Monday, November 30, 2009

Demented Echinda on the Loose

Yesterday was B2's long awaited 'Animal Party' . Normally we tell the kids that they are allowed to invited seven guests, as that is what we can comfortably fit around our table. B2 'COULD NOT, NO WAY MUM' narrow it down to seven, so she invited eight. I just know that I have opened the flood gates now....'but she got to invite eight, why can't I invite eight?'

The new favourite colour of the moment is purple. The sequin masks were actually purchased in Australia two and a half years ago. And yes, if you were wondering, they are the dreaded eye exploding balloons from last year's Princess party. I wore my sunglasses to blow them up this time :P

Now you must understand that before we moved to Guernsey I had only visited the Island for five jet-lagged days, during which time we had only managed to find one supermarket. As a result I had some how convinced myself that we were moving to some sort of shopping wasteland, devoid of all children's party supplies. Before we left Brisbane I went on a stress fuelled shopping spree of epic proportions. Internet, what Internet? What do people in Guernsey do for party supplies? Why did I need all these party supplies? These rational questions never entered my somewhat panic stricken head. But where would I get glitter in the shape of flowers to sprinkle on the table??

You know people actually commented on how well I handled the big international move with three small children. I didn't handle it well at all actually, I just hid it well. They didn't see my 'Just in case' party supply box jammed so full of theme based party bag gifts or sequined masks that the lid would not close without a large amount of force.

Anyhoo, B2's party was a great success, at least she tells me it was. It was an animal party full of animal games 'Pin the Horn on the Unicorn' (designed by and drawn by B2), Pass the Parcel with animal questions asked of each guest, 'What am I?' where people had the name of an animal stuck on their backs an could ask one question of each guest that would result in a yes or no answer in order to work out what animal they were, Musical Statues, Sleeping Lions where they had to lie completely still and were only allowed to blink or breathe (very good game, takes ages and they are all quite!!! - highly recommended to all parents). Mr Bee suggested we just play eight games straight of sleeping lions, feed them and send them home!

Jelly ahh, the jelly. Four different flavours layered in ten little jelly cups and two rabbit moulds (well it is an animal party) - four and a half hours later, after each layer had set before you add the next one, it was finished.

The top of this poor little fellow's head came off in the mould so some quick bunny brain surgery was required. Please note the pink heart topped toothpicks on the sausages on the shelf below. Yep, they too were purchased two and a half years ago; don't tell anyone, I think it may be a sickness.

My poor, poor sad little echidna. I let B2 choose her own cake from my gazillon (this is a technical term specifically relating to children's cake books) kid's cake books and she choose an echidna ice-cream cake.

'Great, fabulous, stupendous' I thought as I made Mr Bee this cake for his 35th birthday and it was a snap. What a deluded idiot I am. I did not factor in the tiny, tiny, tiny space in our kitchen which is apparently called a freezer. This cake is made for an Australian freezer, more akin to the American type. The cake was after all from the Australian Woman's Weekly cookbook. The cake didn't fit, move the freezer shelf, the cake did not fit, move the freezer tray, sweat, swear, the cake did not fit, gray hairs sprouting. I had to assemble most of the cake while the guests where here. I did manage to stick in all the spines the night before but, brainiac that I am, I put raspberries in the ice-cream thinking it would make for a nicer cake (which it did) but try jamming a chocolate finger biscuit into a frozen raspberry hidden just below the ice-cream surface; snap, arrrgghhh, snap, arrrgghh, snap, mmmm one for me (stress relief don't you know).

Did you know that you can NOT purchase Ice Magic anywhere in Guernsey? Well I didn't and I may have rethought B2's cake had I known. So rather than the echinda having a wonderfully smooth and chocolate covered face he looked as if he had a bad case of the pox. The cake ended up looking, well a little sad to be frank, B2 sseeeemmmmmed happy but it definitely did not look like the picture in the book - it did taste OK judging by all the munching going on so I suppose it was a success. One of my more stressful cake experiences I must say but B2 enjoyed herself so at the end of the day this is all that mattered. Happy Birthday B2!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Caramel Bovine Noses

I love these two photos and I have been meaning to post them. I really like those cow paintings some artists do, right, up-close-and-personal with the cows. These photos reminds me of one of those paintings. I took them way back in September when we went blackberry and sloe picking. It wasn't really that long ago but it sure seems it at the moment. It was sunny - something we have been missing alot here at Bumble Bee Cottage.

It has been cold wet and very windy for the last five weeks. One Saturday morning, not too long ago, our trampoline made a bid for freedom into the great beyond. It was lifted up about five metres into the air, carried for fifteen metres across our yard and crash landed upside down on top of our swing set. One of the poles that hold the anti-child-breaking net around the outside was bent so it has been relegated to the patio, behind a wall, where hopefully it will not be able to repeat romp into the great blue, grey and cloudy really, beyond.

Ah, September, where have your sunny days gone. Ah October and November - the months of trying to wash our cottage into the ocean. Roll on the end of January when the happy little yellow daffs will cover the paddocks and hedge veges and drier days are on the way.

