Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Welcome, Betty AnoninNM!

via email:

Hello, everyone!  I wanted to share something cute with you.  This is, err, Betty AnoninNM, mother of Betty AnoninTX.  I gave Mom a large print copy of Fate Is Remarkable for a Christmas gift, and now she is as hooked on Betty as the rest of us are.  She is 88, just about to turn 89.  She has a multitude of health issues and is mostly homebound, but she is still sharp.  She likes to tell everyone that at least she can still read!  I've been buying her large print Bettys to make the reading a bit easier.  She worries about how much money I spend, but I keep telling her I myself will need large print copies someday.  Her favorites so far are Fate Is Remarkable, Once for All Time, A Christmas Romance, and Saturday's Child.  She says that the problem with the Betty books is that once she starts reading one, she doesn't want to do anything but read.  I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but she was sitting in her chair in front of a large window.  I didn't want to make her move.  Hope you think she's cute!

Betty AnoninTX
What a sweetie!  She reminds me of Betty Marcy's MIL (Betty Iris) who is currently working her way through the canon.  Betty Iris is also in her 80's and appreciates a good clean romance.
-Betty Debbie

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Upcoming Reprise

Monday, September 3rd.
A Little Moonlight
Selfish-to-the-bone widow, pack of lies (wicked lies), jumping into a canal.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blow Hot, Blow Cold - Reprise

Blow Hot, Blow Cold was one of the later books that I picked up from the canon - and I was thrilled with it.  I love picking up Neels that don't quite fit into a cookie cutter.  It has so many delightful little details - tree climbing, dog named The Blot, hospital fire, and lots of lies (wicked lies...). The whole bit with her hastily made up banker boyfriend managed to be both hilarious and poignant at the same time.  Sophy trying to fix up Max with her nurse friend.  Brilliant. I do wish La Neels hadn't abandoned Sophy's family so thoroughly - I would have appreciated some follow up.  Hmm.  There's a thought.  I think it would be a blast to write our own epilogues for some of these books. I'll get us started:

Bill kissed Penelope soundly as soon as the vicar gave the go-ahead...

Your turn, add a sentence or two - let's see what happened to the Greenslade family, the van Oosterweldes, Sinclair, The Blot...

-Betty Debbie
Blow Hot, Blow Cold, Visiting Consultant, Visiting Surgeon, Surgeon from Holland. What do all these have in common? They're the same book. Okay, they're almost the same book. My copy of Visiting Consultant (published as a Best of Betty Neels in 2001) refers to a dance being conducted with a CD player. Dear me, Harlequin. You think the electronics are the most out-dated thing in a Betty Neels?

Theatre Sister Sophia ('Sophy') Greenslade is inching inexorably towards 26. On the asset side of the ledger she has a pair of gorgeous eyes, a quick sense of humor and a loving family. On the debit side she has the primary responsibility for that loving family (two brothers, a sister, a granny and Sinclair (her deceased father's ex-batman)), no social life and a shy personality. Oh and she's short.
When she finds her youngest brother on her sidewalk in the custody of Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Glowering her heart gives a thump. She was, she told herself, very angry. Little brother Benjamin was chasing The Blot (the dog) and the family cat (whose name fails to make the cut) into a Bentley-traveled street.
Him: Oh, so you're Sister Sophy.
Her: What of it?

Him: The boy might have dinged my fender.
Her: Oh I'll show you a dinged fender...

It doesn't go well but he is left with an impression that she is a girl with skills. Brother managing, dog naming, two-fingered whistling skills. He is instantly smitten.
Professor Jonkheer Maximillan van Oosterwelde (39 and hot, hot, hot) is taking over for Uncle Giles (her godfather and the chief surgeon) for several weeks. Sophy is skittish but they settle down to a placid working relationship wherein he shows a maddening tolerance for minor nursing hiccups. (Is there anything more abhorrent than being patiently tolerated?)
One day, while stuffed into her office for coffee and digestives, Bill, a young resident surgeon, leans over and makes plans to come over to her house. Ah, young love!...but it's not what you think. It's not what Max thinks, come to that. Bill is in love with Penelope, Sophy's 15 year-old-sister, but is 'man enough to hide it' until she's older. In the mean time he helps her with her trig homework and takes them to the zoo.
Editorial Note: I think that's just about the most adorable side story in the History of Neelsdom. Now forget it. Betty does.
Overhearing this, Max manages to work in a cutting remark while offering her a lift home. Loosen up, Sophy and sit back. Isn't Bill Evans rather young for you? Grrr. Sophy knew it had been a mistake to lean back against the leather seats of his socking Bentley.
It is wonderfully satisfying then, when told about Bill/Penelope (I tried in vain to mash up their names into something treacly like Bennifer or Brangelina or TomKat but, alas, Peneloill didn't fly.), he has to climb off his high horse.
Max begins to make himself at home with her family--meals together, outings with the children--Uncle Giles is Max's godfather too and that seems enough to be going on with but it doesn't look like he's really in need of her company and she's shy of butting in where she might not be wanted. So, obeying an instinct she can not as yet articulate, Sophy arranges her off-duty and her free time so as to avoid him. She knows, in a secret corner of her mind, that he spells danger. However, since the whole point of him being with her family is to see her, he notices her absence. Storming into her office, he announces, 'What have I done?'
Well, she's not sure yet either and when he lays into her, telling her that he is not interested in laying violent hands on her or in flirting with her (true. He wants to put a ring on it.) she can do one of two things:
A) React huffily and deny, deny, deny. (Always a favorite choice.)
B) Acknowledge a painful, if humiliating, truth. (I vote this one!)
I'm afraid I've become a real old maid in the last few years. Oh, Sophy.
I just love her in that moment. There she is, up to her chin in responsibilities and no social life to speak of and this man (this hot, hot man) is shaking her composure. What she ought to have said was, 'What have you done? You've made it impossible for me to look at another man for the rest of my life and, since you're impossibly out of my league, this means you've doomed me to a spinster's life. Thanks for nothing.'
It is the next day, while scrubbing up for surgery, that she has her forehead-slapping dawning realization.
Oh dear. What now?

