People often ask me how I manage to show my face in the forest after the unfortunate bear incident. I tell them, it's easy - if you follow my tips.
1. Say Sorry
Nine times out of ten this helps. Sometimes the bears don't speak English and chase you out of their home screaming and running. But it's worth a try, right?
2. Fix It
Crack out your tools, set the pot on the stove, hit the shops and have a go at fixing / replacing whatever you broke.
3. Be Perfect
Smile, sing, bring porridge and never get caught doing anything bad ever again. You'll have those bears eating out of the palm of your hand in no time.
4. Forgive Yourself
If you could take it back and not go into that house, you probably would, right? So don't beat yourself up. It's not like you really did anything that bad...
5. Move On
Be Like Elsa and Let It Go. I mean, who leaves their front door open anyway?
So that's it, next time you make a mistake, follow the above tips and you'll be skipping through forests again in no time.
The deep, dark woods are no joke. When Gretel and I were lost, we survived through luck, wit and grit. Here are our top five survival tips for when your father 'accidentally' loses you in the woods.
1. Don't trust anybody
When our Dad asked us to go for a walk in the woods with him, we assumed this would be a nice family outing. It wasn't. He waited until we fell asleep and then left us. Luckily, we were on to him and had left a trail of breadcrumbs so we could find our way home, which brings me to point two...
2. Protect your breadcrumbs
Unfortunately, our breadcrumbs were gobbled up by a greedy bird. To prevent this, I suggest coating your breadcrumbs in poison. Gretel says that's cruel and you should consider using something birds won't eat, like paint on stones or chalk marks through the woods... (shame she didn't think of that earlier.)
3. Stick together
You'll probably want to blame your sister for being stupid enough to leave breadcrumbs that got eaten and then suggesting chalk, when we have none. But try to keep your angry words brief. You're going to need her, not least because it gets cold in the deep, dark woods at night and you'll need to huddle together for warmth.
4. Assume the worst
A few days into our ordeal Gretel and I came across a house made entirely of sweets. We should have known all was not what it seemed, but we were greedy and foolish. Don't be like us, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
5. Witches can be outwitted
So the worst has happened and you find yourself at the mercy of a witch who is fattening you up to eat you. Don't panic. Keep on your guard and wait... at some point witches always make mistakes. Be ready to strike and in the meantime enjoy the food.
And don't forget to tell us how your ordeal went and how you got out of it.
Hansel (with a very small - almost not worth mentioning - amount of help from Gretel)
I made my fortune by trusting the power of beans... and you can do the same. Just follow my simple tips and you'll see the gold come rolling in. (If you really want to be successful, you must buy my book, in which I tell you all about how I got super wealthy and offer patronising and pompous tips so that you can try to do the same).
1. Picking your beans
You'll know you're onto a winner when you find beans no one else wants. If everyone says you are mad for wasting your money on useless beans, relax - this is the exactly what you should buy. Don't do any research, trust the dodgy salesman, especially if he tells you the beans are magic. The fact is magic is real and only he knows about it.
The most important thing you must do when buying beans, is make sure you pay an extortionate amount - whether it be all your savings, the deeds to your land or your only cow. You've got to commit everything to this, if you truly want it to pay off.
You must treat your beans with absolute disgust. Assume they will do nothing for you. Shout at them if you like. Tell them their worthless and throw them away (out of a window is best).
If you've taken the steps above then your beans will grow all by themselves. They will magically sprout - probably overnight. This is the best thing about my method - you don't have to do a thing. Just go to bed and in the morning your beans will have sprouted into a magical beanstalk. If this doesn't happen, then go back and re-do steps 1-3, make sure you fully commit to what you're doing - the magic only works if it's all you have left.
5. Follow your beanstalk to success
If you followed steps 1-4 correctly, you now have a beanstalk that will take you to a land filled with treasures for the taking. Don't worry about giants, they deserve deserve everything they get. How do you thing us rich, successful people make all our money... we take what we want of course.
Good luck :0)
And remember, if this doesn't make you as rich and successful as me, it's because you've done something wrong and probably don't deserve it. If you're serious about transforming your life sign up to my overpriced and under prepared training videos, I can take your money and make you see everything that's wrong about you.
To write about every inspirational woman would be to write about every woman who is, has or will live. All women are equally wonderful in their own unique ways so this is not a 'top five' list but simply a look at the stories of five amazing women, whose brilliance overcame obstacles and left (or will leave) a lasting impression on the world.
