Animal Adventures, Out With Animals

New Adventure: Out With Animals

 

Welcome to Out With Animals!

On my blog, Ok Then What’s Next, I took part in a Christmas project for Post Pals. Post Pals is a charity where people can send post to children with severe or life threatening illnesses. As an adult with a chronic illness, I know how much it lifts my spirits to receive fun post- and I’m an adult! So volunteering to pretend to be a reindeer and send post in December seemed like a lot of fun and I knew it would help lift someone’s mood.

I love knitting and I have to spend a lot of time at home due to illness. So I decided to knit small animals, send them out on adventures, and write short stories about them. Then post them on to one of the Post Pals children, who can read the story, take the animal on an adventure of their own and write their own story and share their photos if they want to. They can also see what other animals have been up to on this blog, Twitter or Instagram.

Because I have a chronic illness too, it might take a while to get up and running, and there might be some time delays if I’m having a bad spell. I might also need some help taking the animals out and taking photos of their adventures- so let me know if you want to be involved!

Twitter: @OutWithAnimals

Instagram: @OutWithAnimals

Email: okthenwhatsnext@outlook.com

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Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Caitlin: Latvia & Kite Surfing

Hello, back again!

The good thing about traveling around Europe on a cruise is that nothing is ever really that far away. It’s not like sailing from England to America for example. However, it does mean that I’m getting confused as to which country I’m waking up in!

We’d just finished our time in Sweden and then traveled to Latvia. I don’t know an awful lot about Latvia, but Beccy says they’re one of the countries that have ‘interesting’ Eurovision Song Contest entries. I think she was being polite…

Anyway, when we arrived in Latvia, we were able to see how huge our boat was while we were leaving the port.

I know my way around the boat now, so it doesn’t seem as big as what it looks from the outside.

I wonder how many miles I walk per day, because it really is massive!

The port we were in was called Riga and had lots of old buildings along with new ones. I quite like places like that because it means you can learn about the history of a place.

After being in Scandinavia, Latvia felt soooo much cheaper when paying for things like food. Beccy had to stop me from buying and eating everything in sight!

Back on the boat and it wasn’t too long until our next stop, Ijmuiden in the Netherlands. Random fact for you- everyone thinks that you can call the Netherlands Holland as well and it’s just got 2 names. But you can’t- Holland is the name for the region immediately surrounding Amsterdam, the capital city, whereas the Netherlands is the name of the country.

It was a bit dull and windy looking so I wasn’t that keen to get off the boat in case I got so wet my fur went all soggy. But Beccy said I should come with them because it would be worth it.

We went kite surfing on the beach! Basically, you need a lot of wind and you sit in a buggy looking thing on the beach with a kite above you in the sky and the wind catches it and you move around. It was fun, but I dread to think how long I’ll be finding sand in my fur for!

Our next port is back in the UK in Liverpool, so I’ll update once we’ve been there! Bye for now!

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Doris & Desmond the Dinosaurs

Hello

We're Doris and Desmond the Dinosaurs, and we went on a trip to Devon for a seaside adventure. Dean the Dinosaur said that he'd loved his time there but we should try to see the sea, so we decided to follow his advice.

We got into the car and programmed the satnav. We didn't realise the sea was so far away! Apparently it's because Coventry, where we started from, is pretty much the furthest away from the sea you can get. Typical!

Once we started to get close to Devon, the satnav stopped working. It's because it's too rural and there isn't much signal. So we decided to ring to ask for some directions. But out mobile phones weren't working either! In the end, we had to use a phone box.

This managed to get us a bit closer to our holiday house but we were still lost. We even tried wishing in the wishing well!

Doris says the wishing well helped is find our way but Desmond thinks it's just coincidence that we found the house after we wished in the wishing well.

After a cup of tea we felt a lot more relaxed and explored the garden outside. You could see the sea from every window! We'd never seen the sea before so this was very exciting.

We particularly liked the palm trees in the garden, because they were fun to climb.

The next day, we decided to explore the town we were staying in.

