Riverside Lodge

Riverside Lodge

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Welcome, Hippolina!

Today Hippolina is coming to stay with Mother, Father, my brother Paul and I. In case you didn't know, my name is Portia Peachblossom. 

Dad has told us to not be nervous, that Hippolina is probably more nervous about her stay than we are and if we're nervous, she'll get nervous and then we'll all feel especially nervous and... you get the picture. 

That is why we are gathered in the living room acting normal.

Father has prepared everything for our tea.  

Paul is telling his penguin a penguin story, Mother is cross-stitching and I am multitasking. I am stroking our cat Aster with one hand and putting a beautiful pink necklace around my sheep's head with the other while telling it to behave. My sheep can get very naughty around visitors.

Suddenly the doorbell rings.

We all jump up and gather around facing the front door. 

"I'm so excited, I've never had a sister before!" Paul cries out. 

"You numpty!" I hiss at him, "What about ME??" 

"Aw Portia, you know what I mean - of course I have a sister, but we've never had a test sister before, have we?

Paul is right about that. I am so excited to have another girl in the house from now on. I can't wait to give Hippolina a welcome hug.

But trust the parents to be all patient and grown-uppy and to really take their time welcoming each other first. *sigh*  
In come Teresa Babblebrook and little Toby and the mothers exchange hugs and kisses.

Troy Babblebrook and Hippolina enter the living room behind them. Hippolina is wearing a pretty blue dress with pink and white flowers on it.

"Hello Hippolina!" I say, "How was your trip to Africa? You've got a lovely tan!"
Hippolina smiles at me and says, "It was awesome and thank you. You are the first to notice." 
And then she blushes a little, so I am feeling really good about myself and like I have broken the ice with her already,

when all of a sudden she turns around and leans into Troy Babblebrook. 

And when I think things can't possibly get any worse, she starts crying the most enormous tears I have ever seen another person cry.

"There, there," says Teresa and the Babblebrooks lean in for a group hug with Hippolina in the middle.  What is going on??

"Don't worry, children, it's just hard for her to say goodbye," Mother whispers to Paul and me, as if she were reading my mind.

The Babblebrooks leave because they don't want to postpone the inevitable and Hippolina gets a huge mother bear hug from my mother Orangine. Paul has suddenly pushed himself in front of me, so I contemplate pinching his dumb little tail in revenge, but then I think of my sheep doll and I stop myself. I have to set a good example.

Paul hugs Hippolina

and then it is finally my turn to give her my first test-sister-embrace.

After all the hellos and goodbyes and the crying and welcoming, Mother takes Hippolina by the hand and leads her to our comfy sofa. Aster joins her immediately and looks at her curiously.

"Oh Aster," I say jokingly, "have you never seen a hippo before?" (She probably hasn't...)

Dad is preparing our drinks.

Paul and I fetch something to eat 

and Mother chooses something for Hippolina. The Babblebrooks have told her she likes brioche with strawberry jam.

"I do hope you enjoy our homemade iced tea," says Patrick, our father. 

"Oh yes, thank you, I like it very much," replies Hippolina in a very well-mannered way. "In fact," she adds, "iced tea is my favourite drink."

And then we all tuck in. 

Hippolina seems to be relieved at the kind of food we eat. I wonder what she has been fed at some of the other families' houses?

I realise we should have test siblings over more often, since Mother and Father have made a special effort with our meal and we don't usually have muffins and brioche and puff pastries for tea...

Paul feeds his penguin another toy salmon.

And another one. 

(Well, actually, it's the same one.)

Hippolina seems to have a healthy appetite.

Mother has already finished and is having her belly massaged by Aster.

There is no food left on the dining room table - oh yes, a white chocolate muffin. Do you want it?

Hippolina and I draw some pictures and Paul listens to our conversation while cuddling the cat.

"I like your flower," Hippolina tells me. 

"Your bear looks good too," I reciprocate, after looking at her sketch. 

"Thanks," says Hippolina, "it is a picture of you."

After a while Hippolina stands up on top of a sofa cushion and looks at the family photos on our wall.

"I wonder whether I'll ever take pictures like that with a family of my own," she sighs.

"Of course you will, Hippolina! You just wait and see. You'll have at least one photo with every family you've ever tested, I'm sure, and then countless pictures with the family where you decide to stay! That's more family photos than we could even fit onto this wall!" I explain enthusiastically and Hippolina gives me a wide and happy smile.



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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Rabbits in the Serengeti

Hello, it's me again, Hippolina! Guess what?! I went on my second trip this year! I was staying with the Babblebrooks and it turned out they had a trip planned with the Periwinkles and Fudge to Africa, believe it or not! That's not even on the same continent as Riverside!!

Fudge got rather ill as we were traveling overseas by ship. I might have felt a little queasy in the tummy too... But the good thing about traveling by ship is that it allowed us to bring the cars along. And on the day documented in these photographs we were using them to go on safari!

