Scipio's Story My Story


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Scipio's Story

Preschool history series. Leon and Gogo Thabby go back 300 years to discover what life was like for a child living as a servant boy in a grand castle.


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This story belongs to Leon

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and his gogo, Thabby.

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Gogo means grandmother

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in parts of Africa,

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which is where

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Gogo Thabby was born.

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It's a tiny tale about how children, just like you,

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lived in the olden days, over 300 years ago.

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They're looking for pebbles on the beach.

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-Oh, there's another one.

-Good.

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Do you want to play a game, Leon?

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-Yes.

-I'm going to show you a game

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that is played in Africa called oware.

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First, they dig some holes.

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Then they use pebbles as play pieces.

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This game can be played on the sand

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or on special carved boards like this.

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Oware was first played by families in West Africa a very long time ago.

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People had different rules for playing it,

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but they had great fun together.

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-One...

-Two, three, four.

-Four.

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And it still looks fun today.

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-Did you enjoy the game?

-Yes, I loved it.

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We can play it next time we come to the beach.

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I know a story of a little boy who came from West Africa,

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who lived in Scotland a long, long time ago.

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His name was Scipio.

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Scipio worked here at this castle as a servant.

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Would you like to find out more about Scipio, Leon?

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-Yes, please!

-OK, let's go!

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Leon and Gogo Thabby are going on a journey of discovery.

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Together, they are going to find out what life was like

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over 300 years ago.

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This is Culzean Castle.

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It's been rebuilt and made bigger over the years,

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so it would have looked different when Scipio worked there.

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Leon and Gogo Thabby look very grand, don't they?

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What do you think of your costume, Leon?

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-I like my hat and my waistcoat.

-That is great.

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This is the kind of clothing that Scipio would have had to wear

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when he first came to this castle as a servant.

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Scipio worked as a lady's page for a woman called Lady Jean.

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And Lady Jean would wear something like this.

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That was the fashion in the olden days.

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Scipio worked hard every day,

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doing lots of different jobs for Lady Jean.

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He rang a little bell to let the other servants know

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that Lady Jean was on her way.

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Wealthy people often dressed their servants in fancy clothes

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to show how rich and important they were.

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In Britain, some of these people became rich

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by making other people work for them as slaves.

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The slaves were not paid and had no freedom.

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They were bought and sold by masters, who owned them.

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Isn't that horrible?

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In Scipio's time, many people were taken from Africa as slaves.

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Some of them were children. Scipio was one of those children.

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Leon, would you find Africa on this globe?

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-There.

-That's great. That is Africa.

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Which members of our family come from Africa?

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You and my mum.

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Well done. Do you know which country we come from?

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-Zimbabwe.

-Yes, it is.

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There is Zimbabwe.

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Now, Scipio came from West Africa.

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The whole area was called Guinea.

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Guinea was a big and powerful place at the time,

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with many great cities, towns and villages.

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Buildings often had walls made with wet mud.

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It would dry hard as stone in the hot African sun.

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Many buildings are still made like this today.

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We don't know if Scipio lived in a big city or a small village,

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but he must have lived with sisters, brothers, cousins

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and a big family.

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Scipio must've been so sad to leave his big family.

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In Guinea, Scipio would have spent a lot of time in the hot sun

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doing jobs to help his big family.

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Like the children in this modern film.

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He might have fetched water

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or helped look after animals like goats,

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which were kept for their meat and milk.

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Women and children would pound a hard grain called millet.

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This breaks it up so it can be cooked and eaten,

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often as a type of porridge.

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In Guinea, Scipio would have heard this sound every day

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from a very young age.

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And he would have heard another sound too.

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These musicians are playing a kind of African music

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that Scipio would have heard in Guinea as a young boy.

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This is a djembe drum.

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People in West Africa have been playing djembe drums

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for over 800 years.

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-BOTH:

-Yay!

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Leon is using another instrument called a shaker.

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What a wonderful sound.

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But when Scipio was taken to Scotland...

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HARPSICHORD PLAYS

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..he would have heard classical music, like this.

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What do you think of this music, Leon?

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It's different to the African music we heard.

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It reminds me of kings and queens.

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Many, many things were different now for Scipio.

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When he was made a slave, he had to learn to speak English,

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instead of the African language he would have spoken with his family.

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And he had to get used to a new name too.

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Scipio wasn't his original family name.

