The Panama Hat Series - Volume 1: Tezzie and the Villainous Victorians

By Lola All Rights Reserved ©

Children / Adventure

Blurb

When the Panama Hat first started to glow Tezzie and Nico had no idea that THIS was the first day of their ADVENTURES together...Join them as they go on a journey to Victorian London where they find a poor, ragged chimney sweep called Billy and try to save him from being caught by the cunning Mr Dallevil and the terrible fate of being thrown into a dark, dank and scary Victorian prison...

Chapter 1

written (and to be illustrated) by Lola Chapman.

Up until THAT day, the day that changed EVERYTHING, Tezzie and Nico lead quite normal lives. Very normal lives. Incredibly normal run-of-the-mill lives. Yes, up until that infamous day, when the Panama hat actually started to glow and everything changed forever, you might even say that life had been BORING. (Adults don’t like it when you use the word ‘boring’, they want you to find everything interesting and exciting, even if they take you to see some paintings,in some stuffy old museum, that were painted ages ago by French people who have been dead a long time.) In fact, probably the most exciting thing that ever happened in Tezzie and Nico’s lives (up to THAT day of course) was going to the local cafe on a Saturday morning, having a glass of milk and a piece of cake, knowing that Grampy would probably buy you some sweets at the newsagents afterwards.

I suppose firstly I should tell you a little bit about Tezzie and Nico - before we get to THAT DAY, the day EVERYTHING CHANGED, and life could never be described as BORING ever again. Ok, then.

Well Tezzie was a tall boy of seven years old, strong for his age, with sandy blonde hair, which was very long at the front and so he was constantly flicking it out of his green-blue eyes or running his fingers through it absent-mindedly when he was worried, tired or just thinking. He had a healthy rosy-cheeked glow and was very polite and careful. He was somebody you could trust, a typical older brother type, always making sure that he was playing by the rules (although that might change - I’m not saying anything though) which made him popular with his friends’ mums. He had a fantastic sense of humour and although he really didn’t like confrontations, he would always defend anybody he thought was being treated badly or unfairly. This is a recent picture of Tezzie.

(Illustration: Tezzie)

Nico was a bit smaller than Tezzie, he was six years old and his hair was quite a light blonde cut into a short slightly spiky style. When he smiled, he had dimples which he hoped would disappear when he got older. His mum thought they were cute; he didn’t. And he had sparkly and mischievous blue eyes. Nico was more likely to take risks, he didn’t always look before he leapt (as Grampy would tell him) but he and Tezzie were very close, more like brothers than cousins. And so Tezzie’s more reasoned personality matched Nico’s more adventurous spirit. They had lots of fun together. This is a recent picture of Nico.

(Illustration: Nico, close up of face)

So, what happened on this infamous day that CHANGED EVERYTHING? Well, make yourself comfortable and I will tell you all about how Tezzie and Nico went on their first adventure.

This is a picture of Tezzie and Nico, just after their first adventure together. As you can see, they were definitely NOT bored.

(Illustration: Tezzie and Nico after adventure)

It all began on Tezzie’s 7th birthday. He and Nico were playing in the garden at Grandma and Grampy’s. After the party had finished, Auntie Suse came out and gave Tezzie a package – it was a birthday gift. Thomas tore off the colourful wrapping paper, which had pictures of trains all over it. Something cream-coloured, tattered and dusty fell onto the grass at Tezzie’s feet. It was a hat. A hat which looked very old and as if it had not been worn for many years. When he saw that it was just an old hat, Tezzie looked a bit crestfallen (what would he do with a boring old hat?) but he didn’t say this as he knew it would be rude and unkind and he didn’t like to hurt Auntie Suse's feelings.

(Illustration: The Panama Hat)

Auntie Suse smiled wryly and started to explain. “This is a Panama hat,” her voice then dropped to almost a whisper “but it’s no ordinary Panama hat. Your dad and I used to go on adventures together with this hat – it has special powers – and now that you are seven years old, and your Dad and I are too old for adventures any more, I thought that you might like to have it. Keep it really safe.”

She winked at Tezzie and nodded knowingly as though she had just told him something incredibly exciting. Tezzie nodded in return but, truthfully, he was a bit baffled and didn’t really take what Auntie Suse had just said very seriously. As you can probably tell, Tezzie didn’t think much of this gift. He couldn’t see how it could possibly help him to go on adventures, so he put it away at the back of Grampy’s wardrobe and forgot all about it.

