At the market in Mareeba shopping for vegetables my eyes caught sight of the most beautiful cloth doll sitting in front of tiny quilted blankets at one of the stalls. I was immediately attracted to her and I could not help zoom in on her. She drew me close. Wow what an amazing creation I thought. Her face was just adorable not to mention her impressive hair style. I wish I could have one like that. Her dress was as gorgeous and her quilts to die for. The bright colour made me feel cheerful and in front of her was a pink crochet round piece like a doily with a green felted ball on it. Then a young tall and just as beautiful woman said to me that Megan made her and that she was the Princess on the Pea. The penny dropped. Of cause it is the Princess on the Pea! I know her from my child hood. She was my favourite bed time story.
Gosh then I realised that the tall and just as beautiful woman was my friend Sarah talking to me. I was so engulfed with the cloth doll that I never paid any attention to the people around me.
I kept admiring the doll and praised the cloth doll maker. I knew that the doll would find a lovely home full of little girls wearing blue lollypop dresses and boys wearing pink aprons. When I got home I thought about the Princess for a few days playing with the idea of her living in our camp but let the thought go, knowing the cloth doll would be happier in a home with little naughty kiddies.
Maybe I am getting a bit old for playing with dolls anyway and after all, I thought. Or maybe I am advancing towards childhood again. It does happen for some people. My late friend Hugette started collecting stuffed animal toy at the age of 75 and she was so happy to fill her home with all these new friends with whom she could converse all day long sipping chocolate milk at the same time.
When I was a little girl I had some dolls but I can’t recall that I ever spent much time playing with them. I remember Mum making lots of beautiful clothes for them. But after I dressed the dolls I left them in a corner of the living room or behind the old mouldy armchair the one my uncle just loved for his granny nap. Behind the chair or in the corner the dolls were left to themselves to sort out their own life. I can also recall having a tiny dolls kitchen with a real burner using methylated spirit as fuel. I had matches tucked away in a secret place. Not a single adult would be able to find the matches not even my cranky old grandad. How good is that?
So in this little kitchen I made real porridge for my dolls. I used plenty of water, salt, sugar and lots of fine rolled oats. I had a supply of cinnamon powder rescued from my mums’ spice cupboard. I was having a ball and a mess unfolded all over the carpet and what a happy mum walked in the door. She was not pleased with my mess or my cooking effort. The dolls on the other hand loved my porridge and asked for a second serve rattling their small plates and spoons as soon as mum walked out the door. Awesome dolls!
I was told to go to my room sit and be quiet. I was never invited to be a part of mum’s kitchen team. Mum was the Queen in her own kitchen and she could cook up a storm in no time the food being lovely except for the sago soup. So I never learned much about cooking food, how to mix what with this and that. I knew nothing about food nutrient or washing up for that matter. At that time in my life I don’t think I cared at any rate. It was just when it came to leaving home that it would be nice to be able to cook a meal for myself. Well I was happy anyhow. I loved spaghetti with tomato sauce. In my late twenties I still did not have much of an idea about cooking. Meeting Peder finding out he was a chef and therefore my soul mate why should I start worrying about cooking anyway! Also he has got a time lock on his kitchen. Just imagine me yelling out: “I can’t get in there! Help”! Bang, bang on the door. “Let me in. I am starving”!
Let me just get back to the Princess before I get carried away and start writing my childhood memories. I pushed the dreams about the Princess living with us to the back of my mind and life got busy and there are lots of other thinks to deal with and by now the Princess was indeed sitting on the back burner. Remember I don’t cook! Why would I have a gas stove? I am only asking!
A couple of months later catching up with my friend Megan and her mother Sandra also my friend at a craft meeting at Lake Eacham Megan brought a beautiful doll she had made just recently for show and tell. This doll brought back the memories of the Princess on the Pea. Megan said that she never sold the Princess doll and that she was now living in her studio in a box on the top shelf.