When we have leisure, you shall explain that remark to me.
Indeed, I will not, sir.

What now? she asks. Now, she has to try and set him up with her gorgeous friend Mary. (Just go with it.) This involves some subterfuge on her part and is a hilarious failure (Do you know what we talked about? Delayed primary suturing. He...held forth.) and Max doesn't waste any time getting Sophy alone to explain a thing or two:
I'm not available.
...I understand perfectly what you mean.
I wonder if you do.
Drat. That and references to Max's 'evenings out' strangle any faint hope that she might let him know she rather likes him in their pram.
What's a girl to do--muddled in love and snatching at her pride like a flyaway hat? Make up a boyfriend, that's what.
He is John Austin (a name she chooses because it's easy to remember. She promptly muddles it.) who lives in Harrogate and is a bank manager with dark hair and blue eyes and isn't too tall.
Editorial Note: Max knows she's lying right from the get go and he manages to flog that horse into the ground over the course of the book. Sometimes Max uses John Austin as a weapon, sometimes a tool, and sometimes a joke. I feel sorry for Sophy already. Fibbers never prosper.
They go on a smashing date though (because the legendary John Austin is in Harrogate. And then Max invents a cock-and-bull story about a sick dinner partner and some handy tickets.) and it reminds us that they are really ideal for one another.
But at this point in the plot you're thinking to yourself, 'Golly, I sure wish an unsuitable houseman would get Sophy drunk or her parents would die (taken!) or a bomb would go off at the hospital.' Hospital bombs and an ensuing fire? That we can do.
While operating, little whorls of smoke start to eddy under the door and Max orders Sophy to take herself off while he and the anesthetist finish up without her. Her refusal to retreat is merely one more jewel in her eternal crown.
Tucking her firmly under his arm, Max runs the gurney out of the OT just as the roof begins to collapse. They've saved each other's lives but there's no time for breathless romantic interludes. It's all hands on deck as the wounded are shunted to various other hospitals and triage is done in the hospital conference room. When she comes off duty (many hours later) he has come to take her home. But not before a little pity kissing which you might think, given the mythical status of her boyfriend, would be just what the doctor ordered.
Since the operating theatre is...ahem...out of operation, Max returns to Holland--not before making a thorough goodbye of nearly everyone excepting Sophy. She rates a fortifying handshake given in the company of others. She's a bit hurt and bewildered but Max, no doubt, thinks that since he can't say goodbye the proper way (kissing and proposals) than he'd best not do it at all.
When his letter comes, begging her to take a temporary position with him as theatre sister in Holland for three weeks, she doesn't want to say yes. But she has to or there's no book so she lets herself be persuaded.
We leave behind all of the charming secondary characters we've grown to love in England just as Sophy does. They are hardly mentioned again.
Just as soon as her plane touches down in Holland, Max whisks her off to meet Mevrouw van der Wijde. Tineke.
Him: Hey, Sophy, baby, let's swing by and meet a gorgeous and wealthy widow woman who is totally unrelated to me. She possibly wants to check you out because she, as my main squeeze, has the right to object to my female employees.
I totally forgive Sophy for misconstruing their relationship. Max did say he wasn't available and already had a best girl. I guess this is she.
Her suspicions are confirmed when she asks another nurse why Max is 'of course' not free on Friday. Does he sleep in a coffin and drink the blood of the living? Is he moonlighting as a lounge singer? No, responds the nurse (mortified to think she might be repeating gossip), goes home...where Tineke also is.
Editorial Note: Betty glosses over the details but it is difficult to construe what the embarrassed Dutch nurse thinks this to be as anything other than a weekly friends-with-benefits booty-call. In the land of the RDD, why else would they not be married? I can just picture Maise-the-ward-maid explaining things with a cigarette dangling from her lips: They ain't playing Canasta, I'll tell you that right now.
While in Holland, Max discovers that Sophy is having a birthday. Within minutes Max arranges flowers and then a surprise dance at his house later that evening. Wow. That seems ripe with intention.
But, to round out the numbers, Max invited a European gigolo. No, not really. Harry the Inoffensive is a social butterfly but there's no harm in him...right up until he gets Sophy's number and dances her around the floor. That's what comes of failing to properly vet your guests, I suppose.
Max's jealousy prompts him to conduct a really proper row.
Him: Hey, happy birthday. Let's insult your taste and age and judgment in relation to Harry. Oh, and John know about him too because, among your other myriad faults, which, as you can see, I have listed here with appendices and cross-referencing notes, you are a terrible liar. Have I said happy birthday?
She's humiliated at being caught out and called...names but manages to preserve her dignity with small talk. His response is to kiss her into next Tuesday.
He wants his face slapped, is what he wants.

Happy Birthday.

