Saturday 29 July 2023

When my granddaughter came to stay.....

 ....ten days ago I was contemplating the next window display and I suddenly realised that Annie was the perfect person to instal it.

After all, she grew up with tiny objects of all kinds - Playmobil houses and people, Sylvanian families, and of course my own dolls houses and string puppets.  In fact she spent a long time when she was around four years old trying to explain to us which "town" she wanted.   I offered her various sizes of tiny wooden houses and they were all rejected.   It wasn't until I remembered that on a visit to Germany she had played with two or three Playmobil houses belonging to the by-then adult

children of a friend, that we realised that was precisely what she had in mind.  Some years later we had a whole town's worth in the spare room and it wasn't just children who enjoyed playing with it!

I had already decided that the window theme would be something truly summery and at first thought inspiration might come from the TV programme Midsomer Murders (Vraždy v Midsomeru) which is very popular here. I suspect that many visitors to Britain from Europe will avoid UK village summer fetes like the plague, fearing that they will fall over a dead body at the back of the flower show marquee or the tea tent.

However I realised I didn't really have enough stalls to make it an easy installation. I do however have a great deal of children's playground equipment and the makings of a small camp site.  And I also have many Sylvanian families whom you have met before...

So if my granddaughter were willing to set the whole thing up, life would be very easy for me. Just as well, because the visitor numbers to Small Worlds are rising exponentially at the moment and I never seem to stop talking.  It can be quite tiring to repeat the same thing many times a day, sometimes in different languages, and to remember which couple you have said what to....

And of course it wouldn't be Annie's first rodeo (when did this phrase turn up in British English by the way?). I have blogged before about scenes she has created.  This time I am also handing over a bit of the blog to her as well...

Here you go Annie....

Thank you, GG.

It has been a while since my artistry and creative flair have blessed a blog. Today is the day that my talent with tiny toys resurfaces, and it does so in my (if I do say so myself) wittily curated, character-rich and detailed Sylvanian Family display for Small Worlds!

At first glance the scene is sweet, playful and colourful. 

It features many a Sylvanian Family animal, lots of props and furniture, a campsite nicked from elsewhere in the museum to grace the animals’ holidays, a painstaking picnic setup, and lots of greenery that truly brings the scene to life (I would even go so far as to say that the trees and moss are my favourite part of the display bar one – we’ll come back to that one later!)

On closer inspection, however, past the lovely greenery, the happy families and the playground, are many stories. In fact, the final reveal of this park’s intricacies likely isn’t too far from the Midsomer Murder TV show previously mentioned…

The first example of small storylines taking place within the display, is amongst the tents in the campsite. A meercat sister (who started here as a wife, but as you can see from the small photo, that storyline did not honour Butterfly’s previous LGBTQ+ meercat marriage lore in an earlier blogpost),

is scolding her brother for not understanding how to r
ead a map, therefore leaving the responsibility with her entirely. To me, her expression perfectly conveys a: “Really?”

Next, we see a squirrel family having a picnic (this is the one I previously referred to as painstaking because I had to place the food bit by bit with tweezers due to how tiny and fiddly it all is.) Both squirrel parents are exasperated, tired and frustrated because their son just Won’t. Get. Off. The.

Swing. Boat.

“Get off and come and eat or you will not eat at all!” The children are out of control at this park. (Note from GG: These are clearly not Czech children!)

However, I would just like to draw your attention to one part of the picnic I am quite proud of: Bagel Boy.

He doesn’t care that his brother isn’t present. He’s got his bagel. That is all that matters.

Reminiscent of the squirrels' problem, is an issue ramping up for the bunny couple close by the picnic…

The bunnies did what bunnies do best, and now cannot go out in public without a toddler mutiny!

One is asleep in the pram........

.......two refuse to leave the seesaw behind.......

......while three have run off all at once. 

What is a bunny to do? The two parents are arguing, trying to figure out what to do next, while two of their bunnies are heading for the lemonade stand, and I don’t think it’s going to end well…

But really, what can you expect with seven toddlers?

Finally, most scandalous (and frankly evil) of all, is the featuring of the cannibalistic pig hotdog stand.

