Ralfie and Jemima

Ralfie and Jemima

Sunday 7 May 2017

Old Tree Hill

"Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, 1917"

Have you ever heard of the mysterious case of the Cottingley Fairies?

A long long time ago, in 1917 to be precise, in a village in West Yorkshire, two cousins (nine-year-old Frances Griffiths and sixteen-year-old Elsie Wright) claimed to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the Wrights' garden.

Their story captured the attention not only of famous personalities such as theosophist Edward Gardner and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the inventor of Sherlock Holmes, but of British society as a whole. Everybody wanted to know whether the photos were real.

Even nowadays, many years after the case has been debunked (the fairies in the photographs had allegedly been "inspired" by illustrations taken from "Princess Mary's Gift Book"), certain questions remain unanswered and some people still ask: Were there really fairies along Cottingley Beck?

I wonder whether we will ever know the truth...

On a sunny spring afternoon, in a town in Sylvania called Riverside, two girls (Jemima Periwinkle and Tamara Babblebrook) are walking home from an Easter basket hunt. James and Julie Periwinkle, Jemima's parents, have gone on a romantic date, which is why they have engaged the oldest daughter of the Babblebrooks, Tamara, to take little Jemima to the Easter basket hunt and then back home.

At the hunt, Jemima found a basket filled with a large bar of Easter chocolate and two different kinds of sugary sweets. She is very pleased. Her yellow rubber duck Quackie is also pleased, after all, she was allowed to come along today and she is already mentally unpacking the crinkley wrapping of one of the goodies.

Suddenly Jemima hears a sound. It is a strange sound, as it seems neither of Sylvanian nor of animal origin. There is a rustle and a whisper and then a tiny bodiless voice, just loud enough for Jemima to hear, chants:
"Bonbons are tasty,
Bonbons are nice,
Creamy and fruity
Are bonbons - my vice!"

Jemima sees the squirrel that was sitting next to the tree scuttle off in a hurry. I guess the girls were getting a little too close.

Jemima shakes her head awkwardly. Did she just imagine that strange voice? Quackie seems to have heard something unusual too, though...

"Tammy! I heard some-ting weird... Don't know what... an animal, maybe?" says Jemima to her older friend.

"Hmm, I didn't hear a thing, my darling. Just the rustle of the leaves," says Tamara happily.


Before they can continue walking, Jemima hears something else. First there's a soft whistle and a ripple of laughter like wind chimes and then someone recites:

"Candies are yummy,
Candies are sweet,
Sug'ry and juicy
Are candies to eat!"

"What was dat?" asks Jemima wide-eyed. "I tink a ghost is talking, Tammy!"

"I didn't hear a thing, my dumpling! Just a bird cawing in the trees," says Tamara dreamily, while gently pulling Jemima by the hand and further down the hill.

Quackie has decided to play it safe and scrambles up Tamara's dress to sit inside the Easter basket. Maybe the tree on Old Tree Hill is haunted??

Down and down they go. But what is that, behind them? A little round, turquoise ball...

It is one of Jemima's candies. It must have fallen out of the basket when Quackie jumped inside. Neither of the girls notice.

A little pink creature standing on a tree branch watches them leave while down below the red squirrel is the first to inspect the wrapped sweet. It decides that it does not like the smell of sugary things.

All the better for "Little Pinkie" who is slowly making her way towards the tiny round treasure, singing:

"Nothing better
North or south,
Than tasty sweeties
In my mouth!

I challenge you
This moment right,
To cook a more
Supreme delight!"

Then she pauses, picks up the candy and takes it with her up into the tree. 

"Nutters, you never know when you might need an especially sweet sweetie, my sweet!" she announces to the squirrel. And with that she sticks the candy onto the mass of fluffy cotton-like hair adorning her head.

Squirrel crunches in affirmation before her friend resumes singing:

"Round sweeties are the sweetest thing,
They make me smile and laugh and sing.
I'll keep this drop for times much harder
Inside my cotton candy larder!"

Not long after the Sylvanians have left the sight of the old tree, the rest of the fairy family come out of their hiding places. Because that is what they are - tree fairies. The baby is put to sleep on the large branch underneath a blanket of moss. Grandma stomps to and fro, fussing about noisy Sylvanians traipsing up and down the hill far too often a day and Grandpa pokes around in the soil with his walking stick, hoping to find another piece of candy.