Lynton is a fishing town so you could catch a boat and see the sea that way. You have to go when the tide is in though because otherwise there's no water for the boats to get out! We weren't there at the right time so we didn't go on a boat. Good job really because I don't think Desmond has sea legs!

We were told by our 'friends' showing us around that these were dinosaur cages, so we were a bit worried. But they're not, they're for the fishermen to catch lobsters in. They also told us that this was a working torpedo and could blow up….

… but it wasn't, it was just a practice/fake one.

We were getting a bit hungry by now so decided to try to find some food. We saw this sign which said not to feed the seagulls, but it didn't say anything about dinosaurs not being allowed to eat!

We headed to a tearoom and had a look at the menu. Devon is known for something called a 'cream tea' which is a scone with cream and jam and a pot of tea. Sounded perfect!

It was delicious! But apparently there is a set way to put the jam and cream on- some people say you have to put the jam then cream on, some people say the other way round. We didn't care, it tasted the same to us and we gobbled up everyone else's while they were still debating it!

We'd come to the end of our first day in Devon and watched the sunset, which was very pretty. The tide was in again, but we still weren't allowed to get a boat because it's dangerous to go out at night.

The next day, we decided to go to a town along the coast called Ilfracombe, via something called the Tarr Steps. We were a bit dubious about steps because dinosaurs are not good at going up flights of stairs, but it was actually a series of stepping stones which make a bridge over the river.

Some kids were paddling but we don't like water so we used the stepping stones to cross. We were good at not falling in, the clumsy dogs were less so. Although we think they fell in 'accidentally on purpose'.

We carried on driving and saw some horses!

We got out to have a look because we'd never seen horses before. These are Exmoor ponies and you only get them roaming about like this in Exmoor National Park. We kept our distance in case they tried to bite us though.

Then, even more excitingly, we drove past a place with dinosaurs like us!

Except they told us we had to pay if we wanted to go in. We tried to point out that we were very important people (or very important dinosaurs) but they weren't listening. So we carried on to Ilfracombe instead.

Ilfracombe is very windy, and has lots of steep cliffs and rocks.

It's very pretty though. It was a clear day, so you could see Wales across the Bristol Channel.

Doris got a bit confused and spent a long time looking for whales (as in the animal) until Desmond said we were actually looking at Wales the country. She said that wasn't as interesting as animals…

Too quickly, we were at the end of our trip! We had a great time exploring Devon and seeing the sea. Thank you to our friends who took us (even if they did try to trap us in a lobster pot!) and we hope to go on new adventures again soon!

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Caitlin: Scoping Out Scandinavia

Hello

I'm finally back with Beccy after getting lost in Amsterdam! Safe to say I've learnt my lesson- stay near Beccy all the time! I had a nice sleep and got some rest on the journey back from Amsterdam…

… then we headed north from the UK to Scandinavia. First up was a trip to Gothenberg.

I got a bit confused and thought we were going to Gotham City to meet Batman! Beccy laughed and said no, Gothenberg is in Sweden. We had a wander around. We were a bit surprised that the Opera House looked a bit like a military ship from a distance!

Then we got back on the cruise ship and headed to another Swedish city; Stockholm. We really liked this city. It had old and new buildings and was really pretty in the sunshine.

I didn't like the look of Swedish food so I had some Korean food, because I know I like that. This is called bibimap and is a rice dish.

Next, we explored a church which is on its own island in the middle of the city.

Our final port in Scandinavia was Turku in Finland.

We were really lucky to be there at the same time as the Tall Ships Festival. There were lots of people though so I made sure to keep close to Beccy and not get lost!

Tall Ships are literally what it sounds like- really tall ships! But they're a lot older than the cruise ship we travel on. They still use sails!

A sail is how ships used to get power before engines were invented. It's a big bit of material which is attached to the mast (a pole basically) and the wind catches it and pushes the boat along. I think I like our cruise ship better… I'm a cat who likes my creature comforts!

It was a bit of a whistle stop tour around Scandinavia but it's a really beautiful region of the world. I think I liked Stockholm the best because it was such a lively and lovely city. After a few days at sea, our next stop is Latvia!

