One hot Summers day there was great excitement amongst the Puddle Pixies. A splendid grey and black pixie pony came galloping over the hill, skidding to a halt by the side of the Fairpuddle, panting and steaming with the exertion, jingling the silver bells on his harness as he tossed his head.
On his back sat the royal herald, his green and silver livery sparkling in the sunshine. He drew out a long silver trumpet, and blew a fanfare to attract the puddle pixies’ attention. As they gathered round, he unrolled a scroll and read out importantly :
‘Hear this, all you pixies. The King and Queen of the Pixies command all
Pixie folk to send teams of their best sportspixies to compete in the Pixielympic Games, to be held next week, starting on Monday and ending on Friday, to be held in the Palace Grounds’.
Then he drew out from his saddlebag a big brass nail and a silver hammer, and nailed the scroll to a nearby oakapple tree. Then, without further ado, he pulled on the ponys’ reins and away they galloped in a cloud of dust and steam. The Puddle Pixies watched with wide eyes and open mouths until they were out of sight over the Far Hill.
The pixies all gathered round the oakapple tree and read the Royal Proclamation over and over again.
The next few days were spent with all the Puddle Pixies practising their favourite sports, until they decided who should represent the Puddle Pixies at the Games. Naturally, the Puddle Pixies were on the whole best at water sports, but they also made up teams to compete in many other events; but the main thing was that they all had lots of fun practising and preparing for the Games, cheering each other on and laughing until their sides ached.
The older folk went off to their store-room and worked far into the night sewing beautiful rainbow coloured uniforms for the teams to wear – shorts and tops for the field sports, and stylish swimming costumes for the water events, all to be topped off with new rainbow-coloured sou-westers and macs, covered with a sprinkling of stardust, as was suitable for such a special occasion.
When the uniforms were finished, they set about making T shirts for the supporters and spectators, in all their favourite colours, printed with the words :
PLAY UP PPs!!
On Sunday afternoon, all the Puddle Pixies set off to go to the Palace. They were very excited indeed; most of them had never been to the palace, never mind seen the King and Queen of the Pixies; indeed, many of them had never even been away from the puddles in their lives!
Most of them travelled on foot, but there were babies in prams, some on bicycles and some who were not so good at walking scooted along in their wheelchairs. Others rode on the carts which carried their supplies for the week; clothes, uniforms, cooking pots etc and of course plenty of FOOD! The Elder Puddle Pixie (a very important gentlepixie) travelled on the leading cart, holding tightly on to a large chest which contained gifts for the King and Queen: a handsome belt buckle fashioned out of the finest pixie moon silver for the King, and, for the Queen, a fabulous gown, made from the most delicate and rare of moonbows, which shimmered and glimmered and sparkled with moondust and stardust like no-one had ever seen before or since.
As they came over the hill later that afternoon, they saw procession after procession of pixies making their way from all corners of the Pixie Realm to the golden palace on the Emerald ridge beyond the Far Hill. There were pixies of all kinds; Forest Pixies, Mountain Pixies, Flower Pixies, Tunnel Pixies, and many others, in fact all the pixies in the world were making their way to the vast green field surrounding the palace, where they were to make their camp for the duration of the Games.
As they approached, they were greeted by a friendly but rather harassed looking Palace Pixie, in his splendid green and gold uniform, waving them over to a nice area near the lake, where they were to pitch their tents.
‘Are you the Puddle Pixies?’
he asked the Elder Pixie anxiously. The Elder nodded.
‘Oh good, over here please. My name is Hereward, and I am going to be your helper while you are here.’
He pulled a sheet of paper from his clipboard, peered at it over the top of his spectacles and handed it to the Elder.
‘Here is the timetable for the games and a map of the site. Let me know if there is anything you need to know or anything you want.’
‘Thank you very much’, said the Elder Puddle Pixie. ‘We have a gift for Their Majesties, and would be grateful if you would arrange to deliver it to them.’
Hereward clapped his hands and a pair of jolly young pixies came running through the crowds, pushing a small hand cart between them. They loaded the chest containing the gifts on to it with much puffing and panting, then ran off towards the palace with their precious cargo.
After the pixies had set up camp and enjoyed a refreshing drink of golden pixie nectar brought round to everyone by more of the Palace Pixies, they spent a pleasant hour or two strolling round the camp, seeing the sights and enjoying the smells, some greeting old friends they hadn’t seen for ages. Soon the whole field was a busy throng of pixies all chatting happily and exploring the palace grounds in the warm evening sunlight.
Later on, after a lovely meal, as the sun set and the milky moon rose over the whispering lake, the pixies of the world sat round their camp fires, each singing their ancient pixie songs and drinking hot cocoa with magical marshmallows until, rubbing the pixie sleeping dust in their eyes, they all settled down for the night, and the field became silent except for gentle snores, the crackling of dying fires and the soft sound of water sighing as it lapped the shores of the lake.
Monday morning started bright and clear. All the pixies had been too excited to sleep very long, and were all washed, dressed, breakfasted and ready to go long before Hereward appeared to lead them to the Games.
There was much cheering as the pixie athletes lined up on the field, all in their different coloured team uniforms. The Forest Pixies were in smart mossy green with a brown leafy design, the Flower Pixies wore sky blue, each one with a picture of his or her favourite flower embroidered on the front, the Mountain Pixies wore grey and white, and, of course, there were the Puddle Pixies in their rainbow outfits, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Pixie King and Queen.
They chatted away merrily, all looking towards the gleaming palace, its gold and green royal standard fluttering from the top of the tallest turret. From every wall hung the colourful flags of all the pixie nations taking part in the Games. Suddenly there was a burst of sound from the highest walls of the palace, as the royal Pixie Heralds played a fanfare to signal the arrival of the royal couple.