He's in a grotty mood in the morning too and is her own particular demon in OT. But seeing her really upset pops his bubble. He makes some really handsome apologies and she is friendly enough to accept them.
Him: So...this might be a good time to talk about Booty-Call Tineke.
What a bummer the phone rings.
He tries again the next day but she heads him off at the pass. I'd much rather you didn't tell me. Anyway, I know. He is surprised (No one ever expects their text-messages to be hacked...) but she has to run off for an outing with Tineke so that's that.
Upon her return, Max needs her to assist in a difficult amputation and we get to see his sterling qualities. You're a kind and good man, Doctor. Dear me, Sophy, don't speak so soon.
Harry the Inoffensive has chased her down at last and invited her to a concert. Max invites himself along with another group of friends just to keep his eyes on our girl and then cuts her evening off with a made up message about on-call duty.
He presents himself to her the next morning so that she can rain fire and brimstone over his head but she admits good-naturedly that he hadn't, in fact, ruined her evening. What a shame that he can't let it go at that.
That's better. What a pity your choice of boy friends is so unsuitable. John Austin didn't do you much good, either, did he?
He deserves her tears-crowding-her-throat, 'I hate you.'
How awkward it is, then, to have to thank him, mere hours later, for bringing Uncle Giles and Aunt Vera (oh, England hasn't sunk into the sea?) over for a visit.
Her apology (which I don't think she had any business making) prompts him to observe:
It's blow hot, blow cold with you, isn't it?
Um. Pot, Kettle. Kettle, Pot.
But he makes yet more handsome apologies. (Huzzah! The Titanic is turning!) This is beginning to remind me of some lyrics from one of those moody 90s bands Mijnheer van Voorhees used to listen to: If I dig a hole to China, I'd catch the first junk to Soho. Max is digging but he's a not a grudge holder and is quick to retrench.
He asks her to stay another week and also to come to a dance at his house. (A ball! Lots of stories end at a ball!) But Tineke is out in the car so he's got to go.
She sneaks into the party and he finds her by herself on a quiet bench.
'You're shy, aren't you? yourself and all you say and do, is a never-ending delight to me.'
Editorial Note: Yay! He finally gets her. All that teasing about John Austin was a much bigger deal for her than for him. She's stood up to it very well but he's got some ground to regain.
He regains it in an even more secluded parlor (lovely place for a spot of snogging if you don't have a lay-by handy) and she's having the time of her life until Tineke bursts in, crying and babbling in Dutch. Max escorts her from the room and puts some firm RDD arms around her while she cries hysterically into his waistcoat.
Do you blame Sophy for leaving? I don't.
Max practically drags her by her hair back to his house the next day and tries to tell her about Tineke but he's not in a very conciliatory mood to begin with and she isn't either. She rushes in with her version of events which are pretty damning: Your booty-call is a nice woman and she broke us up and I saw you holding her like you cared!
And then she throws the book at him. And by 'the book' I mean she more than implies that he was preying on her because she was just a plain nurse with no money and was, as such, fair game to someone in his position. (Gasp! That's going to leave a mark.)
Even though Max is the only one in the room to know that her version is bunkum, he doesn't leap into the breach with the truth. He's too hurt and his only retaliation is to deny her tea and kiss her cruelly. (But she still probably liked it. I would.)
On her final day in Holland, Tineke comes to Sophy's room. Oh dear, did I do this? Max was covering for me and Professor van Essen who have loved each other for years but were too dirt-stupid to marry each other in the first place. His wife was incurably insane (Honey, is that what the married men are selling these days?) until she died with suspicious convenience on the night of the dance. Max has been letting us carry on at his house every Friday while he plays Canasta!
Sophy, with a bravery not unlike members of Pickett's Charge or that of the fabled Light Brigade, knows she's going to her doom as she lays siege to Max's office. She gets out a very strangled explanation and then runs for it. He so catches her.
The End

Rating: Oh my heck, did I love this. Please forgive the choppy review. There was so much wonderfulness that I had to leave out and I sometimes think that ripping apart a book you loathe is easier than adding anything and doing justice to a book you love.
Sophy is so adorable. It helps to think of her as Charlie Bucket from Willie Wonka. Max is her sweet shop that she looks at longingly but avoids because, well, why torture herself when she can't have him? And then, because she is so good and honest and loving, in the end she gets the factory, the chocolate and all the Oompa-Loompa slave laborers for her very own.
She fibs a ton which is much funner to read than the ladies who are faultless and stoic and if you're looking for a read that has more drama than some of Betty's later work (but less tragedy than, say, The Hasty Marriage) then this would be a perfect read.
Max is no slouch either. He's distracted by L'affair Tineke (Everyone claims that they find it impossible not to like her but, yet, I do--most vilely.) and horribly eaten up with jealousy when Inoffensive Harry enters the scene (which leads to drama and indiscretions). He twits her about John Morris-Austin way too much until finally (FINALLY) figuring out that her shyness is making his overture seem mean instead of teasing. (He does twit her about it again after this discovery but only when in a rage and goaded to it.) He is otherwise chasing her skirt satisfactorily--doing a lot more wooing than I was able to stick in anywhere in the review.
Betty abandons the British family as soon as the protagonists move on to Holland which, given how charming everyone is, is a bummer.
But that doesn't matter because I'm giving it a Lashings of whipped cream with a cherry on top anyway.

Food: She enjoys the 'post-prandial aroma of toasted cheese' (yum), Quiche Lorraine, treacle tart, roast pork, Daisy chicory, Tournedos Benjamin (ordered in honor of her brother), cauliflower cheese, beef (That's it. Just 'beef'.), digestives dispensed with 'a matronly air', coupe Clo-Clo that she orders just for the name and a great deal of italics food.

: A serviceable tweed coat that you want to kick to the curb, an amber Thai silk that sounds gorgeous (if off-the-peg) and gets worn everywhere, a squirrel coat that I find it difficult to imagine as anything less than an outfit-wrecking catastrophe, a lambswool shirtwaister and a jersey shirtwaister. Sophy's Staff nurse shows up at the hospital fire wearing a purple trouser suit and an overpowering fox fur hat.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crafting with Betty

via email:
Hello Betties

There is an English girl who makes the cute mice and dolls just like our heroine who owned her own tea shop.
 From Betty Francesca
Thank you, Betty Francesca.  I followed your link to Susannah Dashwood's etsy store.  Here's what I found:
Amadeus mouse doll pattern and tutorial 
I think this mouse might be a little fancier (technically speaking) than Mary Jane's.  The blurb on etsy says that this mouse is fully poseable.   Wouldn't it be cool if the creator of this pattern included an option for a wedding dress (like the mouse doll in The Secret Pool)?  - Betty Debbie

A Summer Wedding (more Cooking with Betty Sherri)

Let's focus on the food, people...focus!
Let's pretend I photoshopped in the bony chest. I promise you that Betty Sherri is no Veronica - her fabulous Red Flannel Hash is proof of that.

Red Flannel Hash
Serves 5 to 7
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 lb small red potatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
½ lb bacon, cooked and chopped
3 medium red beets, roasted, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced (plus more for garnish)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place sweet and red potatoes in a large pot and fill with water. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
2. Boil potatoes for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are still slightly firm and drain.
3. Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and onions and sauté for 3 minutes.
4. Add potatoes to the skillet and continue to sauté for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Stir in the chopped bacon, beets and thyme and sauté for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings.
6. Top with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and serve.

