Once upon a time.

All good bedtime stories for little people should commence with…….

Once upon a time in an imaginary place quite near to where you are sitting, lying or standing on your head, the residents of a most wonderful little village by the seaside were yawning awake in time to welcome the advent of spring.

During the winter, when it was far too cold to fish or swim, nobody ever came to visit, so all the villagers packed up their stocks of happiness and, one by one, they all did shout “Wake me in the springtime please”, then promptly went to sleep.

No-one was at all surprised that the very first person to greet the spring morning was Mrs T, who belonged to the house of cards. Even before anyone had eaten breakfast, Mrs T was busy sweeping and dusting and demanding with a loud voice ‘One up, all up!’

Most of the old cards mumbled ‘Oh, I am still soooooo tired. Come back and wake me tomorrow’, and rolled over in bed to ignore the breakfast call.

However, ten little young cards were up and ready to bounce into the adventure that Mrs T promised upon the very first spring day, provided of course it was not windy and wet like in the year of the big storm.

‘What are we going to do today?’ asked the chubby little Beach Betty.

‘Well,’ said Mrs T, putting away the broom and duster, ‘we must hurry to finish breakfast, because the tide is going away to visit the deep ocean and I wish to take you out for a beach picnic and something else that is very, very, very special. My little ones, we are going to visit a magical land that you have never seen before.’

‘Is the magical land far away?’ asked the twins Mi and Yuu in one voice.

Mrs. T gathered them all around in a circle and whispered, ‘The magical land is close enough for you to visit, but way too far if you do not see.’

‘Oh goody gum drops!’ shouted Miss Teapot, smiling with happiness. ‘That sounds like a riddle to me and I love riddles … “Close to visit but way too far if you do not see”. Umm, I am really going to have a think about this.’ And with that she rolled into a corner to start thinking.

‘Come on now ,girls, one up, eat up! We really must hurry to be at the picnic place while the tide is running out. You too, little Miss Teapot. You may continue thinking while we walk to the beach.’

‘I do not think little Miss Teapot and Miss Party-Girl should be invited to come with us.’

‘Why not, Linda longface?’ asked Mrs T.
‘Because they are not dressed for the beach. Miss Party-Girl looks really posh in her very best going-to-a-party dress and little Miss Teapot, well she is covered from head to toe.’

‘Haha! Maybe they do not have to wear the sun cream that I must rub on you before you travel outside. Come on now, everyone, we must enjoy our picnic long before the turn of the tide.’

So it was that Mrs T, after giving each of them something special to carry, they left the cottage behind, crossed the road, then walked down onto the sandy beach, singing and laughing all together.

‘Where do we go now to enjoy our picnic and visit the magical land we have never seen before?’ asked Dippy Love.

‘Yes, yes,’ interrupted little Miss teapot. ‘The land that is close but too far away if you do not see.’

‘Well,’ said Mrs T, ‘first we must walk down to the end of the beach, then over the little rocks and finally we must cross the large boulders to reach the other side.’

‘Then may we have our picnic ,Mrs T?’ asked Hula Love.

‘We most certainly can and soon after we may visit the magical land.’

Down the beach they hurried and scurried, kicking up the fine beach sand as they ran. Some on the dry sand, others running on the wet where the receding tide left evidence of its passing. A few turned in their running to urge Mrs T, little Miss Teapot and Linda Longface to move faster in case they were too late. Even Beach Betty, who dearly loved food and especially delicious beach picnics, reminded everyone that time and tide does not wait for lazy people.

Merrily they hopped, skipped and jumped over and between the small rocks that clustered over this section of the beach. This was not the place for a picnic. Here it was that people came to search for small flotsam and jetsam treasures washed up by an angry sea, deposited in the tranquility of their new home.

The picnickers came face to face with the huge boulders that promised to slow their passage even more.

Mrs T felt a tugging at the hem of her dress. ‘Yes, what is it you would like to tell me, little Miss Teapot?’

‘Please, Mrs T, would you be so kind as to draw me longer legs so I may climb over the big, smooth boulders.’

‘Do not worry, little Miss Teapot, I will lift all of you up onto the top of the boulders and you may slide down to the other side … and … and … and then we may enjoy our picnic.’

‘Hooray !’ they all shouted.

As promised, on the other side there was a large wind-protected sandy area, just the bestest place in the entire world in which to hold a beach picnic. Quickly they unpacked all the plates, cups, picnic tablecloth and, especially, the delicious food.

There were fresh seaweed and cheese sandwiches, beautiful algae scones with cream and raspberry jam filling, scrumptious yummy cupcakes with hundreds and thousands stuck onto the icing, fresh lychees, toffee apples and frozen chocolate-coated bananas. For liquid refreshment they could choose between sparkling spring water and radiant rainbow herbal tea.

These had all been drawn up in the morning by Mrs T while the cards were still sleeping.