I don't mind the rain, really I don't; it is just that I would like to go outside and winter proof my garden before it is too late and I can't face doing it in the sheeting rain in 9*c plus the wind chill.

I think I'll just focus on the cows.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How narrow is too narrow?

Answer: If you fit it is NOT too narrow. It does not matter if you are in the Town (St Peter Port)........

or in the Country (St Saviour)........
Guernsey roads are narrow and a bit scary sometimes; especially if a tractor or truck comes the other way!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grandes Rocques and Port Soif

8.37am at Grandes Rocques and Port Soif; 11*C, windy (a Fresh Force Five I'd say) and raining, on the way back from buying Cumberland sausages and smoked bacon for a hot Sunday morning breakfast.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas at the Friquet

This post is for my Mum as she loves Le Friquet Garden Centre (this link is to the Le Friquet site but they still have the photos of the old nursery - I can't seem to find any of the new and improved model) and we always go for a mooch around there on her visits to Guernsey. I asked the lady at reception if it was OK for me to take photos to show my Mum; she said it would be fine but I could tell from her expression she felt pity for the strange Australian woman who obviously came from a country without Christmas decorations so she had to photograph them.

When Mum last visited the new and improved Le Friquet had not yet opened its doors. Le Friquet at Christmas time is something to behold. I used to visit the old plant shop at least once a week after the 1st of November (this is when they are allowed to start selling their Christmas decorations); eight weeks of Christmas bliss.

The new centre has certainly taken their Christmas displays up a notch. There are eight bays, each with a large table display in the middle. Most of the bays are colour coded, red (2 bays), gold, white, black/silver, natural/wooden, children’s (lots of Santas and gingerbread men), rainbow colours. At the entry to each bay is a tree decorated in the colours theme of that bay (sorry only one of the tree photos turned out). There is a large selection of Christmas trees, wreaths, lights and other Christmas related paraphernalia. I am amazed at the sheer quantity of stock.

I am sorry about the quality of the photos but I took them without the flash as the flare off the decorations made the photos too glarey.

Hopefully this post will tempt my family over for a Guernsey Christmas one year ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Pride of Purple Pussycats

It is B2's birthday in a few weeks so it was time to get organised and make her party invitations. She wants an 'Animal Party' theme so she chose pussycat design.

I'm am not entirely sure what an Animal Party is going to entail and every time I ask her it is quite clear that she does not really know either. I am sure we will nail down the finer details as we get closer to the big day.

It is going to be an all girl party (NO BOYS ALLOWED - except for B1 that is).

B2 is home with the dreaded Donkey Fever but managed to rally herself enough to help cut, glue and draw for an hour and a half to create this pretty purple pride of pussycats.

The 'S' Word

The 'S' word is recognised globally as a taboo; if we don't talk about it it is not real. Well we have been living the 'S' word for two weeks now and let me tell you it's real alright.

SWINE FLU; ssshhhh but don't tell anyone ok. There have been three confirmed cases in Jersey but I have not heard of any 'confirmed' cases in Guernsey. What does it mean to have confirmed Swine Flu anyway? Do they stamp a massive red rubber stamp on your forehead 'UNCLEAN' and make you wear a cow bell? Is a case confirmed when you take your child to the Doctor and they say they are 90% sure it is Swine Flu but no blood test is done? Swine Flu is no worse than your normal flu, people die every year of boring old normal flu but the media don't give it a fancy name so therefore it is not as dangerous. Swine Flu - it leads to images of Doctor Who pig men with runny noses.

Anyhoo we have unconfirmed Swine Flu at our school. Yesterday there were 106 pupils out of approximately 280 and 5 staff away sick. There is alot of playground talk about the school closing but it seems to me it is like shutting the gate after the horse has already bolted. B3 had it last week on Saturday, Sunday and Monday but was fit and well on Tuesday so she went back to school. B1 had it Tuesday night, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but had picked up by Saturday afternoon so he was back at school on Monday. Other children have not recovered so fast and have been in bed for up to 10 days.

By Tuesday the rules had changed and if your child is displaying symptoms they must stay off school for seven days. I had to go to the office Tuesday morning and there were 12 kids waiting for their parents to come and collect them as they were being sent home. I have heard of three other schools on the Island with a few off sick but our school has been hit the worst. Yesterday afternoon B2 was absolutely 100% fine so we went to dancing. BIG MISTAKE! All the other children at dancing are from the a different school to ours and when I mentioned the dreaded lurgy that was attacking our school all the other Mums looked at me bewildered; no children were sick at their school. 'Had we already had it?' they asked; 'Oh yes, but B2 hasn't but she is fine - no temperature or any other symptoms.' B2 complained of a headache last night at 5.30pm and had a slight temperature. I feel terrible; the thought of spreading this horrible thing to an entirely new school! What an idiot! I don't know what I was thinking or even if I was, in fact. I hope she didn't infect anyone or I am NOT going to be very popular next week.