The pixies fell silent as the huge palace gates were thrown open, and there stood their Pixie Majesties. There was a gasp from the crowd as King Jershom led his beautiful Queen Caroline forward. The crowd parted to let them walk down the middle of the field to where two crystal thrones awaited them. The Puddle Pixies were happy to see that the King was wearing their gift, the silver belt buckle, which looked very fine with his silver sword sparkling with emeralds, but it was the Queen’s outfit which made all the pixies stare open-mouthed in wonder.
She was, of course, wearing the Puddle Pixies’ moonbow dress. As she walked through the crowd, she looked like a magic silver cloud floating through the summer sky, as the dress shimmered and glimmered, sprinkling little puffs of sparkling moondust and stardust as she went. Never had anyone ever seen a dress so wonderful; it even outshone the diamonds that twinkled and flashed bright darts of light from the tall points on the Queens crown.
The Royal Pixies made their way to the crystal thrones, hands waving this way and that, and smiling at all the happy faces around them. When they were seated comfortably, the King gave the signal for the games to begin.
First came the running race. No-one was surprised when this was won by one of the Messenger Pixies, whose job it was to deliver messages as fast as they could all round the pixie world. Next was the wheelchair race, which was won by a young Flower Pixie wearing a yellow chrysanthemum on his T-shirt. There followed many more events and at the end of that first long hot day, all the Pixies were tired out and glad to get back to their beds.
And so it continued for the next two days. The Forest Pixies won the archery competitions outright, but there was great applause for the other competitors too, who had not had nearly so much practice. A Tunnel Pixie set a new record in the long jump, and all the competitors in every race did their very best.
At last it was Thursday. The Elder Puddle Pixie consulted the timetable Hereward had given him, just to make sure it was indeed Water Sports Day.
And so the pixies made their way down to the lake, where all the water events were to happen, and the King and Queen took their places on the royal barge, now bedecked with ribbons and flags fluttering in the breeze, which was moored at the edge of the lake.
The signal was given and the first race began.
This was the freestyle swimming race for young pixies under 100 years old. It was won by little Archie Puddle Pixie, and his sister Petal came second, much to her disgust, but she perked up considerably when she won the next race, the backsplash, which she had been practising all week.
And so it went on.
For the Puddle Pixies, the highlight of the day was the Puddalo race. The Puddle Pixies had painted their puddaloes in bright rainbow colours especially for the Games, and they gleamed in the bright sunlight. There were six other teams in the race, including their great rivals, their cousins the River Pixies, and it was a lovely sight to behold as they all pedalled furiously through the calm water.
Then as the leading Puddle Pixie puddalo was in sight of the finishing post on the far side of the lake, Geraldine Puddle Pixie, the team leader, heard a splash and cries of ‘help help!’ She looked round and saw that the puddalo just behind them had overturned and the River Pixies whose boat it was were all splashing about in the water, trying to free themselves from the large clump of goblinweed which had caused the accident.
Quick as a flash, the race was forgotten as Geraldine and her crew, followed by the rest of the Puddle Pixies Puddalo team as soon as they had dropped anchor to secure their own boats, jumped in the lake to help the unfortunate River Pixies. While this was going on, the race was won by the Tunnel Pixies, much to their surprise!
However, the Puddle Pixies gave no thought to this; they swam and dived until they had rescued all the River Pixies and helped them on to their puddalo, where they sat and sadly watched their boat sink.
They eventually got back to shore and helped each other off the puddalos. As they stepped on to the dry grass, the rescued and the rescuers were greeted by cheers and great applause from the crowd of spectators, which parted to let them through as they ran dripping to their tents. After hot baths and steaming cocoa, they were as good as new and looking forward to a good nights sleep, ready for the last day of the Games.
Friday dawned; another warm and golden day. In fact, the whole week had been glorious weather and the Puddle Pixies had not really needed all their new macs and umbrellas! The pixies put on their best Pixielympics outfits, and all the Pixie nations gathered together on the Great Playing Field, awaiting the arrival of the Pixie King and Queen. The fanfare sounded, and the royal couple made their way from the palace, through the excited pixies, to take their places on the crystal thrones.
As the last notes of the fanfare died away, King Jershom rose from his throne and walked over to a platform in the middle of the field where all the winners of the races were lined up to receive their medals.
As Hereward called out the name of the winner of each event, the King stepped forward and placed a shining gold medal on a green silk ribbon round the neck of the proud pixies. As the last medal was presented, and the crowd were clapping and cheering, the King held up his hand for silence.
‘I have one more very special award to present’
‘Would the Puddle Pixies Puddalo Team please step forward’.
Then Queen Caroline, once again a glorious sight in her magical Moonbow gown, presented each of the team with a specially made silver medal on a red ribbon.
‘These’, she said, ‘are in recognition of your brave and selfless action in rescuing the River Pixies from the lake today, even though it meant losing the race. The medals are inscribed with the words ‘PIXIE HERO’, for you are indeed the true heroes of these Games. We are very proud of you’.
A tremendous cheer went up from the crowd, who surged forward to try to shake the hands of the brave pixies.
Once again the King held up his hand for silence.
‘Each and every pixie who took part in these games is a winner, whether or not they have won a medal. So the Palace Pixies will be walking through the field with a competitors’ medal for every one of you. Now please enjoy the party for the rest of the day, and have a safe journey home.’
With that, the band struck up a merry pixie tune, and the Palace Pixies threw open the refreshment tents, revealing tables laden with all sorts of sandwiches and fancy cakes, and many kinds of nectar to drink.
Much later, the Puddle Pixies said a fond farewell to their friends old and new, and made their way home, tired but very happy.
Tucked up cosily in their own little beds that night, they fell asleep with smiley faces, dreaming dreams of all the wonders of the Pixielympic Games.