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When he lived in Guinea,

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he would have had an African name given to him by his family.

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But slaves were not allowed to keep their own African names.

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When he came here,

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he would have had to be given

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a slave name by his owner.

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I wouldn't have liked it if I had to change my name.

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It must've been very strange for Scipio,

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having a new name and having to speak a whole new language.

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But he was really good at learning new things.

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This is some of Scipio's handwriting.

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The writing is very curly.

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Scipio must've been very clever to read and write.

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Old-fashioned writing does look quite curly and squiggly,

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but most ordinary people in Britain

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couldn't read or write in those days.

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So Scipio must've had to work really hard to learn these skills.

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Well done.

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Scipio had to learn to do lots of different jobs in the castle.

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Gogo Thabby is going to pretend to be Lady Jean,

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and Leon is going to serve her pretend tea.

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I would like a cup of tea.

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Taking tea became very popular at the time

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when Scipio was working here.

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It was fashionable to serve tea in your very best room.

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A pageboy, like Scipio,

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would have had to have been very careful

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not to drop the precious china or spill the hot tea.

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Oh, the teapot is very heavy.

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I would like sugar in my tea.

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Sugar became popular at this time too.

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Sugar cane was grown on huge farms called sugar plantations

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in the Americas and the Caribbean.

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Many of the slaves taken from Africa

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were made to work on these sugar plantations.

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They were treated very badly by their owners,

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who got rich by selling the sugar to people in other parts of the world.

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A walled garden was built at Culzean Castle when Scipio lived there.

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The head gardener Ian is going to show Leon and Gogo Thabby

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some of the vegetables that were grown

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in the castle garden at the time.

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Can you guess what this vegetable is, Leon?

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-A carrot.

-Well done.

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And what about this one?

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Erm, onion.

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Yes! Very well done.

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Scipio may not have seen or tasted some of these vegetables before.

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Back in Guinea, Scipio would have eaten

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different fruit and vegetables.

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Like these.

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These look different to these ones.

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Scipio would have eaten these.

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These are plantains.

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And this is my favourite - cassava.

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And these are black-eyed peas.

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Leon and Gogo Thabby are picking a type of pea

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which grows well in Scotland.

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Green peas.

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When he grew up, Scipio became a cook at the castle,

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which was a very important job.

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Scipio learned how to make all sorts of fancy dishes

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for Lady Jean and her husband Sir John.

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Do you think Scipio would have enjoyed tasting fresh things

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-from this garden?

-Yes.

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It's very different to his food in Africa.

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Scipio would have looked over the sea all those years ago.

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Do you think he would have missed his family?

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Yes, he would.

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When Scipio grew up, he made a new family for himself here in Scotland.

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He married a lady called Margaret.

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And they had eight children of their own.

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Scipio and his family lived in a cottage

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on the grounds of the castle.

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By this time, he wasn't a slave any more.

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He earned his own money from his big job at the castle,

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and started his own business too.

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So, by learning and working hard as a boy,

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Scipio managed to make a good life for himself in Scotland

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when he grew up. Just like many other Africans

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who came to Britain across the sea all those years ago.

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Did you have a nice time, Leon?

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-Yes, Gogo.

-It's been interesting finding out what happened

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a long, long time ago. Can you remember some of the things we did?

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What drink did Leon serve to Gogo Thabby?

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A cup of tea or a milkshake?

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It was a lovely cup of tea.

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What did they pick in the walled garden?

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Peas or noses?

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They picked fresh peas. Thank goodness!

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What did you enjoy most, Leon?

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-The African band.

-Yes, it was good.

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-What did you enjoy the most?

-I liked you making tea for me.

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But most of all, I like spending time with you.

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What a journey of discovery!

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That was Leon and Gogo Thabby's tiny tale about Scipio,

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who worked in a Scottish castle over 300 years ago.

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Now Gogo Thabby has shared this story with Leon,

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it's time for Leon to start his very own story.

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Do you know someone with a story to share?

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Leon and Gogo Thabby go on a journey of discovery to find out what life was like for a child living as a servant boy in a grand castle, over 300 years ago.

Leon and Gogo Thabby dress up in fancy clothes and Thabby takes them to a special place to learn about a boy called Scipio, who came to Scotland from Africa. Together, they find out about the jobs Scipio would have done in the castle, the food he would have eaten, the music he would have heard and the new skills he learned.

They discover that life in Scotland was very different from Scipio's life in Africa.