One Year Ago Today!

The biggest birthday cake I have ever made. Yes four layers opposed to my usual three. Home made chocolate ganache and not just home made black current jelly, but home grown, homemade black current jelly lavishly spread between each layer.

We had a great party in the garden and invited around 30 children and their parents. We even hired a children’s entertainer to occupy them for 2 of the 3 hours.

You might see in this next picture, how nicely piled and ordered the children’s gifts were.

But this next photo shows you what I awoke to. John had allowed them to play in the garden before I arose and this is what I came down to!

This was just the beginning. I managed to tidy up as the day progressed, again and again, in different areas, but it was like a landslide, completely fighting against the laws of nature and physics. Aaliyah had even ripped the head from her doll in the frenzy to release it from the packaging!

By 1pm I had had enough and escaped to the bedroom for an hours resbite. What I returned to was a house, completely trashed… whoever gave the sticky mosaic craft gift, well, I would like to know your name as I will gladly reciprocate in good time. The sticky mosaics are everywhere. I am reminded of the forensic tidy and clean up after the kinetic sand incident…

It’s now late and John has just managed to get them into their jimjams and up to bed. I have locked myself in our bedroom, refusing to see anyone or say goodnight to anyone at this point. I feel like a broken man. I do not want to venture back to the ground floor due to the amount of mess, destruction and pure, unadulterated chaos that still permeates there.

I completely give up and I prefer not to leave the relative sanctity of my bedroom. I am sure that I will update you as to the situation tomorrow and can only celebrate in the idea that this is the last birthday party in our immediate family for the next six months. Enough is enough, today I really draw the line.

Please remember that this post was one year ago today. Hahahahaha…

Birthday Cake

What with 5 children, though 2 sets of twins and Daddy and Dadda’s Birthdays, I do find myself baking birthday cakes quite a lot over the year. I have been known to bake twice on Amritsar and Tara’s birthdays, as they generally have an official birthday on the actual day and then another for the day of their party.

Of course, this year the girls just had their birthday with the family on the day itself, due to lockdown. And the same will be so of Aaliyah and Caleb’s special day, this year falling on Sunday.

So just the one cake to bake today. All a bit last minute as I usually bake a week or so before and freeze the sponges x 3. This cake however will be just the 2 layers as I only had 6 eggs and there’s clearly less people involved, just a neighbouring family.

The second sponge is almost done. I’m just waiting on Alexa to ping the 22 minute alarm. The ‘All angels’ are singing through Alexa, something or other from the musical ‘South Pacific’.

I am now remembering our Lū’au earlier in the spring when we had such magnificent weather. I did homemade Hawaiian Pizza on that day. A barbecue for us however on Sunday! I think more grey weather is forecast sadly, so cooking it all on the Aga inside might just be more appropriate.

Okay Alexa is telling me the cake is now done, so I had better wrestle it from the oven!

The children are presently in the park beside their school with Sindy and 5 x packed dinners, celebrating a friend Nancy’s birthday. Possibly appropriate given my afternoon bake. I should really thank Nancy’s mum for buying Eighteen Moons and Thirteen Moons More a few weeks ago. I believe she loved both books so I’m hoping for a review perhaps on Amazon.

Did I say that the audiobook is now live? So, for those of you who don’t really read books or novels, it’s the perfect escape with nothing to do, just close your eyes and join me on my journey of ‘Eighteen Moons’.

Back to birthday cakes! The request this year was Strawberry and Vanilla opposed to the usual chocolate ganache. And that’s what they’re getting. Though I can almost hear Caleb’s bleats of ‘But I want chocolate Dadda, I want chocolate’, just before he throws a tantrum…

No doubt more on the Birthday celebrations on Sunday. As ever, thanks for reading.

Three Obscure Memories, Memory 3. Nepal.

I had almost forgotten the third piece of music that I found on my iPhone a few days ago. So today we ultimately come to my third melodic, early family memory! A memory of Nepal, a place where I found things extremely difficult to be honest, but it was a place that was pivotal to our becoming a family. In my book, Eighteen Moons, I only devoted one chapter to the five months spent there! As a matter of fact, I could have written an entire memoir just on that span of time spent in Kathmandu. So here is that piece of music accompanied by some images of my time, post earthquake, in 2015.

A Trip to the Opticians

Guess who had a trip into one of the local towns for an eye test today? As you can see, Tara is now the proud owner of a pair of glasses! Seemingly she has a slight problem with her left eye!

Post dinnertime now for the not so famous five and things are slowing down. Aaliyah and Caleb have headed upstairs with Amritsar to tidy their room! My, wonders never cease and Tara and Thor are playing ‘Crossy Road’ very loudly beside me. Now they are arguing… oh dear! Now Thor has stormed out and wants to do ‘drawing’! Time to join he others upstairs I think!

Nite nite all.

Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

Moules Mariniere and frits

Roast Beef, garlic French beans and boiled potatoes

Salmon with clams and muscles with mash, sugarsnap peas and a white wine and cream reduction

Nutloaf with bubble and squeak and a tomato sauce

Roast Duck leg, potatoes and beans

Steak and onions, chips and Dijon mustard

Fish Pie with sautéed vegetables

Today’s Instagram Pictures

As today’s title would indicate, here is an assortment of images that I chose for Instagram. Please follow for a follow back!