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Colin the Caterpillar

Hello

My name is Colin the Caterpillar and I've just got back from an adventure with Becky. Becky works at the chiropractic clinic which Eloise the Elephant visited as part of her adventure, and said I could spend some time with her. I jumped at the chance, because I'd been wondering about some things that I thought a clinic specialising in bones might be able to help me with…

I'm different from the other animals and I'm not sure why. I don't have legs or a tail. I'm pretty small in comparison, and I don't walk or run, I kind of scuttle and crawl. I don't even slither on my stomach like a snake does, my back kind of arches and I slide along. I haven't met another Caterpillar before so what if I'm getting around wrong?!

Becky was really nice and said she could look into it for me to reassure me. So first up she did a physical examination and gave me a bit of a massage because I was feeling stressed.

She thought about it a little while and said she'd better order an x-ray to be sure.

It wasn't remotely scary, all I had to do was stand in front of the board and stay very still. Becky clicked some buttons and it was done! Once the X-ray was over, I had to wait a few minutes for the computer to upload the results. A junior doctor came in to ask me some questions…

…but Becky asked him to leave because he didn't specialise in Caterpillars and was making me more stressed. She suggested I played with some toys instead in the waiting area. This was much more fun!

Becky showed me what most humans and animals look like on an X-ray.

The white bits are the bones. She said I didn't have any white bits on my X-ray because I don't have bones. How can I not have bones?! Becky said that caterpillars are different from most animals because when they grow up, they transform completely into a butterfly. And once that happens, I wouldn't scuttle and crawl anymore, I'd have wings so I'd be able to fly. I asked her how long until I became a butterfly and she said she wasn't sure but she could measure my height and posture and see if I was getting to be the right size.

Not quite ready yet, but soon I'd be preparing to go to sleep for a little while in a chrysalis, which is like a protective shell, and then once that had happened I'd wake up as a butterfly.

I still was feeling a bit sad that I was so different from the other animals. They can all go much faster than me and play together. Becky said I didn't want to be exactly the same as other animals anyway, she said it's good to be different and have my own things which I'm good at. She had a point- I'm really good at climbing trees, and because I'm small, I can wiggle into places other animals can't get into. Plus I'm really good at doing the worm dance move. Becky said I'd be able to do all those things and more when I become a butterfly. I still wasn't convinced until she introduced me to Bryony the Butterfly for a chat.

Becky and Bryony reassured me and gave me a trophy for being so brave.

I learnt a lot about what happens to caterpillars when they become butterflies on my adventure. I'm hoping to go on many adventures both as a caterpillar and a butterfly!

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Brooke the Bee: Out With Lottie

Hello

After my first adventure, I headed off to meet my new friend, Lottie. Lottie is 4 years old and one of the Post Pals, meaning she has to spend a lot of time either in hospital or going to appointments. Today she had to go for an immunotherapy appointment. I had no idea what such a long word meant, but Lottie explained it was to do with her body fighting her neuroblastoma cancer.

I was a bit worried about going to the hospital because it’s so huge, but Lottie showed me around. First up, we both needed chest X-rays, which takes a picture of the inside of your body so the Doctors can see what’s going on. I was a bit frightened of the machines, but Lottie taught me how to be brave and I had my X-ray. It wasn’t anywhere near as scary as I thought!

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Then she introduced me to some of her fishy friends in the waiting room!

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I didn’t want to get too close, because bees don’t like getting wet, so Lottie held me close to the tank so I could see.

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I think I liked the orange ones the best because they were really quick swimmers. I’ve had a great time meeting Lottie, and I was glad I could keep her company when she needed to go to her appointment. I wonder what we’ll get up to next!

Photos shared with permission from Mum. 

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Gerry the Giraffe

Hello

My name is Gerry the Giraffe and I was lucky enough to have an Access All Areas Pass for Godiva Festival which took place in Coventry. I was quite excited by this because I wanted to know what happens offstage as well as onstage at a festival.

