Two of my boys share a birthday. The smaller one is 12 and the bigger one 46 tomorrow, so this afternoon we held a family tea party in the garden, complete with egg sandwiches, tea in proper pots, and strawberry and cream cake.
The Great Aunts and Uncles are getting a bit doddery on their pegs as they are well into their ninth decades, and there were lots of hearing aids and walking sticks on display, but mercifully the Grannies and Grandpas remain as sprightly as ever. My four year old niece got real ants in her pants when she stood on an ant's nest (which my eight year old niece found really funny) and one of my caterpillars was discovered striding purposefully along the table towards the carrot sticks, luckily in time to head him off and return him to the box. More on that in a minute.
I love putting birthday teas together, and because we are off on hols imminently felt justified in employing a helping hand or two from Waitrose which provided some of the more fanciful nibbles. I did, of course, make the birthday cakes (two, because we were 14 for tea) and we ate our own tomatoes and the cucs in the cuc and cream cheese sarnies were home grown. I didn't grow the wheat that made the flour for the bread, or raise a pig for the sausages, but it was our own eggs in the cakes and meringues. Here are some pics...
We had a gorgeous walk along a section of the Test Way yesterday, (to off-set against today's enormous tea). There were swans a plenty and the sun even came out too! F and L spent the entire walk discussing Skyrim (an Xbox 360 game), which L has just got for his bdet, while M and I talked about more middle aged interests, such as what the weather is likely to do next week and whether the walk would be suitable for bicycles or not.
The pillars continue well and are still growing, although we now have 6 pupas. Most of these are Small Whites I think. The Large Whites, meanwhile, are eating, and eating, and eating, as this photograph shows.....
I've been very keen to capture the changing-into-pupa moment, and finally managed to get it after several attempts (the pillars are sneaky at doing this over night or between cabbage-leaf-changing times). Below are three stages of a Small White pupating....
It will doubtless give you all a good laugh to hear that the caterpillars are coming on holiday with us. They need regular feeding, cleaning out and a check kept on the pupas for when the butterflies hatch, and I didn't think it was really fair to ask ma (who is on house, garden and general livestock duty while we are away) to do it. Also, I didn't want to miss the emerging butterfly moment. That way I can share it all with you too.
I'll leave you with some pics from the garden of fast-ripening apples on one of the trees, and a gorgeous bronzed sunflower.
I'll be silent for a handful of days now (phew! I hear you all cry), but will be back with a avengeance
with tails of holiday high-jinks soon.
In the mean time, I wish you all well.