Betty is a Grandmother, who like all grannies loves children and cooking but what she loves most is – inventing things.
“Gadgets, Do-wacky’s” she calls them.
Her inventions hang from the ceiling in her workshop (a shed in her garden). Everything will be useful some day, Betty says. Especially, the wind powered dog walker and even the grass-growing timer.
She is easy to spot in a crowd. Her hair is pulled into a high bun, which perches on top of her head like a small bird having a rest. Her eyes are large and dark brown. When she laughs, stars tumble from her eyes.
It started when she was babysitting Jim, who is a year old. He was sitting in his high chair eating.
She watched him carefully because, Jim loves trouble. Betty did not want any accidents. However, as you and I know, many great things happen by accident.
Betty’s white cat Sourpuss was sleeping on the floor.
“W-h-a-t ?” Jim, very yoghurt faced Jim asked. He waved his spoon around. Small droplets of yoghurt flew off his spoon and landed on Sourpuss.
“What indeed Jim!” Betty said absently. She stopped. Bending down closer to him she said, “Well done, your first word! Say it again!”
“Whaaaattt?” he shouted.
Betty picked Jim up. She danced around the room hugging him. It was a hop, skip and jump dance over the toys on the floor.
Wouldn’t it be handy if I could just fly over all of this mess? But I’d need a flying suit or gadget of some sort! Then an idea danced about in her head until a picture of it formed. “What a brilliant idea, – a suit to help a person fly!”
Later when a nice clean Jim had been collected, Betty began to work on her idea. “How heavy could it be? ” Betty said aloud waving her hands in the air. “Can you imagine what it would feel like? To fly high with the birds! Pure bliss!”
Betty went outside. She looked up at the sky. “I need to study the birds for clues” she said to the blackbird sitting on her fence. He didn’t like the sound of that and flew off. A floating feather gave her the answer.
“If humans had as many feathers as birds then they could fly couldn’t they?”
The Feather Hunt.
The group of children were fidgeting and whispering excitedly as they stood in Betty’s garden. Something great was about to happen.
“What do you want us to do?” the tallest of the children called Harry asked. Harry was in a hurry to get back to his game boy.
“I need your help, please. To collect loads of feathers.”
“What type of feathers?” This was from Sara a very nosy little girl.
“Dog feathers,” said her brother digging her in the ribs.
Sara glared at him. “I meant what size? Big ones or little ones Betty?”
‘All sizes, types and colours, but only ones that have fallen off birds. You are not to chase the birds.’ She added this as she noticed Jonathon eyeing up a very fat pigeon waddling across the road.
They set off at a run. Feather pillows suddenly became featherless. The empty pillows were stuffed with the most unusual items, old socks (mostly of the smelly variety), sheep’s wool and Harry had a brainwave of filling the empty pillowcase with a cabbage from the garden. (He hated eating them!)
Hen houses and hedgerows were searched. Trees were climbed and birdcages were emptied. Betty found some feathers in the hedge where Sourpuss slept and she put them in a box inside her workroom. She went to sleep that night dreaming of skies filled with flying children. Much safer then airplanes Betty decided before she fell asleep.
The next morning after a large breakfast of cereal, two hardboiled eggs and three slices of toast, all washed down with a pot of strong tea, Betty went to her workroom.
The sight of the large box stuffed with feathers, sitting at the door, caught her by surprise. Betty dragged the box indoors. She emptied it onto the floor of the cluttered room. The feathers were all colours and sizes, some were bright yellow, others were as dark as a lump of coal. Betty felt a tingle of excitement run through her. Taking her oldest boiler suit Betty began to cover it in feathers. She was no good at sewing so she was gluing them to the fabric. It was a sticky, tricky job.
At one o clock the back of the suit was covered in feathers. The wings were her next problem. Walking around her workroom she glanced up at the ceiling. There was the answer, – two old kites dangling above her. Betty began to work again.
By nightfall Betty was hopping about with excitement. It was finished.
The suit looked strange but impressive. Next she needed someone to try it out. Betty needed to think about this carefully. Of course there is only one solution she decided as she left the shed for her dinner.
