WILLOWY WOLLOWY – BILLOWY FOLLOWY – SLIPPY AND TIPPY
Once the boards were set up, Tingle climbed onto her mum’s paddleboard. Josh sat on the front of his dad’s board with a huge grin on his face. The river was calm; trees and sky reflected in the calm water. The air smelled fresh like cut grass. The white seed heads that looked like cotton wool floated through the air.
‘I like this…’ Josh said as his father began to paddle. ‘It feels nice,’ he said as they glided along.
‘Are you used to it now Josh?’ John asked.
‘Yes dad,’ he said turning his head.
The board tipped and Josh held on. ‘Ooops. Sorry!’ said Josh returning to facing forwards. It was very easy to tip the board.
Even though John was paddling on his knees, he used his hips and balanced the board. ‘Now you see how a little movement makes the board unbalanced? The best thing to do is keep looking ahead and don’t make any sudden movements. If you need to turn then do it very slowly. You will learn how to balance on this journey Josh.’
Tingle saw what happened when Josh turned and realised how easy it was to fall in.
‘Mum,’ she said looking ahead. ‘How long until we find Splashdom?’
‘We just have a bit of a paddle and Auntie Joanna will show us where it is. I can’t tell you precisely how far because the last time I was here I was a little girl too and it was all new and exciting,’ she said remembering their adventure.
‘Did you go by paddleboard too?’ Tingle asked.
‘No they weren’t invented then. We went up the river in wooden canoes,’ she said remembering their adventure with their grandmother. ‘They were like the ones they have in Canada.’
Auntie Joanna stood confidently on her board at the front of the group. ‘Are you all balanced now?’ she asked, knowing that she had the easy option because she only needed to balance her board.
‘Tingle and Josh?’ Their mum asked in a questioning tone. ‘Are you feeling balanced?’
‘Yes and I will sit very still,’ said Tingle making sure she sat cross-legged.
‘I am nicely balanced,’ said Josh leaning back on his hands with his legs out. He liked watching the trees as they glided past. There were kingfishers on branches and herons fishing on the bank. He liked the river and he liked the paddleboard.
‘Okay then Dianne,’ said John. ‘I am going to stand up Josh. So you will feel the board move.’ Very slowly he shifted from kneeling to standing. There were a few wobbles and then he found his balance. Josh held on and kept very still.
Dianne did the same and carefully rose from kneeling to standing. She was more graceful as she found her balance and made a few movements with her hips to discover her best position. Auntie Joanna watched the group, ‘Right we are ready, we are quite close, I just have to figure out which are the right willows. As you can see the mouth of the river is getting wider. I remember Splashdom being on the right side as we looked down the river. Gosh I hope the same trees are there and nothing has changed.’
After ten minutes of paddling Auntie Joanna slowed down and took a deep breath, ‘There’s the marker!’ she cried and pointed. There was a stone sculpture with ivy covering it. Beside that marker was a cove that flowed off the river.
‘Now children if you look down you will notice the water is different here. We are now at the sea-river merger where salt water meets fresh water. Some call it a delta and others call it an estuary. If you continue down the river that way then you will reach the sea. That is where the Great Splisher and Great Splosher first met. Both were in charge of their own watery domains. The Great Splosher was in charge of the sea – the King of salt water including salt flats and the sea. The Great Splisher was in charge of the rivers and sky – the Queen of fresh water. Of course at some point those waters were going to meet and when they did the pair fell in love. Together they created the Kingdom of Splashdom. Originally their own kingdoms would have been called Splishdom and Sploshdom but since the Great Splisher and Splosher were equal, they decided to name the new kingdom Splashdom. That way every water dweller was welcome whether they were from salt water or fresh water. The Splishers and the Sploshers came together and were united. Together they formed the new nymph tribe known as the Splishy Sploshies.’
‘I like that,’ said Tingle watching dragonflies hovering above the water.
‘I like it too…’ said Josh peering into the water. There were lots of silver fish and reeds beneath them. There were also some bubble trails.
‘There are lots of bubbles down there,’ said Josh pointing.
‘Ah they know we’re here,’ Dianne said. ‘Keep an eye out!’
‘They are swimming down there in the reeds,’ cried Josh peering into the depths of the clear water.
‘There’s one,’ Tingle called as she did her best not to wobble the board. Where the dragonflies landed, a lily pad rose from the water with a stylish water sprite beneath it. She wore the lily pad like a hat and looked like she was attending a special event.
Another elegant lady sprite rose from the water with a lily flower on her head. She wore a beautiful watery dress the same colour as the flower and swirled across the water. One bright blue one caught her eye.
A couple of male Splishy Sploshies emerged from the reeds wearing green reed suits. They wore green top-hats and spun past within water spouts and tipped their caps as a way of saying hello.
‘They clearly know we’re here,’ said John.
‘Should we be worried? Will they try and stop us? Will they try and push us in?’ Tingle asked.
‘No they’ll just try and distract us. They are trying to draw us away from the entrance by making a bit of a display,’ said Auntie Joanna glancing along the river bank. ‘They usually dance around in the opposite direction,’ she said rotating her paddleboard.
‘I think it’s there,’ said Josh pointing towards to two willow trees dipping their leaves in the river.
‘Ah there we are… You’re right Josh!’ She said.
‘As expected… the willow gate is in the opposite direction to where they appeared from.’
‘Very clever!’ Josh said smiling as he made a little clap.
‘Right we need to go over there. That looks like the group of willows I remember,’ said Auntie Joanne.
Tingle had no idea why they would be going near trees when they were going to a kingdom where a lot of splashing went on.
‘Oh before we go any further is there anything we need to be aware of regarding the Splishy Sploshies in Splashdom?’ John asked.
‘Good point! It’s lucky you mentioned that,’ Auntie Joanna replied thoughtfully.
‘They make big splashes,’ Josh said.
‘Yes they do and just to remind you… when they are happy they are lovely but when you annoy them then they can whip up a storm in a second. They are also very stubborn and like their own way…’ Auntie Joanna said. ‘Was there anything else?’
‘Doesn’t everyone?’ said John, who definitely liked his own way too.
‘I like my own way!’ said Tingle.
‘Ah yes,’ said Auntie Joanna. ‘The thing is if water is dirty or disappears then they get angry. By poisoning or wasting water we destroy their home. So when we waste water in our home they will punish us by destroying our homes. When the destruction is complete they take all the spare water back to Splashdom. The thing is these Splishy Sploshy sprites are part of water so they can use water to do whatever they like. They can turn it to rain, to hail or create waves. So whatever you do, don’t annoy them!’
Auntie Joanna was serious.
‘What annoys them?’ asked Josh.
