We all lay in our beds and called out “Happy Birthday,” to Andrew on Saturday morning as he left to go skiing in Gatineau Park. He left around 7:30am so there was no gift giving or celebrating before he left. By the time he returned we were all at violin group classes for the day. He dropped in to pick up B6(not a violinist) so they could go to the church and make a car for the upcoming Awana car races. Each participant starts with a block of wood, an axel and some wheels and they design and decorate their cars for racing. Last year both B6 and A10 brought home trophies for speed, so B6 is pretty keen to retain his title.
After group class we met back at home for supper with friends. The cake had to be iced, but I couldn’t make chocolate icing as B6 had requested (even though it wasn’t his birthday) because it appears that cocoa is a bit of an exotic food item. I searched the baking shelves but could not find any, only chocolate cake mix, chocolate muffin mix, chocolate pudding mix and premade chocolate icing, no cocoa for those of us who want to make it from scratch. So, we had coffee icing instead, which no-one seemed to mind, as our children seem to be very fond of coffee even though they are not allowed to drink it. As it turns out I should have been buying icing sugar as there was only enough at home to make icing to put between the layers not on top.
Before we ate there was a little gift giving, Andrew opened one gift, then we all listened to the next gift. L12 and A10 had composed a piece of music for two violins and then recorded it. The birthday boy was very pleased and we were all most impressed with the piece. Also on the recording was an instrumental version of the Happy Birthday song and two vocal versions: one sensible, one silly!
We enjoyed our Pork Vindaloo and then Andrew and I raced off before the birthday cake as we were going out to see one of our friends appear in “Little Shop of Horrors The show was excellent, as was our talented friend who played Chiffon, one of the Ronnettes.
Reading this blog a few days after Andrew’s birthday causes me to wonder whether we sent a birthday greeting and, if so, whether it arrived in time. We hope so.
Perhaps we should underline the next birthday greeting for tomorrow, that of Heather, the blog-author herself. We know a letter is enroute but it may not arrive by 25/2.
Reading the latest blog and the car making enterprise reminds me of my own car making. In my childhood in Australia cars of this type were called “billy carts”. There was no standard design and the only rule appeared to be that they must be made from scrap materials.
My billy cart was a heavy lumbering machine made from a large timber packing case with heavy solid cast iron wheels of small diameter mounted on a solid axle which extended across the width of the crate. The crate was large enough to carry two, or even three, passengers. Underneath the crate was bolted a heavy plank which extended in front of the crate. At the forward end of the plank another piece of timber was mounted and on this the forward axle had two more cast iron wheels. A loop of rope was attached to the forward axle and this could be used to pull cart or, if travelling down hill, to steer the cart from within the crate.
I remember cutting part of the crate off the top to give a more streamlined profile, and I remember painting it blue in the colour of “The Spirit of Progress”, the premier express train which ran between Melbourne and the Vic/NSW border. In those days it was necessary to change trains at that point because the two states has different rail gauges. However, neither the paint nor the profile made the billy cart travel any faster. It was more like a heavy freight train.
Other boys in the neighbourhood had carts made from lightweight materials, some with large wheels removed from prams or even ball bearing assemblies. They would race down the hill at speeds double that of my machine, but they were also more likely to capsize and spill their passengers on the roadway.
I am sure that Andrew and B6 had great fun with their cart. I am sorry I could not be on hand to share my wisdom and experience.
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