Wednesday, 31 July 2019

NIKKI - MY FIRST MUSIC FESTIVAL!

Reader Nikki tells us about her first experience of a music festival... complete with waterlogged tent! And yes, she's a convert!

Nikki says:
I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to my first music festival, so I chose to start with one of the smaller ones. I went to Eden Festival in Scotland and after being told how dinky it was meant to be, I was blown away by the size of the place! I definitely think that I would have been overwhelmed at one of the larger festivals to start with, but this was a perfect size to start off with. There were thirteen different music venues on the site, almost all of the food stalls offered vegan and gluten free options and there were posters promoting recycling all over the place! It was amazing! Everyone was so friendly and inclusive, so we were all surrounded by the nicest atmosphere! Much to my delight, there was a whole array of circus equipment for people to try out - I had a great time, but I have learnt that the unicycle is definitely not for me!


After exploring all there was to see, including 2 humongous stages and many different food and crafts stalls, we headed back to pitch our tent. I had never camped before and found that pitching a tent was surprisingly easy! We shared some of the food that we had brought and headed back out to listen to some music.

We started our music journey at a stage called Rabbie’s Tavern. It was one of the smaller stages, but I don’t think there was a single moment of the festival were it wasn’t jam packed! The music was wonderful, it was calm and folky and everyone listening to it seemed really relaxed and happy. We loved it so much that we ended up staying there all night and didn’t manage to see any of the other stages! We’d had a long drive and decided after a lovely evening, we wanted to get an early night, so we headed back to our tent.

It was meant to be raining all weekend, but we managed to bring the beautiful sun with us, until we tucked ourselves in for bed and it started to pour. After about half an hour or so, we noticed that our pillows were a bit wet. After turning on a torch for closer inspection, we realised that our tent was not waterproof at all and there were puddles forming around the edges. Our pillows weren’t just a little wet, they were soaked! We grabbed all of our bedding and clothes and ran to the car, which was parked a few fields away. We tried our best to make a comfy bed in the car, but it was horrible! Just thinking about sleeping in that car makes my back ache!

In the morning, once we had eaten some breakfast, we forgot about all of that and headed down to the main stage to listen to some more music. We ended up falling asleep for half an hour or so before lunch and when we awoke we felt refreshed and ready for the day!

After lunch we went to the second largest stage to watch a man called Mr Motivator. He appeared on ITV back in the 90’s to motivate people into doing more exercise. Around a thousand people were gathered around this stage squatting and lunging while this sixty seven year old man put us all to shame with his athleticism and enthusiasm. People in banana costumes were weaving in and out of the crowd handing out bananas, and if I looked to my left, I could see a man dressed as a bear. If I looked to my right, I could see women dressed as fairies, handing out leaflets to try and prevent climate change. Dancing along to Mr Motivator was one of the greatest and weirdest moments of my entire life!

As we had no tent to sleep in, we decided to finish our day back at the small stage and head home early. I would definitely recommend a festival to anyone who is a fan of music and camping! I will always remember my time at Eden Festival and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Cathy says:
Wow... this sounds brilliant! Have YOU ever been to a music festival? What did you think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

ADVENTURE: WHY WE NEED IT AND HOW TO FIND IT

Reader Katy blogs on why adventure is good for us... and why we all need to be be a little bit braver!

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live
Henry David Thoreau


Daydreaming is one of the healthiest forms of escapism but what use is it if all you ever do is dream? I know a lot of you are budding writers so pay heed to Mr. Thoreau’s words… often the best stories come from experience.

Why do we need adventure? 
Humans love routine. It’s comforting, reassuring, safe... but is it really living? While all this is an entirely natural, human trait, so is the need for adventure. The balance between the two is where we find the secret to happiness. We are storytellers, collectors of memory. In the modern world, it is so easy to travel to far and distant lands, we have it so easy compared to our predecessors. Take a ferry to Amsterdam? Grab a £30 flight to Madrid? I mean, it’s rude NOT to. Not only does it feed into our own happiness, stories of adventure inspire others to reach outside their comfort zone. It is contagious!

How to find it?
Now… there are three ingredients when it comes to cooking up an adventure. Excitement. Risk. Experience. Getting out of your comfort zone, exploring and pushing your limits. We will never remember the time we caught the bus for the 176th time into town unless, say, we strike up a conversation with a stranger. Something as simple as that can turn into a wonderful adventure. Maybe you are meeting a new best friend!