‘Lots of things annoy them especially when you make the water dirty or if you leave rubbish in the water. They also get very upset if you hurt water creatures. That is when they ambush you when you least expect it! The Great Splisher has created floods and The Great Splosher created Tsunamis or huge storms as punishment. Never underestimate the power of the Splishy Sploshies… Where there is water there is a way to cause splashy mischief. Think about big puddles on roads and cars driving through. Those puddles are perfectly placed to give someone a complete washing…’ Auntie Joanna said crouching down on her board.
‘Dianne and John I would suggest you take a seat on the board and hold on,’ said Auntie Joanna. She reached to the front of her board and pulled at the bag. The group watched curiously as she produced three little pouches. She unzipped the first one to reveal a silver bowl decorated with lots of wiggly lines.
‘What’s that?’ asked Josh pointing.
‘Those are the singing bowls,’ Auntie Joanna replied as she arranged them in front of her.
‘How does it sing?’ Tingle asked, wondering what kind of song would come out of it.
‘Oh you will see,’ she said rummaging through her bag and producing what appeared to be a drumstick but thicker – it was a singing-stick.
‘Right is everybody ready? Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed and hold onto your boards because it could get very bumpy rather quickly.’
John and Dianne crouched down on their boards and moved into a cross-legged position. They made themselves comfortable while they held their paddles. Dianne watched her children’s curious expressions and then glanced across at her husband who appeared fascinated too.
Auntie Joanna arranged all three singing bowls in her lap. The first was silver with funny swirly markings. The second was gold with more angular markings and the third was turquoise blue with silver waves around it.
Auntie Joanna picked up the blue one and studied it, ‘Would that be too obvious to start with?’ she asked.
‘I think you should start with the silver one, then the gold and finally the blue,’ said John. If they are water royalty then they probably would like to have silver and gold first. It was logical, but not necessarily right. Water was never logical, it flowed, washed, trickled and dribbled.
‘What do you think Tingle and Josh?’
‘Blue,’ said Tingle.
‘Blue, blue, blue…’ said Josh.
‘I think we make it more fun! Right close your eyes Josh. Which hand or foot?’ asked Auntie Joanna.
‘Foot!’ he said waving his finger at her foot.
‘It looks like the silver one is first,’ said Auntie Joanna.
‘Okay, let’s see if these work. They may have lost their song,’ said Auntie Joanna.
‘Ready?’ She asked.
‘Yes – now pay attention and watch what happens…’ said Dianne.
The children sat watching as Auntie Joanna used the singing-stick to circle the bowl. The movement was quite gentle and pretty slow. The more she circled a high pitched sound began to resonate from the bowl until it sounded as though there was a high-pitched singing circling through the air. The water around them began to swirl and numerous fish swam towards them. Josh peered into the water. There were thousands of silver fish all swimming in a circle and reflecting the light.
‘Fish everywhere,’ said Josh glancing at the shoals of fish.
‘So many Splishy Sploshies too,’ said Tingle watching them all swimming below their boards.
Auntie Joanna stopped circling the bowl until the singing faded. ‘So it’s not the silver one then,’ she said.
‘Why isn’t it that one?’ Tingle asked. The fish had circled them so it did something.
‘Ah that one calls the underwater creatures if you need any help. They will dance in a circle to let you know they are willing to help…’ She said.
‘I liked it,’ said Josh. ‘There were some really big fish.’ He said still gazing into the depths of the river.
‘Yes they are all ready to help if we need it… Right let’s try the next one instead then,’ said Auntie Joanna after she had packed the silver singing bowl away and picked up the gold one.
‘Which hand then Tingle?’ Auntie Joanna said balancing with her hands behind her back.
‘The right hand,’ Tingle said.
Auntie Joanna put the gold bowl in the palm of her hand. ‘Ready?’ she asked.
The group all nodded wondering what would happen next. Auntie Joanna began to circle the bowl. This time the sound was deeper and woodier. It made their stomachs feel funny and excited. Auntie Joanna continued playing and the trees began to shake, the branches began to wave and lift.
‘That could be the one,’ whispered Dianne.
As she circled, lots of sparkling lights rose from the undergrowth and birds flew to the branches of nearby trees. In the sky birds began to flock and fly in patterns as fireflies began to glow in all directions. ‘Nope,’ said Auntie Joanna. ‘That one calls the fairies and the birds.’ Auntie Joanna slowed the circling until the resonation rang through the air until silence.
‘I like that one,’ said Tingle in awe.
‘I do too…’ Auntie Joanna turned to the faeries and birds. ‘Thank you all for coming… I wanted to make sure our singing bowls still worked.’ A moment later the birds dispersed and flew away and the fireflies dimmed their lights and returned to the undergrowth. Auntie Joanna packed the singing bowl away and sighed. ‘We should have known it was the blue one,’ she said. ‘It is quite obvious really. Sometimes the most obvious option is the right one. Tingle and Josh – you knew!’
‘Yes,’ clapped Josh.
‘It is only obvious when you have narrowed it down to the last choice,’ said John with a smirk.
‘I love this,’ whispered Tingle to Josh.
‘I love it too,’ said Josh. ‘I liked the fish and dragonflies.’
‘I liked the fireflies,’ said Tingle.
‘I liked those too,’ Josh said thoughtfully. ‘I like it all,’ he said with a sparkle in his eye.
‘Darlings are you ready?’ Auntie Joanna said watching them. ‘This could be a bit bumpy… so be ready and hold on tight.’
She glanced at John and Dianna, ‘Be ready to paddle. If this is right then we only have a short window to get through.’
The pair nodded and prepared to paddle their hardest.
Auntie Joanna rested her paddle on her lap and kept the waterproof bag open. Tingle watched, wondering what was going to happen and why they had to be fast.
‘Ready?’ Auntie Joanna asked.
‘Ready,’ everyone replied.
Auntie Joanna took a deep breath and did her final checks, ‘Ready,’ she whispered.
Slowly she began to circle the blue singing bowl with the singing-stick. It began to sing but not like the others. It seemed to have a chorus of voices that made their tummies tingle and their hair stand on end. As she circled, Tingle glanced at the sky and noticed the clouds moved faster than she had ever seen before. The river began to tremble and Splishy Sploshy figures rose from the water.
‘It’s definitely that one,’ said John. ‘Dianne get ready to paddle!’
‘They are security Splishy Sploshies,’ said Auntie Joanna, as she continued to circle the singing bowl. There was a loud creaking from all of the willows surrounding them. Tingle and Josh grasped the boards as they watched the willows rise up. It was as if they lifted their long hair from the water and turned into tall magical figures. The willows lifted their roots, stepped out of the water and stepped aside. They then reached out their branches, which looked like arms, across towards each other and formed an arch. Auntie Joanna continued to play the tune.
‘Uh oh,’ said Josh glancing behind him. He quickly pushed the dinosaur inside his life jacket so just its head was peering out. He then clung to the paddleboard, ‘Big wave!’ he said.
Tingle didn’t dare look because Josh looked frightened and he only uh oh’d when something scary was about to happen.