Some toddler pictures of Tara and Amritsar today, plus some foodie related images! I want to hold onto them for a moment as I am sure that my diary is about due an update on Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner! Perhaps tonight!

Thank you for stopping by.

Three Obscure Memories, Memory number 2. Thailand.

After yesterday’s three melodies found on my voice recording app, this second piece of music from my time in Bangkok was recorded in a shopping centre on the Sukhumvit road. It was a big festival of all things Thai. Ameena who helped to nanny, her nephew, Thor and myself spent an evening enjoying the music, the dancing and the amazing food of Thailand. Yes, she is the Thai lady featured in this compilation of images. I do miss Ameena. She was very kind.

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Sunday Morning

Lou Reid and the Velvet Underground, great track… though I’m sure that his Sunday mornings were never quite the same as mine tend to be!

At present Daddy and Amritsar are engaged in a game of chess on the living room coffee table. Aaliyah is trying to line up dominoes on the bellows for the fire, in an attempt to achieve what Tara has just done! Make them all topple in sequence. Remus is standing besides her, looking on in wonderment! She’s getting agitated now! I have just asked Thor for the tenth time to put a pair of underpants on! He is still refusing. Aaliyah has lost her temper, now screaming, she has flung every domino to the four winds.

Finally Thor is heading upstairs to find some underpants in the draw, Aaliyah now running up behind him screaming.

Gracie is snuggled beside me and Remus now stands at the bay window, eyes closed, pointing his nose into the warm sunlight that is beaming through.

Caleb gets up from the large cushion in front of the television. The one that used to be the dog bed. The dogs never used it however, favouring the comfort of the sofas! He heads upstairs also.

Aaliyah has returned with two of her toy dogs and has snuggled up with Gracie. Thor returns with his underpants and joins Tara, now sat at the television, watching Mr Bean.

The sound of a chainsaw outside! A neighbour is having their overgrown eucalyptus tree trimmed. The chess game over now! Amritsar has won. But did Daddy allow this to happen? She is good mind you, but she shouldn’t let it go to her head now, should she?

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When Words and Pictures are Not Enough

A thought came to me this morning after yesterday’s blog, in which I remembered a moment in time. A moment that was part of the story of ‘Eighteen Moons’.

Like the smell and taste of food that transports you back to a place and a time, sound can fill you with a memory also.

Today’s blog is just about that! Sound in the guise of melody.

I had a voice recording app on my phone whilst living in Mumbai, Bangkok and Kathmandu. And these three recordings have this morning, transported me back to these three great city’s.

The first I believe were Hindi Vedic’s blessing the apartment next door to where I was living at that time.

The second melody was a Thai group of musicians with beautiful lady dancers.

And the final melody I recorded in a small restaurant / bar in the area Lazimpat where I lived in Nepal.

A Day or Two Off!

Just a pictorial blog tonight and again, very few words. No real ups and no real downs thus far this week! I did want to mention a few days off however from blogging, Tweeting and Instagram no doubt. I will certainly be back at the weekend with a fun family update. Wishing you all well and hoping happiness finds you in whatever guise that it takes! Be well my friends.

Some Pics of the children as toddlers. And yes, only Caleb is in colour!

Amritsar in the window

Aaliyah eating spaghetti

Tara eating her foot

Caleb sat next to Aaliyah eating spaghetti

Amritsar has such a happy smile

Finger in the mouth, oh Aaliyah

A very smiley Tara

And finally a boy on a mission in Wexford Ireland

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Nitty Nitty Nit Nits, Yep All Gone

Welcome back to the ups and downs of family life. The children back at school now for 2 weeks and guess what Aaliyah, with the longer hair brought back from school with her? You may have guessed what with tonight’s title!

It really upsets me that with our longer than 3 months indoors and other families from the children’s school, locked down nearly as long, how on earth do parents allow nits to linger, untreated for such an extremely long period of time! The offenders house must be completely infested after such a long time! And then to send their children back to infest the whole dratted school!!! It beggars belief really.

Well Aaliyah is now free of the unwanted visitors. I really hope the offending family at school get their act together! Or this will just drag on and on and on!

Anyhow, I did a small video around a year ago for Instagram before I deleted my account. I still have the video in my library however. Maybe I should reload it to my new Instagram account! Well, here it is. I will, like Caleb’s small video a few days ago, record the ‘moment’ 4 times, just for that Instagram effect! Lol

Happy Father’s Day to all You Dad’s Out There

Today I would like to wish all Dad’s a happy Father’s Day.

It is late in the day here in ‘The Shires’ and we are just about to sit down as a family and enjoy a roast leg of lamb in celebration. Accompanied of course by roast potatoes, glazed carrots and petit pois.

Bike riding on the driveway again and Aaliyah pipes up that she would like to start riding a bicycle without stabilisers! Good for her!