A lot of it is down to overcoming fear. For a lot of us, the thought of talking to a complete stranger is quite terrifying… but why? They’re usually just going about their lives, just like you are. Not scary at all. I made a very dear friend last year, whilst travelling in Budapest. I was just in the supermarket buying fruit when a girl, roughly the same age, approached me and asked if I knew where the nearest post box was. Incidentally, I truly didn't. But we got chatting; she was visiting too. We arranged to meet for a coffee and that was it! The rest of my time in Budapest was spent hanging out in her flat, exploring the Buda hills, exchanging music… and we still talk now. I plan to visit her in her student flat in Amsterdam soon. What I'm saying is, some of the best experiences have come from pushing through this fear of talking to people, just saying yes.

I can only ever speak for myself, but I believe we humans are never meant to stay in one place for too long. There is so much world to see, so many things to experience. But if travelling isn’t your thing, adventure can be found anywhere... on the bus, in a supermarket, at school. Literally anywhere. What are you waiting for?

Cathy says:
I am all for adventure... it's just around the corner, after all, if you know where to look! What was YOUR last big adventure? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Saturday, 27 July 2019

NATURE'S MAGIC

There is a growing trend of using natural herbs, oils and fruits  to make DIY face masks, conditioners and beauty potions... the way we did hundreds of years ago. They're a little bit of nature magic! Reader Clare shares a few simple tips...

COCONUT OIL
Women all over the world have used coconut oil for centuries as their go-to beauty companion! It can be used for anything from an intensive hair mask to skin moisturiser to a dental hygiene hack. Coconut oil is available in all big supermarkets now - don't be confused if it appears to be a solid rather than an oil, that's normal!

Here's a simple coconut oil face mask so you can see for yourself!
Ingredients:
1 tbsp. pure coconut oil
3 tbsp. oatmeal
Warm water
How to apply:
Put oatmeal in a bowl and pour in enough warm water to make a paste-like consistency (you can just guesstimate for this part.) Combine the coconut oil in with the oatmeal and mix well. Apply the mixture to your face, and exfoliate your skin by gently rubbing in a circular motion. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry your face with a clean towel. Et voila!

AVOCADO
Not just a tasty, healthy snack, avocados can also be used to nourish the skin and hair. Why not try this recipe for a hair 'mask' to give a gorgeous shine?
To make:
Grab an avocado, a banana, and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Mash them all together in a bowl, then take that paste and rub into hair from root to tip. Wrap hair in an old towel or shower cap. Do something else for half an hour, and then get in the shower to shampoo and rinse.  Glossy hair that's naturally healthy!

HONEY
It's not just good on toast! Honey can be used on your skin and hair and has anti-bacterial properties as well as having moisturising powers, if you want a smoother and more even skin-tone. Try brushing a small dab of honey onto your skin. Massage gently and leave for twenty minutes. Spots may appear less aggressive and skin may feel smoother and more even!! Another tip - if you get hay fever, eat locally made honey - it can reduce symptoms of hay fever for some lucky people!

Note: If skin feels hot, sore or prickly at any point, wash the treatment off IMMEDIATELY... not all natural treatments are suited to sensitive skin!

Gorgeous artwork by the talented Millie Aked - thank you so much Millie! 

CATHY SAYS
Wow! Thank you Clare! These are cool... definitely going to try them out! LOVE the artwork too... brilliant, Millie! Do YOU have any old traditions or natural beauty tips? COMMENT BELOW!

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

DAISY, AMY & ASHLEIGH'S LIBRARY NEWS!

If you've been enjoying the library updates of young school librarians 'The Terrible Trio plus One' you will be sad to know that the trio have now left their posts as student middle school librarians to start High School. We wish them well - and welcome three new student librarians on board to blog for DREAMCATCHER!

Daisy, Amy & Ashleigh say:
We are the new librarians who are going to be letting you know all the things that go on in our brilliant middle school library... our names are Daisy, Amy and Ashleigh. We are looking forward to taking over from the Terrible Trio now that they've moved on to High School and keeping you updated on library life behind the scenes!

As it was the end of the term, and some of the librarians are moving on to high school, we celebrated in the library with a doughnut challenge... it was a lot of fun, as you can see! (And what do you mean, the librarian bribes us to help out with cake? No way!!! Cake and libraries go together perfectly, no?)

The challenge reminded us of some doughnut books we have in the library:

The Jam Doughnut That Ruined My Life by Mark Lowery, and The Donut Diaries of Dermot Milligan by Anthony McGowan, illustrated by David Tazzyman. Both are very funny in a luagh out loud way, and ideal for a light summery read - or for little brothers and sisters of course! What are YOUR favourite funny books? COMMENT BELOW to let us know, and we'll see if we have them in the library!

