Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Bedtime Story (26/12/2018)

So, here we are - the last of the bedtime stories!  I won't say the last ever, in case the feature returns someday, but certainly the last for now.

What else could I end on, but a story about growing up?!

There is, of course, one final podcast for you to listen to, should you prefer.

What Will I Be?

As I lie, tucked up in bed,
It's unbelievable to think
This year is almost over,
It's flown by in a blink.
I wonder what next year will bring?
How much taller will I grow?
I wonder what new things I'll do?
I just can't wait to know!

And as the years keep passing,
I wonder who I'll be.
This world has so much to show
A curious child like me.
I'd love to explore new places,
To travel across land and sea.
Perhaps the life of an explorer
Will be the life for me.

Or maybe I'll stay close to home,
With my friends and family near.
I know I could go anywhere,
But I do quite like it here.
Perhaps one day I'll have a house
And a family of my own.
Maybe that's waiting for me,
One day when I am grown.

I wonder what job I might do?
There's no dream that's out of reach.
I could be a chef or doctor,
I could fight fires or teach.
And I wonder what I'll look like,
When I'm finally finished growing.
Maybe I'll be very tall,
Or have hair that's long and flowing.

I could be anything I choose,
Go anywhere I like.
I only have to wait
For inspiration to strike!
But first, there's growing up to do,
That's very clear to me.
So, I'll wait a while longer
To find out what I'll be.


Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Bedtime Story (19/12/2018)

I freely admit that I LOVE sprouts.  I've never really understood their position as the seemingly least liked part of a Christmas dinner.  So, this story is about learning to love the humble sprout.

Click here to listen to this story as a podcast.


I love the turkey on Christmas Day
And please send plenty of carrots my way!
Crispy roast potatoes, I love those, too.
And why have one stuffing ball, when you can have two?
But there's one thing on my plate that makes me shout:
I simply cannot eat my sprouts!

I really like the gravy and sauce.
The pigs-in-blankets are delicious, of course!
My sister has nut-loaf and I like that, too.
And sweet potatoes?  I'll eat a few!
But there's one thing I always make a fuss about:
Please, don't make me eat my sprouts!

They're round and small and sickly green.
The taste, I'm sure, is quite obscene!
They smell as though they should be binned
And they always give my grandpa wind!
So, unless you want a scene in this house,
I suggest you don't cook any sprouts!

Nan boils them for ages until they turn to mush.
Dad likes them crunchy, as though cooked in a rush.
Whenever I see them, piled high in a bowl,
I feel a sinking sensation, deep in my soul.
You see, in my mind, there is really no doubt:
I could never, ever eat a sprout.

But this year, a sight sent my heart a-flutter:
Mum in the kitchen, frying sprouts in butter!
She added some bacon into the pan
It all smelt delicious - well, as much as sprouts can.
And when to the table she carried them out,
I wondered: is this the year that I try a sprout?!

Whilst the grown-ups pulled crackers and started to talk,
I gently prodded one sprout with my fork.
Ensuring I also added some bacon bits,
I slowly lifted it up to my lips...
Well, all I can say is it's heaven in my mouth!
The best part of Christmas dinner is sprouts!

Never again will I shake my head
And say I don't like something without trying it, instead.
I've learned a lesson the delicious way.
Now my love of sprouts is here to stay!
So listen up, as I give a delighted shout:
"Merry Christmas to all, now eat up your sprouts!"


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Bedtime Story (12/12/2018)

Homemade gifts have a special place in my heart.  I love receiving something that someone has made for me and whilst I'm not the best when it comes to creative endeavours, this year I have made something for someone!  This story is for everyone who has ever made a gift themselves, or who treasures a handmade present from a loved one.

To listen to this story as a podcast, click here.

The Homemade Christmas Presents

Lola had covered the dining room table with everything she would need.  Scattered across the surface were bottles of glue, pots of glitter, sheets of paper and card, paints, pens, ribbons, beads and a whole lot more besides.

Dad frowned over the top of his newspaper.  "What on Earth are you doing?"

Lola smiled.  "This year, I'm going to make you and Mum a special homemade present to give you on Christmas Day."  She leaned forwards dramatically, trying to hide everything she'd gathered on the table.  "You're not allowed to look," she ordered.  "Or it'll spoil the surprise!"

Dad chuckled to himself and returned to his reading, leaving Lola to get started.  She hadn't quite decided what to make yet, but she knew that it should be sparkly.  It was Christmas, after all!  Drumming her fingers on the table, Lola thought about the picture Mum kept stuck to the fridge.  It was of Mum, Dad, Lola and Branson the dog, all sitting at a picnic table in the sunshine.  Lola decided she'd make a frame for it.