1. Helen Keller
Helen Keller went blind and deaf at 19 months. For most, at the time, this would have been the end of any aspirations for an affective life in the world. But at six Helen began learning to communicate through touch and was educated first by a private tutor, then at a school for the blind and finally graduated as the first blind-deaf person to gain a Bachelor of Arts. Keller went on to become a public speaker and activist, for women's rights and for the working classes. She was an icon for the deaf community and spoke about the joy she found in life. Perhaps the most inspirational thing of all about Keller is that she said... "Helping others was the key to lasting happiness."
2. Malala Yousafzai
At just eleven years old, young Malala began blogging from her home in Pakistan where she was under Taliban rule. Malala believed in education for children and girls but this was something the Taliban was against.
In an attempt to silence her, the Taliban boarded her school bus and shot her. Surviving the shooting, Malala has gone on to campaign passionately for children and girls' right to an education. She was the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, named three times as one of the globe's most influential people, has published two books and did this all before she was 18. Malala now studies at Oxford University, her story has only just begun.
3. Marie Curie
Marie Curie was a Polish born scientist whose passion for her subject saw her overcoming early grief (she lost her mother at 12), poverty (although from an educated family they were cripplingly poor), gender discrimination (her husband had to fight to get her the credit for her work) and an inner battle against frequent depressive spells. Curie's work in physics and chemistry led her to become the first female professor at the University of Paris and to win not just one Nobel Prize, but two (the first and only woman to do this). Her work has had a huge impact on the scientific world and continues to this day.
4. Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin not only barged through the barriers put up against women in the sciences, engineering and livestock worlds, but was also one of the first people with autism to speak publicly about her experiences.
An advocate and role model for people on the autistic spectrum, Temple Grandin has brought empathy into the cattle industry, with her inventions that help calm and relieve stress to cattle in their last moments. Grenadine had it tough, having to navigate a world that was hostile to her senses as well as hostile to her personally. But she overcame all those obstacles and her words, "Different, not less," are an inspiration and lesson for us all.
5. Beatrix Potter
Best known for her stories of Peter Rabbit and friends, Potter was a home-educated girl who loved science. Her studies of mycology (fungi) earned her respect amongst scientists and her drawings are still used today by mycologists. Potter was rejected by a number of publishers and so self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was quite successful (if you count selling 45 million copies, spawning a TV series, film and international franchise as successful). One of the most inspiring things about Potter was her passion for the countryside. During her life, Potter used her money to buy up farmland which, on her death, she bequeathed to the National Trust, preserving and safeguarding those environments for years to come .
I'm sure you can think of and know many inspirational women, not just famous ones, but people that inspire you every day. Never let anyone tell you women are not as good.
All my love, Athena xx
Beast and I love books! This World Book Day we thought we would share our top ten favourites . It was hard to choose just five each... can
you guess who picked which stories?
Beauty (and Beast) xx
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
by CS. Lewis
Where The Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
by Anna Sewell
by Julia Donaldson
The Jungle Book
by Rudyard Kipling
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
by JK Rowling
by Mary Shelly
by Herman Melville
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
by Victor Hugo
We hope you liked our list... what would you have chosen?
Tale Time's If Story Characters Blogged series is a bit of fun, taking our favourite characters from stories and imagining what they would blog about.
Do you think we missed anything off the list?
What do you think Beauty or the Beast would have chosen?
Everyone says my hair is my best asset. But keeping these luscious locks in tip top condition takes more time and effort than you might think. Here are my top tips for how to get your hair as lovely as mine...
1. Keep knots at bay - brush for at least ten hours a day....
2. If you don't have time to brush... employ animal friends to brush for you (you can pay them in berries and nuts!)
3. Keep your hair away from pollution - get a friendly witch to lock you in a tower.
4. Strengthen your hair by getting a prince to climb it every day.
5. And let me be very, very clear... never EVER cut your hair!
That's it. I hope you and your hair are as happy as me and mine.
When it comes to wicked stepmothers, mine really takes the biscuit. But just because you live with a hell-troll, doesn't mean you have to be unhappy. Here are my top tips on surviving a wicked stepmother.
1. Surround yourself with good friends... they don't have to be animals, but I find cuddly critters make the best companions.
2. Just keep singing - is there anything that fills your heart with more joy than singing? It will also really wind up your stepmother.
3. Be better than her - hold your head high and get through the chores, don't give her a reason to punish you.
4. Don't let her stop you doing what you want... even if you need a little magic to help you.
5. Move on to a better life and never look back - preferably one that involves a castle, a handsome prince and lots of well made shoes that don't slip off. (Not necessarily in that order.)
Love Cinderella xxx
Despite what people may think, I do not fall asleep easily. Even though I am always tired, my mind buzzes with fears... what if I don't wake up? What if I do wake up and the whole world has changed? What if my prince forgets to wake me up?
