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Floppit and Burridge

by

Catherine Holden

Floppit and Burridge are tiny fellows you may not have met yet. They live in the damp undergrowth close to the river's edge. Their homes are the hollows the river makes with its little eddying whirls and their friends are the other tiny creatures of Doghole bank.
They spend days lazing in the sun but in the earliest of dawn mornings they creep around borrowing the colours from leaves and flowers to store in their paint boxes. As the evening falls they go to work. They skip and dance their way from chrysalis to chrysalis waking the sleepy butterflies and decorating their wings with wonderful colours and patterns. Tiny and quick their little feather paintbrushes flick and quiver while all the time the two friends giggle and chatter as they go.
Burridge is the larger of the pair. As tall as an acorn and almost as round, his home is an empty shell of a freshwater oyster upturned to make a perfect roof. His floor is a piece of terracotta plant pot smoothed by the river to a softly rounded curve just right for the rather rounded Burridge to rest in the heat of the day or the chill of a frosty autumn.

Past the low hanging willow branches lived Floppit. The thin little creature had made a comfortable den in an old clay pipe - the smoking days long over, it lay half buried in the soil turning whiter with every summer and becoming cosier the longer Floppit lovingly cleaned it and patted down the sandy earth that made his floor.

In winter little clouds of smoke from his willow twig fire puffed up the stem like a tiny chimney and the little house glowed warmly, inviting passing friends to wander in.
The adventures of Floppit, Burridge and their friends are many to tell and they will share them if you listen well.
Just as the sun rises over the Goodrich castle hill and the sky brightens promising another fine June day, there comes a scuffling shuffling from the residents of Doghole bank. One such day Floppit and Burridge met to gather new colours for their tiny paint boxes. Burridge carefully balancing the tiny fragments of blackbirds' eggshells on a broad dock leaf held high above his head and Floppit soaking up the damp colourful beads of dew from petals with little wisps of wool pulled from the gate, they began their day as usual. The yellowest buttercups and celandines, creamy daises opening from their sleep and china blue forget-me-knots all willingly offered their colours.
Campions of candy pink and the newest green shoots of willow filled the paint tray so full that as the two friends carried it carefully back to their store; the little cups brim full of paint wobbled at every step. As they worked through the early morning Floppit and Buridge listened to the song of the young blackbirds and watched as Robin scuffled across the branches reminding all the world that Doghole was his home. They heard the splash as the salmon leapt in the deep Doghole pool and knew it
was time to store their treasure trove of colours until the evening came.

Tired but happy in the warming sun they put down their leaf and pulled it,a corner each to its secret corner of the bank. The kindly fisherman had built a sturdy wooden seat with a backrest and footstool fixed into the riverbank, itself a cool, damp and secret storehouse away from the hot sun in which the artists could mix their magical paints.
Brambles wound around it and kind leaves shaded it and the bench became the well used workshop of Floppit and Burridge.

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