Christopher Appleblossom has a busy day...

Christopher Appleblossom sprinkled flour on his baking surface absently. His thoughts had lingered on the grand opening of the café. He was most surprised when his cousin Cedric Walnut had stopped in to visit bringing with him his fiancée, Miss Yardley (Delly) Furbank.  Mr. Walnut was the park warden for Riverside Park and maintained the playground, picnic area, campsite, and boat launch. He was a busy squirrel but was highly respected for his hard-working nature and sense of humour.  Miss Delly was a school teacher at St. Francis school and worked alongside Headmaster Aristotle Treefellow.

The two cousins had shaken hands and patted each other on the back, Christopher having left floury paw prints on his cousin’s brown gingham shirt. Miss Delly had laughed and Cedric introduced her to his cousin. She was wearing a buttercup patterned dress and had bright black eyes which shined as she smiled.

Since then, the patisserie had been busy from morning until evening and Christopher had gone to bed tired. Thankfully, his bed was nearby at the Old Watermill Bakery which had been converted into a nice home. It was warm, cosy and always smelled of freshly baked bread and pastries. 

Cubs are a handful, no matter how little!

Christopher now cut the dough he had been raising into quarters to make shaped buns. He then expertly shaped them into stars, hearts and domes and placed them into his oven to bake.  He took out the already golden brown loaves from his oven below and carefully tipped them out onto the cooling rack. The delicious smell of the bread made him smile happily and be began to hum tunelessly.

The bell above the bakery door jingled and in stepped Mrs. Margaret Littlebear with her little troupe of cubs. ‘Good day, Mrs. Littlebear!’ Christopher  touched his fluffy baker’s hat in greeting. ‘And hello Piers, Meddy and little Miel! What can I get for you today?’ The cubs greeted Mr. Appleblossom happily, then went around smelling each delicious loaf and bun, holding each other’s hands while Mrs. Littlebear filled out her order. The family were hosting the Honeybears from Cottondown Village for a week as they holidayed and the Honeybears really loved their honeyed buns!

As Christopher gathered the Littlebear’s order, another tinkle of the bell went unheard over the commotion. Little Miel had tripped and was now crying while Mrs. Littlebear tried to comfort him and Andromeda (Meddy to everyone) kept asking for one of the bakery’s specialties, animal shaped buns. Christopher bundled the Littlebear order over to the till and nearly bumped into Miss Delly Furbank! 

Preparations for a picnic

‘Careful, Mr. Appleblossom,’ Miss Delly laughed, ‘Let me give you a hand.’ Miss Delly grabbed one of the paper bags of honeyed buns and placed them on the counter. Christopher placed the rest on the counter and stammered a greeting. Mrs. Littlebear added four animal shaped buns for the kids to her order and paid at the till. She then had Piers and Meddy carry the bags while she carried baby Miel out. Christopher bid them a fond farewell as they noisily left the bakery.  He then turned happily to Miss Delly and asked how he could help her.

‘Well, Mr. Appleblossom, your cousin Cedric is having lunch in a half hour and I thought I’d bring him one of your delightful almond croissants. It’s his favourite!’ Miss Delly clasped her paws together delightedly, ‘And mine, too! I can then put it into this picnic basket,’ she gestured to one by her feet,’ And pick up some Apple-tizing Punch from Miss Betty’s before picnicking at Riverside Park.’

‘That sounds nice!’ Christopher picked up two almond croissants and placed them in brown paper bags. Miss Delly thanked him heartily, paid and left the bakery in a tinkle of bells. Christopher smiled and waved goodbye with his floury paws. But he did not have a lot of time to stand around. Another tinkle of the bell and the Slysdales kits ran into the café followed by Mr. Slick Slysdale and Jeanie Tailbury. Jeanie, a foreign exchange student from America, was boarding with the Slysdales at Willow Hall. She was a conscientious pupil and very  good friends with Scarlett.

Milk tea and tarts

Mr. Slysdale was a hard-working and cunning fox who had started by stocking shelves and taking out bins. He had worked his way up to own the hugely successful Brambles Department Store. Wise investments and fair-dealing had build up his once meagre fortune and made him a trusted figure in the community. He spent most of his day dealing with locals to provide merchandise for his stores and to get a feel for what the communities need.

Mr. Slysdale had met and married Velvette while they were both young, but Velvette had died shortly after the birth of their twins Scarlett and Buster. Mr. Slysdale had worked doubly hard to ensure his children wanted nothing and eventually built up Brambles into two major stores, one in Cherrybrook and one in Appleway Town.

Scarlett and Buster were pressing their little wet noses against the display glasses and chatting excitedly about the pastries they wanted to eat. Christopher described each of the pastries to them as they asked what was in each. Jeanie joined them and together they chose three delicious tarts. Mr. Slysdale decided on a roulade and asked if they could sit and eat it in the café. Christopher called to Isabel Fisher who showed the family to the adjoining café. She served them milk tea as they happily chomped on their desserts. 

Custard or no?

A chattering of little voices turned his attention back to the shop’s entrance. In came the Maces, a retired mouse couple who has settled down in the village. Mr. Ashley Maces used  to work on the Sylvanian Express Railway as a conductor. He retired last year and Mrs. Laura Maces run the sewing and quilting circle which meets every Tuesday evening at their home in Bramble Cottage. Christopher and Miss Isabel greeted them cheerfully.
“Oh Mr Appleblossom, perhaps you can help us. Grandpa says that you can’t get custard fillings for Danish pastries, and I say I’m sure you can!” Mrs. Maces fretted.
“Oh Grandma,” Mr. Maces said, “I said you can’t put custard on a danish pastry! Tell her, Mr. Appleblossom, what a silly notion that is.”
“Oh custard on a Danish?” Mrs. Maces shuddered, “What silly idea, Grandpa. Who would ever want to put custard on a Danish? Really, Grandpa!" 

Do you smell something?

Christopher and Miss Isabel chuckled behind their paws. He assured Mrs. Maces that you could have custard filling in a danish pastry and equally pacified Mr. Maces that it was quite unusual for people to put custard on danishes. When he took their order, they both agreed to have danishes, one custard for Mrs. Mace and one blackberry without custard.  Miss Isabel came and seated them both outside to have an afternoon tea in the bright sunshine.

In the quiet lull, Christopher rested his elbows ont he counter and smiled. He took the opportunity to jot down a new bread recipe he was imagining. As he daydreamed and sketched, small tendrils of smoke began to escape from his oven. Christopher started out of his reverie and rushed to the oven! He carefully slip out the darkly crisp buns. He signed and began to flour his baking table again.