Written & Illustrated by Beryl Organ
Published by Memoirs Books
Memoirs Books 25 Market Place, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2NX www.memoirsbooks.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright ÂŠBeryl Organ February 2011 First published in England, February 2011 Edited by Chris Newton Book jacket design and layout Ray Lipscombe ISBN 978-0-9565102-4-2
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X XB The garden was old, with stone steps leading to a pond. Around the pond were tall trees where rooks made their nests. At times the noise of the big black birds was deafening, but Mr Winkle the gnome was used to it. He loved the old garden, and from his place by the pond where he had been sitting for many years he could watch all the creatures as they wandered in and out. He made lots of friends.
Now it was winter, and the trees had dropped their leaves.
Mr Winkle didn’t
mind that. The fallen leaves would keep him cosy and warm through the winter months. He would miss the birds, though. When the pond froze over, they would go elsewhere to find water to drink.
Winkle was looking forward to hearing their songs again when the spring came
and they started to build their nests. He would miss the squirrels too.
were all sound asleep now, in their winter
very lonely. Rudi flew down from the hedge every morning to see him, which cheered him up very much.
nests. Mr Winkle had watched them as
On this particular day, there was no sign of
they gathered nuts and acorns and buried
Rudi. “I wonder where he has gone’’ thought
them in the ground. In the spring they would wake up, hungry after the long winter, and dig them all up again. Mr Winkle liked to watch the squirrels as they sat up on their hind legs with their tails up like big brushes to eat their nuts between their paws. Then, when they had had enough to eat, they would race around the treetops until they were tired out. He was looking forward to seeing the frog family come back, too.
In the spring he
would be able to watch them play with their little ones in the pond. But just now, spring was a long way off.
Mr Winkle. “It’s not like him to be late.”
There were no songbirds, no squirrels and
Just then a rustling in the bushes caught
his attention. There, crouching low, was a
Happily for Mr Winkle, there was still one
large grey cat. It started slinking towards
little bird in the garden – Rudi the Robin.
the pond where Mr Winkle sat.
Without Rudi, Mr Winkle would have been
“My goodness, I hope Rudi doesn’t come
now” he thought. “It would be dangerous for him.’’ Grey Cat cat trod her way carefully around the pond, but there was no way of reaching the fish out in the middle. Her bushy tail began slashing from side to side, and Mr Winkle could see that she was angry.
took off and flew back to the fountain. Grey Cat tried to follow. She tiptoed out
Suddenly a “chirrup’’ made him jump.
on to the ice, but it gave way with a loud
There in the middle of the pond, perching
crack. Into the pond she went.
on top of the fountain, was Rudi. He had
The water was not deep, but it was very
come to see Mr Winkle after all.
cold. It was certainly far too cold and
“Hello’’ he chirruped.
wet for Grey Cat. Wet and shivering, she
“Oh my pipe and whiskers!’’ thought Mr Winkle. “He hasn’t seen Grey Cat. Now
climbed out of the pond, feeling very sorry for herself. Then she disappeared back into the bushes where she had come
he’s in trouble!”
Rudi flew on to Mr Winkle, looking very
Rudi looked down, winked his bright eyes
interested in his hat. The cat saw him.
at Mr Winkle and did a little dance on his
She crept forward until Mr Winkle could
hat. Mr Winkle breathed a sigh of relief.
see her shining yellow eyes staring at
What an exciting morning he had had! At
Rudi. She was going to pounce!
least his friend the robin was safe. Not
But she was not quick enough. At the
for the first time, he had escaped
very last moment, quick as a flash, Rudi
becoming the cat’s breakfast.
“Spring must be on its way’’ thought Mr Winkle as he watched them. “I shall be seeing more of my friends soon.”
The children had built a pile of wood to make a bonfire, but in moving the branches around they had disturbed a family of hedgehogs from their deep winter sleep. Mrs Hedgehog and her children weren’t ready for spring yet. They had all been fast asleep.
Now that the days were brighter, the children decided to clear up the fallen leaves. They came with rakes and brooms and started to tidy up the garden.
One by one they came out into the sunlight, very upset at losing their warm beds. Now they would have to find somewhere else to live.
Mrs Hedgehog gathered her family around
After a little while, Mrs Hedgehog began to
her and told them they would have to find a
feel rather hungry. She made the little
new home that night. She told the little
hedgehogs promise to stay quietly where
hedgehogs that they would all have to stay
they were while she went to find something
close to her now. As soon as it was dark they
for them all to eat.
would all go and look for a new home.
Very carefully she made her way along the
The hedgehogs settled down to wait. They
shallow ditch that ran under the hedgerow.
stayed very quiet, because Grey Cat was
Presently she came to a patch of grass,
prowling about as usual and Maggie Magpie
where she found some nice fat slugs. She
was always watching from the tops of the
collected as many of the slugs as she could
carry. Then she made her way back to where she had left the family. There was no sign of them! What a shock for poor Mrs Hedgehog. She dropped the slugs she had gathered and began to search frantically around the garden. At last she heard a little grunt. It seemed to be coming from behind a log.
Hedgehog peered behind the log â€“ and there, crouched down behind it, were her babies. They had been frightened without their mother and had taken cover.
They were as pleased and happy to see her
wasn’t an animal at all. It seemed to be a
as she was to see them. Mrs Hedgehog led
lump of wood. Cautiously she went up to it
them all back to the place where she had
and examined it .It was the roof of an old
left the slugs, and they all had a lovely
bird table! What could be better for the
meal. Mrs Hedgehog didn’t leave them alone
hedgehogs’ new home? The edges of the
again. They all cuddled together until it
roof were level with the ground, and there
grew dark and they could start looking for
was an opening at both ends, one for the
their new home.
front door and one for the back door. It was surrounded by the hedge, so it should be quite safe. “How lucky we are!” said Mrs Hedgehog. “This will be the perfect house for us. Now we can settle down and go back to to sleep until spring is here.” The bird table roof made a wonderful house. The hedgehog family lived in it right
Off they went, very quietly, one behind the other after their mother. For safety, they kept to the shadow of the hedgerow.
through the spring and summer, until the little ones had grown big enough to leave home and start families of their own. Mrs Hedgehog was sad to wave them goodbye,
It seemed a very long way to the bottom
but they all promised to come back and visit
of the garden.
her as often as they could.
When at last they got
there, Mrs Hedgehog noticed a shadow under the hedge. No, it wasn’t Grey Cat; it
From his seat by the pond Mr Winkle could see the house and the children playing inside. He knew they wouldn’t come out into the garden for long until the weather grew warmer. The water in the pond was clear, and he could see the fish coming to the surface to look for any insects that might have settled there.
Dead leaves were still
scattered around. It was going to be a peaceful day. He started to feel drowsy in the warm sunshine. Suddenly there came a faint scratching noise from down the garden path. “I wonder what that is’’ thought Mr Winkle.
He looked in the direction the
sound was coming from, but he could see nothing at all. And then he saw something moving at the end of the path. It looked like a little square box. It was a quiet, still day in the garden. The night had been cold, but the sun was shining and it almost seemed that spring had arrived at last.
A moving box! The box seemed to be getting nearer and nearer to him. “Oh my pipe and whiskers’’
thought Mr Winkle. “Boxes don’t walk!” He shut his eyes and opened them again, thinking he must have imagined it.
going to get out of that box?’’ “I’m a tortoise” said the voice. “ This box is my winter home.
I have to sleep
But the little square box was still moving
through the winter, so the children put me
towards him, tappety-tap on the path.
in the shed with the box on top to protect
Soon it had reached the top of the steps
leading to the pond. The box didn’t seem
window with the sun out that I decided to
to realise there were steps there. As Mr
go for a little walk’’.
Winkle watched in astonishment it tumbled straight down them, bump-bump-bump, and landed upside down at the bottom, right in front of him.
But it looked so nice through the
“ Well, we must try and get you out’’ said Mr Winkle. “Let’s see, try rocking backwards and forwards. Then perhaps you can roll out of the box’’.
“Goodness gracious me’’ Mr Winkle thought to himself, for now there was another surprise. Sticking out of the upturned box were four tiny legs, all waving in the air.