Reaching across the table, Lola grabbed a sheet of brightly coloured card.  She'd never made a photo frame before, but she guessed it couldn't be too hard.  All she needed to do was put some decorations around the edge of the card and then stick the photo in the middle, didn't she?  Mum would definitely notice the picture was gone from the fridge, but Lola was sure she would be pleased on Christmas Day, when she saw it looking really special.

Lola opened a bottle of glue and tried to gently squeeze some onto the edge of her card.  It spurted across the whole sheet, leaving it sticky and wet.  Lola frowned.  That wasn't meant to happen!  Using her fingers, she tried to wipe the glue away, but that just made her hands all sticky, too.  Besides, the more Lola wiped, the thinner the card seemed to be getting.  Before long, a small hole had appeared right in the middle.

Lola let out a long sigh.  This wasn't quite going to plan.  Not that she'd had a plan...

After a minute or two of frustration, Lola decided to carry on as best she could.  She grabbed a pot of bright pink glitter and pulled off the lid.  With a flash of colour, the glitter exploded from the pot and rained down onto the table, the card, Lola and everything else in sight.

"Is everything okay back there?"  Dad called, putting down his newspaper again.

"Yes, Dad," Lola called, pulling a face as she desperately tried to sweep all of the glitter back into the pot.  It stuck to her gluey fingers, leaving them pink and sparkly.

Lola looked down at her photo frame.  It looked okay; maybe a bit dog-eared and overly glittery, but she could rescue that, she was sure.

Lola leaned across the table to take a handful of beads.  As she leaned over the frame she was decorating, her clothes stuck to the glue.  To Lola's horror, her jumper was covered in glitter and the frame she'd been working on had lots of bright red fluff all over it.

Lola groaned as she tried to pick the fluff off the frame, but all she succeeded in doing was making her hands even more glittery than before.  She let out a sigh.  "Fine," she said to herself.  "It'll be a glittery and also fluffy photo frame."

She began to add a little more glue, so that she could stick beads onto the frame, but the card was now wearing ever so thin and soon, there was so much glue around the edges that the whole thing began to bend.  Worse still, the glitter Lola had poured on earlier was starting to drip all over the place as the glue ran.

Lola started trying to mop up the glue with a sheet of kitchen roll, but it stuck to the glue and soon her photo frame was a soggy, slightly ripped mess of glitter, fluff and bits of kitchen roll, plus one or two stray beads.  "This is rubbish," Lola sighed.  "I'll paint a picture, instead."

She leaned over to grab a bottle of paint, but as she squeezed the bottle, paint spurted out all over the photo frame.  It was the final straw.  Lola held her head in her hands and stuck out her lower lip.

"Oh," Dad said, as he appeared behind her.  "You've made a...  Um...  It's a..."

Lola rolled her eyes.  "You weren't supposed to see it until Christmas Day," she tutted.  "It was going to be a photo frame," she added, with a sigh.  "But it's no good."

Dad shook his head.  "I don't agree," he told her.  "I think it's great!  And your mum will really love it."

Lola frowned.  "But it's all messy and there's not a nice, clean space for a photo!  It looks like I've just chucked a load of paint, glue and glitter at the page and then got my clothes and a load of kitchen roll stuck to it.  Which...  I sort of... Did."

Dad chuckled.  "But when you stick a photo in the middle, none of that will matter," he said.  "It'll just look like funky decorations around the sides.  And your mum will know that you made something special, all by yourself."

"I was going to use that photo we took in the summer," Lola explained.  "The one Mum keeps stuck to the fridge.  I know she loves it."

Dad disappeared into the kitchen and came back with the photograph in his hand.  He gently stuck it in the centre of Lola's handmade photo frame.  "There," he said, stepping back.  "It looks brilliant."

Lola gazed at the photo frame and then back at her dad's broad smile.  The frame was still messy and it didn't look anything like Lola had imagined it would, but her dad didn't seem to care.  Lola wrinkled her nose.  "Don't you think it should be prettier?  Or at least neater?"

Dad shook his head.  "I think it's perfect as it is," he insisted.  "Because it was made with love.  That's all that matters, Lola.  You wanted to do something nice and you put a lot of thought into it.  The very best Christmas presents aren't necessarily the ones that cost a lot of money.  They're the ones that show how much someone cares."  He smiled at Lola.  "I think this will be your mum's favourite present, this year."

Lola beamed up at him.  "Thanks for making me feel better," she whispered.

When the frame was dry, Dad helped Lola carefully wrap it in sparkly paper and together, they placed it underneath the Christmas tree.  Lola knew that it wasn't the best photo frame in the world, but she also knew that that didn't matter.

