By Granny Annie for Joey and Ben
Chapter 1 – Gardening is safe isn’t it?
Well, that Boris-what’s-his-face had told everybody that they had to stay indoors because of that catchable Carumba-virus thingummy. “It just isn’t fair” Granny Annie thought as she stared vacantly out into the garden. We had all washed our hands to various rhymes, we had dutifully sneezed into our elbows and here we were, having to stay at home. No going out to the places we liked…or visiting those people we liked to see. No hugs. No cuddles. No snuggles watching TV. Humph. She was missing seeing her grandsons, Joey and Ben. Incidentally what happens to all those sneezes you catch in your elbow? If you throw your hands in the air, will people have to duck as a monstrous sneeze trumpets out, throwing you backwards onto your bottom? Mmmm, definitely something to research later.
She looked down the garden. She needed to find a way to keep cheerful until she next spoke to her lovely grandsons. The sun was shining. The weeds were up to the windows and something needed to be done before they trooped into the house and stole the TV control buttons. She pulled on her old shoes and stomped down the garden path to see grandad. “Something has to be done!” Granny Annie exclaimed. “Um, about what?” said Grandad sounding confused. He was busy sorting out a new poly tunnel – he was already doing something! “I need to get busy in the garden and beat those weeds back. They are staging an attack!” explained Granny. “I will help” said Grandad looking down towards the bottom of the large garden “Joey and Ben will have lots of places to investigate and enjoy new adventures! Let’s go.”
So Granny and Grandad set about their battle with the weeds. As they dug the soil they found strange iridescent beetles scuttling away from the trowel, red and black earwigs their small pincers held towards them, and fat white grubs moving oh so slo…w…l…y. With the unearthing of all these bugs Granny and Grandad soon had company. A Blackbird and Robin arrived, coming close to pick up those bugs in their beaks, and fly off to take those tasty morsels (at least to birds!) to feed to their babies. Everyday Grandad and Granny Annie would work hard to pull those weeds, and dig the soil to remove those thorny weeds, and everyday Blackbird and Robin would harvest those delicious bugs and carry them off to their nests. Occasionally Mim the Tortoiseshell cat would saunter over to take a look at how well her humans were working in between her meal times. The effort of moving was sometimes too much for a cat in the sun in her fur coat, and she would collapse into the nearest shade. At these times both Robin and Blackbird would fly into a frenzy, escaping to the nearest tree to cry “alarm”. To Granny Annie their birdcall sounded something like “Cat. Cat.Cat.Cat. CCCCCAT.” They would continue this shouting until Mim, annoyed by the ear-piercing noise, would wander off to find somewhere quieter to sleep. The Blackbird and Robin could then get back to singing nicely for their supper, and afterwards picking over the tastiest bugs.
Sometimes Granny would find more exciting things than bugs as she dug; pieces of broken pottery, an old white plastic football from a key ring, and an old bouncy power ball. One day she noticed something yellow in the soil, it seemed to glow and shine. Granny Annie bent towards it and a small shock went through her hand as she bent to pick it up. Oh. It was only a small piece of yellow Lego. A 6-er. She was just going to throw it back into the soil when the Robin appeared next to her. “Keep it, keep it” it seemed to sing and so she put the dirty yellow piece of lego in her pocket.
The next day she got up bright and early and made her way to the pond. She had nearly finished dealing with the weeds here. Just one more. It was a big heavy bramble. She dug and dug and pulled and pulled and as the last root broke she fell backwards, straight onto her bottom. “Ouch” she said “what have I sat on?” She stood up and turned around. “How on earth did that get there?” she thought as she stared at the piece of white lego – another 6-er, how strange! The Robin sat in the tree next to her. “Tee, hee, hee. Another, another, another” it seemed to say. Granny Annie thought she might be going mad in the sun – imagining birds talking. “Don’t tell Grandad” she thought.
She made her way slowly up the slope, pulling weeds. The sun was hot, but she felt good. “Just this little bit and I’ll have some lunch” she decided. She walked up towards the corner of the house and as she did the sun went in. A cold breeze made Granny shiver. She just had one bramble to get and then she was done. As she pulled the bramble and cut the thickest bits with her secateurs she noticed something metal poking out, covered by bind-weed. As she pulled the bind-weed off, more of the metal was exposed revealing a black gate. Well, to be exact half a gate. “Wow” exclaimed Granny “This is lovely. This gate would have been the entrance to a grand mansion. What a shame it isn’t whole.”
As she and Grandad sat munching a sandwich a little time later, Grandad suddenly put his hand in his pocket “I forgot. Look what I found over there in the garden. For you.” He opened his hand to reveal a piece of black lego. It seemed to shimmer slightly as she looked at it. An 8-er. She popped it in her pocket with the other pieces, and for a moment her pocket seemed to get warmer. Strange. “Oh yes. I found something exciting too” Granny Annie said pointing up the garden. “It was half an old gate. I thought it might make an interesting sculpture in the garden.” Grandad looked excited. “Well guess what? I know where the other half is! I will go and find it!”
As Grandad left the table the Blackbird appeared on the fence “No.No. Don’t do it. Don’t do it” the bird seemed to shout. Grandad made his way down the path towards the darkest part of the garden. The weeds were still so high you couldn’t see anything in the blackness beyond. The wind seemed to build and blow through the tall trees as he disappeared into the shadows. The sun had hidden behind a cloud taking the warmth out of the day. For a moment Granny felt a little scared, but soon Grandad reappeared dragging the other half of the black metal gate with him. “Is this the same as the one up the garden?” he asked. “Yes – that’s it” Granny said excitedly. “Let’s go and get the other half then” replied Grandad rushing back up the garden carrying the gate. Granny could hardly keep up with his long legs, and the Robin’s call of “Alarm” was distracting her. What was it saying this time – she couldn’t hear properly. As she reached the top of the garden she saw Grandad looking triumphant he had both halves of the gate. Granny at last heard the Robin’s cry “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Danger, don’t do it!” Before Granny could shout a word of warning there was a big crash of thunder which seemed to make the earth shudder beneath her, knocking her off her feet. As she staggered back to stand again she knew that something had changed. As she looked up the garden to where Grandad had been standing just a moment ago, there stood instead a pair of beautiful black metal gates. They swung shut with a clang as she watched, and the key in the lock turned. It was surrounded by a little electric blue lightening bolt, and with a quiet ‘pop’ the key disappeared. Grandad was gone.