four litres of alphabet soup followed by Drumsticks (icecream cones with chocolate and nuts on top) later I think I filled the six children to their satisfaction. I am not sure how many slices of pizza bread the youngest ate - three? She is only four. The eldest at almost seventeen takes more filling. I am glad I put more than the usual amount of pasta in the soup. They had already had water, cordial or malted milk and biscuits on their arrival.
In between the essential arrival snack and lunch each of them was taught a conjuring trick by my father....yes, even the four year old.
After her turn (which came first) however we sat cosily together in my father's big chair and read "Katie Morag and the two grandmothers" together. It took a very long time to do this. I had to read it all the way through first and then we went back to the beginning. Youngest examined each of the exquisitely complex pictures in minute detail. She counted the cats and the sheep and found Granny Mainland's fancy shoes under the bed. She observed the 'reflections' drawn into the mirrors and commented on every possible item. Then we read it right through again. We were both sorry when it was finished.
The post lunch session was origami - involving more mathematics (especially geometry) than any of them realised. Youngest decided she was too young to do that - after all why come to this house and not play with that very special box of bricks that is kept there especially (according to her) for her delight? We sat on the floor and she made castles. Her castle building skills have improved dramatically in recent months. These are no ordinary structures. Every block placed has a purpose or is a person. There was an entire story to be told.
They had to leave a little earlier than usual because their parents had to go to the solicitor and sign the documents which will give their grandparents custody if anything happens while they are in Manila. I hope nothing happens. They are bound to get ill. You cannot live in the slums of Manila without getting ill. Hopefully any illness will not be life-threatening. These six are just too precious and loving.
What is more, as they were leaving, Youngest asked me, "When we come next time can we do ALL the Katie Morag books?" We have to do that!