So there we have it. Is it Swine Flu for sure? Well I guess we will never know as no-one as had a blood test. Is it nasty and highly contagious? Yes definitely; high temperatures, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea. Does it deserve a name of its own? Most definitely; what about the Deadly Guernsey Germ or the Seven Day Sentence or Donkey Fever (as donkeys are the symbol of Guernsey). I think Donkey Fever sounds best as we are going with an animal theme.

Read all about it Donkey Fever hits Guernsey......yes folks you heard it here first!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Heart Shaped Christmas

My 'Pay-It-Forward' gift has arrived from Diane at Heart Shaped. I can feel another Julie Andrew's moment coming on here. I love brown paper packages tied up with string....

The box was simply groaning under the weight of all the lovely goodies Diane had packed inside. She knows how much I adore Christmas so she very kindly themed my gifts around this; starting with a sweet Angel card.

I had that feeling you get on Christmas morning when you are a child and you get so excited that you do not know what to open first.

A sweet smelling snowy bag stitched in the same material as my wonderful new......

Christmas tote bag! I am taking this beauty to the St Martins markets next week and it shall also accompany me on a late night shopping jaunt into St Peter Port one evening once the Christmas lights have been turned on in Town.

Diane also made a brooch in the same denim as the tote with a heart shaped sparkly button in the centre. I have attached this to the corner of the tote for a little extra Christmas bling. Diane even stitched a 'B' button on the bag for Bumble Bee Cottage!

She included a bottle of her beloved Henderson's Relish. I will head off to the butcher for some steak to accompany the Relish relishing as the label states that it is good 'For that extra flavour with meat, fish, soups, pies,casseroles and vegetables.' Mr Bee will be please as it is also labelled 'The Spicy Yorkshire Relish' and he loves anything with a bit of kick.

But my absolute favourite things that Diane sent me were the little trio of felt Scottie dogs. They are gorgeous and have already made it onto my tree!

Once I took down all the Halloween and Autumn decorations Mr Bee ACTUALLY ASKED ME to put the Christmas decorations up early. Well you don't have to ask me twice, I can tell you. After I opened Diane's kind gifts I was so pleased that I did as the little doggies are already making themselves at home on the tree.

Our tree is themed red and gold (together with all manner of Bumble Bee'r creations - but that is for another post) so their tartan bows match in perfectly.

One Scottie has been given pride of place, just below the Christmas Angel, keeping my favourite Christmas kitty decoration company.

Thankyou so much Diane for all the hard work that you have put into these generous and considerate gifts. Wishing you and your family and early but heartfelt Merry Christmas,

Love from Bumble Bee Cottage


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guy Fawkes' Night

We went to celebrate Guy Fawkes' Night at the local Scout hut. B1 asked me if I thought it was the best £7.00 (the cost of the tickets) I had ever spent and that was even before we got there.

The Scout hut is in the lanes so there is NOWHERE to park as all the lanes are one car wide. A field nearby was set up as a car park by the organisers and the walk to the hut was beautifully lit with lights in the trees.

This was B1's Guy his group made; apparently Guy Fawkes was actually a green alien. Nothing really says party more than a group of small boys making an effigy to burn. There was a canteen open selling hot dogs, hot chips and, of course, bean jar. The Bumble Bee'rs were upset as they were not selling sparklers but I was secretly pleased about this as small children waving large sparklers (not the type we would put on a cake in Australia) about would result in a trip to A&E I think.

All of the 'Guys' were placed on the bonfire, which was ceremoniously lit with a blazing torch at 6.30pm. The Bumble Bee'rs were so excited. They have been dreaming about Guy Fawkes' Night for weeks, when they haven't been talking about Halloween that is.

It was quite windy and the flames were being blown up high into the night sky. After about half an hour the bonfire had burnt down enough for the fireworks to be lit.

The firework display went for about 40 minutes. You can see in this photo how windy it was as the fireworks are getting blown off course, so to speak. From where we were watching you could also see other displays at two different venues at the same time so it was as if we were surrounded by fireworks. The evening ended by 7.30pm.

Australia does not celebrate Guy Fawkes' Night anymore and the general public is not allowed to purchase fireworks. The fireworks go on sale in Guernsey the day after Halloween and are taken off the shelves on Guy Fawkes' Night. People are supposed to stop setting them off after Guy Fawkes' Night but we usually have a few more nights of it as people use up their supplies. Our neighbours across the road really go to town and it is akin to a war zone. They had some that were reminiscent of a missile launch as seen on the nightly news.

I think this is my favourite time of year in Guernsey with Halloween, Guy Fawkes' Night, Christmas markets, school Christmas plays, late night shopping (there is no late night shopping in Guernsey at any other time of year but the few weeks in December prior to Christmas), it is getting colder, the fire is lit nightly and the kids are on excitement overload as we skip through the weeks from event to event in the build up to Christmas.

I am so glad that Guernsey still celebrates Guy Fawkes', what a fabulous night!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Flowers from my Mum

Thankyou Mum. They were a lovely surprise and the kitchen smells like a florist shop.
I love you and miss you.