Chapter 4 – The garden within a garden

Granny Annie opened her eyes “Oh no, we’ve been transported to Australia – the world is upside-down!” She groaned. There was a giggle next to her “Granny you are upside down.” A grinning face appeared in front of her vision, and the small hand of Ben helped pull her upright. “Oh-er” said Granny “I feel a bit dizzy like I have been on a rollercoaster” she added, holding her head. Joey appeared. The Raven stick was in his hand and the bow and quiver of arrows could be seen peeping out from over his shoulder. “Yes, it was rather fun wasn’t it!” he laughed. “Fun? Call that fun. My head is spinning…Oh gosh, is everyone here? Is everyone here?” said Granny panicking and trying to stand up, but sitting down again with a thump. Joey made a whistling sound and there was a small rustle of wings as Robin landed gently on his shoulder. A kissing noise was heard next to her. It was Ben and as he clicked his fingers too, Mim appeared, to wrap her tricoloured tail around his legs, before sitting next to him to accept the strokes under her little furry chin. “Well I see that everyone is very happily getting on whilst I was left upside down! Where are we?” She cast her eyes around her. It felt rather familiar. Joey and Ben came to stand next to her where she sat on the Wacky Chair which seemed to be all in one piece, although still there was the odd blue spark bouncing off the two shiny knobs. “I have had a quick look around” said Joey. He lifted his hand to point. “That way is just a beautiful flower meadow. Not much to see. But Ben and me went that way, and there are woods. You really need to see what we found.” He was pointing towards the edge of the meadow where there looked to be a dark forest. Granny pulled herself to standing. “Right” she said in a very determined voice. The boys looked at each other. That voice meant that Granny would stand no nonsense. She placed her hands on her hips. They knew that stance. The whole family called it the double-teapot. All the aunties did it. Mummy did it. It usually meant there was thinking being done and something was about to happen. They weren’t quite prepared for what happened next however. As Granny looked her eyes seemed to get darker and blue sparks seemed to dance off her eyelashes. Granny’s long dreadlocks began to rise in the air to stand above her head like the waving branches of the trees ahead. Robin flew from Joey’s shoulder to perch perfectly in her branch-like hair. Mim miaowed once, before running tail up to stand next to her feet – her whiskers seemed to twitch as she looked at the trees ahead. “Right” she said again. “Have your bows and arrows at the ready boys” she declared as she pointed towards the woods. “Joey, you lead the way. Show me what you found.” Joey and Ben were staring open-mouthed at their Granny. She often played their games with them as did Grandad, but this was something else! She looked like the elder tree near the patio. Although it had long since died, the trunk was left to support the clematis flowers. At the top of the old trunk, small branches spread out like hair. Granny called it “Mrs Elder” and often talked to her like she was alive. Granny liked to laugh when she did it. “I’m completely bonkers – all the best people are you know.” Joey thought that he quite liked her that way as he led the small group through the long grass and meadow flowers, the butterflies and bees rising up as they were disturbed by the footsteps of the companions.

Granny stopped. Her mouth opening and closing like a fish once more. “This is what I found Granny” whispered Joey. In front of them stood two iron gates – the same gates that stood in Granny’s garden. They were still hovering in the air, still blue sparks bounced around the lock, but this time the gates stood ajar. “Well, well” said Granny “This is a turn up. What now? Through the gates, or go back?” Granny and Joey, Robin and Mim stood looking at the gates, and as they stared a waving hand and grinning face looked at them from the other side. It was Ben. “Gotta save Grandad” he declared “Come on.” Granny starting blustering and waving her hands. “It may not be safe. What are you doing? What would your parents say? What would they say if I had to tell them I let you be eaten by a…by a…by a um…dragon or something!” Joey and Ben looked at each other and laughed. “Oh Granny. We can look after each other. Did I tell you about our A-maze-ing adventure the other day?” Granny shook her head “Joey we haven’t time at the moment. Look Ben is getting out of sight!” Granny grabbed Joey’s hand and pulled him through the gates, Robin sat on her shoulder, and Mim was striding a few steps ahead. As Granny passed through the gates, a large snake of bright blue lightning shot upwards towards the sky like a firework, and exploded into a sea of blue sparks that fell around them. As they hit the ground, big shoots of green began to erupt from the soil. Leaves appeared on each new branch to join with the next tree until a long, tall hedge appeared in front of them. “Oh Granny. I know what this is. This is what I wanted to tell you about. This is where Ben and I had an adventure, with a wizard, in a maze. We got him in the end…with a bouncy ball of all things!” Granny was unusually quiet he thought as he finished telling her. He turned to see what she was doing. First of all he noticed the blue sparks still falling from the sky, and then he saw where they were landing. A new elder tree stood before him, and as he looked up he saw that it had the face of Granny. Joey was shocked and stunned until suddenly a voice said “Well, blow me down. Now look what has happened. What a day!” The voice sounded remarkably like Granny. Eyes opened at the top of the tree. They were dark like Granny’s and there were long dark twiggy eye lashes which danced with blue sparks. Lips suddenly appeared and two side branches bent to touch the trunk. A definite double teapot. “Well, don’t just stay standing there with your mouth gaping like a goldfish, you need to get going. Grandad and I won’t save ourselves and your brother is off somewhere, probably up to mischief.” Joey shook his head. This was all getting just a little strange. However, he knew that voice – you just had to go with it or she would just keep on. He turned to make his way through the gap in the hedge, the Raven stick in his hand. “Ummm, haven’t you forgotten something? Mim ran off when the hedge grew, but you’ll need a friend.” With that Granny’s twiggy hair waved as if a breeze had moved it, and Robin flew up from one waving dread-loc branch. He tweeted with a flutter of indignant feathers, depositing a tiny poo on the trunk before landing perfectly on Joey’s shoulder. “I really hate it when you do that” said Granny. The Robin tweeted a song again as Joey turned. It sounded distinctly to Granny like a little laugh.

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