Summer is the perfect time for reading, and over the holidays we are planning to read Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell, Fortune Cookie by Cathy Cassidy and George’s Marvellous Medicine by the one and only Roald Dahl. Do YOU have a summer holiday reading list?

The Terrible Trio are sad to be leaving, but they are moving on to new challenges, and meanwhile WE are looking forward to coming back in September and letting you know all that we get up to! See you then!

Cathy says:
Welcome to DREAMCATCHER, Daisy, Amy & Ashleigh - we look forward to hearing much more about life as a student librarian soon! I love the idea of a summer reading list... do YOU have one? And don't forget to COMMENT BELOW to share your fave funny reads, too!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

SHORT STORY: EXTRA-ORDINARY!

Reader Anoushka from India shares a timely and though-provoking short story about hopes, dreams and the pressure to get perfect exam results...

'If you can dream it, you can do it...'

Shruti sighed and wished that these words were true. Sadly, it felt like they only applied to actors and glamorous fitness enthusiasts. They had no idea that these words hardly seemed to apply to ordinary students like her. She'd had enough of the media telling people that you can just dream and that it inevitably becomes reality. Shruti knew that in the fast-paced world of academics, it was hard to be recognised if you weren’t a topper. And all she really wanted was the recognition that she thought she deserved.

Shruti was an average student. Though she worked hard, she failed to match up to her classmates’ many capabilities.  She knew that school work wasn’t everything - she spent her free time playing the guitar, her passion - but it was hard to believe this when her parents and teachers stressed the importance of academic work and exams so much. They made it seem like excelling in school was the be all and end all of life - and that the only jobs worth having were a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer. Sometimes she felt like she was being left behind by everyone around her, as their sole focus was study and the constant need to excel and be at the top.

Shruti didn’t strive for excellence like a lot of her classmates did. She didn’t care if she got into Harvard or Yale, all she wanted was a sense of being contented and fulfilled instead of the constant need to achieve perfection. She felt that everyone should follow what their heart tells them to instead of doing what your parents always dreamed of becoming but were unable to follow through. She was sick of parents influencing their children’s career choices instead of letting them be what they aspired to be.

Could it be different for Shruti? Did she care enough about music to make it her career? A little voice inside told her that she did.

A decade on, Shruti was now an accomplished guitarist and a well respected speaker on mental health. Her parents had not supported their daughter at first, but soon understood their daughter’s lifelong dream. And right now, Shruti was standing in front of a crowd of hopeful teenagers. She stepped forward and concluded, 'So what if you don’t crack every exam, so what if you don’t earn as much as your sister does? Nothing can get in your way if you’re truly content with the way your life turns out. We all deserve a chance to be happy in our lives!' Shruti realised she was truly happy with her life, and now she was passing that message on - it couldn’t have been better.
                                                       
Cathy says:
I love the message in Anoushka's story... it's one we all need to hear! After all, we are all so much more than exam passes and academic achievements, right? What do YOU think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 13 July 2019

CAROL: SWIMMING TEACHER!

Another in our fab series of dream careers... we talk to Carol, whose passion for swimming led to a career teaching others!

Carol says: 
I have always enjoyed swimming from a young age. My parents actually met at swimming lessons, when they were younger, so you could say swimming runs in the family! I always felt more at home in the water than on land. I was on the water polo team, I did synchronised swimming, I would take part in every swimming gala - I was never out of the pool, really!

I definitely fell into teaching swimming - I used to help my father, who was a swim instructor, from quite an early age. After many years of helping out, I finally decided to do my Swimming Teachers Qualification and actually start getting paid to do the thing that I love! I currently teach all sorts of swimming classes, from aqua-fitness, to tiny little babies, to an over fifties swimming group where our oldest member is eighty nine! I love it!

I find teaching so rewarding. People are so proud of themselves when they achieve something that they previously could not do, and I know that my instruction has helped them to get there. Plus, swimming is a very important skill to learn! My favourite anecdote is about Jenny, an eighty year old lady whose children told her that she was too old to swim. Five years down the line, Jenny can not only swim brilliantly but can do all four strokes - and she even managed to get her story in the local paper!

Teaching swimming may not be the best paid job in the world, but I feel like the luckiest girl in the world as I managed to turn my hobby and passion into my job! I now feel happy  every day of my life, because if you enjoy going to work every day, then you will at least enjoy the majority of your week!