(not our salad - this picture is from google images)
Cucumber, Tomato Mozzerella Pearl Salad

1 pound cucumbers (about 2 cucumbers), peeled and thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup mozzerella pearls (if you can't find the pearl size fresh mozz., cut the larger balls into smallish pieces)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large serving bowl, toss together the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste. Let the salad stand for 10 minutes before serving.

The bride and groom were given strict instructions, "Cut the top layer! Cut the top layer!".  Betty Marcy had me purchase two styrofoam cake rounds for the lower layers, then just bake enough cake for the top layer. Most of the guests opted for the White Chocolate Macadamia Cheesecake or the Fresh Picked Blueberries From My Front Yard Cheesecake.  There were also lemon filled mini lemon cupcakes. Both the cheesecakes were plain ones purchased from Costco then tarted up at home. I'm bummed that we didn't think to take pictures of them...gosh, maybe I'll have to make another one...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Summer Wedding (OR Cooking with Betty Sherri)

As promised, here are the first batch of recipes. Sadly, we didn't take a lot of food pictures.
The younger set chose to eat on the mezzanine.

Brother Kelly offered to man the grill(s).

       Grilled Green Beans with Parmesan and Lemon Zest

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
    1 pound green beans, stem ends picked
    1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon for zesting
  • Salt to taste
  1. Wash and stem the ends of the green beans
  2. Combine olive oil and the green beans and toss by hand till they’re uniformly coated. Put them in your hot grill basket or on the hot grate and cook till they’re gorgeous and tender.
  3. Remove to a serving dish, season with salt.  Add parmesan and finish with freshly grated lemon zest

Flank Steak

For the steak and marinade:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (2-pound) flank steak, fat removed

To prepare the steak:

Place the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. In a large plastic bag over a shallow baking dish. Add the steak and turn to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, then pull from fridge and allow the steak to come to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes. Slice the steak against the grain, into thin slices.

The strawberry mango salad that we ate at the wedding was a bit prettier - this batch was whipped up by my middle son this evening.

                              Strawberry Mango Salad

3 Mangos sliced into chunks
2 large packages of strawberries washed, hulled and sliced
6 Tb OJ
4 tsp honey
2 Tb mint sliced thin

Combine fruit and mint in large bowl.  Whisk together OJ and honey.  Pour dressing over fruit.  Chill and serve cold.

Again, Betty Sherri made a prettier batch.  Mine is not as pretty, however, no campenelles were harmed in the making of this salad...I had to substitute a slightly different shape pasta.  I believe it was something that ends in "ini".
 Campenelle Pasta Salad

Campanelle with toasted garlic and sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves - sliced very thin
coarse salt and pepper
1 pound campanelle pasta
1/2 cup mild sausage cooked almost crispy - drain well!
1 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley - chopped coarse (actually, I didn't care for the coarse chop - I'd go a little finer next time)
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup shaved parmesan

Toast the garlic in a frying pan until golden brown about 2 minutes. Once toasted place garlic on paper towel and sprinkle with coarse salt. Cook pasta according to the directions. Rinse immediately in cold water until pasta is just barely warm. Add all the other ingredients and season with pepper to taste.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pet Rescue: Wonky Donkey

When I ran across this story in the Daily Mail, I couldn't help but think of how useful a rescue donkey would be for the little nippers when Mevrouw and Mijnheer drive down to the cottage of a weekend...

And they named her Primrose!

A Summer Wedding - The Lollipop Brigade

Beware: extreme cuteness ahead!

Betty Keira and I found some lovely fabric in just the right shade of Chinese red, then I sent some to Betty Sherri so she could make a skirt for Lauren. Betty Keira took some with her for Lauren and Spencer.  Evidently it was a bear somewhat difficult to sew with.  I'm pretty sure some beastly Dutch oaths went into the making of these skirts and the bow tie. 
Betty Sherri's daughter looking lovely.  She was especially thrilled to borrow a pair of her mother's high heels (see previous picture).

How cute is Betty Keira's middle son? 
Bow ties are cool.
I'd like to point out that not only did Betty Keira make the skirt, but she also made the blouse.  Well done, young padawan.

Upcoming Reprise

Monday, August 27th.
Blow Hot, Blow Cold
RDD described as a 'pin up boy', vanity plates, dog named Blot.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Saturday's Child--Reprise

Good day, Bettys!
One of my favorite parts of Saturday's Child is Bolly, our heroine's faithful (and poorly paid) family retainer.  He does a bit of cooking on the side and probably fills in all sorts of cracks.  During my firs tri-mester of indisposition, I wish I had a Bolly to cluck around me, concoct some tasty morsels to tempt my palate and take the four pledges of affection off to have an airing at the park.  Alas, I have no Bolly.  Instead, I'm spending the day watching my sister-in-law's toddler all day for her Anniversary celebrations.  She doesn't know I'm Anticipating a Happy Event yet, so it'll have to be 'Lies. Wicked lies...' which sneakiness will have to comfort me while I change a strange baby's nappy.
Another thing that always endears me to this book is how off-balance our hero is.  His kisses are 'inexpert', Abagail knows he's in love with her before he does, and he will keep forgetting that as the hired help she deserves a pay packet at the end of the week.
Love and Lardy cakes!
Betty Keira

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Abigail was the name of the third wife of King David in the Old Testament who referred to herself as David's "handmaid" which paved the way for its use in literature for a lady's servant.
As an English name, Abigail first became common after the Protestant Reformation, and it was popular among the Puritans. It eventually became slang for 'servant' and grew less common.

