Warning – Long post, picture-rich.
On Friday we had our Allerton Three Anniversary Tea Party. The Allerton Three is the group of us girls who met up on Allerton Ward last year, all having our bowel cancer operations. (It sounds like a criminal gang. I am convinced they discharged us for bad behaviour.) We became firm friends and have kept up, meeting when we can, and are in regular email contact. We all attend the monthly relaxation sessions put on by the Lodge, the cancer support centre at the hospital, which is a good regular contact time, and we’ve had lunch out together, and last week one of them had several paintings in her art group’s exhibition so we went over for that, on a day that she was stewarding, so we could see her.
We decided to celebrate the first anniversary of our friendship by having this tea party. Unfortunately we couldn’t do it exactly a year on from our meeting because the other two were away, and Friday was the first day when we were all free. It also coincided with a Lodge day so we met there and all came back here together afterwards – first we chilled out, then we pigged out lol!
It was lovely showing them where we live, and both of them enjoyed seeing my studio and some of the work I have done, and the artist denied being green with envy!!
I had laid up the table in Mum’s room with my best embroidered cloth, and it was groaning with plates of all my baking! Unfortunately, in all the excitement, I completely forgot to photograph it so I will have to leave that to your imagination, but it did look lovely. Afternoon tea is a great favourite with us all, and we agreed, happily, that this seems to be an institution that is at last coming back into fashion. I got my pretty cake plates out (I wish I still had Mum’s old wooden 3-tier cake stand!) and my Denby pottery tea set – this is rather thick and heavy, unfortunately, but the beautiful bone china one that was my grandmother’s all got broken over the years and is no more. I put out my little tea knives, though, and the silver jam spoons for the cream tea, and the matching table napkins that go with the cloth, and it all looked very pretty. I’m so fed up with myself for forgetting to photograph it!
This afternoon I decided to plate up the leftovers and photograph them so you could at least see a bit how things looked.
Chocolate chip cookies. They are flavoured with vanilla. One of my friends said that instead of vanilla, you can add orange zest and/or essence and get a real Terry’s Chocolate Orange (“not for sharing” lol! – remember those adverts?) flavour. I must try this.
Remember the little cakes I made with the sticky icing (featured in my previous blog post)? Well, that icing failed to set, so on Thursday I scraped it all off and chucked it out. I made some more, this time butter cream, which worked much better, and coloured it pink, and spread it on the cakes, and then coloured the remainder a nice rich dark red and piped the little stomas on top!
Here’s a detail. You can see that for added realism (!) I have added a chocolate chip in the centre!
One of my friends asked me, “What’s that little brown thing in the centre?” I said, “Well, it’s poo, isn’t it!!” We all fell about laughing at the stomas and she said, “Yes, but what is it really?” so I told her it was a chocolate chip! Then she helped herself to one of the chocolate energy bites and said, “These look just like poo, too!” More laughter!
I am convinced that our time together on Allerton Ward turned us into three giggling poo-obsessed schoolgirls! It’s all the fault of the nurses. They never talked about anything else – but then you can’t blame them – it was the gut ward after all! It was there that we learnt all about the Bristol Stool Chart – I couldn’t believe that someone had actually poked around in people’s poo and graded it, and was convinced that the nurses were pulling our legs, but no, it’s genuine!
What a lovely topic of conversation over our tea party.
A friend on the stoma forum I’m on came up with the Bristol Ileostomy Output Chart (being different from poo, we felt that we needed our own chart – I printed this out and took it in to the stoma nurses!)
It’s a good thing that for those of us fortunate enough never to have grown up, poo remains a subject of giggle-generating infantile humour. I’m sure it’s one of the things that got us through last year’s ordeal!! Guffaw guffaw!
Here’s a mixed platter of goodies.
You can see that there are some buttered Scots pancakes (drop scones) and a couple of plain scones spread with strawberry jam and clotted cream – a traditional Devon cream tea!
