Category Archives: Child Tales

A Wee Heartwarming Scottish Tale For The Wee Bairns!

Bronze Bobby, Rocking Dog

Bronze Bobby

It’s a long time since I did a post for the little small things, so here is a wee heartwarming Scottish tale for the wee bairns.

Hello little small things, very soon I want you to sit very comfortably whilst you listen to this tale. If you are very clever you will be reading this yourself. However, I must first warn you that this is definitely not a story for those of you who like fluffy white rabbits, twinkly princesses or cuddly purring pussy-cats!

So are you sitting extraordinarily comfortably? So we’ll begin… please remember to click the links as the story goes on.

Once upon a time, because of course that’s how all good stories begin, there was a man called John Gray. He lived a VERY long time ago, not quite at a time when dinosaurs roamed the planet, but still a very long time ago. John lived in Scotland, as you are very clever you will know that Scotland is famous for the Loch Ness Monster, noisy bagpipes, kilts and haggis. John worked as a gardener and was very poor, so he together with his wife Jess and son John decided to seek their fortune in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a very big city with a castle and a craggy hill called Arthur’s Seat. The cobbled streets in John’s time would have been noisy with people selling things, street performers, pedlars, horses and carts, beggars and children playing.

Poor John could not find a job, he was worried that his little family would end up in the workhouse. The workhouse was a really horrid place to be, with horrible food, itchy uniforms and no time to play. In time he was pleased to get a job working as a night watchman, helping the Edinburgh City Police. His job involved walking the streets of the city, making sure that there were no burglars about, and that everyone was safely tucked up in their beds. He would walk the dark streets in snow, fog and rain.

John was accompanied in his lonely job by his little dog Bobby. They loved each other very much and the people of the city used to love to see John and his faithful dog walking the cobbled streets together. John became very ill and there was nothing that could be done to help him, so sadly he died. Bobby followed Johns coffin into the kirkyard (churchyard) at Greyfriars and refused to leave his masters grave.

How long do you think that Bobby stayed by the grave? Have a guess. The little dog stayed there for fourteen years! He only left the kirkyard to go and have food. Each day the castle would fire a large gun at 1 o’clock and when he heard the gun Bobby would scamper off for lunch. After eating he would return to the kirkyard and that’s where he’d stay until the castle’s gun went off again the following day.

At first the graveyard caretaker would try to shoo Bobby away, but in time he realised just how devoted the little dog was to his owner. The caretaker kindly put some sacking between two gravestones to give Bobby shelter from the rain, snow and sun. I wonder if Bobby ever got frightened because the kirkyard is very creepy with lots of carved skulls, tombstones and angels. I certainly wouldn’t like to spend a night there!

In time The Lord Provost, similar to a Lord Mayor, was so touched by Bobby’s devotion that he presented him with a collar (If you are ever in Edinburgh you can see Bobby’s collar in the Museum of Edinburgh). Bobby became a little bit of a celebrity, with people coming especially to see him. I wonder if my great grandfather was one of those people who visited Bobby, because he lived and worked very close by.

Bobby got to be a very old dog, but eventually died in 1872 at the age of sixteen which is VERY old in doggy years! He was buried in a grave very close to his master, just inside the gates of the Greyfriars kirkyard, and I expect everyone was very very sad.

A year after Bobby died a very rich English lady who had heard the story of Bobby asked the council if they would allow her to pay for a water fountain in memory of the little dog. If you go to Candlemaker Row you can see Bobby’s fountain. Bobby is cast from a metal called bronze. Can you see in the photo how gold his nose is from people stroking it? If you are thirsty I don’t think you should drink from the fountain, the water looks very dirty.

In 1981 which isn’t ALL that long ago, a red granite headstone was placed on Bobby’s grave. People come from all over the world to see his grave and sometimes they leave sticks (because dogs simply LOVE running after sticks!), toys and flowers.

Maybe one day you’ll be able to go and stroke Bobby’s nose and see Edinburgh for yourself.

Bobby, Rocking Dog

Bobby

Welcome To Edinburgh, Rocking Dog

Welcome To Edinburgh

Bobby In Print, Rocking Dog

Bobby In Print

Edinburgh Ancestors, Rocking Dog

Edinburgh Ancestors

Creepy Graveyard, Rocking Dog

Creepy Graveyard

Bobby's Grave, Rocking Dog

Bobby’s Grave

Gift Wrapping and Seafaring Artists Tale

Who Will Be The Lucky Recipients?, Rocking Dog

Who Will Be The Lucky Recipients?

On Tuesday I took my lovely octogenarian friend to the Holburne Museum in Bath. Currently on display is a temporary exhibition of paintings from the Swindon Collection, entitled Gwen John to Lucian Freud, Home and the World. One painting I particularly loved was one by Alfred Wallis, Ship amid Tall Waves. The painting inspired me to do a naive interpretation in the form of a pen drawing on black tissue for a gift I needed to wrap.

The catalogue gave me a gist of Wallis’s life and I wanted to make it into a little tale for children, so here goes!

