The Land Rover Owners Wife

Beware of the bears

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“I must be crackers”, is a thought that had occurred to me on more than one occasion over the last weekend, as I prepared for the Teddy Bears Picnic birthday party, promised, several dim and distant weeks ago, in a moment of madness, to my now 4 year old.

Teddybear Birthday CakeOf course she could invite the entire preschool, not to mention reception class which, combined, consisted of some 26 children, and of course my 6 year old could invite 3 of her friends to keep her company. So, with my 2, that meant I had 31 children, ages 2-7 years old, to cater for and entertain for 2 hours.

Friday morning had me haring of to town with my, at that time, very-nearly-4 year old in tow, to do the last minute food shopping which I hadn’t been able to include in the normal monthly shop two weeks earlier, due to either the perishable nature of the items needed or, in the case of frozen packets of party sausage rolls, sausages and chicken nuggets, the unlikelihood of these surviving one of Muds’ snack attacks and thereby necessitating me buying replacement packets just before the party.

By Friday evening 3 dozen buns, 2 cakes and 45 squares of jamb crumble slice were happily sitting on various cooling trays around the kitchen and, after cooking tea, doing the dishes and putting 2 hyper children to bed, I collapsed, in a heap feeling every one of my 500 years, dreaming of a large Tia Maria and coke.

Not that I could relax with Mud on the prowl for food:

“Can I have a bun? Please? Just one.”

“Oh what about these little square things?”

“Well I think it’s cruel to make all these things and not make any for the house,” this last comment muttered in a distinctly sulky manner.

The trouble with Mud is that he has selective memory recall which he uses at his convenience and to great effect:

  • Images of me battling with the Rayburn to keep it hot enough to cook with but not too hot (it’s solid fuel – temperature control is not an option);
  • the visions of a harassed me making batch after batch of bun and cake mixture in an effort to ensure that the finished cake is big enough to send 31 children home with a piece in their party bags and that every child has at least 1 teddy bear bun on their plate; and
  • the frantic scenes of pastry making, jam spreading and crumble mixing.

All had been totally erased from his memory by 8pm, displaced by hunger and replaced with the knowledge that not only wouldn’t his wicked, cruel wife let him eat anything but that she had failed in her duties and actually hadn’t made extras of anything. After all it can’t be that difficult – these things can be whipped up in a matter of minutes can’t they (Nigella has a lot to answer for), in between vacuuming, preparing tea, regular trips to the wood pile, helping with homework and reading to the girls.

Saturday dawned cold and foggy and I had both girls fed, dressed and teeth cleaned by the time Mud surfaced. With 36 buns to ice, a teddy bear cake to construct and 31 gingerbread bear biscuits to make, not to mention sausage rolls, mini sausages and chicken nuggets to cook and all AFTER lighting the stove and getting it up to temperature (the latter being a 1-2 hour marathon on its’ own right), speed was of the essence and the first job of the day was a trip to Toys R Us for the birthday presents.

Mud sauntered into the lounge at 9am with the sole intention of spending a couple of hours on the Land Rover forum. At the mention of Toys R Us, he replied that he thought we’d go later!

What you have to understand about Mud is that weekend shopping is always done first thing on a Saturday morning ….. if he has jobs to do. That way he has the whole of the rest of the day/weekend to spend in the workshop with Ciggy the Land Rover. Sadly the workshop is unheated and the arrival of near arctic temperatures has put a bit of a dent in Muds’ enthusiasm and so he’s getting his Landy fix via the virtual world – his forum.

Second hand accounts of struggles with swivel housings, discoveries of rotten body work, blown engines and leaking roofs/doors/windows are, apparently, acceptable substitutes for actual, hands on real world activities and, one quick cigarette over the back door had been sufficient to confirm that ‘hands on’ really wasn’t an option that morning, so a visit to virtual Landy world was needed.

A few carefully chosen words and 15 minutes later we were on our way.

Jump on a few hours and the presents have been bought and wrapped, each bun has now acquired a teddy bear face, gingerbread teddy bears have now been carefully wrapped and added to the party bags and a teddy bear birthday cake has been lovingly placed into the fridge. Sausage rolls, sausages and chicken nuggets are cooling on trays in the kitchen and Mud is on the prowl again. Several hours of hard toil in virtual Landy world had given him quite an appetite.

I on the other hand have only spent the last 48 hours shopping, baking, cooking, cleaning, icing and looking after the children;

Tomorrow, Sunday, is birthday day which is bound to start unbelievably early because, with the best will in the world, nothing will keep the birthday girl asleep, quiet and in her bed much past 6am;

I will still have 3 different types of sandwich to make, then cut into bear shapes with the blunt, plastic, playdoh bear shaped cutter;

Sadly the carrots will not peel and slice themselves into convenient little sticks and neither will the cucumbers;

Two over excited little girls will need to be cleaned, dressed and have their hair brushed;

Then  girls, food, prizes and party bags will all have to be transported to the village hall, without destroying the birthday cake and all before 10.30am!

“Make yourself some toast” is my less than sympathetic response to his pleas of starvation, “there’s plenty of bread.”

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