The willow arches formed a tunnel and Auntie Joanna made two more circles of the bowl and cried ‘Get ready to paddle…’ She could see an opening at the end of the tunnel where two enormous boulders began to roll apart.
‘Big wave coming,’ cried Josh as he gripped the board.
‘Get ready to paddle… Just one more circle of the bowl and we will let it resonate while we paddle.’ Auntie Joanna directed. ‘Paddle now! Full speed! Full power!’
‘Hold on!’ With that Dianne and John dug in their paddles and the group jolted forwards as they gathered speed. Josh clung on and watched the wave form. He saw Auntie Joanna place the singing bowl in the top of her bag as she began to paddle at such velocity and power that she gained on them. All the while the hugest wave grew behind them.
‘Faster!’ screamed Auntie Joanna, who furiously paddled with a determined frown. ‘We need to match the speed of the wave so it can lift us rather than flatten us. Go!’
‘Tingle cling on! Hold on with everything you have!’ Dianne and John, paddled and paddled.
Tingle grasped the ropes of the board and slowly turned to see the enormous wave rising behind them with numerous Splishy Sploshies frolicking within it. They were diving and dancing and singing as it picked the group up and washed them down the tunnel. It wasn’t a straight line wave either; instead the wave rose up the side, over the roof of the tunnel and down the other side. It was as if they were surfing in a corkscrew. It was sooooo fast! Whhoooooshhhh! One moment the group were hanging from the board, the next they were surfing along. When the singing bowl became quiet the rocks began to slide back to close the gap. Could they get crushed? Could they crash into the rocks? Tingle glanced at Josh. With fear in his eyes he had realised the same thing.
Tingle took a deep breath, what if they just smashed into the rock face? That would be the end. There was only one thing for it. She closed her eyes.
‘Stay calm,’ cried Auntie Joanna, who was clearly not in the slightest bit relaxed.
No one said anything, there was a silence that hung in the air that felt like pending doom.
‘What do we do?’ cried Dianne. ‘The rocks will be closed before we get there.’
‘I don’t know what to do!’ cried Auntie Joanna. ‘I can’t paddle and make the bowl sing.’
Auntie Joanna saw the gap close and considered her options.
‘Make the bowl sing,’ cried Josh. ‘You can do it a different way!’
That was it! ‘Well done Josh!’ She adjusted her position, wrapped her legs around the board and gripped. She urgently placed the paddle across her lap and used her elbows to keep it in place. She then folded from her waist, picked up the singing bowl and circled it with the singing-stick she had kept up her wetsuit sleeve. She closed her eyes and focused. After the first round the bowl began to sing. As soon as it sounded the rocks shifted into reverse and began to open. The wave reformed so that it became long and thin. All the boards were lifted into a line and the group were funnelled through the narrow opening into a long turquoise lake on the other side. Once the wave met the turquoise water, it calmed and slowed down and spread out. The group were gradually deposited on their paddleboards on the still water beside a white shimmering beach. There were lots of willow trees lining one side of the beach and palm trees lining the other. The group sat for a moment as the water calmed and numerous little Splishy Sploshies emerged from the water, made a splash and disappeared.
‘Let’s paddle for the shore,’ said Dianne as she caught her breath. ‘Are you okay Tingle?’
Tingle sat with her mouth open at the sight before her. Turquoise water, sparkly white sand and all sorts of lovely trees, colourful flowers and funny shaped smooth grey rocks with patterns carved on them.
‘This is paradise,’ John muttered glancing around.
‘So pretty,’ said Tingle. She couldn’t believe just how beautiful Splashdom was.
‘That was fun,’ said Josh. ‘We were nearly squashed.’ His dinosaur faced him and had turned full circle during the excitement.
John and Dianne glanced at each other. ‘That was a bit too close,’ said Dianne… ‘I think we need to get to the source as quickly as possible so that we can get home and live a normal life again.’
‘I hear you,’ said Auntie Joanna. ‘The thing is we just have to find them.’
‘I thought we would just turn up, they would greet us and then we would say sorry. That would be it.’ John said matter of factly.
‘Erm John… Since when have you turned up to visit a foreign country and the moment you arrive the King or Queen come out to meet you, say hi and then you go?’ Auntie Joanna had a point. It wasn’t often that such things happened.
Tingle giggled, it was true.
‘We need to earn their trust and only then will they want to meet us,’ Dianne said, realising how silly they had been to assume that the King and Queen would greet them.
‘How do we earn their trust?’ Josh asked peering into the turquoise water. Splishy Sploshies darted about making lots of bubbles.
‘Let’s get to shore and figure it out. I need to have a read of my granny’s old mystery journal. I think there are some learnings listed in there somewhere,’ Auntie Joanna said.
‘I wondered whether you had remembered that. I only remembered it when I went and grabbed the singing bowl bag from granny’s treasure chest,’ Dianne said.
‘Yes… the words if you don’t do things properly then you could end up there forever rang through my mind. I remember she almost got stuck here once. Luckily we kept the journal with the singing bowls – just in case. She used to say always keep everything together. You never know when you will need them – good advice. ’ Auntie Joanna said.
Tingle and Josh frowned.
‘So we could get stuck here forever?’ Tingle asked appearing troubled. Yes the place was pretty but she didn’t want to get stuck there forever. What about school, her friends and her shoes?
John studied his wife and Auntie Joanna. ‘Oh… so when were we going to introduce that little concern into the conversation?’ He said with a shake of his head.
‘That’s kind of why we’re all here together.’ Dianne said looking awkward. ‘It’s a nice place and if we do get stuck then at least we are all stuck here together. Plus we won’t age either.’
John was clearly not impressed. He liked the outside world, he quite liked his job and he really liked his home. The thought of never having a pizza or ice cream again was not a thought that he wanted to entertain.
Tingle frowned, if they were going to get stuck and live there forever then she would have at least brought more to play with. What about her pink scooter? Plus the inflatable unicorn would have been useful with such lovely lagoons.
‘I don’t have my dinosaur pyjamas,’ said Josh in a tone of disappointment. ‘I also left my frog Wellington boots!’
‘We can’t stay. I didn’t bring my toothbrush or toothpaste,’ said Tingle in a definite tone.
‘We don’t need to be thinking about staying. I have granny’s mystery journal.’ Auntie Joanna replied. ‘Let’s get ashore, have a drink and a snack. Once we have refreshed ourselves then we can decide what we need to do. Does that sound like a plan?’
‘I’m hungry,’ said Josh.
‘I’m thirsty,’ said Tingle.
With that the group paddled ashore, dragged their boards up the beach and laid them against the huge patterned rocks.
Auntie Joanna opened the waterproof bag. She hadn’t sealed it properly and it had some water in after their epic ride. ‘Oh dear,’ she said.
‘Right here are the snacks, here is the water and…’ She trailed off. Something was clearly wrong.
The group in front of her said nothing. They all had their mouths open and were staring at something behind her. She turned very slowly to see the rocks rise up revealing pincers and claws. Those rocks were not rocks, they were giant rock crabs!