Another grey and cloudy day today, though we have had some sunny spells. I believe our 2 week spell of rain is at an end and we should be enjoying super sunny days again tomorrow onwards, with temperatures up to 30 degrees centigrade! Summer has arrived!

Aaliyah has just grabbed Amritsar’s old blue bike from the entrance hall and is wheeling it into the garden to try to cycle on the grass. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! No screaming as yet. Daddy is just making his way to the door as she is now arguing with Amritsar!

Better go wrestle our dinner to the plate!

Thor and Caleb running around with their arms in the air, screaming rather loudly.

Happy days hey, today, tomorrow and into the future. Fingers crossed!

I did get to thinking about when John and I became father’s, so here are a couple of images from that time in India. These are all from Goa except the one of me in a rickshaw. That was definitely Mumbai!

Am I All About Food or Family?

Just looking back the last week of my blog and it looks as if it is all about food, food, food! Okay, I am going to remedy this and put these Instagram pictures on my blog also! So here we go! No explanations, just raw, happy memories…

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Oh do excuse the final 3 seconds of video, it kind of works on Instagram with the repetitive playing of a clip! I had to smile.

And because of that I just strung 4 of the video’s together, just to give you a flavour. However, I think you have to walk away from it after 4 plays!!! Haha…

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Don’t judge me please! 😉

Happy Summer Solstice

Today, 20th June marks the first day of astronomical summer. Happy Summer Solstice everybody!

Mid to late afternoon here in ‘The Shires’ and thinking about dinner for the children. A home made fish pie for Daddy and Dadda’s dinner.

Remus is opposite me chilling. Gracie is lying with Aaliyah. Caleb looks on as Daddy and Amritsar play a game of chess. Tara and Thor are watching a cartoon on the television intently.

Amritsar is in jubilation as she has just taken daddy’s knight. She has both of them at this point. She’s getting quite good at chess!

I have been tinkering away on my phone for the last couple of hours with instagram. I’m really remembering why I stopped Instagram the last time, as it takes up so much of your time! I know that this is the years longest day and all, but where did the afternoon go?

Daddy has just conceded to Amritsar, his 7 year old daughter. She’s good!

Everyone milling about now as we’re about to go out front and ride our bikes! Maybe not Thor however as he is now running about in just his underwear! I guess I’ll have to sit in with him! Never mind.

Ready for the Weekend

But first a roundup of the week! All started well enough. Thor and Aaliyah are happy to be back at school, though Thor has taken a few steps backwards regarding his focus and general learning. Aaliyah seems to be flourishing. Caleb joined them on Wednesday as his plaster cast was finally removed on Tuesday. I am so very glad all is now well with him! Two broken arms in one year. Mind you his auntie reminded me that her son had a total of nine breaks throughout his childhood. He was certainly a little ballistic, just as Caleb is, so I’d better get into the mindset of dealing with life’s ups and downs as they happen!

Lots of cooking as ever, I’m sure you’ve seen my earlier blog. Favourite dish has to be the long denied ‘doner kebab’, recipe to follow. Lots of jam making too! Though the recipes for these I have earlier covered!

Tara and Amritsar’s home schooling is going just fine. We made a family tree today that went back from them, all the way back to my mother ‘Gramdma Jean’ and John’s mother ‘Granny Hazel’ (haha Mr Chiddicks). John just through the door with the three little ones, all full of smiles. It seems that Aaliyah and Caleb worked extremely hard today and received certificates. Thor in the other hand worked through one of his break times due to messing around and not applying himself. Naughty Thor. Aaliyah now playing with the dogs.

All the children excited now as my reply to ‘what are we having for dinner’ was ‘PIZZA’! It’s been quite a while. Mind you last time was homemade and today is shop brought!

Aaliyah is trying on a new tee shirt and yellow bloomers that arrived in the post today, she’s all smiles. I am reminded of my slightly ‘hippy look’ when I lived in Bangkok. I really must find out some of those photos and publish them for you to see! I have to smile.

Okay Wednesdays Donor Kebab recipe…

500g or 1lb minced lamb was placed in the food processor along with 2 x teaspoons crushed garlic, 2 x teaspoons cumin, 2 x teaspoons coriander, 2 x teaspoons paprika, salt and pepper.

Blitz in the food processor and place in a small to medium loaf tin. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes on around 160 centigrade. A moderate oven.

Meanwhile slice a 1/4 white cabbage as thinly as humanly possible. Set to one side. Slice some cucumber and tomato. Also finely slice half an onion. Big chunks don’t really work, slice very thinly!!!

Now, you will need a couple of condiments, a jar of pickled green chillis, a squeezy bottle of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a chilly sauce of choice! We love the Thai Sriracha in this house.

As for pitta breads, purchase the super large ones or as I did, 2 regular smallish ones each. Now, toast on a skillet / frying pan lightly and slice alone one of the long ends. Or microwave for 40 seconds turning half way.

Your neat should be drained and left to sit for a few minutes. That fragrant aroma will immediately take you back to your last doner kebab infidelity! Slice your meat and fill your kebab with all the listed ingredients. Enjoy, but you’re gonna get dirty so don’t forget plenty of kitchen roll.