“I’ll do it.” Licking her lips and rubbing her hands together, she sensed an adventure about to happen.
Betty woke the sun up. She pulled on loads of clothes, because, she was afraid the sun would forget to shine. On went her warmest jeans, thick socks, boots, two tee shirts, a huge woolly jumper and matching hat. Putting on her sunglasses she said, ‘I’m ready.’
Betty quickly loaded the suit on to her wheelbarrow. Pushing the barrow to the old barn in the field next to her house didn’t take long. She was huffing and puffing harder than any wolf blowing down a house. She looked about her for a moment or two.
‘How, and where, will I land?’ She looked about her.
The ground looked hard. The cows in a field beside her looked lumpy.
‘What I need is a nice soft landing pad.’ Betty opened the door of the barn and
smiled. Hay, lots and lots of hay! ‘I’d prefer to land with a bounce instead of a thud!’ She said making a giant hay bed in the field.
Her next job was to climb the ladder into the hay loft. She looked from the barrow to the loft. It was a long way up. ‘Best have the suit on just in case I fall.’
Putting on the suit was hard. With a lot of wriggling and groaning, she managed it. Climbing the ladder was tricky. Her flapping wings kept getting in the way.
Standing on the upper floor of the barn Betty pushed open the upper door and looked out at the wide countryside before her. The sun, now awake and interested, was beaming down on her. The ground looked a long way down.
‘I’m not too sure about this,’ she whispered.
A gust of wind came hurtling in through the doorway. The wind was singing as it neatly collected Betty on its way out.
She was tumbling along. Betty was flapping her arms up and down at a terrible pace. She realized something important. It didn’t matter how fast she flapped her arms because it was the current of air, which was carrying her.
By now Betty was tired. Oh my, I need a rest, she thought. There was a huge roar beneath her. Looking down she saw a small airplane. I’ll take a lift on that, Betty thought and holding her wings by her side she dropped towards the plane.
Landing was a bit tricky and noisy as Betty kept shouting things like, “Mind my new wings you big galoop!” to all of the birds who came to watch. They were flapping about and getting in her way.
Finally there she was – sitting on the wing of the plane looking about her. I wonder where my house is? Another question popped into her head.How do I get back?
The pilot couldn’t understand why one side of the plane was dipping slightly. The co-pilot could as he spotted Betty land. He was trying to speak. His mouth didn’t work! He tried rubbing his eyes to make her disappear but it didn’t work. Betty was waving at him.
“There’s a granny sitting on our wing!” he spluttered.
The pilot chuckled, “What? A Granny on the wing, nonsense.”
But turning to look out of the window the pilot got a surprise. “Oh my.”
“What shall I do,?” the co-pilot asked.
“Ask her to buzz off, politely though, if she is like my own granny, we will be in trouble no matter what we say.”
He opened the window of the small plane and shouted in his most polite voice, “Excuse me. Would you mind, hopping off our wing and flying away?”
Betty stared at him. Was he stupid? she wondered. If she knew where to fly to then she would not be sitting on his plane. “Could you please tell me how to get to Ballytrickle?”
The pilot shouted back, “Two miles that way.”
“Thanks ever so much,” said Betty as she was sucked underneath the plane by a current of air. Turning towards the sun, which was hiding behind a cloud, Betty headed home. As she neared the barn she spotted a tiny toddler playing in his garden. She swooped down near him. He saw her coming and his mouth opened wide but no sound came from him. His toy car was made from plastic and very round. Instead of crashing on to its side, it wobbled for a bit. He started to cry!
“Sorry baby,” Betty said. The barn appeared before her. Seeing the giant bed of hay she aimed herself at it and closed her eyes. Landing was a very bouncy affair as she bounced from one part of it to another. She ran out of hay and rolled onto the ground. ‘Ouch!’ Betty sat up to look at the damage. The left wing was in tatters but Betty was in one piece.
“I did it!” She said to a bewildered looking cow. Then she put her now broken wings and suit back into the barrow and headed for home. Time for an extra large brunch, Betty might fly like a bird but she won’t eat like one, she thought. Rashers, sausages, egg and tea all for little old me,’ she sang, as she walked. This was followed by an extra long nap.