‘Stay calm,’ said Auntie Joanna, ‘if we run then they’ll know we are scared.’
‘I am scared,’ cried Tingle.
‘Don’t show the fear. Just walk backwards slowly.’ John shook his head as he spoke. The giant crabs were twice the size of elephants.
Josh glanced behind them, the other rocks had risen up. They were large lobsters. ‘Uh Oh!’ said Josh. He hid behind his dad and clung to his leg. He had never seen such a huge crab. Those pincers could crush him and his dinosaur.
Auntie Joanna turned to the rocks and shook her head sadly, ‘Could you at least let us have a drink and a snack before you capture us?’
The lead crab stepped forwards, ‘Yes ma’am, take your time. When you have snacked we will be escorting you to the central rock pool. We will then decide what to do with you. What would you like us to do with your floating travel devices?’ The lead crab was polite and had a very posh voice. He sounded like an old style British policeman, maybe he was one of the palace guards.
‘Ah the boards…’ Auntie Joanna said in a tone of surprise.
‘Can we just leave them there for our return? Maybe prop them up against a palm tree?’
‘As you wish ma’am,’ the lead crab replied.
‘You are really really really big!’ said Josh gazing up at the giant rock crab. He then hid behind his dad’s leg.
‘Thank you young human!’ The lead crab replied.
‘Are you going to eat us?’ Josh asked. ‘I am not very meaty.’
‘No. Humans aren’t that tasty. We have other ocean based food preferences.’ It replied.
‘Do you eat seaweed?’ Josh asked.
‘Sometimes in a salad,’ the lead crab replied.
‘Do you want some of my snack?’ Josh asked waving a cashew and coconut bar.
‘No young sir. You need to rebuild your energy,’ it replied studying the small human and his snack.
‘Okay,’ said Josh. ‘I like you. You are really biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggg!’
Tingle nibbled her snack and gazed at the giant crabs. They were so huge, bigger than any of the creatures she had seen at the zoo. Also if they were in Splashdom then where were the Splishy Sploshies?
‘So you aren’t going to hurt us?’ Josh asked.
‘No we won’t hurt you. We just need to escort you to the palace to decide what to do with you,’ the lead crab replied.
‘Is it far?’ Josh asked. He was already feeling tired. ‘I don’t want to walk,’ he said with a yawn.
‘Don’t you worry young human. We have a way of getting you there.’ The lead crab replied.
When the group were ready the giant rock crabs lifted the small humans onto the top of their shells and walked sideways through to the central palatial pools. It looked like a procession as the rock lobsters arranged themselves either side and behind the group.
‘What do you think they are going to do with us?’ Tingle whispered across to Josh.
‘They didn’t want to eat us did they?’ Josh said thoughtfully. ‘Maybe they are going to take us to a tower and keep us prisoner.’
Tingle shook her head, what could they possibly want from them? Were they going to be kept in a tower?
‘Auntie Joanna…’ Tingle called. ‘Where are we going?’
Auntie Joanna turned full circle to face backwards on her crab… ‘We will find out when we get there. Just make sure that you take in everything on the journey. You will need to remember this place for when you are grown-ups.’
Tingle and Josh noticed the palm trees with coconuts on one side of the trail and large sugar cane. All the way along that side of the trail they could see the sea, reefs and waves. Out to sea dolphins played in the surf and Tingle was sure she could see Splishy Sploshies playing with them. On the other side of the trail there were forests with oak trees and meandering rivers. Along the banks were all kinds of wildlife. There were herons, kingfishers and swans on the river banks. Deer, badgers, rabbits and squirrels were happily going about their usual wild routine in the forest. Splishy Sploshies laid on lily pads and floated on the surface of the water in bubbles. Josh peered over at the river wondering whether he would see fish. It was then that he noticed a waterfall. The waterfall changed shape and became a lady and gentleman dancing. ‘Look Splishy Sploshies in the waterfall.’ The group looked over and watched the shapes dance around the pool at the base of the waterfall. They looked like they were doing a watery Tango.
‘They are lovely!’ said Tingle, who glanced from one side of the trail to the other. It was as if they were walking between two very different worlds. One seemed very beach-like and the other very river-like. As they emerged from the beach area to the main pool they saw a huge lake. On one side the sea lapped and flowed over into the lake. On the other side a river mouth fed into the lake. The water was a brilliant blue and reflected the sky perfectly. It seemed to go on forever.
‘It’s so beautiful!’ Tingle said under her breath.
The whole group paused and the lead crab turned to Auntie Joanna, ‘I think you should let them know you are here.’
Auntie Joanna glanced at the rest of the group with a confused expression. ‘How do you suppose I do that?’ She asked the group.
‘Maybe there is a door bell,’ said John with a chuckle.
‘You need a trumpet,’ said Josh.
The group were quiet as they glanced about the area looking for something to press or wave.
‘What do you think children?’ Auntie Joanna asked.
‘I think they want you to sing,’ said Tingle.
Auntie Joanna frowned, ‘Darling my singing voice sounds like a choking cat being sick.’
Tingle and Josh wondered what that must sound like – it probably wasn’t that nice and certainly would not impress a King and Queen.
‘Nooooo…’ said Josh. ‘Sing…. using the bowl.’
‘Yes,’ said Tingle. ‘Don’t make any weird cat sick noises. That might make them angry.’
‘Oh well done darlings! I hadn’t even thought of that. That is what happens when you think too hard. Sometimes the most obvious things are in front of our faces!’ With that, Auntie Joanna pulled out the singing bowls and studied them. ‘Which one?’ she asked.
‘Blue,’ said Josh very quickly.
‘Blue,’ said Tingle a second after. ‘It is the song that let us in.’
‘But what about the fish and the birds? We have seen those all the way along the trail.’ Auntie Joanna pulled out all three singing bowls.
‘No…’ said Josh. ‘Blue… blue… blue…’
‘I definitely think blue too,’ said Tingle. ‘Try that one first. Then try the others if it doesn’t work.’
The lead crab made a subtle cough, ‘Erm we don’t have all day!’
Auntie Joanna studied Tingle and then handed the singing bowl over to her. ‘I think you will have the honour.’
‘But I don’t know how to play it.’ Tingle replied looking a bit frightened.
‘Take the singing-stick and gently trace it around the edge of the bowl. Just be very gentle like you are stroking a little puppy. When you have made a few rounds it will start to hum… and then sing. You will feel it.’
Tingle took the bowl and felt a little bit worried. What if she did it wrong? What if a big creature ate her? What if the bowl didn’t sing for her?
‘Darling… just give it a go. Relax,’ said Tingle’s mum. ‘You are over-thinking.’
Tingle took the bowl and began to circle the edge of it with the singing-stick and… nothing happened.
‘See I knew it,’ she said with a tone of disappointment.