My day started really early before any members of the public arrived. Even though all of the stages, tents and areas were set up, we had to be there before it opened to do some final last checks. First of all, I met my team mates for the day:


St John’s Ambulance are on site all the time during the festival just in case anyone is feeling ill or gets injured. This man also had some volunteers like me with him.


I was a bit worried when the police showed up…


… but like the St John’s man, they’re always on site just in case. I hadn’t done anything wrong, I promise! 


This is David. He made me a cup of tea…


… gave me a map so I knew where everything was and didn’t get lost….


… and gave me a walkie talkie. He said that the walkie talkie meant I could check-in with the base or ask questions without having to run around too much. Then I was sent out to do some work!

Godiva Festival takes place in the middle of a park, which means that all of the stages, equipment and even the toilets need to be brought in for the weekend. That’s a lot of stuff! It’s also quite a big park, so rather than walking everywhere which would take a while, the team have some different ways of getting around.


The Godiva cars were cool. But I was more excited by the motorbikes! 


I thought we’d be driving around the bit that the general public see at festivals, but there’s actually a whole network of paths that link all the different areas together.


It’s a good job I had my Map! We drove to the main stage to make sure that the electricity generators were working properly. I never thought of that- being in a park, there’s obviously no electricity, and with no electricity there’s no music! 

Thankfully all of the generators were working well. Which meant we could move onto making sure all the tech was working at the sound and light checks. Even though the stage was empty of performers, you have to be really careful when moving around so as not to trip on anything or get in anyone’s way. I watched to start with while there was lots of lose cables while the tech crew taped them down.


Then I helped with the light check.


They were all looking good. The tech crew explained that some can be programmed in advance by a light board to follow automated sequences. Very clever! Then we moved onto the sound check. We checked to see if the amps were turned on, which are used by instruments like electric guitars. 


I stood a bit close and got deafened! The tech crew said it had to be that loud so the audience can hear it from far away, but if I was going to stand that close, I should probably have had ear defenders on. 

This was my favourite part. I was allowed to check the microphones were working!


I said ‘HELLO COVENTRRRRYYY!’ into it. But no one cheered. The tech crew said I wasn’t a rock star yet, so could I please say the alphabet or something repetitive so that they could check the levels. Maybe I’ll get to sing next time…

Everyone thinks that the performers at a festival do all the hard work because they’re the ones on stage. But that’s so untrue because there’s so much going on backstage!

 

Everything on stage needs to be plugged into somewhere offstage.


Look at all the wires and cables! I think I’d rather sing in front of lots of people than have to be responsible for all of that lot!

With the sound and light check done, it was time for a quick lunch before the festival opened to the public…


… and a quick tidy up of rubbish left by people the night before.


Then I put my Godiva Festival wrist band on and went to explore some of the festival.




There were lots of stalls advertising different charities, organisations and community projects taking place in Coventry. 

After all my hard work, I decided to chill out and watch some of the live music.


I had a really great time at Godiva Festival and learnt a lot about everything that happens to make sure the festival runs smoothly. My favourite part was testing the microphones! Thank you very much to everyone working at the event who made me feel so welcome and showed me around. And also thank you for working so hard to put on such a great weekend! I’m really looking forward to my next adventure with my new friend- maybe there will be some singing involved! 

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Caitlin: Lost in Amsterdam

Hello

I’m back to update you on my latest adventure, and an awful lot has happened since my last blog

We spent some time at sea and arrived in Amsterdam, where we had a couple of days and an overnight. Amsterdam has lots of canals and waterways, as well as lots of small, windy streets. There is lots to look at, and every street is completely different. 


In Amsterdam, the best and easiest ways to get around the city is by boat on the canals or cycling. There are also lots of trams in the city- when you cross the road you have to watch out for bikes and trams more than cars! 


The Anne Frank House and museum is located in Amsterdam. During the Second World War, Jewish people were forced to leave their homes by the Nazis and put in prison, just because they were Jewish. Anne Frank’s Dad didn’t want this to happen to his family, so he created a safe house hidden in the building he worked in for his family to hide in. Anne kept a diary of what it was like to live there, which is world famous now. The house tells her story, but is also a symbol and a reminder that people need to be more respectful to each other and look after each other, regardless of their religious beliefs, skin colour, origins, gender or sexuality. 