I’m not sure if this is a father selling his child or a case of kidnapping, but regardless it is deeply disturbing and I love it. It began as a joke and an attempt to shock GG, but she (and Butterfly) liked it so much on the mock-up table that it made its way to the final window display. Mind, the other animals don’t seem too fazed, considering the hot-dog vendor has animals queueing up for his food!

Thank you GG for suggesting I create this display! I really enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for next year’s window! xxxx

Excellent work Annie, both on the stage and in the script.  Definitely wittily curated!   Shame you live so far away.  Thank you and come back soon.

The campsite was nicked from here: 

and was hastily replaced with this which actually features my son Adam (Annie's father) as a little boy armed with his birdwatching binoculars....

We were very grateful for Salve's height which allowed the magnificent, recently donated,  balloons to fly free.... 

I think Annie and Salve both enjoyed themselves:

I will end with a few more photos of happy (?) scenes from the countryside....:

And a reminder that if all else fails for the frazzled parents they can always go Up Up and Away!  

Or of course launch the children....

A huge thank you to Molly and family for the balloons - here is the third one currently in temporary quarters - all the balloons are scheduled to fly across the museum at some point in the not too distant future, so watch this space!

In the meantime Butterfly and I are now contemplating Agatha Christie as a possible source of further material....should it be Poirot or Miss Marple?

Have an excellent summer and if you get a chance to visit Small Worlds we should love to see you.


  1. What a lovely display Annie has created; I love the various scenarios. I must admit that the squirrels and rabbits took me right back to some of my childhood favourite books; I could just see Beatrix Potter and Alison Uttley animals of all varieties enjoying these idyllic summer scenes. Love the balloons, too. Thank you, Annie, for creating the display and Cestina for posting about it here.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Susan! Little Grey Rabbit is a good idea. Think we might be able to gather the necessary resources to recreate something based on those books...

  2. Well I think Annie has done a great job and obviously has the family's gift with words too... I really enjoyed the post and the scenes, and the balloons are fabulous. Happy summer!

  3. And to you Helen! Hope the weather is being kind in Kew Gardens!

    1. yes, for the most part it has been, no major soakings.

  4. What a great post! Well done Annie (& Salve), and well done you and Butterfly! Conscious that I owe you an email - will be in touch soon!

    1. Thank you Ruth! I suspect the owing may be the other way. There seem to be so many means of on line communication nowadays I get totally confused as to who I am messaging how!

    2. Or should that be whom?

  5. That's a fabulous display. I don't think we'll be able to visit you this year, but almost definitely in 2024! The Swan Whisperer was asking after you the other day, reminded of your existence by a visit to what is now called Young V&A (was the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood) and it's gallery called - you guessed it - Small Worlds!

  6. Drats, fat fingers: "Its" gallery, not it's. And I should have said the gallery was featuring dolls houses (including the Rachel Whiteread exhibition), and there was a lovely one set inside a Chinese cabinet, which really did make me think of you! I have photos which I could send you, if you are interested?

    1. Oh yes please!

      How dare they nick my name? Maybe I can ride on I did when the V&A touring exhibition appeared in Prague some years ago, called, yes indeed, Small Worlds!

      It would be excellent to see you both again. Much has changed since your first visit. Ten years open now!

    2. Oh, and I am now What's Appable which might be the easiest way to send photos? Will email you details (when I can work out how)

    3. Might easily be, but I'm not sure if you have my current e-mail address. Is your WhatsApp your Czech or your British mobile?

    4. Neither, it just serves the tablet....why easy when it can be complicated as they say in Germany?

  7. (Andrea here, doomed to be Anonymous forever, it seems)
    Well done Annie! Brilliantly curated and related exhibition. I LOVED the cannibalistic pig. Excellent work x

    1. Thought you might! No idea why you permanently anon. I shall designate you as AA henceforth x

    2. That happened to me awhile ago, and I discovered that the cause was I had 3rd-party cookies disabled on Blogspot. When I re-enabled them (you can do this via the settings on your browser), I got myself back again!

    3. Thank you Mrs Redboots! AA

  8. Thank you, Cestina, that was delightful to read. And talk about rising to a challenge - what a brilliant job Annie did of both the display and in your blog! As usual, your blog makes me want to visit Small Worlds again. xx