ssss. . . sweet nothings

I could cover it off by simply re-blogging one of my very early posts, dear holiday houseguests, from December 2011… but more than a fortnight has passed since the same houseguests’ most recent visit, and my temper is still snaky…

There was some improvement in their style: Stepson wielded a tea towel as sidekick to his washer-upper father; and I didn’t have to yell “don’t run through the house” (1) or remind “put the toilet lid down” (2) more than a dozen times during their 2 night/44 hour stay.

But what is rankling me will be forever known as “The Great Sugar Debacle”. It started quietly and caught us unawares. Granddaughter was coming solo to Taylors Arm with us for 6 days pre-Christmas so we suggested packing a water bottle for car trips, pillow, swimmers, and a book for entertainment in light of absence of internet coverage.

That was accomplished but also in her bags were 3 x 3 packs of chocolate flavour Up&Go (3) “liquid breakfast” drink, and 2 largish packets of lollies. I put a single 3 pack in the back fridge and left the rest in the bags.

Granddaughter is lovely and like most 11-year-old girls naturally has aspirations to behave much older than she is. We enjoyed her company and she enjoyed not having parents and 2 younger brothers cramping her style. An unfussy person in every way she hung out with us, herself or took advantage of the single item of modern technology, the TV, which at least has free-to-air channels including ABC3 Kids via the satellite dish.

The only things inexplicable were Granddaughter’s sudden bursts of manic activity or chatter particularly late afternoons. An easy houseguest, Granddaughter availed herself of the contents of the fridge & pantry, ate with us, ate well, and as we have little junk food-drink in the house, appeared to not overindulge her stash of lollies or when visiting her great-grandmother the endless supply of biscuits & sugary tea. She consumed a single Up&Go, preferring to join her grandfather in whatever he was having for breakfast, or a small bowl of rockmelon. Neither of them were interested in my breakfast of muesli (4), homemade plain yoghurt & local banana.

Initially we didn’t realize the moderate amount of sugar as we gauged it was cumulative in effect & desire. It’s consumption earned Granddaughter the nickname “Sugar” and better supervision of her intake. Which she took on board with good grace and improved self-moderation.

Fine until the rest of the family arrived on Boxing Day, descending upon the house with numerous plastic shopping bags (5) containing several more multi-packs of Up&Go, breakfast cereal – Coco Pops, Nutri-Grain & Fruit Loops, a six-pack of Powerade, 2 x 2 litres of fruit juice, 2 litres of raspberry cordial and copious packets of lollies & biscuits which were deposited on the kitchen table (6).

The G.O. made the new arrivals a late lunch of Christmas leftovers sandwiches before they proceeded to dive in to their sugary haul, dipping into the bags which I left unpacked in situ as we were eating at the outside table, or snacking on biscuits conveniently toted around the house by Daughter-in-law along with her bottle of Powerade.

Dinner was simple but homemade, Christmas leftovers: local pasture raised ham & roast chicken, pasta salad, mango salsa and green salad. Everyone enjoyed it (7) except Youngest Grandson who wanted lollies or dessert -got neither (8) , and Daughter-in-law who gratefully liberally applied to her food the bottle of fancy BBQ sauce they’d given us as a gift the previous year.

Next day the weather was miserable but we were out & about so a visit to the bakery made an easy lunch, and being a sensible woman I’d booked us into our local Pub With No Beer for dinner, which the houseguests prepared for by consuming more biscuits & lollies.

At the pub (which does have beer and thankfully, wine & spirits) the G.O. and I relaxed, had a few sanity restoring drinks and lovely meals. Despite the dreary weather the kids played in the Cubby With No Cordial, had a red “fire engine” fizzy drink each, ate their dinners except of course Youngest Grandson who wanted lollies or dessert -got neither. The parents couldn’t have cared less about food or drink… OMG the pub has WiFi… they were glued to their latest iPhones.

We'd rather a visit from George-Junior the Carpet Python than sugary junk food toting houseguests
We’d rather a visit from George-Junior the Carpet Python than sugary junk food toting houseguests

As the miserable weather settled into possible flood rain the decision was made by Stepson to decamp early the following morning as they’d, in his words “hate to be stuck in the boondocks”. I was sympathetic, I’d hate it too if they were stuck.

That morning the houseguests packed while ingesting Up&Go’s and breakfast cereal. I assisted by roving the house discovering discarded items, and restoring to the plastic shopping bags the remains of the sugar haul, assuring the houseguests probably unnecessarily “we don’t eat this, take it home”.




