Friday, 27 August 2021

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Jane Appleblossom sat down at the table with a relieved sigh.  It had been a long train journey to Macadamia Grove, and she was pleased to have had no trouble finding the house.  Of course, it helped that the Walnuts’ home was above the Supermarket, and Mrs Katerica Walnut had been very kind and welcoming.  Katerica had been a friend of Jane’s aunt at school, and when she heard that Jane had taken it into her head to do a bit of travelling in the countryside, she had insisted that the younger woman stay with her at her family’s home.

When Jane arrived, it was a busy time.  Mr Walnut was getting ready to go and open the shop downstairs, and there seemed to be children everywhere!

“Would you like some walnut slice before you go?”  Katerica asked her husband.  He looked interested, and approached the table.

“Mrs Babblebrook brought it over,” warned Saffron, with a pointed look at her father.  He hesitated.

“Isabella?  Or… er… the elder Mrs Babblebrook?”  he asked.

“The elder Mrs Babblebrook,” Saffron grinned.

“Ah… well… perhaps I won’t,” Cedric mumbled.  “Probably should be getting downstairs anyway…”  Suddenly he seemed to be in a hurry;  his voice trailed off as his bushy tail disappeared down the stairs.

“I’m off too, Mum,” said Saffon.  “I’m meeting Honey at the donut shop, remember?”  And with a last distrustful look at the walnut slice, she also departed.

Jane was surprised at this reaction from Cedric and Saffron, until she suddenly made the connection – Mrs Babblebrook – “the elder Mrs Babblebrook”…  Why, surely they must mean Pearl Babblebrook!  Of course Jane had heard the stories.  She had even seen a photograph of Pearl Babblebrook, proudly holding aloft a cake she had baked for the christening of Jane’s second cousin.  The story went that half the party had had food poisoning for a week, although Jane suspected that that story had gained strength and embellishments over the years.  At any rate, the general consensus was that anything baked by Pearl was guaranteed to be dreadful, and that Pearl herself remained completely oblivious to the fact.  No wonder Cedric and Saffron had left in a hurry!  But Jane had never actually met Pearl herself – and she certainly had had no idea that Pearl lived in Macadamia Grove!  What a small world it was, she mused.

She was startled from her thoughts by the Walnuts’ son Twig, who announced, “I’ll have some.”

Sure enough, he took a large piece of slice and began to eat it, quite unconcerned.

“Jane?” Katerica offered, her knife hovering over the slice.

“Oh… no thank you,” Jane faltered.  “I – I ate something on the train!”

“And I expect you’d like to freshen up after your journey, of course – silly me!” exclaimed Katerica.  “Your room is just through there.”

As Jane gratefully left the room, she couldn’t help noticing Twig still munching absently on the walnut slice, his attention mostly taken up by his comic book.  Oh well, she thought.  I suppose it’s true what my mother used to say – teenage boys really will eat anything!


Later that day, Katerica took Jane to an afternoon tea party to meet some of the local ladies.

“It’s just a small gathering of friends,” she said.  “We like to get together when we can to have a cup of tea and a gossip.  You’ll be very welcome – we love meeting new people!”

As luck would have it, on this occasion tea was to be held at the Babblebrooks’ cottage.  Jane found herself feeling very interested to meet this infamous Sylvanian!

They were greeted warmly, and as Katerica had assured her, Jane was made to feel very welcome.  The ladies chatted happily, and cups of tea were served. 

Jane was just in the middle of a interesting conversation with Mrs Ariane Woolly, when suddenly a plate of cupcakes appeared in front of her.  It was being offered by a beaming Mrs Babblebrook.

“Would you like one, dear?  They’re orange!” she said sweetly. 

“I’m fine, thank you,” Jane replied politely.

“Oh, please help yourself!”  Mrs Babblebrook urged.  “As our newest guest, I thought you should do the honours!” she added.

Jane didn’t know what to say.

“Oh… er… in that case… thank you,” she murmured, and gingerly took a cupcake.  To her horror, Mrs Babblebrook didn’t go away, but instead remained eagerly waiting for her to take a bite.

“Do try it!” she urged.  “I’d be interested to know what you think – I’ve tried something different this time!”

“Have you?” Jane managed.  “Well.  How… er... clever of you.”  Still she hesitated, staring down at the cupcake.  It looked like a cupcake.  It was certainly orange.

By this time, Jane realised she had gathered a bit of an audience.  Several of the ladies were looking curiously at her.  Finally her good manners couldn’t take it any longer.  She closed her eyes, and took a tiny nibble at the cake…

… and opened her eyes, startled.

“But – but Pearl, this is delicious!” she exclaimed.  She took a bigger bite.  It was in fact one of the nicest cakes she had ever eaten!  What on earth was all the fuss about, she wondered.

Then she realised several of the ladies were staring at her – Katerica and the two Mrs Babblebrooks in particular.  Oh dear, she thought, blushing – did I say “but” out loud?

“Er… Jane dear, did you call her… Pearl?” Katerica asked quietly.  Oh dear, thought Jane – and now I’ve called an older lady by her first name when it’s not how she was introduced to me.  Perhaps now they will think I am terribly rude… 

The younger Mrs Babblebrook’s mouth twitched.