‘Darling don’t try too hard and don’t try to control it. Relax, take a deep breath and be gentle like you are stroking a very young puppy with the singing-stick.’
Tingle thought how gentle she would be with a puppy and softly circled the singing bowl. At first she could feel it tingle and then a gentle sound began to hum. As she continued circling, the bowl began to sing. Now it wasn’t the same sound as before. This singing had more tune to it. As she kept circling the melody filled the air and the water on the lake began to change shape; it rose in droplets and the shape of a palace began to form. Tingle’s mouth dropped open and she stopped circling the bowl. The singing grew quiet and the whole palace formation turned back to water droplets, rained back into the lake and disappeared.
‘It’s gone!’ said Josh in a tone of disappointment. ‘Sing… sing… sing…’ He paused and gazed into the lake. ‘Look the big palace is inside the water and upside down. It’s amazing!’
‘Tingle, keep your focus and keep the bowl singing until the whole palace arrives.’ Auntie Joanna said. ‘I know it’s amazing and you will want to stop but if I remember correctly you have to keep the bowl singing until the drawbridge drops. Do you remember that from before Dianne?’
Tingle’s mum nodded, the whole experience was taking her back to her childhood when she had seen the palace rise.
Tingle took a deep breath and made a decision: she would keep the bowl singing no matter what and would only stop if the drawbridge fell. ‘Right… I am going to start again. Are you ready?’
‘Ready,’ said Josh barely able to contain his excitement. He was so excited that he kept wriggling.
Tingle remembered how gentle she had been and began to circle the singing bowl until it sang. She watched the water droplets rise into the air and take on the shape of the palace. At the same time the sea took on the shape of giant sea horses with Splishy Sploshy riders. They all began to race towards the palace. In that moment Tingle wanted to stop. The palace under water was going to rise!
‘Keep going!’ cried Josh who was aware Tingle was slowing down.
Tingle kept the bowl singing. Along the river Splishy Sploshies rose from the water and danced towards the palace too. The waterfall seemed to be spilling Splishy Sploshies in all directions. Tingle wanted to stop and look but realised if she stopped then everything would disappear. She had to keep going until the drawbridge dropped. A moment later the first rain drops began to fall, as they fell they transformed into watery sprites that flitted around made out of water droplets. All around the palace rainbows rose from the lake, reached up and arched over them all. Josh lifted his head to watch the rainbows travel from one side of the lake to the other…. All along the rainbows different coloured water sprites danced to the sound of the singing bowl.
‘I love this…’ said Josh. He clung to his dinosaur, it had to see it all too!
‘It is quite unusual,’ said John not quite knowing what to make of the spectacle.
Tingle began to feel tired but kept the bowl singing. The rainbows entered the lake and the lake began to glow and bubble as all manner of Splishy Sploshies rose from the depths. As they rose they joined in with the singing bowl. A chorus of harmonies filled the atmosphere. The Splishy Sploshies were beautiful, clear and all smiled and bowed before forming rows outside of the palace. Finally there was an eruption of glow-lights that rose to the surface. They seemed to ignite something within the palace which made it light up and finally a gate made of glowing droplets formed on the outside of the palace. A moment later a luminous drawbridge dropped into the water and made a path towards them.
‘Keep going,’ said Auntie Joanna. ‘You will know when to stop because the bowl will let you know.’
Tingle wondered what that meant and kept playing the singing bowl. She watched a series of different underwater creatures, who appeared to be an underwater cavalry march down the drawbridge and form lines. A moment later the bowl made a rather strange song that sounded as though it was making a songish announcement. The tune from the singing bowl changed and suddenly the vibration sounded as though there were trumpets. Did she stop?
‘Keep going…’ Called Auntie Joanna.
The song that played was like a chorus for royalty. Tingle was confused, what was going on? It was as if everything was in place and then… There they were! The most elegant and poised Giant Splishy Sploshies she could ever imagine. The pair, made of water, glided towards an area a short distance from them. The pair of watery giants held hands as they drifted towards the group. Both wore crowns and both looked very different. The Great Splosher was very masculine, strong and deep turquoise. Within him you could see the many seas like a map moving through him. At times there were storms and other times were calms seas. Some of the seas within him had ice and icebergs. The King had a forceful and determined feeling about him. He had the power of the waves and could destroy with a Tsunami. Yet he was calm, and carried the presence of a peaceful giant warrior.
‘Wow!’ said Josh. He couldn’t stop shaking his head. ‘You are really really biiiiiiig!’
The Great Splisher was quite different, she was made up of lakes and rivers. Her colouring was green, and reeds waved through her. What made her more beautiful was she sparkled in the same way as light sparkled on calm water. She was so serene and peaceful, yet within her were the rain storms, lightening, clouds, rainbows and winds. As placid and tranquil as she appeared, she had a subtle power that could be called upon in a second. Her beauty radiated in all directions and her smile made everyone feel at ease.
The tone of the singing bowl changed and became one tone and gradually calmed. Something in that change made Tingle decide to stop circling. The final resonation filled the air and there was silence.
‘You’re sooooo big!’ said Josh. ‘Big, big… big and blue…’
John and Dianne cringed. There was silence and then…
‘And you are sooooo smiley. And soooo biiiiig. A really biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig lady!’ Josh said staring at the Queen. ‘I like you… because you are sooooo biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig!’
Dianne and John buried their heads in their hands. Josh always said exactly what he thought, generally at the most inappropriate moments.
The silence seemed to last forever until both the Great Splisher and the Great Splosher began to giggle. That giggle then evolved into hearty laughs.
Josh frowned, ‘It’s true. You are both very very very big!’
The Great Splisher and Splosher kept laughing and rubbed their eyes.
Finally The Great Splisher said, ‘Yes you are right young human. Thank you for reminding us.’
Josh didn’t know what was so funny and looked at Tingle who also seemed a little bit confused. They were both really big.
After the laughter subsided one of the Splishy Sploshy guards stepped forward. She glided casually towards the group. ‘Thank you for visiting. Please state your business.’
‘Dad flushed the toilet too many times,’ said Josh.
John shook his head in dismay. ‘Thank you Josh!’
‘Is that true?’ The security sprite asked John.
‘We think it was dad,’ said Tingle. ‘He spends more time on the toilet than anyone else.’
Dianne and Auntie Joanna began to shake with laughter. John just stood shaking his head in disbelief. His children had just shared his toilet habits with a King and Queen!
‘I like these children,’ said the Great Splisher. ‘They speak the truth.’
‘So why are you here?’ Asked the main guard.
Auntie Joanna was about to answer when the Great Splosher gestured at the children. ‘I find it more interesting when it comes from them. They will say what needs to be said and will not tailor it to please.’
Tingle suddenly became shy and Josh wanted to hide.
‘Darlings, you are going to have to speak on our behalf,’ Dianne said.
‘We came to say sorry,’ said Josh.