You wouldn't be able to find another photo frame like it, even if you searched all over town.  Lola's photo frame was handmade with love.  And that made it extra special.


Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Bedtime Story (5/12/2018)

As is tradition on this blog, I'll be writing some Christmas themed bedtime stories, this month!  However, before we get into the first one, I would like to make a small announcement.

For over three and a half years, I've been writing weekly bedtime stories.  These stories have been published here for free and there is now a full list of hundreds to share with the children in your life.  Whilst I've enjoyed creating these stories, it has, at times, been difficult to maintain a level of originality and to ensure that new stories are ready to go up each week.  Finding time to podcast the stories as well, in order to make them more accessible, has also been challenging, given that this blog is something I maintain as a hobby, alongside my day job, my YouTube channel, running an abuse-awareness campaign account on Twitter, being in charge of social media for the chorus I sing with and of course, practising for said chorus.  Add to that the fact that I would like to be writing more books and a wider range of blog posts and you might understand just how much effort goes into ensuring that the bedtime story feature goes live each week without fail.  

For these reasons, I have decided that, as of January 2019, the bedtime story feature will be going on an indefinite hiatus.  I'm referring to it as a "hiatus," rather than saying the feature will stop and never return, as I don't want to rule that out entirely.  However, for the foreseeable future, my goal is to find time to write more blog posts and to potentially begin working on a new book, whilst also trying to grow my YouTube channel and begin working to improve my directing skills (did I mention I'm also Assistant Director of the chorus I sing with?!).  With all of that taking priority, I don't see myself finding the time to keep up with the bedtime story feature, as the very last thing I want to do is to rush the process and create stories that are not up to the usual standard I pride myself on.

I'd like to thank everyone who has shared the weekly bedtime stories with the little ones in their lives, over the last almost four years.  The bedtime stories page will remain up on this blog and therefore the stories can still be enjoyed for years to come.  I also hope you will enjoy these last few, festive additions and that you'll continue to visit this blog, to see what I get up to next!

With that out of the way, let's get on with the story!  As usual, it's also available as a podcast.

"What Shall We Hang On The Christmas Tree?!"

The Christmas tree was standing tall,
Green and lush and proud.
Mum handed decorations to all;
Shiny baubles, gold and round.

But "what are these?" Young Florence asked,
Looking ready to make a fuss.
"These round things don't mean anything!
We should hang something special to us!"

Her brothers frowned and scratched their heads.
Whatever did young Flo mean?
"Our Christmas isn't baubles and stars," Flo said.
"It's a very different scene."

"We should hang excited faces,
Hardly able to sleep.
And piles of torn off wrapping paper,
Lying crumpled in a heap."

Her brothers gathered closer:
"We could make our own!" They cried.
"Pictures of what Christmas is to us;
Festive films, cocoa and mince pies!"

And so the family set to work,
creating decorations to hang.
Laughter rang out through the house,
As from each mind an idea sprang.

"I'll draw my cosy pyjamas,
I wear each year on Christmas Eve.
The ones with Santa's sleigh on the front,
And reindeer flying up the sleeves!"

"Then I'll draw Bobby at dinner,
refusing to eat any sprouts,"
Florence said with a giggle.
"Those Memories are what Christmas is about."

Her brothers laughed and nodded.
"I'll draw Dad with the Christmas lights,"
Bobby replied, with a chuckle.
"They always get into a fight!"

"Draw the dog chasing wrapping paper,"
Flo's brother, Ben, exclaimed.
"Or the photo of Dad eating turkey at midnight!
The one Mum printed out and had framed!"

They all sat around the table,
Sharing memories from Christmases past.
With each joyful memory they laughed and smiled,
Hardly believing that time flew so fast.

"Remember when Ben got a ping pong set
And the ball flew across the room?
It knocked over a flower pot
And Mum just laughed and gave Ben a broom!"

They thought back over presents
And family games they'd all played.
They remembered delicious Christmas dinners
At a table all festively laid.

Christmas cracker jokes that made them groan,
Cosy evenings with a warm, glowing fire.
The three children remembered it all
And their smiles grew wider and wider.

"This is what Christmas is all about,"
Flo said, "not baubles on a tree.
But memories shared and fun to be had,
With your best friends and your family."

And together they hung all their pictures
On the Christmas tree with pride.
Seeing all of their happy, festive memories
Made each of them feel warm inside.

"We'll add the baubles as well though,"
Flo said, grinning from ear to ear.
"Because decorating the tree together
Can be a memory we make this year."

It really was the prettiest tree;
Probably the family's best ever!
But better than any decoration
Was the joy of just being together.