Watch out for our new snail link. It has been designed to inspire children to explore and appreciate what lies beyond their walls. With a mix of inspiring readings by our young writers of the future, to snails emerging from hibernation, creeping feet filmed in slo-mo, there’ll be a host of fun things for children of all ages to get involved in.
The scratching is fierce. The noise drills into my brain. In the darkness of the kitchen, the slit of yellow from the hallway light running up the far end of the wall my only companion, I sit afraid.
I close my eyes. I pull my tentacles into my foot.
Before I disappear inside my shell, something dark pushes up against the outside of my tank.
The black blob is back. My tank moves. I shrink. Head down, I dig into the peat. Something is coming. I’m falling. Ouch! Slime comes to my rescue. I am flung against the plastic wall of my tank – SPLAT! I cling on. Somehow …
The days are long and dark, the nights even darker. I sleep in the day and eat at night. When I hear the noise settle in the house, when the long, triangular slash of yellow light runs up the far corner of the room like an abandoned Lightsaber, that’s when I know everyone’s gone to bed. That’s when I sigh, think of my mates Slomo, Shelley and Gary fast asleep beneath the soil.
And that’s when I try not to feel too lonely.
BAM! It hits me! I am King of the Mountain! I am Bigfoot trudging through darkness, soil soft under my foot! I am out to conquer the world! That’s how I’ll do it … get through this cold, dark spell. I’ll use my imagination, my only friend who’s not hibernating and I’ll become anything I want. I can be anybody.
Can you hear me?
Silence yawns. Nobody is listening. There’s nobody to josh with, not the black blob outside my tank, not the thing in the wall.
My heartbeat slows. Do – I – give – into – temp – ta – tion?
Sh – ou -ld – I – f – all – in – to – a – win-ter – s-l-e-e-p?
The scratch begins in the wall. I am awake. I am suddenly ready.
There it was again. The scraping noise in the wall. Everyone had gone to bed. Not me. There I sat, in near-darkness on my bed of peat, my friends fast asleep below me. The light from the hallway cast a long, triangular beam of yellow onto the kitchen wall just around the corner. All I could see were shadows.
If I had a clock or a watch, I’d be able to tell you what time it was. But it was, literally, the middle of the night. Everywhere beyond the yellow slit was DARK.
The noise echoed around the kitchen which means it must have been loud. I am a snail after all and quite deaf.
All I know is, whatever it was, it was not walking around in the kitchen. If it had been walking, I would have felt the vibrations from its feet on the ground. They would have ricocheted all the way up the stool. They would have pulsed right into my tank.
I fell into an uneasy sleep. My foot felt cold inside its shell. And when morning came and I flung out an eye, there was no big, black blob hovering on the other side as before. Nothing steamed up the outside of the tank.
Whatever it is that scrapes in the wall in the night, I hope I never see it. There is only plastic between me and a certain death. There are only a few air vents keeping me in.
Do you know what’s in the wall? Do you know what scrapes at night? If you know where the big, black blob went, tell me, won’t you? I’m finding it hard to close my eyes.
There I was sitting in my tank, waiting for some food to arrive through my trap door when, blow me down, if it didn’t start raining sprouts! Not whole sprouts of course. Not those tiny pellets of nasty green. They would have damaged my foot. They could have damaged my shell. No. Someone had peeled sprouts and sent them in. And that night, when everyone was fast asleep tucked up in their beds, something happened.
I was about to get my teeth into the leaves when I heard a scraping noise in the wall next to my tank. It was so loud it echoed around the kitchen. Sounded like something was trying to get out of the wall and get into my space.
When morning came I saw this big black blob on the other side of my tank. I couldn’t see what it was. Just saw the blob, some steam frosting up the plastic, the blob again and then the steam. If only I could see!