Some weeks after his birthday, Tezzie was playing with Nico in Grandma and Grampy’s back garden again. They had just decided to play a new game – cowboys and Indians. Grampy had shown them a film called a ‘Western’, so they were keen to act out the scenes from the film. They were arguing about who should play the cowboy and who should pay the Indian when Nico finally conceded and said to Tezzie, “Oh ok then, fine, you can play the cowboy this time, and I’ll be the Indian...but I definitely want to be the cowboy next time.”

“Great!” said Tezzie, happy to have got his way, “Then I am going to need a hat, and you’ll need to find a feather.”

They went back indoors to see if Grandma had any of the things they needed for the game. Whenever they played characters in a game they loved to dress up, and Grandma was very good at finding things around the house that could be used for the costumes.

Grandma listened carefully (as all Grandmas do).

“Well I’m sure I can find a feather for Nico, but I’m afraid we’ve just taken all our old hats to the charity shop, Tezzie. Dear me, I should have known that you two boys might want them to use for your games. I should have kept them...so sorry, my loves!”

Tezzie tried not to look too disappointed. Ah well, he thought, I will just have to play a cowboy without a hat. He was absentmindedly kicking his feet against the side of the house outside when suddenly he had a thought. What about that tattered old Panama hat that Auntie Suse had given him for his last birthday? Ok it wasn’t a cowboy hat, but it might just do for this game. Tezzie ran upstairs, threw open the doors of Grampy’s wardrobe, scrambled around amongst the clothes and shoes and finally grabbed the old panama hat (which was even more squashed and dusty by now.) He carried it outside with a look of triumph. Nico grinned when he saw the hat.“Good work Tezzie – you found one! Wait a minute, is that the silly old hat that Auntie Suse gave you?”

Tezzie grinned back.“It’s not so silly now, is it?” They both laughed and ran off to play their game.

They had great fun running around playing cowboys and Indians – the hat worked surprisingly well as a cowboy hat, and they didn’t notice that it was just a boring old panama hat after all. Tezzie the cowboy was successfully defending his territory, the bit right down at the bottom of the garden, by the pond, near the wall. Yes, that’s it. You can see him if you look very carefully at this picture. This was the moment just before the EXCITING one that happened next.

(Illustration: Grandparent's garden with Tezzie hiding behind bush)

Tezzie was crouching there, behind the bush, his heart beating wildly with excitement as he knew that Nico the Indian planned to ambush him any second. Well, he thought, I am ready for him. Nobody is going to take my land today. He felt his head getting warmer as the sun beat down, warming his hat and then his head. Phew, it’s hot today. The hat got warmer and warmer on his head while he waited; it felt as though he had a hot water bottle on his head! Just at that moment, Nico came running around the bush shouting an Indian war cry and patting his mouth.

“Oh oh oh-” He stopped mid “oh” and stared at Tezzie. “Erm – whoa Tezzie! Look at your hat – It’s… It’s glowing!”

Nico was pointed at Tezzie’s head. Tezzie whipped off the now very hot hat quickly and stared at it, his eyes round with astonishment. It was just as Nico said, the hat WAS glowing! It was glowing with an almost golden amber colour, the colour of the sun and it was so bright they could hardly look at it directly.

“Whoooaaa!” said Tezzie, almost dropping the hat. Just then they both heard a grinding noise coming from the wall behind them...it sounded like stones scraping against one another. They both slowly turned to face the wall. The bricks in the wall behind them were somehow moving and changing right before their eyes. The grinding noise was because the bricks were somehow rearranging themselves, some sliding out, some upwards and some sliding down. It was as if an invisible giant was trying to solve a huge 3D puzzle. Tezzie and Nico continued to stare, frozen to the spot. When the bricks finally stopped, they were a little shocked to see that some of the bricks now formed what looked like steps leading up to the top of the wall. They looked at one another, then back at the steps, and then back at one another again.

“Ok, so that has never happened before,” said Tezzie, trying to sound braver than he felt. To be fair it was pretty scary – I mean how many walls have you witnessed morphing into a set of steps? (Except maybe in movies of course.)

Nico, gawping at the newly formed set of steps for what seemed like an eternity, finally said, “What shall we do?”

“I don’t know,” said Tezzie, “shall we go and tell Grandma what has happened to the garden wall?”

Tezzie said this because he was a very responsible boy and he knew that you should always tell a grown-up if something unusual and perhaps dangerous was happened.

But then a thought occurred to Tezzie. Hadn’t Auntie Suse said something about adventures happening when she and Dad had played with this hat as children? Maybe this was what she was talking about? Maybe they were meant to do what Dad and Auntie Suse had done? Maybe they were meant to explore this curiosity themselves. Maybe, just maybe, this was an adventure for Tezzie and Nico – and not for the grown-ups!

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