‘Yes dad didn’t meant to do it. He was just trying to make sure the toilet was clean,’ said Tingle. ‘He eats a lot of cereal.’
John was dismayed, the King and Queen now knew he ate a lot of fibre.
‘What if we told you that maybe it wasn’t your father’s toilet flushing that made the Splishy Sploshies come and visit you?’ The lead guard said.
Tingle and Josh frowned, surely it had to be down to their father. He spent a long time in the bathroom. He even read the newspaper in there.
Josh and Tingle glanced at each other… What could it be? Had they done something naughty with water?
‘What other ways could water have been wasted?’ The lead guard asked.
Tingle and Josh thought about all the different ways water could have been wasted. There was the hose pipe where lots of water was sprayed all over the garden. There were times when they left taps running when they cleaned their teeth. Sometimes they over-filled the bath or showered for a very long time. Other than that they couldn’t think of anything they had done that the Splishy Sploshies could be angry about.
‘Was it the hose?’ Tingle asked.
‘Nope,’ said the lead guard.
‘Was it too much washing and using the washing machine?’ Josh suggested.
‘Nope,’ replied the lead guard, knowing it was going to be difficult to guess. All of the other things had contributed to the Splishy Sploshies’ invasion though.
Dianne glanced at John, she had no idea what could have caused the problem.
‘Oh,’ said Tingle and gasped. ‘It was me wasn’t it?’
The Great Splisher nodded.
‘I didn’t think anyone had noticed,’ she said looking very guilty. ‘I am sorry I left the tap on overnight and in the morning saw it when I went to clean my teeth. I turned it off hoping no-one would find out.’
An image arose in the water spray and showed how much water had gone down the drain.
‘Now as you know the Splishy Sploshies go to where water is wasted to teach a lesson. You are lucky your family know about Splishy Sploshy magic because this is what would have happened. An image of the water dripping through the ceiling appeared in the droplets.
‘You know what would have happened then?’ The lead guard asked.
Tingle felt really bad and wanted to cry. ‘No…’
‘I do,’ said Josh.
Tingle glanced across at him.
‘The ceiling would have fallen in and we would all have had to go and live somewhere else,’ he said.
Tingle’s lip trembled, ‘I thought we were here because of dad’s flushing. I didn’t know it was me who made them come. I like the Splishy Sploshies and they were so much fun but I don’t want to leave my home or have it ruined!’
‘Well this is why you are here. Now you know why we visited. The mystery is over,’ the lead guard said.
In a small voice Tingle said, ‘I am really sorry. It was an accident. I did it when I was sleepy. Can you forgive me? It won’t happen again.’
The Great Splisher glided over to her and smiled, ‘You have the courage to admit your mistake. That is a wonderful trait. You have taken responsibility. Well done! Now before we let you return home, we have a riddle for you. You will have to solve it before we can release you.’
‘If we are not moving water then what would we be?
We are frozen but float on the sea…
We can be north or we can be south…
Sometimes when it’s freezing we block river mouths…
When you figure that out then you have the Splishy Sploshy password to enter Splashdom whenever you wish.’
Tingle rubbed her eyes and sighed. She didn’t have a clue. She just wanted to go home and not stay. She glanced over at Josh who was thinking his hardest. Auntie Joanna had the answer and so did their parents. They had that ‘we have solved it’ look on their faces.
‘Can we go home if we don’t answer?’ asked Tingle with a yawn. She was growing increasingly tired.
The Great Splosher glanced at the Great Splisher, as if making sure she agreed.
‘You know the answer young lady… Would you want to miss out on the prize? Plus you will never be able to enter Splashdom without the singing bowl,’ she said.
Tingle glanced at Josh. They needed to win a prize didn’t they? They also wanted to have the secret password just in case…’
‘Darlings what is really cold… and floats on the sea? You know this one. You have done a project on it.’ Tingle jolted. She glanced at Josh and whispered in his ear. He clapped with excitement.
‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ he cried. He knew it too!
The Great Splisher made her way over to Tingle, and Tingle whispered her answer in her rather large royal ear.
‘So are you ready for the prize?’ she asked in a very regal tone.
Josh and Tingle clapped excitedly, they were always ready for a prize!
‘YES!’ Tingle and Josh cried with excitement together.
Two of the Splishy Sploshies made their way over and Tingle was presented with a lovely necklace with a decorated shell, and Josh was given a carved amphibian dinosaur. The pair gazed at their special presents.
‘Now turn your shell around, you will notice there is a hole on the top. Now blow into it…’ said the Queen. There was a high-pitched sound that resembled a whistle. She then blew again and a tune just like the song from the singing bowl began to play. Tingle smiled at the necklace – it was the best prize ever!
‘The whistle is for when you need to call for help,’ she said. ‘Josh look at the hole on the back of your dinosaur and blow.’
Josh did as he was told and blew the whistle loudly. It sounded like a frustrated referee at a football game. He then blew again and the tune sounded. Josh did a little jiggle of joy. He loved it! He made one more blow and the dinosaur roared.
‘Always have a whistle to call for help,’ the Queen Splisher said. ‘Now it is time to prepare to take you home; however, we would like to celebrate your courage in admitting that you left the tap on and took responsibility for your actions. Some people never say sorry and never take responsibility. Sometimes it takes them losing everything to realise they did something wrong. So… well done! To celebrate your honesty and courage we need one tap of the singing bowl to start the music.
Tingle turned to The Great Splisher and The Great Splosher and smiled. ‘Thank you for accepting my apology. I didn’t realise that water could have ruined our home and we would have had to live somewhere else. Auntie Joanna thank you for knowing what the Splishy Sploshies are and the magical rhymes because I know other children don’t have weird aunts like you.’
Auntie Joanna frowned, ‘Erm thank you Tingle.’
‘I mean nice weird. If you hadn’t known the rhyme then our whole house could have been flooded and mum and dad would have been really mad. We wouldn’t have had a wave machine in the back garden instead it would have been a muddy mess, and that makes me sad.’
‘Makes me sad too!’ said Josh. ‘I am sorry. I think I flushed the toilet too many times too. It wasn’t just dad!’
‘Darlings we have all flushed one too many times or left taps running. We just need to pay attention and not waste the water… When we realise what we have done we make an effort not to do it again.’
Josh was thoughtful while he studied the Great Splosher. ‘Oh and what did you do to the palace and the Queen?’
There was an amused silence amongst the Splishy Sploshies. The King glanced mischievously at his wife. ‘Darling will you do the honours? You are the better story teller.’
The great Splishy Queen nodded. ‘Ah the palace and the Queen… Well the Queen had a beautiful palace and desired to have the most expensive and elaborate garden filled with fountains. She wanted to show off to all the other Kings and Queens and have the best palace in the world.’
Tingle and Josh glanced at each other. They could guess where the story was going.