There was no noise. Not this time. Then the blob just, well, it just disappeared. I’ve not seen it again. But I’ll be ready for it next time. I’m going to sit right where I saw it. And if it comes back, I’m going to be brave. I’m going to face up to it. I’m going to bare my teeth if it scares me.
Did you know we have teeth, snails? Did you? Most people don’t. They think we spit slime on our food and suck it up like a hoover. Or that it magically disappears into our body if we sit on it. Weird, hey?
Thank you for sending me sprouts. They’ve all gone you know. Now, if I could just catch that black blob again …
I hid from the fireworks in November. Not that I saw them, sitting as I was in my tank in the kitchen. I heard them. Not that we snails have ears. The ground shook. I felt the quivers all the way up the stool where I sat, high up in my tank, watching the world go fuzzily by. Even the dog shivered. She hid under the bench next to my stool and of course everyone came in to comfort her. But they forgot about me, quivering alone in my peat.
I say ‘alone’ but that’s telling a lie. And I know it’s bad to tell lies. My friend Slomo is here. As is Gary. And Shelley. But they’ve gone to sleep. And it’s getting darker. You might think that suits me. Well, it doesn’t, sliding around as I do in a cold tank in the dead of night when everyone’s in their beds. That’s when I’m active, busy looking for food, the snoring of the dog underneath my only company.
And in the daytime? Well! The kitchen is full of comings and goings and of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’. Everyone is cooking. I can see there are things getting wrapped on the kitchen table. Can anyone tell me what’s happening? There is much excitement …
I think they’ve forgotten me. I think they think I am already asleep, hibernating for the winter. I will, you know, hibernate. I’ll decide it’s way too cold, like Slomo, Gary and Shelley have already done, and bury myself deep in the soil. I’ll curl my foot into my shell. I’ll make a front door of slime. It’ll have a tiny breathing hole in its middle. But before I do any of that I need food. And lots of it 🙂
If you’re reading this and you feel sorry for me, will you send me some cucumber? Can you post me some sprouts? I love sprouts. Not sure they love me. I blew the lid off my tank once and anyone who has a snail tank will tell you the lids can be hard to get off. Oh, the things we do for the love of food!
If you know what’s going on … if you know why everyone’s getting so excited, can you tell me? I am just a lonely old snail in a tank. And everyone knows that snails are not just for Christmas …
Yours in hope,
Old McSlithers Tank on the Kitchen Stool, 1 Riseley Cottages, Selborne Road, Newton Valence,, Alton, Hampshire GU34 3RN
How time flies! We had a wonderful Alresford Show earlier this month with plenty of recipients of our baby snails at just one week old. How cute were they? So, here is the result of the Name the Snail competition. With 63 entries it was a record year and we are happy to say that the entries were not all from children. Without further ado, we are thrilled that the winning name is Afri, followed by (drum roll …) in second place, Slimie Fisher (see, keep on trying and you will get there 🙂 ) followed in third place by Pippy.
And guess what? When we came back from Alresford we found eggs at the bottom of the tank a day later. Hmmm … so we will have yet more babies to give away soon.
The bad news? We have a snail on the loose in the house. Even with a dog on the prowl, it’s been missing for two days. We’ve looked everywhere – I mean everywhere. We’re laying cucumber traps tonight …
Thank you to everyone who supported our Green Token slot at Waitrose in Alton during the month of February. You helped to collect a wonderful £238.00 which will go towards providing more places for children aged 7-11 to engage with writing through community creative writing organisation, Putting Pen to Paper. A big thank you to Waitrose for selecting us as one of their local charities in the first place – lucky us! 🙂
If you shop at Waitrose in Alton, think about popping your green tokens in the Putting Pen to Paper box. Chosen as one of three community initiatives rewarded for the month of February, this not-for-profit, creative writing initiative is aimed at 7-11 year olds. Your tokens will help provide more places for children who lack confidence in their writing or who want to write more outside of school in a fun, interactive environment with like-minded individuals. A nominal fee applies.
Putting Pen to Paper