And suddenly the elder Mrs Babblebrook went into peals of laughter. 

Pearl?” she cried.  “Oh goodness child, no wonder you didn’t want to eat one!”  Wiping tears from her eye, she patted Jane’s paw reassuringly.

“My name is Rose, dear,” she said kindly.  “Pearl Babblebrook is a relative of mine.  Quite a distant relative actually, although we do look an awful lot alike.”

Jane was very embarrassed, but the rest of the ladies seemed to think it a great joke – Rose most of all.  When quizzed about her family’s reaction to the walnut slice, Katerica explained that Rose was known for putting a lot of cinnamon into her walnut slice.  Whilst this was delicious for many critters, cinnamon was a flavour that Cedric and Saffron simply could not abide. 

“Oh dear,” said Jane.  “I have been awfully silly.”

“Nonsense child,” said Rose stoutly, handing her another cup of tea.  “It was very understandable you would mistake me for Pearl.  And for what it’s worth dear, I wouldn’t eat anything she’d cooked, either!”

Friday, 21 May 2021

Elementary, my deer...

One of the recent Creative Challenge prompts on the Sylvanian Families Forum was "Sylvanian Eras - Victorian".  Well, we couldn't pass that up, could we?

We thought it would be fun to recreate a Victorian-era literary character in Sylvanian form - but which one??  It was Caitlyn Hazelnut who thought of Sherlock Holmes, and with that, the game was afoot...

After much examination of all our Sylvanians, Mr Buckley was chosen as the best fit for this character, which Husband found intensely amusing, given the name of the famous detective's iconic hat...

I made Sherlock's pants, waistcoat, Inverness travelling cloak, and deerstalker hat (the white shirt is Mr Buckley's own), as well as the magnifying glass.  The rest of the accessories were already owned by various Sylvanians, and just had to be borrowed for use here.

Also thank you to my Dad and his wife, who gave me the beautiful edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes that our Sylvanian Sherlock is standing on!  I couldn't have wished for a better setting for this photo (and incidentally it's rather a good read, too...)  :)

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Grunt Family's Fruit Stand

The Grunt family owns and operates a large farm on the edge of Macadamia Grove.  Their main crops are apples, corn and macadamia nuts, however Mrs Grunt and her daughter Olivia are interested in growing other fruits as well.  The farm's produce can be found for sale in the local Supermarket, and other local restaurants and food businesses also use their produce.  

Inevitably though, there is always some beautiful fresh produce left over, and it was Olivia's idea that it would be a good idea to run a fruit stand outside their house on the weekends.  Her father agreed to build it, but decided a wagon would be a better design, so that it could be moved around easily if they ever wanted to sell at a local fair or similar.

Last weekend, the Fruit Wagon opened for business.  Olivia was very excited.  She hoped to be in charge of this little weekend business eventually, but her father felt he should be in charge this first time.  

"When you have learned enough to be in charge, you and Hugh can run the stand yourselves, and keep the profits from it," he said.  "But first you will need to learn the ropes.  You will have to learn to weigh the fruit, work out the prices, and deal carefully with the money.  But most importantly, you will need to learn to look after your customers."

Hugh was also quite interested in the fruit stand idea (mostly as he liked the idea of having more pocket money), and he cheerfully did his part to help set up.  He had always been less enthusiastic about farm work than his sister though, and Olivia noticed he had brought a book outside with him.  She wondered how much help he would be in the long term.  She had to admit that he had done a lovely job of the sign, although she did wonder why he had drawn bananas.  

"We don't grow bananas," she pointed out.

"Yes, but I am good at drawing bananas," Hugh answered.  "Anyway, does it matter?"

"I suppose not."  Olivia rolled her eyes and gave up.  The sign did look nice.

They had just finished getting everything in place, when Olivia spotted some potential customers.  Elinor Fletcher was out for a walk with her daughter Merida and the little twins.  Olivia waved.   Mrs Fletcher looked interested and trotted over.

Soon Corrie Dale arrived too, and had questions about about some pears.
"Are they very sweet?"  she wondered.
"Oh yes Mrs Dale, and they are perfectly ripe.  Just picked this morning," Olivia replied. 
"Well, I shall have some then," smiled Corrie, hoping the pears might satisfy her daughter's sweet tooth.

Meanwhile, Mr Grunt was explaining about corn to Mrs Fletcher.
"You must eat it while it is very fresh," he said.  "Then it is the tastiest vegetable you could wish for."

Merida Fletcher wasn't particularly interested in corn, and had instead concentrated on choosing herself a snack.
"Mum, can I have an orange please?"

All in all, it was a successful day.  The Grunts had many customers on their very first day, and Olivia just knew it was going to be a success.  Suddenly, she wondered where her brother had got to...

It appears the lure of his favourite book had proved too much for Hugh, and during a quiet spell he had snuck off to have a bit of a read...

Olivia hoped he would be more help in future.  Otherwise, she thought, they might have to rethink how the profits were shared out...