Friday, 29 July 2011

Pirates and Parties

My eldest turned 4 yesterday. For weeks we ummed and aahed about throwing him a party. Was he old enough? Was it necessary? Did we have to? We came to the conclusion he was old enough to make the decision we couldn't. We asked him if he wanted a party or a big present. He chose "big present" and we swallowed him up in a group hug.

When he started nursery he would regularly come home with a piece of cake, "It's Violet's birthday" the teacher would tell me handing me a squished parcel of goodness wrapped in a tinkerbell serviette. A week later "It's Gabby's birthday" as I was handed a cupcake that had more sparkle in its icing than a Claire's Accessories' hairpiece. It seemed they were getting bigger and better as the year went along. "Thank god my children are born in the holidays, I don't need to get involved with this" I smugly thought.

But I did.

"Seen as you're not having a party, do you want to take some cakes into school for your school friends?" I asked him on walk home one afternoon.
"Yes Pleeeeease! Pirate ones."
There was no going back. I had asked. And I hadn't thought about it. Somewhere in that question I should have included 'plainly iced' or even 'shop bought'.

Pirate cupcakes. Right.

A friend suggested gold coins on the top. "Brilliant!" I thought, that's easy. (I had left it till the morning of the penultimate day to do this.) Just so you know, in case you need gold coins in Summer, uou can not buy Gold Coins outside of the festive holiday. Our little town as 2 traditional sweet shops, 1 bargain pic and mix shop, 1 supermarket and many convenience shops with rows and rows of sweets.  Sweet shops we have. Gold coins we don't. "How about skull and cross bones?" I asked  the shopkeeper scratching for ideas. "Only at Halloween." The smiling assassin replied.

So I went back to the drawing board... And bloody well surprised myself!

Do you know how many there are in O's class?... 40! Something I didn't ask till the morning of hte marathon cake bake. I took me all afternoon. It's a good job I don't work, as with all the demands of showcasing one's talents as a parent I'd never be able to hold down a job.

His teacher asked me, as I handed them  over, weeping, if I had done all the little faces myself. "No the shoemakers elves did it whilst I was alseep."

Here's some of the others. Notice the multicultural ones in the top left? I got extra praise from the teachers for those. As you can see it was quite time consuming doing the pirate faces, so I mixed it up with some skull and cross bones. The last 10, which I'm not showcasing, were, just a chocolate buttons stuck on some butter cream with some silver ball tossed on  in a flurried after thought.

(Note to self and fellow bakers. Natural food colouring may have less 'E' numbers in, but it will not give you pirate red icing, the closest you will get is a terracotta colour.)

I triumphed, broke my own rule and posted photos of my success on FB, as my recently departed followers muttered "poser" under their smug breaths.

I did actually devise a pirate treasure hunt on Litte O's birthday for him and his 2 best friends, who are equally pirate infatuated. After obsessing all week about the weather and whether we would be trudging for clues in festival style rain, we discovered Little O is born under a lucky star and it was the nicest, sunniest day it had been for weeks.

The FH set off first, with strict instructions of where to place the clues. And in no time at all I was at the starting point with three pirates (authentically attired) brandishing wooden swords and excitedly roaring "C'mon Me Hearties". I rubbed my bump and whispered "Sorry about this."

The first clue had been attached to the railings in the park, but as we were distracted fixing one of the swords with electrician's tape, a skanky little skinhead dressed in Kappa had pulled it off. Luckily my teacher's eye had spotted it. I retrieved it from him whilst he was trying to make it into a comedy joint. "I didn't stay up most the night laminating these so they could be used for that" I told him, in my teacher voice, reattaching it onto the railings.

We set off. Full speed ahead. I devised a "waddle run" thus managing to keep up with them. It was brilliant! We ran, screamed and roared between clues, brandishing swords at passers by, who were jumping into rose bushes to avoid being knocked over. My only regret was that I hadn't attired myself  in a wenches' costume (don't think they do them in Maternity though.Shame.)

At the bottom The FH and our beautiful toddler (Fearless) were waiting. The last clue was a map of the wooded paly area and a red cross in the sandpit.The FH and Fearless were at  the edge of the sand pit, spades ready. The three pirates furiously unearthed the sand, as we tried to shield surrounding children sat nearby, stunned at what they were witnessing.  Eventually, they found the treasure chest, full of...  alas, not golden chocolate coins, but golden chocolate Fireman Sam lollies instead.  They loved it!

I congratulated The FH on placing the clues exactly where I said, he recounted that it would have been a piece of cake if Fearless hadn't been making a run for it every time he stopped to tie one on. At one point, whilst tying a clue to the bridge railings, Fearless had made a dash for it and was momentarily caught by a female passer by, just before he plunged into the beck. The FH, full of gratitude for rescuing his son, tried to explain he was trying to tie a pirate clue onto the bridge. This explanation was only met by the scowls of a disapproving parent. 

Later that day we had the family for tea. Another chance for showboating as I attempting to recreate a Treasure Chest Cake. This, in the book, is filled with  Gold coins. So I sent The FH, out into the land of sweet shops, only to come back defeated. We improvised with smarties. It wasn't up to cupcake standard though. I feel I may have peaked too soon.

I leave you with one final scene,in case you didn't catch it on Facebook. Good enough to be repeated though.

Scene - first thing this morning.

Me:        Happy Birthday Oscar.
Oscar:    Is it my birthday?
Me:        Yes you're 4.
Oscar:    But I don't feel 4.
Me:        I know exactly how you feel.


  1. Absolutely loved the cupcakes... I re-created them this weekend(we were camping in a campsite with a pirate adventure island attached) mine weren't as good as yours but everyone was impressed all the same!

  2. Thanks Aine... adults seem to appreciate them more, as kids just gobble them up in one go.