‘Unfortunately she used our rivers and lakes to pump the water to make the beautiful fountains the biggest and splashiest across the land. They were ornate just like the fountains in Peterhof in St. Petersburg. The thing is the Queen wanted to wow the world with her fountains and would stop at nothing to create such loveliness, which wasn’t a bad thing but unfortunately they used a lot of water. The area where she lived had limited water and in the summer she took all the water from the rivers until they were almost dry. There was nothing left for the villagers or any wildlife to drink. That made us very angry! So we sent some Splishy Sploshies to visit her. Since she was a Queen, they were very polite and dignified at first. There was no sneaking in and not one of them emerged from the toilet or bidet. Instead they addressed her from the fountains and her personal lake where she often sailed a lovely luxurious boat. The thing is she ignored us. We sent her a letter. We asked to meet with her but still she ignored us. Eventually, as a fellow Queen, I asked to have a meeting and she declined. All the while the rivers were drying up, the lakes were low and the wildlife were thirsty because they had nothing to drink. The more she avoided us the more we scouted her grounds, and the reports that came back were horrifying. So one day, while she was lounging in a boat with a flotilla of guests, I emerged from the lake. I rose in watery form and asked her there and then to save the water. She sneered at me and screamed, ‘I am a Queen and I shall do as I wish! I own all of this land and the water is mine. Now leave. Guards!’
‘She was very rude. I was quiet as I considered what she said. ‘Hmmm I am also a Queen, so should I do as I wish? No one ever truly owns the land and the water is my domain. You have shown disrespect and you have made your choice. I approached you with dignity and you have scorned me. Now I do not take kindly to arrogance and I shall show you the true power of water. We will only stop when you apologise and change the way you use water.’
‘Guards!’ screamed the Queen. ‘You will not tell me what to do! Do as you wish! I have a huge army! I will overthrow you!’
The Great Splisher sighed as she remembered.
‘What did you do?’ Josh asked. ‘Because you are biiiiig, wasn’t she scared?’
‘I remained calm. I realised the woman did not understand the power of water,’ she replied with a mischievous smile. ‘My dearest Queen an army is no match for water!’
‘Oh it is! There is nothing water can do to us! Now this is war!’ She cried.
‘That was it. She declared war on water. Of course I didn’t want a conflict and I did not want anyone harmed. So I had to act quickly…’ The Queen smiled playfully. It seemed that she enjoyed telling the story.
‘What did you do?’ cried Josh.
‘Well I was dignified, smiled and rose into the air. ‘When you apologise I shall cease any destruction. Only when you apologise and change your nasty water wasting ways will you feel at peace!’’
‘I will never apologise because I do not relent to anyone! I have more power! You will bow before me!’ She cried, pointing her finger.
‘So be it! As I said: I will only stop once you have apologised…’ I said swirling through the air.
‘What did you do?’ Tingle’s amazement-filled expression gave her away.
‘I revealed my power and called in the clouds. Those clouds gathered and created a storm. My first lightning strike hit a palace tower and it burst into flames,’ the Great Splisher shook her head as she remembered. ‘The palace grounds were filled with people trying to put out the fire. Of course they used water.’
‘So what did she do? Did she apologise?’ Josh asked.
‘No she didn’t apologise and her face was horrified by the unexpected fire,’ the Queen’s face revealed a sense of mischief as she remembered.
‘How dare you!’ she screamed and began to thump the pillows on her boat. There was nothing she could do other than shout ‘Canons!’’
‘You need water to put out the fire. What if you have no water?’ I asked very calmly as I spun into a water spout and glided by her boat. I sensed she was beginning to understand the power of water.
While she had her tantrum her guards directed canons at the sky but what could they shoot?’
‘Amazing!’ said Tingle.
That night, after the lightning strike, I sent the Splishy Sploshies in through the palace pipes. My first little game was to create a right royal stink. We all found it so funny when the Splishy Sploshies directed the sewage pipes through the palace during the night. When she woke up in the morning the smell was unbearable. She called her court together to accuse a culprit. People stood with handkerchiefs covering their noses and some of the ladies–in-waiting passed out. The Queen stood scowling before her court. ‘Who is the stinking culprit?’ she demanded. The Splishy Sploshies were clever and had left no trace of their presence. There was talk in the palace of who it could be. There was a lot of finger pointing and blame but no one knew about the Splishy Sploshies. The Great Splisher glanced at the Great Splosher and held his hand. They gazed lovingly at each other. Both had a glint of mischief in their eyes.
The next night we created a royal drip. The drip fell from the ceiling throughout the night and kept the Queen awake. Every time she stopped one drip, another would start. It was such pleasure to create such an annoying drip. She tried ear plugs but they didn’t work. Now as we know drips become drops and drops begin to trickle and that is when they evolve into gushers.
‘Gushers…’ Josh cried waving his dinosaur.
‘Yes gushers… Those gushers are what travel between floors and often cause ceilings to cave in. So that evening, while the palace had a banquet, we created the perfect gusher to wash away the food and guests. No one was hurt and actually the ride was quite fun. The whole party was washed to one of the fountains, which had a large lion in the centre. The stone lion turned and roared. A huge jet of water sprayed them as the finale. The guests had never seen anything like it and wondered whether it was part of the entertainment.’
‘So much fun!’ Cried Tingle with a clap.
‘Ahhhh my Splishy Sploshies are very creative,’ the Queen said, she was obviously very proud of them.
‘What did the Queen do?’ Tingle asked.
‘Well she hadn’t slept so was already grumpy, and when the gusher happened the Queen became enraged. She stamped, stomped and screamed. When she calmed down her advisers suggested that she should consider making an apology. There was no way! Unfortunately her arrogance, pride and unawareness of the power of water was going to be her demise.’ The Great Splisher sighed.
‘So what did you do?’ John asked. He couldn’t believe that it all had grown so out of hand.
‘Well she called in a wizard for his advice. She wanted him to use magic against us. He refused to use magic against water because water is magic. If you think about it – it is always there, it changes form and it keeps the planet alive. Why would a wizard use magic against such a magical wonder? In the end the court asked his advice. ‘I suggest you apologise and ask forgiveness. She is playing with you now, but are you willing to lose everything over pride and arrogance?’
‘Oh dear,’ said Josh.
‘The Queen was displeased to say the least. How dare a mere wizard call her arrogant! – She was a Queen – no one should challenge her! Her face filled with rage; ‘Get out and never step foot on my land again!’ With that she banished the wizard from the kingdom. On his way home he visited the river to ask the Splishy Sploshies what they intended to do. They didn’t give too much away, but replied – ‘We intend to sing, dance and have some palace fun. The kind of fun that no Queen could ever expect!’ The Splishy Sploshies had a palatial plan and they were going to have a giggle making it happen.’
The wizard smiled knowingly. The palace was going to learn a very in-depth watery lesson.