Bored yet? Don't be. Miss Abigail Trent is all about living up to her name. Because she was born on a Saturday her parents thought it would be a good joke to give her a name that was synonymous with work. That sounds a little mean to me. Now that her last remaining parent is dead and gone, Abigail is going to have to work hard for her money. Girlfriend has skills - she's a nurse, which in most cases would be a slam dunk, living wise...but she has a dependent. No, it's not a dog...or a cat...or a sibling. It's faithful family retainer, Bollinger aka, Bolly. He used to be the gardener, back when Abby's pastures were greener and her parents were viable, but lately he's been doing everything pro-bono - and Abigail owes him. In order to make bigger bucks, Abby signs on with an agency - it's not so much that she'll be earning more than at a hospital, but with temp work comes quicker paychecks. The sooner she gets paid, the sooner she can discharge her debt to Bolly. Nevermind the current economic climate...Abigail seems to have jobs thrust on her whether she wants them or not. Mostly she wants them.
Job #1:
Her first job takes her to Holland. Private nurse to the twice-widowed Clara Morgan. Yes, she's a lonely spoiled American, but she isn't really bad at heart, just shallow and ill. Her doctor brings along a specialist...who must be some sort of surgeon who specializes in gastroenterology. Professor van Wijkelen is a moody giant. Besides surgery, he specializes in icy sneers and scathing put-downs. That's okay, Abby can take it - she's made of stern stuff. Not only is she tough, but she can read him like a cheap novel - "40 or more and unhappy - though I don't suppose he knows it." She's not the only good reader - he notices that she's unhappy but hides it. Abby runs into Prof. van Wijkelen at the post office while trying to send money to England for Bolly. It's evidently harder than it looks, but the Professor volunteers to drop it by when he's in London.
Job #2Professor van Wijkelen asks Abigail to stay on in Holland to 'special' Professor de Wit. Luckily Abby finds out that Professor van Wiljkelen's first name is Dominic - lucky for me that I don't have to write out the full names of BOTH Professors. Also, less confusing. We'll call him Dominic from now on, even though Abigail doesn't yet. Strange letter from Bolly...don't send any money for a while. Bolly and Dominic had an interesting discussion back in London and reached an understanding. Bolly is now working for Dominic. In Holland. Which means that Abby can now visit him during her off hours. She makes darn sure to visit when Dominic is scheduled to be in surgery...there's only so many icy sneers one person should have to be exposed to - otherwise she's gonna need to invest in a parka - and her wages won't stretch that far. Bolly likes Dominic - even if he is a bit of a toff.
Time for a kitten rescue! And a Dawning Realization. Dominic may be rough and gruff, but Abby's pretty sure that underneath his forbidding demeanor there's a teddy bear. She's seen a glimpse, but that's all. She has no illusions about him ever falling for her plain, plump self, she would just like him to be happy (but hey, miracles happen, right?).
Job #3
Now that Professor de Wit is on the mend, Dominic comes up with another job for Abigail. There's a Mrs. Macklin, widow of a Scottish Presbyterian parson who could use some help for a week or two. She's recently had a bout of...well, really, who cares? She's in need of some light nursing and Abigail is just the person to do it. Dominic is horribly conflicted - he is disturbed by this young woman...and he doesn't want to be. In the meantime, Abigail offers to go pick up Mrs. Macklin's cat from the kitty hotel...and has to use 30 gulden of her own dwindling supply. This is the first time working for Dominic has cost her money, it won't be the last. Dominic takes a break from his icy sneering to invite Abigail to go with him to the hospital ball. It's a dream come true, but Cinderella doesn't have a ball gown. Dominic offers to go shopping at a fancy (read: expensive) boutique and help her pick something out. No thanks, Abigail has got to watch her nickels and gulden. He does convince her to choose a pink gown instead of a dowdy grey one. Mrs. Macklin suggests a crippled dressmaker, Abigail goes shopping for pink silk and chiffon, then gets drunk on the excitement and buys silver slippers and a matching handbag. Mrs. Macklin provides a sable coat. Question: Where does the widow of a Presbyterian parson come up with a sable coat? Too bad Abby checks the coat when they get to the dance - Dominic dances like he does everything else...with a chilly remoteness. He does thaw out enough to escort Abby to dinner...and to ask her to take on another job. There is an outbreak of salmonella at the hospital - and they are short staffed. And btw, you look charming and that dress is the bomb.
Umm. Thanks, but I would have taken the job without you softening me up. Smooth move, Exlax.
Editor's Note: I have a theory. Dominic has the emotional maturity of an amoeba.
Dominic does ask Abigail to dance again - to apologize, but Abigail is too busy giving her impersonation of a Chatty Cathy doll. Our frustrated hero gives it another go after the ball.
Him: We're going to stand out here in the cold until I say what I have to say!
Her: Yes, sir?
Him: Stop throwing my age at me every time you open your mouth!
Her: What rubbish you talk!
Him: I really wasn't 'softening you up' are charming. Really. Really, really.
Abigail is then treated to an inexpertly given kiss. I find it rather charming that Dominic is out of practice. Abigail is having a tough time figuring him out. One moment he looks at her like he dislikes her, next, he's kissing her. What's a girl to think? She's thinking that maybe he kissed her because it was dark - in the stark light of day she wouldn't have stood a chance.
Dominic is still very unsure of her and unsure of his own feelings.
Job #4
Three days later and Abigail is back at the hospital helping deal with the salmonella outbreak. Dominic is eyeing her warily in the aftermath of his awkward snog. His moodiness is the stuff of legend. He now has the chance to show some temper - he's angry that Abby is working overtime. Abby tells him to calm down 'it's nothing to lose your cool over.' He cools down enough to give her another kiss...this time he seems like he's been putting in a little practice (on whom, I wonder). Abby is completely bewildered by his snogging one minute, icy sneers the next. Mrs. Macklin is more than happy to tell her The Sad Tale of Dominic's Past.
*Married young.
*Wife was beautiful but very hoochy.
*Wife was killed in a car accident with a boyfriend.
*Dominic's pride was damaged, nearly beyond repair.
*Dominic has lost his trust in women.
Abby accompanies Mrs. Macklin and Professor de Wit to a concert - where they are joined by Dominic. Who proceeds to hold hands with Abby in the dark. Awww. I guess it's on again. He goes so far as to tell her she's beautiful and honest and kind....but he's afraid it might not be real, and yes, he's a coward about love. 'Once bitten, twice shy. And I'm very shy', says he. So what does he do? He tells her that her services at the hospital are no longer needed and she's free to go back to London. He does take her to the station - where he confesses to being sentimental and vows to forget it. That's not the only thing he's going to forget.
Job #5Abigail finally makes it back to England, in spite of the fact that Dominic forgot to pay her. The only job going is a grossly underpaid gig taking care of a lady with the delirium tremens. Lucky for her, Dominic has badgered Bolly into giving him the phone number of the agency and Dominic needs a nurse. ASAP. His niece has swallowed 3 pesetas. Oh, and she lives in Spain. Dominic will drive down from Holland - and would Abby please take a train to Southampton and catch a ship? What? I forgot to pay you? You can pick up your money and a generous travel allowance at the bank. Two days later they meet up on the dock...she's saying goodbye to a young man. Dominic practically trips over himself in his rush to assume that Abby enjoyed being chatted up by the younger man. Silly, silly Dominic. I shall not detail the trip from Spain to Holland. Suffice it to say it was 920 miles and they take a day and a half. Dominic is very quick to volunteer the info that he only asked her to come because he trusts a NURSE. He's still not ready to trust women yet...but she'll be spending the night at his house.
Abby takes care of niece Nina at the hospital after her surgery (lucky Nina - her uncle is just exactly the kind of surgeon she needs).
Job #6
Dominic just can't seem to let Abby go...he convinces her to come back to his place and take care of Nina until her father can come get her. Dominic starts to get a little friendlier, and by friendlier, I mean he takes a few liberties such as snogging her while she is in her frumpy bathrobe. Abby looses her head and whispers Dominic darling in his ear. More than once. There's no stuffing that genii back in the bottle, but things are definitely starting to look up...
Job #7...and then he gets her another temp job back at the hospital. He's off to BRUSSELS!!?! for a couple of days, and he'd like to have a heart to heart talk with Abby when he returns. In the meantime, please call me Dominic - you've said it before. It's really too bad he's going to Brussels...nothing good ever happens in the Neels version of Brussels. The first thing he sees when he gets back is Abby having a laugh with Registrar Henk. He assumes they are laughing about him - so he fires Abby and sends her off without references or the back salary he owes her. She is so mad she wants to leave Amsterdam - but she can't afford to go to London. Mrs. Macklin suggests she go to Friesland and help out a friend of hers. No pay, but she does get room and lodging and some free lessons in Dutch. This is all well and good, but girlfriend needs to earn some money so she can return to Mother England, so she gets a job...
Job #8
...shelving gherkins in a village shop. It is here that Dominic finally runs her to ground. Or rather, to ladder. Abigail is up on a ladder dusting said gherkins when in walks the love of her life. What follows is one of the most delightful denouements in Neeldom. Ever. Abby holds her and makes Dominic positively grovel before she'll accept him.
'I'm here making two gulden an hour because you haven't paid me! Not for weeks! You sent me away without any references and didn't even bother to ask if I had somewhere to go, just like a Victorian servant girl; for all you cared I might have gone on the streets!'
Dominic is gobsmacked and abjectly apologetic, as well he should be.
'Begin as you mean to go on' is her new motto. The End.
Rating: I dearly love this book! It's a bit on the longish side..and could have benefited from an editor who wasn't afraid to chop a job or two, but other than that, it's great. Dominic is icy, grumpy, moody, irascible, bad tempered, etc...but I get him. He has allowed his hurt pride to paint him into an emotional corner and he's been cowering there in a fetal position for far too long. It takes time and effort for him to unbend and accept the fact that he's in love and Abby is a truly good person. I even forgive him for not paying her - it just goes to show that he never thought of her as an employee. Abigail is pretty wonderful herself. She is unusually aware of Dominic's feelings - she knows before he does that he has feelings for her...she just isn't sure he'll be able to act on them - or if he'll just go all icy again. Queen of Puddings!
Fashion: pink organza with matching satin underslip made by a crippled dressmaker, tight brown velvet which she hopes doesn't pop its seams, brown and oatmeal tweed skirt with a brown sweater and a gay little neckcloth, a despised red wooly dressing gown.
Food: eggs and chips, milk and water in equal parts with afters of Mist.Mag.Tri. (for Clara Morgan) beef olives, cheese straws, erwten soup with yoghurt for afters, bitterballen, asparagus tips and herbs thickened with tapioca??, hare soup.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Summer Wedding - Part IV