They were about to start munching and crunching this magnificent repast when Dippy Love shouted ‘Look, Mrs T, we have a visitor!’

Everyone turned to follow the pointing finger. A strange looking lady wearing huge goggles rose out of the shallows and flip-flopped her way up to the picnickers.

‘Why, happy days!’ said Mrs T. ‘I do believe it is my newest card, Miss Stargazer.
I was hoping you might turn up in time for the picnic.’

With that, Mrs T introduced her newest creation to all the other members of the family, except of course those old sleepy bones that asked not to be woken until tomorrow.

Between mouthfuls of beautiful algae scones washed down with radiant rainbow herbal tea, the new arrival was kept busy answering all sorts of questions, including how did Miss Stargazer manage to climb over the big smooth boulders? ‘Why, I swam around them, of course,’ answered Miss Stargazer.’

‘Oh goodie,’ said Beach Betty. ‘After we have eaten can I go swimming, Mrs T?’

‘You can, but you may not,’ came the stern reply. ‘Young ladies should never ever swim on a full tummy. But should we have enough time all who wish may swim when we return to the big beach, but even then you must remember to only swim between the flags.’

‘Hahaha,’ laughed Linda Longface. ‘Party-Girl and little Miss Teapot will not be able to swim because they do not have bikinis. Ha ha de nah nah! You pair will not be able to swim because you do not have any cossies.’

‘Oh, that is soooooo nasty of you, Linda Longface,’ said Mrs T. ’Sometimes I wonder why I created you. But worry not, Party-Girl and little Miss Teapot, I have brought my pens and colours with me, so once we return to the beach I will draw you new swimmers.

‘Now I believe the tide is beginning to turn so we must quickly finish our picnic so we will have enough time to discover the magical land which is close enough for you to visit but way too far if you do not see’.

The magical land lay just to the other side of yet another wall of large smooth boulders, and once the cards arrived in this new section they were presented with a view not of sandy beach or huge boulders or even small rocks mixed with dead seashells and flotsam and jetsam. Here they encountered a massive collection of large black rough rocks, all tumbled and stacked together like a plate of well-cooked scrambled eggs.

‘Follow me,’ ordered Mrs T, ‘because we have finally arrived at the largest and the smallest of the magical lands.’

’Across the rocks they did follow Mrs T. This time the cards were soooo full of mystery and wonder they neither sang nor joked. Instead they watched their stepping stones that were still slippery from a previous visit by the tide.

‘Ah ha!’ announced Mrs T. ‘Now please gather around in a circle because I have found for you the first of the magical lands.’

‘Oh pooh,’ blurted Linda Longface, ‘you have been tricking us, Mrs T. Why, even I can see this is just a ring of dirty, slippery old rocks with water in the middle.’

‘Do you remember the riddle, little Miss Teapot?’ asked Mrs T.

‘But of course I do. It is a magical land which is close enough for us to visit, yet way too far if we do not see.’ And with that little Miss Teapot started jumping up and down with happiness while shouting to everyone, ‘I can see, I can see! I know the answer to the riddle. Look below the surface of the water. Oh me, oh my, it is a wonderland. Look everyone, come along Linda Longface … lie down on your tummy and discover the magic we all can see.’

Mrs T was ever so happy to watch them experience the magic of this discovery. Quickly, so that they may enjoy an even better view, she drew each of them a pair of large goggles to place just below the surface of the pool. Well, all except Miss Stargazer who already had her very own pair of viewing goggles and knew absolutely everything about the amazing plants and creatures that inhabit the magical land of ocean rock pools.

A busy, wonderful aquatic world, a microcosm of beautiful creatures and plants never to be seen upon dry land.

‘It is an ever-changing world,’ explained Mrs T, ’and to answer the last part of the riddle, this magical land will disappear from our viewing once it is covered by the tide, so you see it really is close enough to visit, yet way too far if we do not see, because should we return tomorrow the rock pool will remain but many of its occupants will have moved to other magical worlds.

Every time we look below the surface we will see something we have never seen before. Now, my dears, surely you must believe that is magic. But we must hurry, the unstoppable tide is now rushing in our direction. Time for us to say fond farewell and scamper back to enjoy the promised swim between the flags.

When the sun sinks in the west it delivers a message to the occupants of the little seaside village … come tomorrow when it pops back up to greet the ocean, it will be time for the spellbinding wonderment to vanish.

Until the start of the next winter the village will retain its normality. Before that time arrives big people will roam its streets and fine sandy beaches and rock pools. Some will purchase ice cream and cool drinks, others will wander to admire the beautiful cards and other arts standing stiffly on display awaiting the tourists’ inspection of the wares inside the shoppe which bares the hand-painted sign …



iAN Derrick

Tweed Heads, Australia

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 56

Artist's Description

A tale of spellbinding wonderment about a small Australian coastal village. Some say the village does not exist.
Just another kiddie story.
But there are others who swear it is for real, because they know someone who knows someone who even knew someone else who has been there.

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