As you can see, I found the museum really interesting. I’m not what you’d call a ‘normal’ cat- I’m blue! So I can only imagine a tiny bit what it was like to try to stand up for your beliefs when everyone was against you. But I made a big mistake. I got so inerested in what was going on around me that I wandered away from Beccy and got lost!

I have to admit that I started to panic. I was in a strange city, I didn’t speak the language and I didn’t have a clue how to get back to the boat! Then I remembered a talk Beccy had had with me before we got off in our first port in the Orkneys. She said if we ever got separated and I couldn’t find the boat, I should make my way back to our home port and she would meet me there the next time the boat docked. 

Obviously, my ‘lost plan’ only works for me. Lots of parents tell their children different things in case they get lost, like:

– if you lose your parents nearby, stay where you are and keep calm. Your mum or dad can’t find you as easily if you keep moving around.

– talk to a safe person and say you’re lost and they’ll help you. Safe people are policemen, firemen, doctors/nurses, people who work in shops or restaurants.

– if you can’t find one of those safe people, talk to another mum or dad who has children. 

– sometimes you might have an agreed meet up point, like the entrance to the supermarket. If so, go there once you realise you’re lost.

I travel by post when I’m not with Beccy, so I had to get an envelope and directions to the nearest post office. I went into a cafe and asked the very friendly Dutch man working there if he would help me write the address on the envelope. Then he told me how to get there.


It was a bit of a walk, and without Beccy to remind me to put sun cream on, I forgot, which meant I got sunburnt and my fur got darker! 


When I got there, the people behind the counter made sure I was ready for my trip and posted me off. 


Now I’m back in the Port of Dover waiting for Beccy to pick me up so we can carry on our next adventure.  I’ve learnt my lesson about sticking near Beccy- make sure you keep safe when you go out and about too! 

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Eloise the Elephant 

Hello

My name is Eloise the Elephant and I was very honoured to be handpicked by Dr Bex to help her in her chiropractic clinic. I’m the first animal from Out With Animals to be offered a temporary job as part of my adventure- no pressure! 

I had a tour of the clinic when I first arrived. This was a really good thing because I actually realised I didn’t know what a chiropractor does!


 Dr Bex said everyone thinks chiropractors are a bit scary sounding because they work with bones and sometimes they make cracking noises. She said that’s why you have to become a doctor because you have to know lots about the human body and how it works, not just to do with the bones! 


It’s not as scary as going to the GP surgery because the clinic feels a bit like going to someone’s house rather than a medical place- there’s always some music playing and the reception staff offer to make you a drink. They’ve also got some cool equipment in the clinic, like an X-ray machine. It means they can make sure nothing’s broken before starting work.

First up, we had to check who the patients were for the day. 

Then Dr Bex said she would adjust and treat me so that I knew what it would feel like for the patients.

I have to say I was a bit scared at first. And I’m a healthy elephant- I always take my mud baths and eat my leaves. But afterwards I felt like everything moved a lot better. Dr Bex said that’s because our bodies get used to moving in funny ways and sometimes they need a bit of help running smoothly again. 

I felt like I was ready to see some patients now. But Dr Bex said she needed me to do some reading about some of the different bones first. They’ve all got funny names from a language called Latin. 

Dr Bex found a model to help me. This was much easier to understand!

Finally I was ready to see my first patient! Obviously I’d only been learning about bones for a morning, so I wasn’t allowed to do much- Dr Bex had to train for years- but I was allowed to help with this lady’s back because I’d been studying spines.

She said she was pretty impressed with my work but I was a little bit clumsy. She had a point- my trunk kept getting in the way! 

It was time for our tea break so I spent it with some of the other animal volunteers who help out there. They told me that it’s not just people who are in pain who come to the clinic, people come for an appointment to keep healthy and to avoid pain in the future. 