Oh my gosh I thought. Living in a box is no good. Imagine how it would be not to see the sun and not to run around on the lawn catching garden fairies not to listen to the wind in the tree tops. Yes the list is long of what you miss out on living in a box and yet a lot of people do live in boxes. Poor girl she must be struggling to keep her mind happy. She could be suffocating as well.
Nobody had offered the Princess a new home! That broke my heart! I just cried all night and it was a Wednesday. Such a beautiful, lovely cloth doll deserves a proper home with loving people surrounding her. Not that Megan, Sandra and Megan’s sisters Kelsie and Sarah don’t love her because I know they do but Megan made the Princess and the Pea for someone to buy.
We don’t have children whom she could play with but I thought that a life with Peder and me would be better than living in a dark box on a top shelf. Instead of children we have The Rats and Tommelise. It can only be fun and exciting to bring all of us together. If you want to get sidetracked please click on this link to read the story about the Rats and Tommelise.
I send Megan an email the next morning saying that I would love to buy the Princess and it was all arranged for Peder and me to pick her up one beautiful sunny day at the Mareeba Market.
I had some preliminary explanations and information to pass on to the Rats and Tommelise. They were frilled. They were so happy to hear that they were to have a big sister for play mate. I told them that her name was Clover Charlotte. They raced around the garden telling all the grubs, insects and microbes about Clover Charlotte coming to live with us. They told the zucchini and corn plants about the Pea. They pulled the gate open and ran into the chook pen and told the four chooks about the news. What a commotion. Chooks jumping high in air cackling the best they knew. What a joy. The butterflies were showing their beautiful colours in appreciation of a new adventure to unfold. The kangaroos were so delighted that they left more signatures on the lawn and Tommelise skidded in one of them. But who cares on such a beautiful day in our lives. We all agreed at the end of the day 20 minutes before midnight that it was a good idea to have a warm soapy bath after all this farting around kicking up chook and roo poo.
Can I just mention that some people think I have an amazing imagination and some have asked me where all these crazy ideas come from? I say this only once: “I am a child of the sixties and I am not the only one”!
There is still a day before pick up Clover and by now The Rats and Tommelise are realising that their new friend and sister is a true princess and that she sleeps on heaps of matrasses and blankets. Now they too want heaps of matrasses and blankets so they can be like her. Gosh I better run. I am busy. All the blankets got to be finished by tomorrow morning. Get the sewing machine out girl and get started. So now I have to make quilts, matrasses and blankets for three creatures and they want Apple Farm Fabric! That’s what the Princess and her accessories are made off. “You can’t have it” I told them “but you can have top quality wool blankets with floral designs on the one side”. Now that made them very happy because Clover Charlotte is studying to be a florist. They love all Clover Charlotte does. I love flowers too. Sunflower and Calendula are my favourites. I am sure I will get on really well with Clover Charlotte.
That evening at bedtime I read a fairy tale for the Rats and Tommelise. Guess what, dear observant reader! It was the one about the Princess and the Pea. How inventive and ingenious of me to choose just that fairytale! Yes, I know. I am so smart! Some of my friends even say I am the new H.C. Andersen. I just love those friends!
The Princess and the Pea was my favourite bed time story told by my dad. Fancy having a dad that had time to tell a story! Well in them days there were no computers, I-phones and our television could only show black and white pictures. What a dinosaur! Anyway The Princess and the Pea is written by H.C. Andersen born in Denmark like me. H.C. Andersen wrote a lot of fairy tales. He also said: “To travel is to live” and that quote stuck with me from childhood until now. So right this man was. He is one of the many to blame for my lust to wanderer and explore the world. Thank you H.C.
You must get the fairy tale and read it. It is a fabulous story and I remember so clearly that I thought it was dreadful that the Princess was out in stormy raining weather in the dark of the night. Why was she not at home with her mummy Queen and daddy King? Even in them days girls roamed the streets their parents not knowing. How awful it would be to sleep on a pea as well as having to climb a stack of mattresses to get to bed. That’s what I thought! What do you think? The part about the pea caught The Rats and Tommelise’s attention. Now all of a sudden the three of them wanted a pea! They got me out of the comfy blankets I just made them and I found my box of seeds. Being a devoted seed saver I soon found three green peas and we all slept really well that night.