"Useless Sylvanians..." he grumbles. "Could've left the entire basket here, hmph! But Sylvanians never think of us tree keepers, do they? Hmph. Loud and pesky folk, hmph..."

The little pink fairy giggles. She knows her grandparents act much more ill-tempered than they really are...

I'm not nearly as acquainted with the fairy realm as Elsie Wright or Frances Griffiths were, but I was lucky enough to get a picture of all of the fairies of Old Tree Hill together, underneath their ancient tree. "Little Pinkie" is actually called Candy - a very fitting name, if you ask me. From left to right you can see Grandma Baldine, baby brother Jelly and Grandpa Wrinkles.

"The Fairies of Old Tree Hill"

Perhaps this is all an outrageous lie or a sort of fever dream you are having in front of your computer... Maybe there is no such thing as fairies on Old Tree Hill and Jemima was having a daydream or suffering from heatstroke. Very possibly there never were fairies at the bottom of the old tree and this photograph is just a fake, based on illustrations somebody once saw in an old book...

I wonder whether we will ever know the truth...

🌾 🌾 🌾

***The fairy family was made by me out of Fimo.***

 Have a magical week.



  1. Nina, I saw tree fairies!! :) The cotton candy larder sounds like a tasty place to visit or is the candy larder Little Pinkies hair? (It does remind me of candy floss).

    1. Sarah, are you referring to my post or to real life?? Please feel free to share your story if it's the latter! :)

      Yes, the cotton candy larder is actually Candy's fluff of hair!! :D She calls it that because she sticks the sweets on there that she wants to keep for later!

    2. I wish I had seen fairies in real life. The cotton candy hair is fantastic!

  2. Was fĂŒr ein toller Post - aber der absolute Burner ist das Eingangsfoto von 1917 mit der dazugehörigen Geschichte... der Hammer!!! Ein wunderschön und sehr stimmig erzĂ€hlter Post - und ein Extra-Daumen-hoch fĂŒrs Reimen in Englisch. Wer allerdings wie ich an sprechende Flatter-, Blumen- und HexenbĂ€rchen gewöhnt ist, wundert sich nicht mehr wirklich ĂŒber die Existenz von Baumfeen. Wenn ĂŒberhaupt wundert mich die AffinitĂ€t zu gewissen Kohlehydraten... aber gut, jemand, der Candy gerufen wird, hat da wohl eine gewisse Verpflichtung. Oder kommt der Name von der Vorliebe fĂŒr SĂŒĂŸes? Ach, egal... jedenfalls sind die Elfen echt knuffig. Hoffentlich schaffst Du es mal wieder, sie mit der Kamera einzufangen... ;O)

    Liebe GrĂŒĂŸe

    1. Freut mich, dass Dir der Post gefallen hat, Birgit!! :D Es war schwierig ein Sylvanerfoto von 1917 zu finden, das kannst Du mir glauben...

      Liebe GrĂŒsse an alle und besonders an ein gewisses FlatterbĂ€rchen und seine kleine Schwester. ;)

  3. Hi Nina!
    What a magical story! We´ll never know if there were real fairies along Cottingley Beck but what is real is that there is a family of fairies living in Riverside. I haven´t heard about Cottingley fairies before.I loved how you recreated this story with two of your sylvanians. I´m always impressed at your big imagination and at your great crafting skills. The fairies are so cute! You even made a walking stick for Grandpa Wrinkle.
    I wonder if Jemima will see the fairies next time she goes to Old Tree Hill. She didn´t see them but she was able to hear Little Pinkie singing. Did Tamara hear Little Pinkie too but she pretended not to hear anything?
    Have a magical week you too!

    1. Cutata, thank you so much for your wonderful comment!

      I have loved reading about the story of Elsie, Frances and the Cottingley Fairies ever since I first heard about it.

      Wouldn't it be nice if Jemima saw the fairies during her next walk? And what an excellent question you asked about Tamara!! I just assumed she didn't hear a thing, but now I wonder whether that is really true...

  4. Hi Nina, I haven´t heard of the mysterious case of the Cottingley Fairies. But it seems to be very interesting. It was very nice to read your story about Jemima Periwinkle and Tamara Babblebrook in the main roles.

    Have a nice and sunny week!

    1. Jemima and Tamara enjoy spending time together.

      Thank you very much.