These things can keep me awake for hours and hours.
So I have a few top tips, for getting a good night's sleep.
ONE: Make sure your bed is far away from everyone, preferably up a tower.
Two: Find a spinning wheel and let it's gentle whirring lull you off to sleep.
Three: Agree with a prince of your choosing a time and date to be woken up.
Four: Ask a witch to put a spell on you... it works every time.
Don't forget to set an alarm!
Sleeping Beauty xxxx
Grandmas are great aren't they? They're always there for you. They rarely tell you off. They've always got time to give you a hug or share some wisdom. They hand out love and cookies and never moan about the sugar or not having enough time. Grandmas are brilliant. So why, oh why, do they insist on living in places that are hard or dangerous or just downright difficult to get to?
Take my Grandma for example, she lives in the Woods! And not a nice little woodland filled with helpful animals and flowers. No, my grandma bought a house in the DEEP DARK WOODS. Why did she do that? Now, every time I want a cookie... or a hug, I have to put my life in danger. Everyone knows that the DEEP DARK WOODS are dangerous. I don't know what these grandmothers are thinking.
So for all you young people out there whose grannies are thinking of moving - here are my five best reasons Grandmothers Should Not Live in the Woods.
1. They're really far away...
At least half a morning's walk and grandchildren today are very busy, if you want to see us, you should stay close.
2. The Paths are hard to follow...
The woods are notorious for paths that lead this way and that. I've lost count of the number of people who got into danger because they took the wrong path in the woods. Make life easier for your guest, live somewhere a sat-nav can find.
Grandmothers should live in places called Cherry Orchard Gardens or Love Lane. Addresses that start Deep Dark are not appealing to your grandchildren. Many of us are scared of the dark, why would you want to live somewhere that we're scared of?
Which brings me on to...
Everyone knows witches live in the woods. If you are an old lady and you choose to buy a house in the woods, you only have yourself to blame if people start calling you a witch. And you know what happens to witches in stories... bad, bad stuff usually involving ovens.
And lastly and probably most importantly...
They're big, they're bad and they live in the woods too. Nine out of ten people that set foot in the deep dark woods end up coming face to face with a wolf. And we know that we're plucky and quite often find ways to defeat the wolves, or get saved by the timely arrival of a hero... but, it only takes one tragedy to be one too many.
Do your grandchildren a favour... buy a bungalow on the estate round the corner. Then they can come see you every day without risking their lives. Or, better yet, move in... then you can bake cookies and give out hugs all day long. I'm sure Mummies and Daddies across the country would love to have you live with them.
That's all I have to say... for now.
Little Red Riding Hood.
The bath is done. His tummy's full. We've sat through Upsy Daisy's dance and Macca Pacca's obsession with stones. Iggle Piggle is not in bed... neither is Dylan. We're on the home run. Just story time to get through, then he goes down and it's finally my time. I don't know about you, but sometimes it crosses my mind to skip the story - or pick the shortest one I can find - so I can get to that falling on the sofa moment a little quicker...
But then I have to have a word with myself. Story time is important. It's special time to be together (we're together all day, but that's not the point, right?). So I get him in his grow bag (I don't care what anyone says, the grow bag gets me every time) and I pick a story.
But what to read...? I've been in the Deep Dark Woods more times than Red Riding Hood and I know there's plenty of Room on the Broom for a dog, cat, bird and frog/ I could recite I'm Not Cute backwards and, I expect, so could Dylan.
So I pick a new story: Doing the Animal Bop. It's not too long. It'll do, I think.
I open the page and there are ostriches dancing across a pink double page spread. I begin the rhyming prose - its kinda fun. I wonder whether there's even any point to this nightly ritual. Is he taking this in? Does he care? Or would he rather be pulling the curtains?
Then he starts to laugh.
And its his proper laugh too, not the fake one he does to get our attention. I look around, wondering what has created this moment of mirth, then I realise he's laughing at the pictures, or the rhyme, or both. It doesn't matter - he's enjoying the story. As I read on, he keeps laughing harder and louder until we're both laughing our way to the end.
As I put him to bed, I realise even though I'm with him a lot of the day, even though we play and cuddle in between the hoovering and washing up and play dates, story time is special. It's sacred. It's a guaranteed time we share together and I vow never to rush or considering skipping it again... well, not for at least a couple of night's anyway.
Vicky McFarland is a storyteller and writer based in Northern Ireland. Her Tale Time audio stories are enjoyed by children across the world. You can follow her on facebook and twitter, visit the website or join the mailing list to find out about new story collections.