I assumed that all of the patients that came to the chiropractor clinic would be adults so I was really surprised when our next patients arrived!

Mr Bear usually helps Dr Bex treat children so we both helped her out. I asked them if they made sure they had their mud baths and ate all of their leaves like me, but they said humans don’t do any of that! 

Our next patient was also a child. I jumped up and scared him when he was lying on his tummy! 

Except he laughed so much I nearly fell off the treatment bench! 

We’d seen all of our patients in clinic so I thought we’d be able to go home. Dr Bex laughed and said that she had to make sure all of her clinic notes were up to date and she had some paperwork to do.


She said that I could chill out for a bit though, because I’d worked so hard.

Finally we were able to go home! I was really tired after all the hard work so I curled up with Dr Bex’s cat.

I really enjoyed working at the chiropractic clinic because I got to learn about some of the bones and the way our bodies work. It was also fun seeing lots of different patients and feeling like we were helping them have healthy lifestyles. Thank you very much to Dr Bex and the other staff at the clinic who made me so welcome and I’m looking forward to having more adventures very soon! 

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Eric the Eagle

Hello

My name is Eric the Eagle, and I’ve just got back from an adventure with some Year 5 and 6 children up a mountain called Snowdon. Snowdon is in Wales and is really high. It’s the highest mountain in Wales and one of the highest in the UK! The Map Man, who was looking after me, said that it’s 1085 metres to be precise, and that I should probably do some altitude training first.

Altitude training means getting used to being high up for short periods before you try to do something properly like climbing a mountain. I started off with some easy high places…


I was pretty confident because I have wings. The Map Man said it was all very well and good being able to fly down from a door, but could I manage a whole mountain?! I wasn’t sure so I kept practising.


The Map Man was pretty pleased with my progress and said we were good to go! Climbing up a mountain sounds fairly easy – surely you just head up, right? But the Map Man said that he had a really important job of making sure everyone stuck together and went on the right paths. We also had to make sure we packed water, food, warm and waterproof clothes, a small first aid kit and the map, of course. 

And we’re off! I’m pretty good at reading, but this word made no sense to me! Wales has two languages- Welsh and English, and this sign was in Welsh. Maybe we did need the Map Man afterall! It says ‘path’ in Welsh. 

Climbing mountains takes a long time but you get to see some pretty scenery.

There weren’t many clouds when we climbed but the Map Man says that the weather can change really quickly in the mountains, and it’s important to have warm clothes and waterproof coats just in case.


I could see a lot of lakes and rocks and flew off ahead to explore a bit. The Map Man said it’s ok to look around you when you’re climbing, but you need to make sure you don’t slip on the rocks or leave the rest of the group in case you get lost or injured. That seemed sensible. 


Look how high we were climbing! And we still weren’t at the top! There was another sign, but this one was in both Welsh and English!


So it just says ‘Snowdon’ twice… confusing! Speaking of confusing, I was expecting to see some snow, especially when the Map Man said we should pack warm clothes. But there wasn’t any! He said that there is in winter but not at the moment because it’s summer. 

We were soon approaching the top. I knew this because there was less and less grass and more and more rocks.


We made it! We had to have a few rests on the way up, but I was really proud of what we’d achieved.


Look at that view! At the top of lots of mountains, there are compass points or a sign/plaque which tell you what you can see in each direction.


When the weather is good and there aren’t many clouds, you can see as far as parts of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Crazy! I have good eagle eyes, so I could see much further than the rest of the group. 

Then we had to make out way back down the mountain. Once we got to the bottom, the Map Man said he was really proud of us and that if we came again we could get the mountain train up. Now he tells us there’s a train?!

Despite the hard work involved, I had a great time climbing my first mountain. Thank you to the Map Man and the children for making me feel so welcome and teaching me how to be safe in the mountains. I’m really looking forward to my next adventure now! 