Do you want more wedding pictures? Yes? No? Either way, here you go:

Dr. van der Stevejinck's brother (left of bride) officiated. The arbor was moved (temporarily) over to the corner of the yard by an apple tree.  I didn't mention to the bride and groom that behind the apple tree was what I call 'the island of misfit plants' - plants that were in large black plastic nursery planters - in need of being planted, but not pretty enough right now to put out for the wedding. You can't see them in this picture, so we're probably good.
We had three little girls (ages 7-11) who created a ton of tissue flowers - and then placed them around the patio.  I drew the line at using them on the tables.  I really like them in the arborvitae - I wouldn't have thought to put them there myself. The chair by the cake table was for a cake guardian - so the kids running around wouldn't tip it over.  Betty Marcy decorated the cake - with a little help from the three aforementioned girls.
Dinner was served buffet style.  Betty Sherri created the menu and made (or oversaw) most of the food. The fabulous food. I'll save the menu/food for another post.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Summer Wedding - Part III.

Attack of the Betty Photo Bomb!

We didn't take a lot of Betty at the Wedding pictures (frankly, the happy couple had very little idea about what we were doing - so, no, these probably won't make it into the photo album).

I think this one speaks for itself...
If you look right between the two gentlemen, you might see something... ( from left to right: Bettys Marcy, Sherri, Debbie, (then two not RDD's)Kelly and Brian, more Bettys: Suzanne, Keira and finally Tia).
Iconic? I think so.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Upcoming Reprise

Monday, August 20th
Saturday's Child
Abigail works and works and works. Road trip from Spain to Amsterdam, turned off without a dime.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Summer Wedding. Part II

...and spoiler alert!  Careful reading of the last caption will reveal some exciting news!!
With the construction winding down, it was time to tart up the flower beds...with bark.  I've always just called it 'bark', but I have a friend who calls it 'beauty bark'.  I normally don't use it much, but for the sake of good looking flower beds (and disguising a few areas of dirt that haven't been seeded with grass yet - due to construction), we piled it on.  Unfortunately Dr. van der Stevejinck had overestimated how much we needed, but we were able to gift it to our neighbors, so all was well.