The day finally arrived Saturday the 8th July 2017 when Clover Charlotte arrived. The Rats and Tommelise were so overwhelmed with joy and straight away I organised a basket for them to hang out during the day. They love being together and Tommelise in particular has taken to Clover Charlotte and loves having a best girlfriend and big sister for a change.
I carry the basket around. It is easy for me that way like having a pram and they don’t get lost in the large garden or in the tall grass and they don’t get run over by the many big kangaroos jumping around. Not only is it a special day because of Clover’s arrival. The 4 chooks decided to be special too and all 4 chooks laid an egg each in honour of Clover. Maybe one of the eggs is the golden egg!
I am going to share Megan’s beautiful story about how she created Clover Charlotte. This is what she told me: “When I received the Apple Farm fabric, I thought all the prints and colours were so beautiful, that I wanted to create something to use all of them, together”.
“There was only one person I thought of and that was a princess who was renowned for her rather large pile of mattresses and bedding. First I studied lots of different versions of the Princess and the Pea, and looked at children’s interior décor for inspiration as far as her bedding went. I drew all my ideas onto paper and then began creating”.
“The Princess I made using linen for her body. I was too scared to draw her face on the fabric in fear of making a mistake so after she was stuffed, I stitched it free hand and low and behold, this sweet little face appeared”.
“Her outfit was so tiny to sew, I had to stitch it onto paper and then remove the paper. I wanted her to be as interactive as possible the whole time, so I made her clothing removable”.
“She isn’t a traditional fluff and frills princess, she has a cute pinafore and Peter Pan collar shirt – after all, it wasn’t apparent she was a princess, that’s why she slept on the Pea. My sister Sarah designed and knitted her cape”.
“And then the night cap which was inspired by a 1950’s pattern for women. Her apple pyjamas and eye mask are perfect for her beauty sleep. Her gold shoes and the white socks are also removable. Originally she had a flower Crown, but after a while I decided that she needed a more robust headpiece and so I made her a gold crown using felt. Her mattresses quilt and cushions were so much fun to make. Her cloud cushion is called Cedric, he was her secret friend”.
“This project gave me so much joy; I wove all my very best childhood memories and imagination into the Princess and her accessories, hoping that one day she would find a home that loved her as much as I do! It turns out her fairytale and mine came true, she couldn’t be more loved and she even has some rats and Tommelise into the bargain”!
This cloth doll changed my energy level 360 degrees almost like Mareeba has 300 sunny days a year. I was getting bogged down writing a book about gardening in Mareeba in the heat of the tropical north. Not an earth worm in sight. Stuff that. This cloth doll has a lot to tell me. How is that possible? Can a cloth doll really change your mind and energy? And is that why we create and invent them to support ourselves in our dealing with life and love? Like we have imaginary friends, siblings, mums and dads!
All the love Megan put into making Clover Charlotte is radiating to all creatures in the world. I am so happy to be at the receiving end. I love Clover Charlotte so much and she cheers up my every day mundane routine. From my heart and a big thank you to Megan and Clover Charlotte.
And so Clover Charlotte invited Megan, Sandra, Kelsie and Sarah for lunch at our holiday adobe.
I put the menu together. Guess who did the cooking! If you listen carefully you can hear a desperate female voice in the background. “Help”! Bang, bang on the door.” Let me in!”
Bon Appetite and the food were delicious and I just loved the cards Clover Charlotte made with the menu on the back. They were just awesome. She is not only a pretty face but a very creative soul. And guess what! Who is allowed in Peder’s kitchen? Clover Charlotte is and I am not jealous. Peder has finally found a cooking companion!
Both Megan and Clover Charlotte have a fascinating story to tell please click on this link to read their story: