I rediscovered The Faraway Tree when it came to bedtime stories for my own children. I managed to procure a copy that still called the children, Fanny, Bess and Jo. Some modern-day reprints have changed some of the names. Fanny is now Susan, and Cousin Dick is now Rick. This is because…well why is that exactly? Is it because 6 year olds up and down the land will be saying,
‘Mummy, Daddy, isn’t Fanny another word for front-bottom?’
‘Mummy, Daddy, isn’t Dick another word for todger?’
Is it because it would alienate our cousins from across the pond?
‘Jeez Mommy, do all the English name their children after parts of the body?’
I do get a little exasperated with the PC re-writers of literature; do they really have nothing better to do with their time?
Anyway, back to the book. Now whether Enid Blyton was a dreadful mother or not, there’s one thing of which we can be sure; she did have a vivid imagination. I don’t know what’s in those mushrooms in the Enchanted Wood, but they certainly make for a great story. However, it’s a mystery to me that dear Enid didn't mention the ‘La La land of Escape’ in any of the three Faraway Tree books. I feel sure she must have known of its existence.
For those of you not familiar with the La La land of Escape, let me elaborate.
You are faced with a mountain of jobs to do. You do not want to do them. There are lots of other things you would rather be doing, even though perhaps you shouldn’t. It’s time for a trip to the La La land of Escape.
As you approach the tree, keep an eye out for the Brownies that hang around the trunk. I’m sure those long beards aren’t really hiding anything sinister, and the clothes are probably appropriate to their culture, but really, do they have to look so different? I think we’ll make them a bit more mainstream in the next reprint.
As you start to climb the tree, you might bump into Moon Face. I'm going to need some ideas for his new name, because I have a feeling that the 'Moon' in fact refers to the rotundity of his face. I mean this guy could be obese! Let's not call a fat face a fat face, we need to find an excuse for him. How about Roland? That way, we could call him 'Roly' and it would be perfectly clear that the 'Roly' is a diminutive of 'Roland' and that we are in no way causing offence by calling him the other kind of 'roly' which would mean; roly poly, fat git, do a bit of exercise and your face might slim down.
Moving up the tree, keep a close watch out for Dame Washalot; she’s got a horrible form of OCD and she just can’t stop washing her clothes. She’s refusing all medication, won’t let health professionals near her and keeps lobbing the water down the tree. She’s in clear violation of health and safety laws and is an offence to the Kyoto treaty; do you think we can get her to wash at 30 degrees? We may have to airbrush her out of the next print run.
Anyway, once you’re past her, you’re nearly there. Step up through the cloud and ahhhhh. You’ve arrived. Let all the very real worries drop away, and feel that relaxation envelop you.
You see the world stops turning in La La land. All those things that are pulling you down, clogging up your brain and making your heart beat with anxiety; they are not allowed in. Now, what is it you really want to do? Read a book? Look through baby photographs? You can do it all in The La La land of Escape; it exists so that you can forget your worries. It allows you to be kind to yourself and take an hour or so out from your problems.
I had such a lovely time in La La land the other evening. The end of term has just eased into fifth gear and I am being pulled along in a disorganised flurry of nativity costumes, present buying, party organising and Christmas card writing. As the rev counter goes into the red, it is adding to the white noise of the ever-present piles of washing, the untidy bedrooms, unpaid bills and bottle recycling. I may not be far from breaking point.
So I turned my back on it all and wandered off into the Enchanted Forest. Wisha washa wisha washa wisha washa went the trees as I navigated the mossy paths that lead to the foot of the faraway tree. It was getting late so all was quiet. I did bump into Silky - who has hair just like on of my daughters – we had a quick chat, but before long I was at the top of the tree.
I stepped up through the cloud and into La La land.
It was all there waiting for me. The chocolate machine, the cute Christmassy chocolate moulds and the super duper pretty sprinkles that the postman delivered the other day. I spent an hour or two making dairy free chocolates for my littlest girl. December the 1st was looming and Advent Box preparations were underway. After tea in December, the children take it in turns to open the advent drawers (see picture) and dole out the chocolates. I wanted my allergic girlie to enjoy a pretty chocolate like her siblings do. I stirred and sprinkled, smoothed and scraped. It was absorbing, it was soothing, and it was a complete break from stress.
The washing piles are still in situ. The 11 nativity costumes still have to be made.
I opened my big gob and offered to do it. Next year I shall keep my big gob firmly shut.
Still, I feel renewed and I can now go forth and do battle with the end of term, and Christmas.
This is because I’ve had my R & R in La La. You really should pay a visit.
I was so excited when I found Carnival Sprinkelz available from the wonderful Dietary Needs Direct. Psychadelic, e-number enhanced sprinkles can trigger asthma in my eldest girl, and are usually full of something my youngest girl can't eat. These sprinkles though are great. Dairy free and gluten free, and they look so pretty! You have to put a good layer of them into the mould before pouring on the chocolate, otherwise the chocolate seeps through.
I got some fab chocolate moulds from Home Chocolate Factory, but if you don't want to buy chocolate moulds, fear not. A very, very clever lady who reads my blog emailed me with her A1 idea. She had very selflessly eaten the entire contents of a milk chocolate advent calendar; Mother love is second to none. This was so that she could thoroughly scrub, rinse, scrub and scrub the advent calendar moulds so that they were chocolate free. She then melted some chocolate her child could eat and poured it into the moulds. Et voila, one happy child, one amazing mother. (Wish I'd thought of it)
100-150g dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids or more (dairy free, gluten free) You might need more or less depending on how many chocolates you wish to make
A box or two of sprinkles (optional), buy them here
- If you have a chocolate machine, turn it on. If not put a little water into a small saucepan and set a heatproof bowl on top. The water shouldn't touch the base of the bowl. Put the saucepan on to a low heat
- Break the chocolate into the chocolate machine or the heatproof bowl
- Stir it frequently as it melts to prevent it from sticking. Take it off the heat when all the chocolate has just melted; you don't want it too runny
- If you are using sprinkles, cover the base of the chocolate mould with them. Make sure you get a good thick layer
- Using a teaspoon, spoon the chocolate into the moulds. Put in one spoonful and gently 'push' the chocolate to the edge of the moulds. Add more spoonfuls if necessary, push to the edges and fill the mould to the top
- Put the moulds into the fridge and leave to harden, it should take about 40 minutes
- Turn out the moulds onto a cooling tray or plate. Aren't your chocolates pretty?!
- I wrapped mine in tin foil and put them in the advent box, you must do as you see fit with yours.
- I tell you what, it's miserable having a child with allergies, it's a lot of saying 'no'. So it's just lovely when you put something pretty and gorgeous in front of them and they gasp with delight and their siblings yell that they want one too...this was one of those times.
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007