160 years ago (that’s a VERY long time) a little boy called Alfred Wallis was born in a seaside town in Devon. Alfred simply loved the sea, and when he was nine he said goodbye to his parents and went off to be a cabin boy on a big ship. I rather suspect that you would prefer to be on a boat rather than going to school, especially if there’s Maths! Life must have been quite tough for young Alfred, with sea sickness, home-sickness, lots of shoes to polish and clothes to wash. When he was a little bit older he became a fisherman and caught fish in the icy waters near Canada.

Eventually he decided that he wanted to come home and have a little cottage and garden, no more adventures at sea. He met a lady called Susan and after asking her to marry him, they settled in the beautiful little Cornish town called St Ives. He had a job as a Rag and Bone Man. People would bring out pieces of furniture and junk they no longer wanted. Alfred would then repair and sell on some of the junk. He and Susan were poor, but very happy, they loved walking on the beach and drinking tea together in their little cottage.

After a few years Susan died, and Alfred was very, very sad. To help himself feel better he decided to start painting pictures. He loved to paint ships and the sea, and can you believe that Alfred even used ship paint to paint his pictures! As he was very poor and couldn’t afford proper paper, the kind shopkeeper would save him cardboard from boxes that had contained apples, cabbages and all sorts of other things. The cardboard suited Alfred just so!

One day two famous artists called Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood happened to be visiting St Ives.They passed Alfred’s little cottage and being very nosey looked through the open door. They saw lots of Alfred’s ship paintings nailed to the wall and were enchanted by them. They knocked on the door and spoke to Alfred, telling him how how much they loved his work. They supplied him with paint, and introduced him to rich people who they were sure would want to buy Alfred’s paintings.

Despite the help from many artists who appreciated his talents, Alfred was still very poor and very old. He went to live in the workhouse. I don’t know if you know anything about workhouses, but they were very tough places, with strict rules and no luxuries. The Government did not want to encourage people to live there, it really was for people who had no other option. Many workhouse residents were orphans, or very poor, ill or like Alfred very old. Residents would be given food, clothing and a bed. Those that were fit enough would have to work to earn their keep.

Poor Alfred eventually died in the workhouse at the age of eighty seven. Lots of artists came to his funeral and they were very sad. Alfred’s grave is a magnificent one, with tiles by Bernard Leach, featuring a little seafarer stepping up into a huge lighthouse. The grave itself looks out onto the sea, with its bobbing fishing boats, foamy surf and glinting orange sun which rises and falls on the horizon.

I wonder what Alfred would think about the fact that his little cardboard boat pictures are now seen by millions of people every year in galleries all around the world.

Gift wrap detail-
Black Gift- tissue paper, anchor button, thick bakers twine,”Signo” white pen, sticky tape
Pink Gift- tissue paper, ribbon, rosette (made up of varying sized material circles cut with Pinking Shears, leaf shapes, old velvet hat decorations, button), “Love” ticket (Hobbycraft), Glue gun, sticky tape.

Unadorned, Rocking Dog

Unadorned

Frouing Kit, Rocking Dog

Frouing Kit

Rosette Detail, Rocking Dog

Rosette Detail

Homalocephale In Search Of New Home!

Orphaned Homalocephale, Rocking Dog

Orphaned Homalocephale

Another post for the little folk before school reconvenes. So this is an S.O.S. Yesterday I found this little fellow staggering around on Hambrook Common whilst walking Real Live Rocking Dog.

As all you budding Palaeontologists will no doubt know, this little dinosaur is a Homalocephale (Level headed lizard). Strange but true he first roamed the planet 70-80 million years ago. He looks pretty scary but he likes eating fruits, plants and seeds. Homalocephale’s don’t grow much bigger than the average six year old and has a much smaller brain than the average six year old. Grown up Palaeontologists think that the Homalocephale had wide hips because they gave birth to live young rather than laying eggs like many other dinosaurs.The experts also think that the Homalocephale used their wide hips for flank-butting. It would be like dodgem car bumping for dinosaurs! This little dinosaur would also use its flat head for ramming any enemy. Now being so well mannered you would absolutely never ever flank-butt or head ram would you!

Back to this poor little orphaned Homalocephale, he really has been through the wars. I rather think he has been attacked by some very terrifying creature and certainly not Real Live Rocking Dog. The Dog much prefers playing football and being curious about cats. No, I think it may have been a Tyrannosaurus Rex who took a liking to this little orphan, or more scarily a teething toddler! He has lost an arm -the Homalocephale and not the toddler, and hasn’t got very good balance. He may need a little blob of Blu-Tac to help him stand or he can simply be snuggled under your pillow (please ask your mummy first)

If anyone would like to give this tiny little fella a caring new home, please send Rocking Dog a message with a suitable name. A distinguished panel will choose a winner and little Homalocephale (who will have been put through a 90 degree dishwasher programme) will be posted to you together with some yummy goodies.

Please Care and SHARE this post!

Normal service will be resumed after the weekend, with my adult head securely screwed back on, promise! It’s London Fashion Week next week according to my darling fashionista daughter. She’ll be photographing some of the style icons at Somerset House. Not to be outdone we’ll be having our very own exclusive Rocking Dog Fashion Week. I’ll even be letting you peek inside my wardrobe, what a scary prospect!

Have a great weekend and I hope the sun shines.

Searching For Mum, Rocking Dog

Searching For Mum

Do I Look Like a Dinosaur Nibbler? Rocking Dog

Do I Look Like a Dinosaur Nibbler?