Slushy pumpkins and cake

Here’s an annoying word which doesn’t adequately express itself very well:


PLAY. Playing. Playing = wholesome fun = laughing = farmyardy rough’n’tumble (non-homoerotic, in our case, because they are small, and brothers, and ugh) = ruddy cheeks and healthy-smelling juvenile horsey sweat from the happiness caused from the playfighting. Not crying, ruined furniture, couches splitting open and leaking foam, glass framed photographs hit with flying detritus mid-playfight and now shattered and spread all over the carpet like malicious glitter. Not red faces from fists and shoes and elbows, or little cuts from pushing brothers into sharp-edged service announcement boxes at tube stations. Not shoving on buses, in queues, lying down wrestling matches in shopping market aisles, not scooter-ramming incidents which push one kid into another random person’s ankles, not chasing which ends up one kid on the road, with a taxi having to slow down and beep at them, with the mother going mental and the kid adamantly declaring that they had no choice but to run backwards into traffic, because they were being CHASED by their smaller, weaker brother. There is not much about this that is very playful. It is actually enraging and traumatic and after one week of it, I am a shaking mess who has to eat all the cooking chocolate after they are in bed just to calm down. Also, some wine.

Play fighting: my ass. And I just want to say that if we have ever knocked you over as we shove our way past you, or smashed our skateboards into your tendons, or made you swerve into your own bit of oncoming traffic just to get away from the enormous vicious rioting mob that we have become, then I’m sorry. Its not me; it’s them.

Last week, things were a bit better, because four of them were in school all day, away from each other and away from me. And Kerry, who is awesome, asked me to an Alice In Wonderland-themed afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel. I’ve only ever been there once, and I have ideas of it being the kind of slightly faded place you do debauched, YBAs-era stylish things, like take very fashionable drugs while wearing very beautiful shoes behind the mysterious, sexy, enormous curtain netting shroud that separates the Sanderson people from the rest of us.

Anyway, we went at lunchtime, and so treated the enormous selection of cakes and the three glasses of champagne as a kind of actual meal, which quite soon made us feel wrong and sick, but in that tired, calm, sleepy way where you know you have to pick up the kids quite soon, and there is nothing out for tea, but you just don’t care any more.

‘Why yes, I would LOVE ANOTHER GLASS OF THAT PERRIER JOUET’ *claps hands like a bit of an overexcited nutter, empties second glass, feels a bit disorientated, scarfs another tiny posh biscuit, feels cheeks flaming, sweats a bit* 

It was lovely, and here are photos of the cakes and biscuits and menus slipped between old hardcover books and ice creams made to look like flowerpots:

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There was a gorgeous selection of teas, all presented in little glass bottles for us to sniff and choose. They always smell better than they taste, as everyone knows, but they came out to us in beautiful teapots and by that point, we needed a little hydration.

I have a new appreciation of the Wonderland-related cakey artistry we were presented with because this week is Halloween and I thought I could be a biscuit-maker too. Fired up by a million images of successful Pinterest Halloween baking, I tried to make some finger-shaped bleeding biscuits and they went from pleasingly 3D gnarly doughy embryonic fingers to flat, arthritically misshapen, burnt, fat slugs of dog-turd-like proportions once they exited the fiery womb of my oven. I have no idea why I can’t bake biscuits. Is it the science? Is it magic? It is a lack of patience or correct kitchen gadgetry? Am I missing a biscuit-competence chromosome? They always look a bit rubbish. Here they are:


Also, there is my grouting.

Everyone has been eating them, and I admit they still look cool, but not like those other Pinterest perfectionists. My slightly crap biscuit-making is a little bit like my hair. It’s never quite right. I thought I would get older and these things would just sort themselves out. Like the ironing pile and persistent psoriasis patches and my inability to walk convincingly in shoes with a heel.

And Some More Photos You’ve Probably All Seen

Gratuitous and rare photo of bowl-cut cute baby without his dummy, on the way back from Waitrose which now takes about 47 minutes instead of four, because he keeps stopping to sit down. Here, he is sitting on his filthy naked plastic baby with a greying cotton torso against construction hoardings:


Finally, here we are at Crockford Bridge Farm, picking pumpkins and wandering through the forest following Peter Pan and Wendy and avoiding the poisonous mushrooms.

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And then we rushed home, carved our pumpkins, wasted a whole packet of 50 tealights by burning through them all and making towers with the empty ones that are all still under the kitchen table, spilt a lot of wax on the carpet, played with the pumpkins, damaged each other’s pumpkins, complained that the pumpkins were going grey inside, and then I woke up three days later to find the pumpkins had rotted themselves into a slushy wet mound of mould and slime and they had fallen onto the waxy carpet over night.


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7 Responses to Slushy pumpkins and cake

  1. kerry says:

    Those little buggers. Sorry about all the playfighting you’re having to endure. The girly version is just a lot of repeated phrases like “you’re so MEAN!’ and “why are you such a LIAR?” and “I’m telling you OFF!”

    Laughed a lot at your description of us necking champagne and scoffing nibbles – spot on!

  2. Jo says:

    Gah play fighting does my head in! I was constantly hauling my two apart during the summer holidays. The youngest has a propensity for nose bleeds and got them constantly all over the carpets! They seem to have calmed down a bit since going back to school or perhaps the screeching at them finally worked?!
    Excellent biscuits and pumpkins btw xx

  3. theharridan says:

    It’s bloody awful, isn’t it? Unless you are actually the one dealing with it, you really have no idea. It’s nearly broken me. So, the wine.

  4. Elliesee says:

    It’s just fighting then – there is not much holding my twin 6 year olds from it. Fair fighting:( and yes, a car rolled on my daughter’s foot because she thought her sister would hit her. I wonder how barely supervised kids did in the old days, some certainly did not survive.

    • theharridan says:

      Actual contact with a car? I will tell my children that to try to spook them (which won’t work). I read somewhere that it is best to create a safe fighting place, like a basement with many cushions and ice packs. But we have no basement,and they prefer to do it publicly. Gah

  5. jacks says:

    I don’t know why I find your pain amusing…makes my lol everytime

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