This meant we were going to see the savannah - that's the African grassland - and aaall kinds of African wildlife. 

Zebras, giraffes, gazelles and hippos, buffaloes and crocodiles. Eagles and flamingos!

I was sooo excited.

As I have mentioned before, the Periwinkles came with us too, and so did Fudge the bear and Pickles, his little pet dragon. Fudge took along a box of chocolate and caramel sweeties against the recomendation of his mother, Nina.
They melted as soon as we arrived at the National Park. I guess he must have drank them instead of eaten them, believe it or not!

The Babblebrooks are very friendly rabbits. Teresa and Troy, the parents are very hard working Sylvanians, but they always find time to spend with their kids. The two eldest, Thomas and Tamara did not come with us. Tegan, the girl in the pink dress, was a very nice almost-sister and little baby Toby (one of Jemima's best friends) was a darling. 

It's only Tim who got on my nerves. He's the one to my right. He spent most of the time poking me in the tummy and making stupid faces or asking me weird questions out of the blue. During the ride to the park he told me, he had heard there were a lot of hippos in the Serengeti and whether any of my ancestors came from here. 
How am I supposed to know?? I'm an orphan and have spent most of my life inside Birgit's display cabinet!!
Luckily, I was soon distracted by the awesome view. Here are some of the pictures taken that day of the animals.

Fudge spent most of the time staring at the large eagle through his binoculars.

The rabbits were driving real slow, so we could have a good look at everything. Mommy zebra was taking care of her baby. Everything was really peaceful.

Until we saw the crocodile clamp a particularly fat pelican between its jaws. 

"Cooool!!!" Tim cried, but I felt sick to my stomach.

The crocodile was squishing the pelican's butt with its sharp teeth and starting to drag him away.

I grabbed the first aid kit from underneath the seat and was about to jump out of the moving car like a lunatic, when Mr Babblebrook started explaining about the circle of life and how one person's pet bird is another person's dinner and I decided then and there that I was going to be a veterinarian when I grew up, yes indeed, but I was not going to steal anybody's Sunday roast.

"Sorry, Mr Pelican," I whispered.

"Godspeed," I murmured as the crocodile dragged Mr Pelican into its lair.

It's hard to stay glum when the Babblebrooks are your almost-family and you're on safari and a funny looking animal with horns is grunting at little Jemima Periwinkle.

"Mommydaddy, da cow is talking to me!" Jemima squealed happily. 

"It's a buffalo, dear," her mother explained, "I bet he is saying hello!"

The giraffes said hello too.

But the zebras preferred to keep to themselves.

Soon a group of animals started to walk home. I guess they only stay at the watering hole during the first part of the day.

A guide had told us it was safe to get out of the car here and even go for a swim - except maybe if you met the big fat crocodile, but fortunately that was well fed now, so that it would leave us alone... *fingers crossed*

The first one out of the car was Fudge. He was practically stuck to his binoculars,

observing the large, majestic eagle wherever it went.

The two dads were the first to climb onto the lookout. They saw another pelican and I bet it was Mrs Pelican. It looked like she was in mourning over the death of her husband. Mr and Mrs Flamingo were standing next to her, consolingly.

Us children were taking off our clothes and putting on sunscreen. (The Periwinkles had come with an entire suitcase full of it.) Because what better place for little rabbits and a hippo to go for a swim than a watering hole with a crocodile in it...! *gulp*

Tegan said her ears were burning, so Mrs Periwinkle sprinkled some water on them from Jemima's watering can. 

Jemima was trying to unscrew a tube of sunscreen so she could cover little Toby in it.
I don't like sunscreen, it makes my skin feel all sticky and it smells weird, but I'm glad the Periwinkles and Babblebrooks take such good care of us and make us wear it anyway. 

The next ones to climb up the treehouse were Mr and Mrs Babblebrook. Mrs B. hogged the binoculars the entire time they were up there. Mr B. is a really nice husband though, and I bet he was glad that his wife was enjoying herself so much.

Everyone was having fun. 

Even Mrs Pelican seemed to be looking a little less sad by the minute. I guess you just can't stay sad for long when you're in the company of rabbits.

Tim built this super detailed sandcastle with five towers and (believe it or not!) he complimented me when I thought up a way to mould five dome-shaped roofs for it using Jemima's shovel. Maybe he isn't such a pain in the neck after all.

By the way, who knew Pickles the dragon could climb trees?

And that Mrs Pelican would take a liking to Fudge and tweak his ear?

Then it was the Periwinkles' turn to look down from the large tree.

They fell in love with the view of the land in the same manner they had fallen in love with the buffalos and zebras and giraffes, and they swore to one another that they would return again some day, their admiring "oohs" and "aahs" floating down to us like a song.

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