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Monday, January 24, 2011

Just look at that little monkey on the floor...

Secret Seven
The cheeky grin; the cute outfit; the way the eyes follow you around the room - it could only be Andrew's sister.

Yes, just six weeks after we threw crisps at them from the balcony of the Brighton Dome, Lisa and I decided to let Stefan and Andrew carry on the food fight by popping around to their flat yesterday afternoon and allowing them to serve us cake. As the photo above demonstrates, however, there were a couple of extra dishes on the menu this time around. They had Andrew's sister and niece visiting. We were like the Secret Seven, but the only mystery was how we all managed to fit into that kitchen.

We've met Andrew's sister once before, back in May 2009, and we hit it off so well that within months of meeting, she'd decided to emigrate from Canada to the UK, just to be closer to us. And further from Canada. She arrived just before Christmas, and as of Saturday, she's living two hundred yards from our flat. She initially struggled to find somewhere suitable, but fortunately a property became vacant in the new year. Possibly after someone fell out of the window.

Obviously it's a concern when highly qualified foreigners come over here and take our jobs, but in the case of Andrew's sister, we don't need to worry. Having inspected all her Canadian teaching qualifications, the UK authorities have decided that they carry about as much weight as a GCSE in Media Studies, so she'll be lucky to get a job as a dinner lady. Which is handy as it leaves her free to do a lot of babysitting. The government might not realise how good she is with kids, but fortunately we do...

Amelie rarely smiles that much without a mouth full of food. I'm tempted to forget the Catholic school and hire Andrew's sister as her personal tutor. Let's face it, she's officially unqualified, so she must be pretty cheap.

But all that aside, the main reason we visit Stefan and Andrew is for the cake and the gifts. And as usual, they did not disappoint. Frankly with their talent for cake-making and present-buying, it's a miracle they're not obese and impoverished. Although they do buy a lot of stuff in Poundland. This time we came away with an outfit for Amelie, some NHS freebies, a bag full of cat treats and a book called 'Waddle!'. Which was appropriate after we'd eaten all their cake.

'Waddle!' is actually the latest in a series of 'Scanimation' books for children, and is as close to magic as you're ever likely to get outside of a Hogwarts classroom. I've read the book from cover to cover, I've watched this video...

... and I still don't understand how it works. Amelie's the same. She must have read it twenty times already, and she still can't explain it to me.

Anyhoo, as always, a good time was had by all. All three of the Gardners, that is. I can't speak for our hosts. We basically spent three hours eating their food, drinking their tea and playing with their Lenin matryoshkas, minature cows, fluffy chicks, magnetic dogs and talking dolls, before making off with half their belongings. I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


Lisa said...

I was the one waddling after all that cake.

Phil's Mum said...

200 yards from your flat??  Near enough for Amelie to run there on her own!

Phil said...

We said that yesterday. She knows about crossing the road at the green man, so she should be fine.

Auntie Nora said...

This was a delightful afternoon with charming company and I would like to invite Miss Amelie and her Mum to tea at my new abode, while Daddy is bringing home the bacon......which he could also bring for tea....  Come soon, or you will have to have your faces washed by my doggies!  I will contact you this week.