Animal Adventures, Charity, children's story, Out With Animals

Elgar the Elephant

Hello

My name is Elgar the Elephant. I decided recently that I wanted to learn to play a musical instrument, but wasn’t sure what. So I was invited by the Solo Clarinet Lady along to some AD Band rehearsals and concerts to help me choose. She’s a very important member of the band, because she has lots of the solo parts (obviously) but she also sits right at the front and leads the group. I thought that sounded like a cool job, but she said that I’d have to start at the bottom and work my way up before I even remotely stood a chance in getting her job!

The Solo Clarinet Lady introduced me to some of the instruments she had at home.

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First up, she showed me her instrument- the clarinet. It looks a bit like a snake charming instrument to me and has lots of buttons (she said they’re called keys) on it. She said that she uses them all for different things, but I think they’re just there for showing off and impressing other people.

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Next we had a look at the violin. I wasn’t sure how to hold the stick thing, which is called a bow apparently. And my trunk kept getting in the way of the strings. I didn’t like this one much, it sounds like cats wailing, but Solo Clarinet Lady said that’s just because I wasn’t very good at playing it yet! I think I’ll stick to the clarinet!

This one is a saxophone and is from the same woodwind ‘family’ as the clarinet, because they both use a wooden reed to make a sound and you blow down them as a way of playing them. She said lots of people think the saxophone is part of the brass family because it looks like it’s made out metal (or brass), but that’s wrong, it’s part of the woodwind family.

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I asked her why the instruments were so small- surely she didn’t play such tiny instruments! She said these ones were ‘my size’. I thought this was a bit rude, because I’m not *that* small. So then she got a didgeridoo out:

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I thought she was joking. How is this long tube an instrument?! She said it comes from Australia and is used in their traditional music. I couldn’t make a sound out of it!

Once she’d stopped laughing at me, she showed me her clarinet.

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It’s like a jigsaw puzzle! And it’s much bigger than the one I was playing. We set off for the band rehearsal where I got to meet everyone for the first time.

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There wasn’t anyone standing at this music stand, so I decided this one was probably meant for me. Apparently not! This is for the conductor, who stands at the front and waves a stick around, telling everyone when to play. I thought I’d give it a go, but the Solo Clarinet lady said I didn’t want to come across as too bossy at my first rehearsal and gave me some jobs to do in the cupboard!

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You’re not supposed to photocopy music, it says so all over the top – ‘do not photocopy’-, but the Solo Clarinet Lady said some of the trumpets aren’t very good at playing and need the extra practice, so they wanted to take it home. Once I’d worked out how to make it work, I had a lot of fun playing with the photocopier! I wanted to take photocopier selfies, but I got caught before I had the chance.

Then I got put on tea making duties…

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…apparently musicians drink a lot of tea and coffee.

Because it was the break and people were chatting, Solo Clarinet Lady said I could try some of the bigger instruments that were in the band.

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This one is a French Horn. I quite liked this one. Plus it had a handy seat in the big bit at the bottom!

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Then I tried a real saxophone. I told the owner that I knew that it was part of the woodwind family and she was very impressed.

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I couldn’t reach the buttons (I mean keys) though. Which meant that this even bigger saxophone wouldn’t be any good for me!

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I saw some other shiny instruments opposite, which are the flutes. So I tried playing one.

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Me and this instrument do not get on… It looks a bit like a pea shooter, where you blow down it and can fire missiles at people out of the other end. I couldn’t make a sound out of it!

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And I had the same problem with the saxophone in reaching the keys (see, I got the word right this time.) So no, flute isn’t my instrument either. The Solo Clarinet Lady said that flute is a bit like saxophone- it’s part of the woodwind family too, even though it’s made out of metal. Who makes up these rules?! She said it used to be made out of wood in olden times.

The last instrument in the woodwind section that I tried is the oboe. See how it has a reed at the top, meaning it’s a woodwind instrument?

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I didn’t like the sound though. It sounded like an angry goose when I was trying to play it! Apparently it’s actually a really beautiful instrument. I’m not convinced. So I moved onto the instruments from the brass family.

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I didn’t like the Euphonium either. I asked the man why he had a towel thing on his leg and he said it was to stop all the spit from getting on his shorts. Nope, I’m not playing an instrument which slobbers on me!

