Saturday, April 23, 2016

Birthday cake and knitting

Maisie, my youngest grandgirl, turned two in the first week of my stay ... and Meghan asked me to paint her birthday cake. Yes, well, painting on icing is rather different to painting on paper, board or canvas, and I never have been much of a watercolourist anyway. So this was a little intimidating.

Here's Maisie's best friend Molly, with my daughter Meghan, and the birthday girl herself ... sadly not feeling too well as she was in the throes of developing big sister Holly's nasty flu bug.

Molly, Meghan and Maisie (Mai-Mai)

Meghan had chosen a "Guess How Much I Love you" theme (written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram - and had the illustrated book, which made my life much easier. Nevertheless, I spent two whole days painting bunnies and their playthings on the cake. In the end it was really quite fun, with all my special girls peering over my shoulder with encouragement.

You can find all the pics of the progression of the creation of the cake here on Meghan's Facebook Cake Progression Page.

 I practised a little first on paper.

The final cake!

The party was a grand success with a jumping castle, bubble fun and colouring in for the kids, along with loads of cakes, cake lollies, jelly and pink juice to give them a good sugar overload. As mentioned, I couldn't catch Evie (the medium child, she emphasises not the middle child) because she's just never still long enough for anyone to know where she is! I did get a lovely one of Holly on the jumping castle slide, which I'll treasure. First, here's a formal studio shot of the three of them taken this past Christmas.

Evie, Maisie and Holly

Holly on the slide

In typical Evie-style, she was enthusiastic about choosing her wool with me, was quick to learn how to knit while Holly battled her 'flu, mastered it, and then lost interest. She picked it up every now and then because she wanted to please me but I could see she would rather be out playing (of course!) or be wriggling around singing or playing with Maisie. By the time I left, there were only a handful of rows on her knitting needles but plenty of giggles about how she had written "kinting" instead of "knitting" when she was taking notes during the learning procedure. Evie has just turned seven.

Holly, our big girl at nine years old this June, finally felt better and wanted to learn how to knit. She took to it like a duck to water and was soon clicking her needles and working her bright purple and pink wool at a rapid rate. I was so impressed because she is left-handed and I had taught her how right-handed people do it! Here she is perched on Maisie's pram while we had Sunday lunch with friends in the local pub, knitting like a pro.

I just had to take pics of her creation ... it's the most creative piece of knitting I have ever seen by a beginner. Somehow - heavens knows how! - she has created bunny tails and pockets in a length of knitting which I hope no-one ever sees fit to unravel while I'm not looking. It's just too precious for words. Evie helped me to photograph it just before I left and it's her little fingers you see indicating where one of the pockets is.

And then my whole trip fell apart.

I started feeling like I had Holly's 'flu at the party on the Saturday, met two lovely arty-farty friends for lunch at our local pub on the Sunday, and woke up feeling pretty yuk on Monday morning. But ... I had pre-booked a ticket to visit The Garden Artists exhibition - mainly Monet's paintings - at the Royal Academy of Arts just off Picadilly Circus in London for that Monday and was damned if I was going to miss it.

Meghan dropped me off at the train station in Stevenage, and from Finsbury Park I joined the London throngs and descended into the very windy tube tunnels to get myself to Picadilly. I hardly had the energy to walk to the RA, which is unusual for a hyperactive person like me, and found it difficult indeed to make my way through the crowds at the exhibition. I stayed only long enough to find out that I was attracted to Joaquin Sorolla's work even more than Monet's (don't shoot me anyone!!!) before I rang Meghan to please meet me at a much earlier train as I wasn't well and needed to go to bed for a day.

I collapsed into bed and only got up to dress for an outing to a stunning garden centre which the girls loved going to. There are animals and playground rides for them as well as normal garden stuff and stunning decor items for us grown-ups. And a tea room.

Hardly an hour into the outing I dredged up every ounce of energy I could find and went and sat waiting for them in the warm car, with every breath I took a painful and breath-stealing event. I wondered if I was having a heart attack. As soon as we got home Meghan tried to get me a doctor's appointment immediately, but failed, so called 111 who sent an ambulance (of all things!!!). Hardly able to stand or breathe, I still refused to get into the ambulance until they could assure me I wouldn't have to pay for it ... that would be all I needed to add expense to my trip! They assured me that extreme chest pain immediately qualifies folk for a free ambulance ride. Phew.

And so I ended up in hospital, with pneumonia having taken up residence in more than half of my left lung. The doc assured me it was very serious and then proceeded to give me something very strong which made me feel very happy and see red swirling patterns in the royal blue curtains. I became dimly, and extremely happily, aware of my worry-guts of a daughter telling me to stop scaring her. They kept me there for just over three days and forbad me to go to Ireland. Meanies. I was to recouperate at Meghan's house for ten days then drive straight home to France.

I stayed with Meghan for two days and then drove home to France. And now, two weeks later, I'm up for the first full day.

Let it be known that my daughter and husband are both angels in disguise. They've both got such a lot on their hands to do each day and yet they've both given me their love and care without a second thought.

I've run out of steam now (will this bug ever go?!) but might do another blog post tomorrow to show you what lovely things I bought at the Royal Academy of Art in London, and at the garden centre, in between painting cakes, birthday parties, knitting and pneumonia.

And I've still got to tell you about the Irish Faeries.

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