  1. Kids running through a 1930’s house built on raised “stumps” and full of old furniture-stuff creates an effect similar to earth tremors.
  2. Leaving the toilet lid up creates the possibility of a close encounter between a bare bum and a frog. Hilarious if it’s not your bare bum.
  3. Daughter-in-law works for the manufacturer. Linked product review dispels any illusions Up&Go is healthy.
  4. Homemade muesli ingredients: Organic if possible – oat bran, pepitas, sunflower seeds, mixed raw nuts, shredded coconut.
  5. The G.O. suggested as there are no shops (10) at Taylors Arm they come prepared with kids’ necessities and not to worry about food for meals as we had plenty of food but limited space in the fridges.
  6. Rendering unnecessary the tin of homemade Christmas biscuits I’d baked: usual Snap Biscuits recipe plus chopped dried sour cherries, macadamia nuts and white chocolate nibs.
  7. Eldest Grandson ate everything on his plate & licked it clean.
  8. Therefore no-one got dessert, which comprised leftover components of the deconstructed trifle I made for the G.O.: homemade custard; Aeroplane jellies – port wine with vodka poached cherries & passionfruit with vodka poached mango; Pandoro; tinned peaches; and Sara Lee vanilla ice-cream.
  9. The G.O. assisted with tidying up, collapsed on the verandah futon and didn’t move for the rest of the day. I did four loads of washing and drying (11). Wine o’clock was early but reverted to wine spritzers with homemade fizzy water.
  10. The new managers at the pub now sell their own homegrown eggs, meat, produce and a few basic grocery items.
  11. 5 houseguests = 6 bath towels even with the parents showering only once, plus 4 sets sheets & 10 pillowcases.

33 thoughts on “ssss. . . sweet nothings

  1. Aaaargh! I share your – pain? Irritation? Frustration? And if ever I am lucky enough to visit I look forward to sharing – everything except the cherries, thanks – and I’ll bring a few books I can leave behind and some fruit and nuts and wine – and of course I’ll help where it’s welcome!! 😉


    1. Frustration… I think, because it just shouldn’t be that hard. We’ve decided subtleness isn’t serving us well, and to take a firmer hand next visit.
      You’d be a very welcome guest… we do have people come for enjoyable visits! And welcome to bring whatever your tastes run to but I’d be surprised if anyone replicated these efforts!
      When everyone is on holidays all help is welcome 🙂


    1. What no delicious gf delights! ? I bake and we do eat sweets… the G.O. particularly loves them. But we rarely buy packaged.
      I’m trying to get my head around how these visits can be more relaxed – better communication from us I think. Our TA environment is very different to theirs’ at home but the kids were quite into it this time, and apparently they all enjoyed their stay…


      1. Oh good, your trial by sugar hasn’t put you off the idea. I reckon the Cherry Ripe chocolate fudge brownie might be the go, or perhaps ginger and date loaf, they’d both travel and keep fairly well. It sounds to me as if the children were the better guests, the adults might be harder to introduce to new ideas.


        1. I changed George-Junior’s caption to clarify… no issue with home baked goodies but I’m no fan of junk food excesses.
          mmm ginger & date loaf 🙂
          Kids are usually more adaptable than adults.


    1. Thank you 🙂 We loved spending time with Granddaughter solo, and loved that the others came to visit… I know that sounds weird given the experience… but we’ll work on refining the logistics of throwing 2 quite different sets of people into one modest house, and a very different environment for one set.


    1. I try very hard to not be a food Nazi; everything in moderation but I think it was an excessive amount of junk food… I don’t believe it’s something they do habitually so I’m puzzled as to what the motivation was. Maybe nervousness at being 30 km from civilization & shops!


  2. My husband and I were off to a similar situation in our cabin when we got a message from my niece in Germany that my mom had fallen and probably broken her hip. We turned around, I booked a flight , put some stuff in the suitcase , cooked our turkey and stuffing and we had a lovely pre Christmas dinner for the two of us before I went to Germany. The next day my husband invited all our childless neighbors and friends to finish off the turkey. Neither my husband nor I were upset having to cancel our family Christmas.


    1. I’m sorry about your Mom. I’m pleased though you were able to still able to have a pleasant pre-Christmas. Very smart of your husband to share the leftovers, and that was my aim as well.
      I’m quite used to catering for numbers and variety of family, and kids but this scenario has me perplexed. I hope in future years after we’ve moved permanently to TA they’ll be able to come, spend more time, and outside of the holiday season which tends to be a bit hectic.