This trombone looked quite fun…

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… I couldn’t manage to play it though. So we did a team effort to play it! Trombone could be a possibility…

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Then I tried a trumpet. I liked the idea of a trumpet because I can make trumpet-like noises with my trunk!

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It was pretty hard work though. And loud! And I couldn’t reach the keys.

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At least there weren’t as many fiddly ones to worry about as the woodwind family. They did have a lot of these things though…

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They’re mutes apparently, which muffle and change the sound depending on what style you want. So the trumpets don’t have as many keys, but they have a lot more accessories to play with. I didn’t like the idea, it seemed too confusing, so trumpet is not my instrument either.

The last section of the band is the percussion section. The Solo Clarinet Lady said that basically you just hit something really loud when everyone else stops playing. I can do that! I’m good at making a noise!

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I tried the drum kit first…

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…but you have to use both your hands and feet and I’m not that coordinated. Next I tried the glockenspiel…

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… I quite liked the sound this one made! Then I tried the timpani…

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… this is my favourite so far! You do lots of drum rolls on them and sound very big and important.

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I think I’ve found my instrument! It’s percussion! The Solo Clarinet Lady said that I wasn’t allowed to just play timpani, I had to be able to follow 3 parts at the same time and do lots of running around. Running? Apparently it’s because the music just randomly changes instrument part way through, so you have to pay attention and make sure you have the right one!

We had a concert coming up, which I’d been invited to play at, so the Solo Clarinet Lady said I had to practise every day in between. Every day?! I thought I sounded good enough already!

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I wasn’t very good at keeping in time, so she used a metronome to help me. The metal spike thing moves from side to side and makes a ticking sound which you have to play along with. I kept getting distracted by the movement though so she got an electronic one out, which does the same job.

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Then we got ready for the outdoor concert at a stately home, Himley Hall.

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We had a good audience despite the rain.

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Here’s me and the band! Don’t worry, I’m not conducting, I was just wanting a good photo. Although, thinking about it, I hadn’t seen the conductor yet, I think he might be avoiding me!

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I wasn’t allowed to play this time because I didn’t have the right clothes. Apparently I need a bow tie. Pah! So I watched instead.

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I also was given the very important job of looking after the First Aid Kit.

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Thankfully no one needed it, I wouldn’t have known what to do otherwise! The Solo Clarinet Lady asked me to pack her clarinet away…

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… and then we went home, where she insisted I did more practice! She said I’d like this piece though and pointed to the name at the top. It was written by a man with the same name as me, Elgar!

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I was ready for my next concert, I had my bow tie and I’d practised. Surely they’d let me play this time?!

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It was a proms concert, where people celebrate all things British. So I also had some flags to take on stage.

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The Solo Clarinet Lady was busy getting ready and asked me to set up her clarinet for her. Easy Peasy.

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Until I got to the reeds. Which one did she want and how on earth was I supposed to attach it?!

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I worked it out eventually.

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The Solo Clarinet Lady showed me a new instrument, the piano. She said it sometimes appeared in bands, even though it’s not woodwind or brass. I swear people make the rules up as they go along when deciding who plays in what group!

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I said no thank you, I’d found my instrument- the drums in the percussion! I finally tracked down Trevor the Conductor and asked if I was allowed to play.

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He said yes! Hooray! As long as I watched him and didn’t play in the quiet bits. Hang on, that’s not what Solo Clarinet Lady said!

I went to get my music from the box.

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2 people lift? I think I can manage, I’m a strong elephant!

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I made my way to the back to get into position…

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… and played in my very first concert! I obviously didn’t make any mistakes. I thought I performed brilliantly! The Solo Clarinet Lady said she was very proud of me.

I really enjoyed my time with the Solo Clarinet Lady and the AD Concert Band. Thank you very much for introducing me to all the different instruments and helping me find my new instrument to play- the drums. The best part was the concert at the end, playing with everyone else, but it was great fun trying out all the different instruments. I’m looking forward to showing my new skills off to my new friend, and carrying on my adventures!