On Friday morning (wedding day, minus one), a few of us early risers drove up Mountain Loop Highway and took a short (2 miles total) hike up to the ice caves. It was a beautiful morning and a great way to take our minds off of wedding planning for a bit. (L to R: Bettys Tia, Keira, Sherri, Marcy, Stephanie, and down in front, Betty Keira's daughter, Laura)

If you read A Summer Wedding...Part I, you would have seen an arbor over by the deck. Same arbor, but the bride and groom wanted a different orientation.  Luckily it only took one power tool and a few men (of which we had an abundance), to temporarily move the arbor to the desired location. I left my son-in-law and brother in charge of tarting up the arbor, with Betty Keira (shown ironing) as creative consultant. Dr. van der Stevejinck seems a little at a loss as to what to do.

The weather was lovely - sunny and warm - but a wee bit bright (at least to my Pacific Northwest accustomed eyes).  Betty Keira had to move her ironing station occasionally to stay in the shade.  The sun wasn't being kind to her in her delicate condition.  Did you see what I just did? Yes, Betty Keira is in an 'interesting condition'.

A Match for Sister Maggy - Reprise

I have to admit that I didn't get a chance to re-read Nurse in Holland, Amazon in an Apron OR A Match for Sister Maggy this week.  I still have one more set of wedding guests to trundle off to the airport (tomorrow), so I've been a bit, well, busy.  I did, however, re-read Betty Keira's excellent review, so here's my (admittedly limited) thoughts:

  • In spite of three (3) different titles, I still have a hard time remembering which one this one is. Had it been named Maggie and the Creepy Belgium Family,  I would have smiled lazily and said, "Ah yes, the creepy Belgiums, I am familiar with that one."
  • The Belgiums. Let's talk about them.  I felt like Betty was starting to go a little gothic there - Mary Stewart-ish. Betty Keira wondered (to me) if The Great Betty had had a similar nursing experience.  We both agreed that there felt like there might have been some kind of back story.
  • Betty Keira mentions that they ate 'twaalf'.  I tried to look it up - it looks to me like 'twaalf' means 12.  Either Betty Keira made a mistake (possible), Betty Neels made a mistake (also possible), the Dutch like to eat numbers (they do eat chocolate letters...) or it was a restaurant and they ordered '#12'.  I'm throwing this one out there for a little help. Anyone??
-Betty Debbie

But, Betty Keira, this is not the correct book cover! We're reviewing A Match for Sister Maggy--not Nurse in Holland or (dons reading glasses) Amazon in an Apron. Ah, gentle reader, this is because this book was poorly named twice before stumbling onto the genius of the final.