  3. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner here a few years ago and planned to show the extended family that it is possible to enjoy a nice meal without sugary drinks. The word got out that we would have no soft drinks here (an unwise comment to my mother) and when folks showed up two of them had huge coolers filled with Mt. Dew, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and all the other carbonated nastiness. Sigh.

    Welcome back. Btw, as much as I dislike junk food, that snake is worse.


    1. Yes, sigh. We had a similar situation with my family and a birthday event. Drinks were via the venue but they showed up with car boots full of eskies…. nothing like not being able to do something that makes people want to do it!
      I’ve never been a huge fan of snakes, and once I’d have echoed your sentiments but I’m becoming more accustomed. That George-Junior isn’t poisonous and was quite calm made our encounter quite novel for me 🙂 But I understand the aversion, which is why I included a subtle from a distance photo rather than a close-up!


    1. Haha 🙂 I’d feel that way too! The good news is it improves with each visit (especially at the TV now has reception) but I think in future we’ll avoid the short intense festive season visits and aim for longer, relaxed. Rain doesn’t help either if your desired activities are sightseeing rather than chilling on the verandah.


    1. It was good to vent… very therapeutic as has been the G.O. and I workshopping what we can do better next time… because there will be a next time! Ahh, family 🙂
      Mango salsa = sugar, yes but not OTT as it has lots of other salad chopped into it and served just a spoonful with green salad.


  4. Whew! I’m exhausted just from reading about it. I can imagine how much more tired it left you. I’m actually kind of a sugar freak myself, but it has to be chocolate. I also love coke. But, even though I love them and could ingest them morning, noon and night, I know it’s not good for me, so I moderate my intake. Hope you got some rest. 🙂


    1. I find accommodating anyone in numbers somewhat tiring but 5 extras requires a little post-visit R&R! We have chocolate and coke too… coke is small bottles and adults only though, and both in moderation. Of the two of us, the G.O. has the sweet tooth… I like sweets but they tend to spike my crotchety blood sugar levels.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How lovely you were able to have granddaughter there solo for a bit. Without others, you really have time and space to enjoy each other.
    The pub sounds like a perfect idea. (I think your breakfast sounds fabulous – Growing up I always had cold raisin bran, shredded wheat, or Cheerios as my mom was in such a hurry to get dressed for work. – I always wished for warm oatmeal or something cozy like the families on the TV shows. Always have old fashion oatmeal of some sort now.)
    Sugar is addictive and does cause all sorts of issues if in large doses. Moderation works fine. – homemade cookies and treats? I’m coming to your house!


    1. It’s an interesting perspective… I was on that cusp between home cooking and the new wave of conveniently packaged food, and like you tilted to “old fashioned”… convenience foods hold little appeal.
      You’d be very welcome to visit, with your entourage… old houses are great at coping with drool and fur 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s amazing how people forget to enjoy the simple things like the company of loved ones. I can’t stand when people bring their phones to dinner like it’s a date. I’m glad you de sugared your home. Sorry for the frustrations and hope you can enjoy a little quiet time now!


    1. It’s become apparent that the busy festive season is not an optimal time for visits despite its “togetherness” hype. Fitting something in isn’t the same to planning, anticipating and enjoying 🙂
      Good point re the phone & dinner… I’m hopeless with my phone but in an opposite way, many times I don’t take it out with me and if I do it’s on silent. The data is rarely turned on as the plan allowance is minimal. Mostly I use it to read books & take photos! The G.O. is worse, if we are out together and I have my phone, he never takes his.
      Thank you. We have a long weekend coming up, and plan on using it for R&R.


  7. It always amazes me when parents supply their kids with junk food, which they call treats,and the little ones resort to eating little packets of shit, like rats, in the late afternoon. It is annoying but what can you do? When you get the odd good visiting grandchild, one who eats properly and has excellent manners, you praise them in a ridiculous OTT manner. Well, this is my approach.
    Do they read your posts?


    1. I may be naive but I was shocked when the houseguests walked in with bags of junk. We’d been feeling bad about miscalculating Granddaughter’s sugar limits… we needn’t have as she made a relieved dive for her share of junk. I get mixed messages about what they eat at home but I think more junk than they realise.
      The houseguests’ on-line interests don’t appear to extend to blog posts, mine at least, although I never write anything I couldn’t-wouldn’t stand by.
      I agree with the praise vs criticism approach and it works for us to an extent but its effectiveness we’ve found varies depending on the personalities involved.
      Anyway, it’s all a learning experience and we’ve come up with a few strategies for next time!

      Liked by 1 person

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