“Oh that’s clever of you’’, said the tortoise. “Here we go!’’ and he rocked from side to side until Mr Winkle felt quite seasick, but nothing happened at all. He was still stuck
Someone was trapped inside!
firmly inside the little square box with his
‘’Good afternoon” said a small voice. “I’m
legs waving in the air.
sorry to disturb you, but I wasn’t sleepy
“I’ll have a rest and try again’’ he said.
any more so I thought I’d take a walk in the sun.”
Just then who should come along but Grey Cat, crouching low, hunting for birds. At
“ You did give me a fright, whoever you
once she spotted the tortoise’s little legs
are” said Mr Winkle. “But how are you
The box was now moving towards Mr Winkle again. ‘’Try and turn round” he said.
“That might do it.”
couldn’t see where it was going. It came another few steps forward, and crashed into Mr Winkle with a bump. “Ping!” went the box. “I’m free!” said the voice. Slowly, out came the tortoise from under the box. “ Well, I am pleased to meet you at last’’ said Mr Winkle . “Me too” said the tortoise. “How do you “That will make a nice meal!” she thought. She went up to the box and patted it with her paw.
do? My name is Tip.” “It’s very nice to have a new friend to spend the days with, Tip” said Mr Winkle.
The tortoise’s little legs disappeared into
“If you stay by me in the winter, the
his shell in a trice and the box flew over
leaves will keep you warm and dry as they
and landed the right way up again. Now
all Grey Cat could see was a box. She was so surprised that she just stood there, her tail swishing from side to side. “Cats don’t eat boxes” she thought. And off she went down the path to look for something that cats do eat.
And they both drifted off to sleep in the warm sun.
A One fine spring morning, Mr Winkle woke at his seat by the pond to the sound of croaking. “What on Earth is going on?‘’ he wondered. ‘’What can all the excitement be?” Across the pond the lilies were in bud, their wide flat leaves making a pathway across the water. As he watched, something small and green jumped up into the air and landed on top of one of the leaves. Ripples spread over the pond.The frogs were back! He could see Mr Frog jumping around, busily catching any insect within reach, his long tongue flicking in and out like lightning.
Then suddenly Mrs Frog and five young
their bright eyes were winking in the sun
frogs appeared from behind the rocks, all in
and their tongues were flicking in and out.
Mrs Frog looked very proud of her family. Mr Frog, on the other hand, carried on catching flies.
Perhaps he thought that
looking after froglets was too much like hard work. The little frogs swam around the pond and played among the lilies, thoroughly enjoying their day. When night came they all sang a lovely song, and Mr Winkle very much enjoyed listening to it. He was happy to know that the animals were returning to the pond. It meant he would have more friends to play with. As the spring days went by, he loved watching the frogs race, jump and play together until they were quite worn out. One afternoon the frog family were playing happily together as usual when a shadow seemed to fall across the pond.
splashing stopped. Everything went quiet. One by one they leapt from the edge of the
The sudden silence made Mr Winkle open his
pond to the first lily leaf, and then they
eyes. There, crouching low and glaring across
hopped from leaf to leaf until they had
at the frogs, was - you guessed! - Grey Cat.
crossed the pond. All the time they went,
After this the little frogs were very careful to stay in the water at all times. Never again did they forget to keep a good look out for Maggie the Magpie. Grey Cat did not bother them again. She knew she could not reach them, out in the middle of the pond. Mr Winkle was pleased about that. It was a The baby frogs all jumped into the pond and
lovely warm summer and they all became
swam as fast as they could to the safety of
very good friends.
the lily leaves. They would be safe there. But they had forgotten that Grey Cat was not the only one who liked hunting frogs. As she sat on the bank watching them there was a sudden flurry of wings from above. It was Maggie the Magpie! All the little frogs dived into the pond and swam to safety. Except one. Maggie had been waiting her chance to pounce on an easy meal, and one young frog had been unlucky. Mrs Frog gathered the rest of the little frogs together. “Next time, stay in the water” she said. “Just because the cat can’t follow you it doesn’t mean you are safe. Someone else could catch you.”
Except, of course, Grey Cat - and Maggie the Magpie.
