Talking to Carol Forrester yesterday, jogged a childhood memory that I remember amused and appalled me when I was six. Because she suggested it, I’ve made it into a haibun for the dverse prompt.

It was a ritual. Once a week, my baby sister would ‘do baking’ with Big Grandma. We had a Big and a Little Grandma, ‘Big’ being our interpretation of ‘Great’. Two of us children were in infant school, one at nursery school, and the youngest, too young for either, was looked after by Big Grandma when my mother went back to work. Little Grandma was still teaching and unavailable.

Friday was baking day, a day of pounding pastry with hands that had been digging in the garden, feeding Wells’ dog, or stroking Tiddles, Blackburns’ cat. We had Play Do at home, but Big Grandma was only equipped with old-fashioned toys like water, flour and wooden spoons. The ‘pastry cutter’ was a penguin, found on a beach somewhere, originally for making sand pies. My sister would spend hours making pastry snowmen, sunshines, and monsters, before flattening the sticky grey mass, riddled with cat hairs and carpet fluff, and grinding out an army of penguins with currants for eyes.

She always put them in the oven, Big Grandma, always saw it through to the end. But it was my poor father who was forced to eat at least one penguin when he picked my sister up at the end of the day.


Grey spring sky

colour of rain and puddles—

bright memories.



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

25 thoughts on “Penguins”

  1. haha that was hilarious and delightful! Dads do have it tough!
    Also i was on amazon, searching for your first book (dark citadel) it wasnt available in my country. i did press that notification to get notified, but i am wondering, is there anywhere i can purchase it as ebook?

    1. It’s a long story (one reason why I ought to update my website) but I took the series, the ENTIRE series down at the request of a publisher who was going to publish the trilogy plus the follow on series. We started editsIn the end, the imprint closed and my books are in limbo, unavailable until I do something about it. Can’t decide what though. I don’t even have a kindle formatted version to give you.

      1. Aww it’s alright, Jane! Just tell me when they are out, I can buy them then. I remember you telling me something about they will become unavailable, I’m sorry I was late. I hope you will release them soon!

      2. It’s a daunting job. Four books and several short stories to redo. I revised all the books when I launched into the edits for the first volume so they all need reformatting. And I need new covers. It’s too much to take on at the moment.

  2. I am so glad you wrote this Jane, it is so precious to have made these memories. and telling them to a new audience takes us back to our own childhoods. poor dad forced to eat the penguin, it must have made him queasy, I don’t think i have ever seen a penguin cookie cutter, my daughter would love one! Oh and its the haibun that’s made my day a little brighter, was having one of those grey days, so thank you for the pick me up.

    1. I’m glad it brightened you up, Gina. I hadn’t thought about those terrible penguins for years, but thinking about ‘grey’ brought back the horrible sight 🙂 My dad was a true hero eating one of those things every single time.

  3. This was a pleasure to read, Jane. As an Early Years teacher I’ve seen my share of playdoh and other messy stuff. For a child, it truly is about the experience, the workmanship, focus, creativity and accomplishment. How wonderful that your dad acknowledged all of that. 🙂

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