Clive Billabong was in a great mood as he hurried along the path. Today was the first day of summer holidays! He was looking forward to many long, lazy days hanging out with his best mates. Today he was meeting his pals Daniel Fielding and Bryon Underwood.
“Hi guys,” said Clive.
“Yay, you made it!” said Daniel.
They had found the perfect spot to spend the day, in a cosy, quiet little lane. Daniel had even managed to pilfer some of his Mum’s sandwiches and muffins, and Bryon had brought his Dad’s radio.
What a great chance to catch up on the latest comic books. They were soon in a good-natured argument about who would win in a battle between Spider-Man and Superman!
And Byron managed to find a fabulous serial on the radio – The Day The Earth Stood Still!
Suddenly the boys heard a rustling of curtains in the clinic next to them. Nurse Periwinkle’s head popped up in the window.
“Who’s that making so much racket out there?” she said. “I have sick patients in here who need their rest!”
Nurse Periwinkle came out the door of her clinic, brandishing a needle she had just been using.
“Oh it’s just you boys”, she said.
She was about to tell them they could stay if they kept the noise down but the boys took one look at the needle she was waving about and made off down the street! They weren’t waiting around to see what she was going to do with that!
“Rats”! cried the boys as they ran down the street. “Where can we go now!?”
Meanwhile over at the Trunks’ house, Ivor Trunk was VERY excited, and just a little bit nervous. He’d been practising his magic act after school for weeks. Now it was finally the school holidays and he’d get to show all his friends what he could do! He couldn’t wait to see their amazed faces!
HIs friends were all gathered in his living room… it was time for the show to begin.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” bellowed Ivor “…and babies! Welcome to the most incredible, most amazing, most gobsmacking, most jawdropping magic show in the whole world! Prepare to be amazed as I pull a rabbit out of this ordinary hat!”
His audience was transfixed.
But just at the moment of his big reveal DISASTER struck. His mother bustled into the room with the vacuum cleaner, scattering the children everywhere and completely ruining the moment.
“Muuuuuuum!” cried Ivor. “My Magic Show!!”
“Oh sorry dear,” murmured his Mother. “Your Granny is coming over for tea, you’d better scoot off and do your show somewhere else”.
“But… where?” asked Ivor. But his Mother had already gone off to iron the napkins. She always got a bit funny when Granny was coming to visit.
That very same afternoon, whilst Ivor was recovering from his big disappointment, the babies of Mulberry Woods were very happy. They had finally found the perfect climbing frame! It was brightly coloured, perfect size for climbing on, and it even made a charming bell-like sound every now and then. The babies were having a grand old time.
“Oh!” cried a startled Beatrix Underwood. “I need to make a phone call! Shoo babies, shooo”.
The babies climbed down and very sadly crawled away. Where could they climb now?
That night the villagers of Mulberry Woods held an emergency town meeting. The children were meant to be sound asleep but one by one they sneaked out of their beds and followed the grown-ups to the mayor’s house.
“Lift me up so I can see what’s happening!” said Ellie Trunk. The others looked at each other doubtfully but did as she asked. Baden Renard even managed to stifle his grunts and groans, for he was a polite young fox.
Ellie listened. She heard the grown-ups talking.
“…these kids are in our hair all the time…”
“….something must be done….”
“…we can’t go on like this, they’ll need to find somewhere else to play…”
“Oh no!” Ellie gasped.
She climbed down and told the others of the grownups’ plan to get rid of all the village children. The children all looked at each other in shock. Tearfully they slowly made their way back to their homes and climbed into their beds.
The next week passed quietly. VERY quietly in fact. Strangely, the grown-ups were almost never around. They all left early in the morning and arrived home just on dinner time, dirty and exhausted! The village children couldn’t understand what was going on, but they didn’t want to bother their parents by asking – they played as quietly as they could, remembering the town meeting.
A full week of this strange behaviour passed. Then, one morning the children woke up to empty houses! The grownups were already gone. The children each had a little envelope left for them to find beside their bed. Inside the envelope was a map! The children were extremely puzzled but they each dutifully set out from their house and followed their maps.
Following their maps, the village children all met each other at the entrance to the Deep Woods.
“Did you get a map too?!” they asked each other in amazement. “Where are our Mothers and Fathers?” they wondered.
“Well, there’s nothing for it but to keep going,” said Clive. “Let’s go into the Woods”.
He was a brave little fellow.
And so the children went. They all followed behind Clive Billabong into the Deep Woods.
The path was winding. None of them had ever been this far inside the Woods before.
They were nearing the end of the path.
“This way!” yelled Clive, excitedly. “I think I see a clearing! And… there’s something there…!” They could all see something peeking above the trees.
They ran through the trees and came out into a large clearing and saw…
“SURPRISE!” yelled the grown-ups. The children were astonished. In front of them was the most amazing Adventure Treehouse! They stared open-mouthed, their eyes agog.
“Do you like it?” asked Darcy Fielding, as he put the finishing touches on a ladder.
“We’ve been working on it all week!” said Savannah Trunk happily.
“You children deserve somewhere special to play,” said Benjamin Underwood, polishing the railing.
At this the children overcame their shock and they all ran squealing to the Treehouse!
“Catch me Dad!” squeaked Helen Fielding as she raced down the slide.
“Come on up, son,” said Banjo Billabong, “the view is fine from up here”.
“Higher Dad, HIGHER!” sang Bess Underwood as her Mother cheered her on.
Savannah Trunk laid out a delicious picnic for her family. Her husband Hugo Trunk was the local school master. He couldn’t miss an opportunity to quote his favourite playwright. He cleared his throat.
“After all children, we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”