I also took some photos of my beautiful embroidered table cloth which we used for the tea party. This belonged to my grandmother and I think it may have been one of the pieces she brought back from the Canary Islands where she often used to spend the winter. It is a beautiful natural-coloured linen with slightly darker embroidery, with satin stitch and drawn thread work.
Last week everything went brilliantly, timing-wise (apart from the first attempt at icing the stoma cakes) and the two chandeliers I’d ordered both arrived. On Wednesday, when our sitting room one came, I phoned the electrician straight away, and he said he could come the following day to fit it, which was great – it’s now installed and looking so pretty! The light in the room is a huge improvement on the single bulb under a shade that did little to improve the dimness of the room – it has five arms, each with a nice bright LED candle bulb.
What pretty patterns it makes on the ceiling when it’s lit. Also, I love how I can see it reflected in the mirror from where I sit on the recliner.
The other chandelier didn’t require the electrician to fit it, as it is just a fancy sort of lampshade, but he did install a longer flex for it. When Mum was in her flat, she complained it wasn’t bright enough and got my hubby to take the shade off her ceiling light, and it was so grim with just a bare bulb. Having a pretty chandelier answers the problem, and I chose a particularly pretty one on Ebay, in the “cascade” style.
In preparation for our tea party, I also added a few things to the room to make it more homely. Mum had brought very little with her from her old house and the room was stark and unwelcoming and unattractive. Unfortunately she has no sense of style and if something was of no practical use she wasn’t interested. My hubby brought the rug down from the loft, and the red armchair and the Indian table had already gone through when Gary was decorating our sitting room. I finally got around to unpacking one of the remaining boxes from the house move and put out the sitting room ornaments that there hadn’t been room for in our other room. I rummaged in my studio to find my huge Chinese fan that I bought years ago and which had never been displayed. I also put up some other pictures in place of the horrible ones that had been there before! Now that the big bookcase has gone, the room is looking a lot more attractive, homely and welcoming. I brought the large silk ficus plant in from our entrance lobby (where everybody just walked past it anyway without noticing it) and that’s softened things a bit, too.
The standard lamp that we bought for her has a pink shade which doesn’t co-ordinate with the room but I am planning to replace this.
A view of the garden through the open door.
It was great that both chandeliers arrived in time to be installed before our tea party, so that both rooms were complete. Also, on Friday morning, again just in time, my hubby went over to the furniture restorer who has mended the broken section of my magnificent Burmese screen, and for the first time since we moved, it is now displayed in all its glory.
All three panels of this screen are as intricately carved front and back, so it can be displayed anywhere in a room so that all sides are visible. I’ve never had a large enough room to be able to use it as a room divider, which is what would be ideal. I inherited this screen from my grandfather and it has accompanied me throughout my adult life. It is made from solid Burma teak and weighs an absolute ton! Over the years various bits on the tops got broken and the restorer has re-attached the bits that I still had. When I disassembled it to move here, one of the top pieces fell into two halves and I could see that this had happened before, and that my grandfather had mended it, but the glue had dried out. These two pieces have now been stuck back together. This is one of my great treasures!
Our sitting room looks so beautiful now it’s all complete at last, and everything is integrated an appears “meant to be” rather than the overcrowded clutter of before, and with Mum’s room being so much nicer too, we are taking advantage of it and sitting in there sometimes, getting the afternoon and evening sun, and having a nice view over the garden, with direct access to the little patio with the pots of flowers.
I shall be taking some more garden photos soon, and possibly doing a video tour of the garden as things start to grow and mature. My hubby has worked so hard out there and it’s all looking lovely.
One final bit of news – I sang in church for the first time today! I was thrilled to do it and it went very well, and I got some lovely feedback, which was very encouraging. I am booked to sing again on 12th June. It is a number of years since I have done this. I have such a sense of many doors beginning to open for me now that last year is behind me, and it’s an exciting and positive time, with lots to look forward to now that I feel I’ve been given my life back and I am looking upon things in a new light, as if everything is all fresh and clean and new.
I just feel incredibly blessed.