Doctor Paul van Beijen Doelsma (36) didn't intend be called fat, elderly, balding and heavily-accented so early in the morning but when Sister Maggy MacFergus (24--Junoesque doesn't begin to cover it) rushes pell-mell into the hospital lobby (Ala a certain impertinent warrior princess) that's just what happens. Naturally, she didn't know who that gorgeous giant was, leaning against the porter's lodge and listening lazily to her hurried explanations and complaints ('Nine o'clock for a lecture! The man ought to be shot!'), but when she scoots into the back of the lecture hall it's a wonder that the sound of her stomach dropping to her toes isn't heard around the world. If they shot him for lecturing so early then he makes a mighty handsome corpse.
Paul gives an excellent lecture, fields a few questions from the earnest, eager and ugly and then spies Sister Maggy in whispered conference with a fellow nurse in the last row. The 'other' nurse asks a question--a very intelligent and well-reasoned question--and Paul knows that it was Maggy that really asked it. He sends waves of white-hot passionate medical flirtation to the back of the hall. Many staff nurses, caught in the wake of his decisive fervor, lost their sanity that day...
After decimating hapless nurses, he makes an amendment to his schedule and decides to head on up to the Women's Medical Ward. He serves up more uncrushable ardor--thinly disguised by a witty game of 'Is your ward ready to receive me?'--and she is scrambling to catch up.
After a successful round, his parthian shot is to corner her in her office and kiss the starch out of her apron. 'I want you to remember me.' (Are you purring yet?) File a sexual harassment suit? Don't be ridiculous. He's hot and it's the 60s. She should be thanking her lucky stars.
Non Sequiter: In the ward we meet a horrible patient, Madame Riveau, and her menfolk who are Belgian. Belgian. In the land of Neels, death and mayhem are the handmaidens of all things Belgian.
The next Doelsma to enter the picture is Mevrouw Doelsma--Paul's mother and recent coronary sufferer. Though Paul is not there, Maggy lays some important long-term groundwork for her eventual happiness--impressing her future mother-in-law with important skills such as life-saving. When Paul does show up, Maggy the Shy Giantess keeps swapping out her off-duty--not so she can see him (no, no, that would be too easy!) but to avoid him. He counters her oblique overtures with the well-trod (but always welcome) gesture of sending her 6 dozen roses and referencing Robbie Burns.
But then he asks her to go away with him to Holland. Rockets are firing in her brain. Her heart takes flight. Rainbows and buttercups rain from the sky! Four-leaf clovers are popping up all over...(Snap, snap.) He asks her to go and nurse his mother for a few weeks. (oh.) Hm. That's not a proposition. Her pride is stung enough to refuse.
When he asks again, he gently explains how concerned he is for his ailing mother--which is a little rat-finky of him if you think about it...using his mother to advance his romantic ambitions. But Maggy consents and in the mean time has her dawning realization.
Paul loves his mother and Maggy loves him and I'm not sure why the roses have to be given away at this point or tears indulged in but perhaps Maggy realizes that she's just a cog in his machine. He'll do whatever it takes to get Mevrouw back on her feet--even sweet-talking an Amazon in an Apron. (See what I just did there?) Maybe this is what it felt like to be press-ganged by the British Navy...
Non Sequiter: Madame Riveau, meanwhile, has escaped from the hospital and has tooth pain.
In Holland Maggy meets Stien who is cute and small and everything the large, strong Maggy is not.
Editorial Note: As a reader, we wonder, 'Has Paul cleared his decks for action or is there a bilge rat running amok among the ammunition?' (Oh, you weren't?) We see Stien twice more--once on horseback going for an early morning ride with Paul and another time enjoying a late-night drink in the kitchens. Poor Maggy, her dressing gown bunched up anyhow, peers around the door with a poker and loses her dignity. I want to smack Paul around a little as it never occurs to him that running around with a girl small enough for Maggy to bench-press might throw a wrench in the wheel. Also, she lives in Utrecht (an important and muddying detail).
Maggy is pretty much ignored for a while as she nurses Paul's mother so she amuses taking his massive horse out for vigorous gallops. When Paul discovers it he erupts with the timeliness and precision of Old Faithful. Maggy, treating him tolerantly--like a fussy little boy who isn't getting his way--only enrages him further. Off he goes to tattle to his mother! Oh dear, says the old woman, don't be mad at Maggy. I told her she should drive the Daimler...What!!! She's driving his luxury cars too?
His apology for blowing his top leaves something to be desired and another row is kicked up.
But they aren't going to be that couple--the ones bickering up the aisle to the alter--so a cease-fire is proposed.
Him: Do you like me? I like you. Let's be friends.
That's good enough to shake on.
We remove to Leiden while Mevrouw gets some medical tests...
Maggy and Paul have done more hanging out (riding together, driving in the car, etc.) in Friesland (did I not mention that his ancestral home is in the land of large women and over-sized cows?) but upon his arrival in Leiden, he takes her on The Home Tour of Smoldering Passions. (Because you don't let people you don't care a fig about to peek into your attic nurseries.) But he doesn't let her see his room (fearing that just seeing where he sleeps will send her into a frenzy) or The Master Suite. See, it's closed up because he's just a bachelor and, the way, there's a family tradition about not letting the future Mrs. Doelsma see it before the big night.
He also takes her on a tour of the hospital (giving her a little kiss in the children's ward). But as he's still haring off to Utrecht at the drop of a hat and Stien lives there and Mevrouw Doelsma grouches that in Utrecht is 'the love of his life'..., Maggy throttles any growing expectations in their pram.
While doing some shopping, she comes upon the mysterious Madame Riveau (Who prefers to export her Belgian evil to distant lands like England and Holland.). They agree to meet again the next day for reasons totally unrelated to rational thought. But when Maggy does meet her, Madame is deeply sick and gets her to take her home to the fetid swamp she lives in. Madame promptly falls asleep and Maggy (doing her nurse-ly due diligence) can't leave her in this condition without any help. (Belgian though she be.)
Maggy, wearing a brand new dress, rolls up her sleeves and begins to clean. Boiling soapy water, hauling around furniture--the lot. And when the Riveau menfolk appear she orders them about and sends for a doctor.
Hey. I know a doctor.
Paul shows up in a rage--barely cloaking his desperate concern (She missed her train!) and when he tells her that she's wearing a pretty dress (bunchy and spattered as it now is) she is hurt. Are you being beastly? Genuinely surprised, he answers honestly. No--you would look--nice-- in a potato sack.
Back in Friesland he invites her to dinner.
Her: Oh but I don't have a dress. Him: They have a Big and Tall store here.
Important points about their date:
  • He underlines that this is not a farewell, thanks for nursing my mother back to health date.
  • He does this by pulling into a lay-by...where nobody gets kissed.
  • He tries to get information out of her about where she lives. She gently snubs him which feels wonderful after all those other times Neels heroines have been the snub-ee instead of the snub-er.
  • He tells her, at the end of the date, that he must have taken every other girl that he ever knew to that restaurant at one time or another.
  • He says, "Hey remember that time you came down with a poker and felt horribly awkward? Let's reminisce about that. Oh, and Stien would make a decorative wife."
He kisses her and she retaliates by standing him up on their morning ride.
She is provided a way to leave Holland by her hospital matron who wonders (in a letter) when Maggy will be back as there is a shortage of nurses.
She takes off to the airport the next day (while Paul's airplane from Germany is landing--yes, he had to go to Deutschland for two days and he rushes back when he finds out she's leaving). By skipping to the head of the queue (rather sneakily) she is able to avoid him.
Paul, at his wit's end, does the only thing a sensible man could do in a similar situation:
  • Take the family engagement ring and pearls out of the wall safe.
  • Notify Customs that they will be leaving the country.
  • Contacts his relative who can expedite a Special License with The Archbishop.
  • Murder his insane wife that he's kept walled up behind the doors of The Master Suite.
Oh, and then he wangles Maggy's address out of her hospital matron's hands. Kissing in Scotland and a wedding while they're at it--no need to travel to a remote cottage for implied conjugal relations.
The End
P.S. But I'm still worried about how matron will solve her nurse shortage.

Rating: What a pity that I remembered the end differently (My memory played tricks on me and I had patched the end of the not great Pineapple Girl onto it) because it was really rather lovely. I don't know how I feel about the Scots accent--it all seems a little as though La Neels had upended her purse, shaken out all the Scots vernacular and pasted them into dialog. Still, Maggy is a darling and has a formidable backbone so I don't mind the 'ach's and 'wee's and 'dinna's too terribly. Her eyebrows are practically an auxillary character of their own and I wish The Great Betty had not been so liberal with her 'large hands' and 'thick, glowering eyebrows'. A little delicacy, please. Paul is a little more difficult to understand (he doesn't off-load Stein soon enough to indicate a man decisively in love) but I like to think he's playing a long game--instant dawning realization and all else following. To sum up: Though I had remembered this poorly, it has earned a boeuf en croute--just think what it would have earned if I'd not had to take notes!

Food: Mevrouw Doelsma barfs up lobster. They eat boterkoek, twaalf, Rolpens met Rodekool (did you say 'roadkill'? It's actually spiced and pickled minced beef and tripe and apples and red cabbage. Gah.), caneton a' la Rouennaise (a 'famous' duckling dish).

Fashion: Paul has the 'loveliest waistcoat'. Maggy sports her blue uniform, a sweater and slacks to go riding in, a raincoat and scarf tied under her chin, a navy blue and white checked tricot dress, her utterly ruined vivid coral pink jersey, and a what is supposed to be a lovely cream guipure lace knee-skimming gown to go dancing in (though she is a strapping lass and I'm worried that that's rather a lot of lace to be looking at).