One spring afternoon Mr Winkle was dozing by the pond when he was awoken by a loud
BANG! “Oh my goodness’’ he thought, opening his eyes with a start. “Whatever was that?” He looked up to see a man standing on the grass some way away, holding what looked like a tree trunk. But it couldn’t be a tree trunk – there were no leaves or branches
or bark on it. It was just a long piece of
had such a surprise when he flew by. He
turned round and came back to have
“Whatever is he doing?” wondered Mr
Winkle. He watched the man dig a hole
The children came next morning and
and put one end of the piece of wood into
covered the table with seeds, nuts
and breadcrumbs. Some of the birds love
Just then Rudi the Robin flew past. “I’m going to find out what it is’’ he said. “I’ll come back and tell you.” Rudi wasn’t gone long.
He came back
chirruping with excitement.
building a bird table at last!” he said. “I
breadcrumbs. They also put out a little dish of water, to save the birds going down to the pond to drink. Peter the Pigeon had more than his fair share, but there was still plenty left for the smaller birds.
shall get food now without having to
All through the long summer days, it was
search for it.”
very peaceful round the pond. The frogs
“Well’’ said Mr Winkle “I am surprised. I suppose you will have to share it with all the birds, even greedy Peter the Pigeon.” “I don’t mind Peter” said Rudi. “He just flaps around to scare everyone. He doesn’t really mean it.”
played to their hearts’ content, staying in the water where they would be safe. Grey Cat soon realised she couldn’t reach the birds on their bird table, so she left them in peace and curled up asleep in the warm sunshine. Every night the children gave her a big saucer of milk as a special
By nightfall the bird table was finished.
‘thank you’ for leaving the birds alone.
Rudi was delighted, and Peter the Pigeon
And everyone had a very happy summer.
Late one evening, just as Mr Winkle was nodding off to sleep, he heard a rustling in the bushes. He couldn’t think what it might be.
Surely everyone in the
garden was sound asleep? He was about to close his eyes again when a sudden movement caught his eye. Something white was moving in the darkness below the bushes!
Mr Winkle waited and watched, hardly
was something different about it this time.
daring to breathe. After a few moments a
It was carrying something in its mouth.
pointed head appeared. It seemed to be striped in black and white.
head, just like the first one.
Mr Winkle peered hard, trying to see what the badger was carrying. Perhaps it was a juicy piece of meat, or some
bread that had fallen from the bird table?
The two black and white heads were
Then, as the badger drew closer, Mr
followed by two long, furry, dark grey
Winkle realised what it was. He nearly
fell into the pond in surprise. It was a
Mr Winkle watched as the two scurried
hedgerow, hunting for slugs and snails and worms to eat.
baby badger – not much bigger than a mouse! The badger bustled its way through the
“Well, isn’t that nice’’ thought Mr Winkle.
hedge at the bottom of the garden and
“I do hope they come back. I will have to
disappeared. A few moments passed, and
stay awake one night and make friends with
back it came again. This time there was
them.” And he went happily back to sleep.
nothing in its mouth. It scurried off back
The next night at bedtime Mr Winkle heard
up to the bushes where Mr Winkle had
the rustling again. This time he opened his
first seen it, and disappeared again.
eyes wide and watched.
Another few moments passed, and back it
Sure enough, through the bottom of the
came. With another baby badger in its
bushes came one of the badgers. But there
“Excuse me!” called Mr Winkle. The badger stopped in its tracks, startled. “Who’s there?” it grunted . “It’s only Mr Winkle the gnome” said Mr Winkle.
“I just wanted to know what
you’re doing with those little badgers.”
The little ones were very scared, so Mrs Brock and I are moving them to a new nest somewhere safe.” “I see” said Mr Winkle. “I was afraid you might be hurting them.” “Ho ho ho!” laughed Brock. “Don’t worry, they are quite safe. Lots of animals carry their babies in their teeth. But we never bite them!” Just then Mrs Brock appeared behind her husband.
She was carrying a baby as
well. “Come on Brock, we can’t stop here chatting” she said. “We still have six baby badgers to carry to the orchard, and all the food to bring in!” “I’m Brock the Badger and these are my
And the two badgers went snuffling off
babies” said the badger. “Don’t worry, I’m
into the darkness with their babies
not stealing them. I’m taking them to a
dangling from their mouths.
new nest in the orchard. A big dog tried to to dig its way into our sett last night.
The children from the house knew Mr Winkle was getting old. They had also heard their father say that he was going to clear the leaves away from around the pond.