Cathy says:
Brilliant... swimming is such an important skill to learn, and I love that Carol has turned her passion into a career! Do YOU dream of turning a hobby into a career? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

MALTEASER: THE STORY OF A RESCUE DOG

Ever wondered what a dog's view of life might be? Rescue dog Malteaser hijacks the DREAMCATCHER blog to let us know!

Malteaser says:
Hi - I am a brown spotted Dalmation and I am six years old. (I've hurt my paw at the moment, but don't worry, I'm on the mend!) I live next to a beautiful pine woods which I get to run around in every day, and we are not far from a beautiful beach too! My favourite things are cuddles, walks and food... but life wasn't always this way, alas. The story began a few years back at my Mum's local chip shop. She went in for some fish and chips one day and came out with me! She saw me in the garden, alone and sad - she told the lady behind the counter that she thought I was cute, and to her surprise she was told just to take me! I was separated from my birth mother at six weeks old, which is much too young, and pretty much left to fend for myself. The chip shop owner had been given me by a relative and he had a vague plan of selling me on for a profit, but he was too busy to look after me and I was left outside and fed scraps from the chip shop... not a great start in life for any dog, I think you'll agree.

My life changed that day, and amazingly, when I was taken to the vets, I didn't have any health problems. I was taken to my new home and I have never looked back since! It only took two days for me to learn that I had to go the toilet outside and the same time for me to learn how to sit and lie down. I'm a very smart dog, but then again I had a lot of help from my new big brother, Max. When I moved in to my new home, I was greeted by a big brown Doberman - but his size didn't scare me one bit! I marched straight into the house and started eating from his food bowl! We do everything together now and he really looks out for me when we go on walks. And since living here, I have made loads and loads of new friends. I'm so happy now that I've been rescued - I can give all my love to the people who love me back!

Cathy says:
Awww... rescue dogs really are the best in the world, we have two of our own! So many dogs in rescue are desperate for a home that it seems crazy to pay out for a pedigree... if you're looking for a pet, consider adopting one in need! Does YOUR pet have a cool story to tell? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

YOUR STARS FOR JULY!

Skye Tanberry brings you some sizzling horoscope predictions for July... take a peek!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Meeting new people can be very daunting at first, but a stranger today is just a friend for tomorrow! Don’t be scared to speak to new people, you may be surprised at how much you have in common!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Everyone would agree that if you make plans, you should stick to them. But if something suddenly comes up for someone and they have to change their plans, try not to be too quick to anger... flexibility is key to everyone’s life!

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Even the most capable person in the world needs a little assistance at some point - don’t be afraid to ask those around you for help! Even if you can do it by yourself, working with others may be more informative and a lot more fun!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Summer is here, so don’t forget to spend some time in the sunshine! It’s important to get out in the fresh air when you can. Go out and top up your Vitamin D levels with some gentle exercise... and rope in a few friends to join you!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Keeping secrets is unhealthy to any relationship, whether it is a friendship, family, or your significant other. Being open and honest around those you love is one of the most important traits that you can have, so try not to forget that.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
It’s important to take other people’s views into account, even if they seem a little wacky to you. Friends and family don’t need to have the same opinion, as long as they respect the different opinions of those around them!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
It is often good to show restraint, whether it is eating one piece of chocolate rather than two, or whether you turn down something that you really want to do, so that you can get a head start on your homework… but remember that it is okay to let go now and then and unwind a little, too!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Showing emotion can feel quite a risk sometimes - it can be very difficult to put your heart on the line. But it’s good to show the people around you just how you are feeling. You may find that in the long run, you will be a lot happier for it!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
If you have a gut feeling that someone around you is having a tough time, then show them how joyful life can be! It’s important to let people know that you are there for them when they need you... after all, wouldn't you be glad of a helping hand if it were you?

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Never lose your enthusiasm, for it is a catalyst in other people’s drive! You inspire those around you to work harder and become more involved, by how hard you work and how much effort you put in to all that you do!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
You may have heard that curiosity killed the cat - but satisfaction brought it back! Never stop being inquisitive and pursuing new ideas. You never know where your next project will take you!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
This is your month to shine! You may feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut recently, doing the same thing day in, day out.  But change is just around the corner! If you feel like you have a boring routine then don’t worry, because soon it’s all going to change for the better.

Cathy says:
Ooh... some very cool predictions here! Do they ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

WISHES FOR A POST-LOCKDOWN WORLD...

We asked which things you'd like to leave behind in a post-lockdown world and which you'd like to hang onto... your answers were ins...