That morning, when the Queen arose and opened her curtains, the lake had risen and water was level with her window. Throughout the night the Splishy Sploshies had used their magic and taken all the water in her kingdom and made it rise. It was as if there was an invisible container and all the water was held within it surrounding the palace, like an invisible fish tank. The walls of the palace were strong but there were a few leaks. To make it more exciting the Splishy Sploshies were celebrating and an orchestra of Splishy Sploshies danced outside in the rising lake. Numerous Splishy Sploshies swam around in the water pouring through the walls.
The Queen stood with her mouth open, it was a sight to behold. In her rage she screamed ‘Get that Queen here!’ When she called I answered and rose from the lake. I expected her to apologise but she didn’t. Instead she screamed ‘I command you to leave this palace. Take all the water with you and go away. You are not welcome here!’ I don’t think she realised what she said. I remained calm because she had given me permission to take the water. ‘As you wish I replied and I took every drop of water from the palace. In a second the water rose into the air, all the pipes burst, every drop of water that had resided in the bricks left and the palace began to crumble. The Queen gathered her things and ran out into the gardens. The water from the ponds, the fountains and the lake lifted to the sky. All her servants ran out and gazed at the marvellous sight. When she was clear of the palace, I took the water, formed a storm and belted the palace with lightening. Since there was no water to put out the fire she watched the palace erupt into flames. Everything was so dry that the whole palace was destroyed. She stood silently as everything burned to the ground. When it was complete, I created a beautiful rainbow and allowed one drop of rain to fall from the sky. It collided with her nose. The Queen no longer had a palace and her court whispered amongst themselves. All she had to do was apologise and not overuse the water. If she had not been so stubborn then none of that would have happened. Of course I returned the water to all the ponds and rivers in the area. The wildlife had plenty to drink and the villagers were relieved. The story travelled quickly across the country about how a Queen had challenged the power of water.’
‘What happened to the Queen?’ Tingle asked.
‘She moved to a castle in the mountains because she heard that my King was the King of the sea. She didn’t dare go near him. What’s more, she never over-used water again and she never apologised. She learned the power of water and how precious it was. Plus, she realised that if she ever came close to over-using water she would lose everything again.’
Tingle shook her head in disbelief. The Queen lost everything because she would not apologise. It was amazing. Thank goodness she had realised that the Splishy Sploshies visiting her home was her fault and thank goodness she had apologised. If the Great Splisher and Splosher could do that to a Queen then what would have happened to their home?
Josh turned to the Great Splosher and asked ‘Why are you called the Great Splosher?’
‘I thought you would never ask!’ said the Great Splosher with a grin. He glanced at his queen with a twinkle in his eye. ‘Tingle please sound the singing bowl!’ The Great Splosher asked with a fun expression.
‘Tingle made a circle of the bowl and the funnest song came out. The Great Splisher glanced at The Great Splosher and the pair lifted each other’s hands, ran and jumped into the lake. The pair made a giant splish and a giant splosh! Water rose up into walls and all the Splishy Sploshies began to dance and sing.
‘Can we dance too?’ Josh asked.
‘Of course you can,’ said the lead crab gently lifting Josh from his back and placing him on the ground.
For a while the group danced with the Splishy Sploshies but Josh began to yawn. That yawn made Tingle yawn and everyone knew it was time to go home.
‘It’s a big journey home,’ said Tingle. ‘I just want to go to bed.’ She said as she rubbed her eyes. She was soooo tired.
The lead crab gestured to some of his other rock crabs. ‘Please collect the boards.’
‘Can we finish dancing to the song?’ Josh asked, his eyes closed while he danced.
‘Of course…’ The lead crab replied.
Tingle and Josh danced until the end of the song but were clearly very worn-out.
‘We need to say goodbye!’ said Tingle.
The Great Splisher and Great Splosher moved towards the edge of the lake, ‘Thank you for visiting.’
‘Darlings it is your bed time…’ said Dianne watching her children fight back their yawns.
The Great Splisher and Splosher smiled, ‘Children you are in good pincers with our guards. They will take you the quickest route home.’
‘Thank you. It has been lovely to meet you,’ said Tingle who was barely able to keep her eyes open.
‘Yes… Amazing!’ said Josh ‘And you are sooooo biiiiiiiiigggg and sooooo ffffuuuuun! Thank you.’ He said and yawned.
‘Come on kids,’ said John, who was feeling pretty tired himself.
‘We can take you the quick way…’ The lead guard said with a wink. ‘All aboard.’
The next thing they knew, the group were racing sideways across the trail to a waterfall. The guard crabs placed the group beside the rocky entrance. ‘Now this is our secret. This is the rapid way to the outer world and this is often how the Splishy Sploshies visit your world. So where did you start your journey?’
‘Splasher’s Launch… by the old stone bridge…’ Tingle replied.
‘Ahhhh – the gentle way into Splashdom. Well I will announce it to the waterfall. Splasher’s Launch please.’ The lead crab called.
‘So who would like to go first?’ The lead crab asked the family.
‘I will go first,’ said Auntie Joanna.
‘As you wish,’ he replied.
A giant bubble surrounded Auntie Joanna, she was placed in the waterfall which shifted from flowing downwards and lifted into the air and shot her up through a cave above.
‘Can Tingle and I share a bubble and Josh and John share?’ Asked Dianne, who was a little concerned about where the children might end up.
‘The bubbles can be tailored to whole groups. If you all want to go together then be my bubbly guest.’ The lead crab responded.
‘All together,’ called Josh with a clap.
A moment later the group were surrounded by a huge bubble and propelled up through the waterfall at great speed. The next thing they knew they were in a cave, the bubble floated on the water and passed through the waterfall beside the stone bridge next to Splasher’s Launch.
‘We’re here!’ cried Tingle. The bubble floated over to the launch area and popped. The pop made Josh jump and then giggle.
‘What about the paddleboards?’ asked Tingle with concern.
A moment later three bubbles appeared with three paddleboards.
Auntie Joanna, had already changed and made some drinks. ‘Right it’s getting late and we need to get you to bed.’
‘I don’t want to go to bed,’ said Josh. ‘I want to dance…’
Auntie Joanna shook her head. ‘It’s bedtime Josh and with all of the excitement we need to get you dried, changed and home.’
The family got ready and Auntie Joanna put on some music. When Tingle was dry and dressed she went over to her auntie and gave her a cosy cuddle. ‘Auntie Joanna… I just want to tell you that I didn’t mean to leave the tap running. I did it by mistake.’
‘Darling… you have had the courage to take responsibility. You admitted what you did to the Great Splisher and Great Splosher. You said you were sorry and meant it. Very well done darling! That takes a lot to do. A lot of people might pretend it wasn’t them or not apologise… like that Queen.’
Tingle gave her auntie a cuddle. ‘I will make sure that I look after water from now on. I like water…’
‘I like water too, said Josh climbing into the camper van. He had a cosy seat next to Tingle. The pair held their prizes as Auntie Joanna took them home. From that day on they were going to make sure they didn’t waste any water.