Jaqui's Daily Blog

Rising to the Occasion

In my imagination, I knew exactly what the birthday cake would look like. Sadly, it falls a little short of my expectations.


Despite obeying Delia's instructions to the letter - even to the extent of buying new cake tins because mine were apparently not deep enough - the cake mixture hasn't risen quite as light and airy as Delia had led me to believe it would. I have filled the cake with lots of jam in a bid to add height and, when this didn't work (jam being squashy stuff, as I should have realised) I covered it with a thick layer of icing. It still looks a bit, well, flat. It is, however, too late to do anything about it and as Faris's mother, the Middle of the Darling Daughters has been quick to say, it has been made with lots of love, so what could be better? Indeed, should it have a Sagging Middle, she says she will love it all the more. The fact that she said this before even seeing my creation says a lot about her level of expectation, which is clearly more realistic than mine.


The Youngest of the Darling Daughters was a bit miffed not to be mentioned in yesterday's blog as one of my good examples, cake-wise. Had I really forgotten, she asked me, the quite magnificent creations she had made for her Twosome's early birthdays? I could only apologise. Profusely. Of course I remember them! Who could possibly forget the Hedwig the Owl cake, baked at the height of Harry Potter mania? His icing feathers were so realistic that you imagined he might, any minute, flap his wings and swoop off to deliver missives to the pupils of Hogwarts. Or the fairytale castle, turrets and all, every bit as beautiful as the Disneyland version. Only smaller.


The best of all, however, has to be the Punch and Judy cake for which superlatives fail me. I may be wrong but I think it just might have been the last of her home-made birthday cakes, presumably because it was never going to be surpassed in its sheer brilliance. (Do you think she might forgive me, by the way, for yesterday's unfortunate omission, given the belated praise I have showered on her cake-making today?)


The Punch and Judy cake was just one of many highlights of a Party to Remember when we turned the back garden into a fairground. As parties go it was less expensive than hiring a hall, an entertainer, a disco or whatever - every stall was manufactured by we four Party Planners, my daughter, her kids and me. Even the entertainment was home-grown for Jack and I put on a puppet show for the assembled party-goers. Punch and Judy, what else? To this day, Jack still complains bitterly that I left out a whole page of the script. Our audience, fortunately, seemed none the wiser.


Yes, that was indeed a great party. But then all parties are special, even if the birthday cake for tomorrow's Big Event hasn't risen quite as well as Delia promised. My aim is to have all the preparations finished today, so that tomorrow I can just relax and enjoy myself. As far as anyone can relax with the Rampaging Rascal around, not to mention a couple of newborns. Still, we will have two more pairs of helping hands to cuddle the babies as my sister and brother-in-law are coming. It's always good when the cavalry arrives.


The birthday banner is up: "Faris is two" it reads. The presents are wrapped (using a minimum of Sellotape for greater ease of opening) and the birthday card written. The jelly is in the fridge in the garage and the curry for tomorrow's dinner is in the oven. I have given Mr B fair warning that I need him to extend the dining room table tomorrow morning. We can never remember exactly how to do it, so he has the whole evening to think about it.


I think as far as my preparations are concerned, my greatest success has been in dressing up the Giant Penguin who always stands on the front door step to greet visiting grandchildren. He is standing in the hall as I write and he looks truly magnificent. He is wearing a waistcoat I bought years ago on a holiday to Turkey (why do we buy these things on holiday, when we must know we will never, ever wear them at home?) with one of Mr B's ties, carefully knotted around his neck (it only just fits as he has a thick neck. The Giant Penguin, that is, not Mr B.) On his head a curly wig which Mr B bought for a fancy dress party (he was going as John McEnroe) but never wore, topped by - the piece de resistance - a hat in the shape of a birthday cake, complete with candles and a button which, when pressed, plays Happy Birthday. As birthday cakes go, it us truly splendid. Though obviously inedible.


I am very proud of the Giant Penguin. I think if is fair to say that he has Risen To The Occasion.


Unlike, sadly, my birthday cake.

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Latest comments

26.10 | 14:21

Mmm, was it because there were '24 men kicking a ball' that it didn't end entirely satisfactorily???

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15.10 | 11:13

I don't remember seeing this first time round.... but thank you for sharing with me. You write beautifully, and brought a tear to my eyes. Lots of love xx

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10.10 | 21:37

Jaqui I think your grandchildren are very lucky. You have spurred me on to write a letter to Amelia who like Hazel is away from home for the first time. 💕

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03.07 | 22:43

Wouldn't have missed it for the world. xx

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