So one morning, they decided it
would be best for Mr Winkle if he spent the winter in the shed. The first Mr Winkle knew of this was when he heard the children talking about it. He was very surprised. All his life he had lived in his seat by the pond. He was happy there. He had never been inside the shed before, and he was not at all sure he would like it. The children wrapped Mr Winkle carefully up in a yellow duster, put him in a bucket with the garden tools and carried him into the shed. It had a small window, so at least he would be able to see the sun
Now, once again, the summer days were
getting shorter and the nights were
At first Mr Winkle didn’t like it in the shed.
getting longer. Soon it began to get cold
After the garden he had been used to, it
again, and the leaves started to fall
seemed dusty and dark. But at least it was
from the trees. Winter was on its way.
quiet and warm and safe.
“I can have a nice long nap through the winter” said Mr Winkle to himself. “I hope Rudi will be all right, I expect he will miss me. I wonder if he knows where I am.”
The lump spoke! “I’m so sorry” it said. “I thought you were a tree trunk. I will go as soon as I can, and leave you in peace.” Very slowly, it
The winter seemed long, but Mr Winkle
started to move. Gradually it slid down Mr
didn’t mind because he slept for most of it.
Winkle’s face and moved across his beard
Tip the tortoise was asleep too, in his box
and out of sight.
One bright morning when the the sun shone
At lunchtime the children came in for
through the window, Tip opened one eye.
their bicycles. ’’Hey, there’s a snail over
“Oh my goodness!” he said.
there” said the boy. “He has fallen on his
overslept. It’s spring again!’’ “Not yet” said Mr Winkle. “I should go back
Mr Winkle was very
back.” He picked up the snail - and put it right back on top of Mr Winkle’s head.
to sleep if I were you.’’ So Tip went back to sleep. Another morning, Mr Winkle woke to find that a strange lump had appeared on his cheek. “That’s funny” he muttered to himself. “I seem to be growing another nose on the side of my face.’’ gently.
He patted the lump
“Well!’’ thought Mr Winkle.
what it was. Not another nose – a snail!
Now it will take him until teatime to get
Winkle had moved inside the shed for the
winter. Every morning he tapped on the
By the time the children came home from school, the snail had reached Mr Winkle’s
window to let him know he was still around. He was looking forward to the spring.
feet. “Oh look” said the girl. “A snail. It won’t be safe down there on the floor.” She picked it up – and put it straight into Mr
That was the time when they would all be together again at last, around the garden pond.
Winkle’s pipe. There it would have to stay, for now there was no way it could get down to the floor. “Well, it looks as if I have made another friend’’ thought Mr Winkle. ’’I wonder what his name is.”
Knowing how slow
snails are, he felt it would be a long time before he would be able to find out. Mr Winkle, Tip and the snail were comfortable and warm and cosy in the shed for the winter. There they would stay, sleeping soundly until spring came around again. Rudi the Robin soon found out that Mr
Beryl Organ was born in Bristol in 1928 and soon developed a lifelong love of nature and a fascination for animals and flowers of all kinds. She has also had a lifelong passion for painting in both oils and watercolour. For many years she ran a modelling agency. In 1972 she decided to try her hand at writing books about nature for children. © Concept Photograhy
Since then, at her home in Gloucester, she has written several books telling stories about animals and flowers, some in prose, others in verse. After publishing Tiggy’s World and Benjy’s Magic Mantle in 2010, Beryl has now
completed Tales of Mr Winkle, the story of a garden gnome, and is working on three books of verse for children entitled Animal Antics, Our Woodland Friends and ABC of Flowers. Tales of Mr Winkle is about an old garden gnome who watches the comings and goings of his many animal friends and neighbours from his seat beside the pond. When the winter nights start drawing in Mr Winkle is sad to watch the squirrels, frogs, hedgehogs and songbirds disappear until next spring, but he has many other visitors to keep him company, particularly his friend Rudi the Robin – and he is soon joined by some unexpected friends to cheer him up.
Acknowledgememts: Les for his valued help. Dear daughters, Karen and Janet for their assistance on this and other books. Tiggys world, Benjys Magic Mantle 2010 Photograph courtesy of Mark , Concept Photograhy
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Beryl Organ, born in Bristol in 1928, has been fascinated by animals and flowers all her life. For many years she ran a modelling agency....