlooking a little village further down the hill. The trees and the villagers lived peacefully together working together as the seasons and years passed them by. Each spring the trees would awaken from winter and feel the sun on their leaves warming them through and be a shelter to the birds and shade for the villagers as it became too warm in the valley and the people would come and sit under their branches in the long summer days and water the trees from the stream in the valley if the summer was too dry. Each autumn the villagers would help the trees by taking away the branches and pine cones that had fallen to the floor and use them as kindling for their fires in the winter.

At the edge of the forest was a young pine tree who had listened to his parents through the spring and summer telling him to let the sun warm him through and the water feed him so his pine needles were thick and strong to keep him warm through the winter and to grow many pine cones to help the villagers. His parents had said that he needed to drop these as autumn came to help the villagers, he had dropped some of them to the forest floor but held onto some as he wasn’t sure what use they had or what use they would be. He wondered if it had anything to do with the lovely warm glow he could see in the windows of the cottages and the thick warm sweet smell that drifted into the woods from the smoke from the chimneys of the homes below as the days grew shorter, the nights colder and the snow began to fall.

One morning in the middle of winter when bright white snow lay thick on the floor reflecting the wonderful winter sunshine up into the forest the young pine tree was looking out onto the village below and noticed that one of the little cottages hadn’t got a warm glow like the others and that no thick sweet smoke was coming from its chimney. He was distracted from his thoughts when he heard a sad voice below him. He looked down and there was a frail old lady with a walking stick, wrapped in a shawl and carrying a basket beneath his branches. He could hear her sad voice saying “I will never find any twigs to relight my fire with all this snow on the ground and even if I do they will be too wet, what am I to do, if only the trees could hear me and help me” the young pine tree wanted to help but didn’t know how too, he felt really sad and so he thought that if he shook his branches the old lady would realise this and go back to her warm shelter in the village below. So he shook his branches and as he did so the few pine cones that he had kept fell to the ground. The old lady shrieked with delight and said “thank you my dear little tree, you have saved me from being cold today”. The pine tree was startled that the old lady had thought he had helped as all he had done was to drop a few cones to the ground and looked down with wonder as she scurried around and picked up the cones and put them in her basket. With a final thank you the old lady started to walk back down the hill.

The pine tree wasn’t sure what he had done, and looked to the village to see where the old lady went. After a while he saw that the cottage that he had noticed before that looked cold and sad now had a warm glow coming from its little window and lovely warm smoke coming from the chimney again.