#Children’s Book Fayre – Learn how we made the Chocolate house raffle prize

This week my blog is going to be all about the first Children’s Book Fayre that I have ever participated in. Michael and I are so excited to be two of the approximately thirty authors who are participating in this event that is taking place on Saturday, 30 September in Johannesburg.

We have prepared our posters for the event as follows:

Sir Choc & Silly Willy 2

SirChoc Silly Willy header (2)

We have also spent a significant amount of time over this long weekend making the chocolate house raffle prize for this event.


Michael and I started planned the making of this extra large chocolate house while we were on holiday recently in England. We found extra large chocolate bars in the local Tesco’s in Faversham and we bought ten bars in anticipation of this chocolate house building exercise.

First we cut four chocolate bars to make the front and back pieces of the house.


We discovered when we made our previous chocolate house that cutting chocolate is not as easy as it looks. You have to saw it gently with a serrated edged knife to prevent breaking and cracking.

Next we made the side walls by cutting down four further bars of chocolate. We used a variety of different bars including plain, nutty and caramel.


Once all the chocolate pieces were cut, we put them into the fridge to keep cool and made our royal icing “glue”.

We assembled the house using the royal icing.


We used glasses to keep the pieces in place while the icing set [about 30 minutes].

I had planned to make the roof out of chocolate bars as well. This did not work out as planned so we had to think of something else. Chocolate bark!

Michael and I set about making chocolate bark late yesterday afternoon. We took all the chocolate that I had intended to use for the roof and a bit more, and melted it in a heat resistant glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. When the chocolate was all melted we tempered it by adding an additional one third of broken up pieces of chocolate to bring the temperature down and ensure that the cocoa butter doesn’t separate out later on.

We poured the tempered chocolate into baking trays that we had lined with baking paper. I then crushed some honeycomb into small pieces using a hammer [which I keep for this kind of exercise so it is clean]. We sprinkled the honeycomb pieces over the chocolate and put the trays in the fridge to set overnight.

This morning we very carefully cut the roof pieces to size and attached them to the house using the royal icing. That was this large and cute chocolate house finished. We are rather delighted with it, I must say.

If you live in Johannesburg, please come to the Children’s Book Fayre, we would love to meet you.

Children's Book Fayre advert

Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town


#Poetry Challenge – Gift and Song

This week Colleen gave us the words gift and song for the poetry challenge.


I wanted to write something a bit different so I have been thinking about this since Tuesday. Today, finally, inspiration hit me and here it is:

I feel their encouragement

Their watchful eyes are on me

As I grab my dream

Their silent support a gift

Infusing my heart with song

I wrote this Tanka poem for my work team: Delightful Donna, Beautiful Bianca and Lovely Lara.

You can join in the challenge here:

Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town


#Carrotranch Flash Fiction Challenge – Harvest

This week Charli Mills over at Carrot Ranch Literary Community has given us the topic of harvest for the 99-word challenge. You can join in the fun here:


To much of a good thing

Father had always been very keen on growing vegetables. When Sophia’s family moved to a plot in the country he got his chance. He spend many a day ploughing two huge fields and then planting them. The rains came timeously and the plants grew, first bearing lovely yellow flowers and then the first tiny courgettes could be seen. More and more courgettes appeared on the seemingly hundreds of plants Father had planted. When harvest time came the whole family helped to pick these long, green vegetables. There were courgettes everywhere. The workshops were full, as were both bath tubs.

Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town



#Book reviews – The Amanda Travels series

Michael and I have discovered the Amanda Travels books by Darlene Foster. Michael loves them. I can’t believe that together we have read two books in this series in four weeks and are currently well into a third.

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask

Amanda in Arabia

What Amazon says

Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It’s her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

Our review

This was the first book we read together. Michael found it very interesting and enjoyed the descriptions of this desert country. He liked learning about the camels and reading about the camel race and a sand storm in the desert. The story was sufficiently fast paced to keep him interested and he wanted to read every night [instead of his usual practice of procrastinating for as long as possible before getting down to his reading]. I enjoyed the book too and thought the language was pitched at the right level for a middle school reader. My only comment on this book is that I was not sure if two foreign girls in UAE would have that much freedom to wander around but this certainly did not detract from the story line.

A recent Amazon review

Guru Nam Kaur Khalsa rated this book five out of five stars and said:

A girl who is visiting her aunt and uncle in Abu Dhabi buys an antique perfume bottle which leads her to a runaway princess and a daring rescue on camel back.

Amanda in England: The Missing Novel

Amanda in England: The Missing Novel by Darlene Foster (2012-08-01)

What Amazon says

Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!

Our review

Michael loved this story. We have recently travelled to England and he was quite delighted to read the descriptions of the old buildings, London Eye and Tower of London, all of which he has seen and can relate to. I have a collection of antique and vintage books which I treasure, so Michael could understand the value of an old book and why someone would think such an item was worth stealing. In this story, Amanda makes some new and interesting friends and there is a subtle message about not judging a person by how they look and speak which I liked. Michael was also delighted by Rupert, the cat. He was most interested in Rupert’s role in the whole adventure.

A recent Amazon review

Unicorngirl rated this book four out of five stars and said:

I really enjoy the Amanda books by Darlene Foster. I love the way the author teaches geography while creating a wonderful mystery that children will quite like. She creates viable characters and a great plot. Glad I bought the whole set.

Purchase the Amanda Travels books


Click on the links to view Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask and Amanda in England: The Missing Book on Amazon.


Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town


St John’s College, Cambridge

During our recent tour of England, we visited St John’s College in Cambridge. I must say that Cambridge itself was a little bit disappointing for me. The town was a bit shabby and there was a lot of litter lying about. We also had the bad luck of choosing to park our car in a car park that smelled like a urinal. This was a bit of a shock.

Our visit to St John’s College, however, was amazing. This beautiful old building seemed steeped in knowledge and great thoughts.


Everything seemed very still and the whole atmosphere seemed to be one of learning and discipline. I felt like I was in a huge library.


We stood on the bridge and watched the activity on the water.

There was a wedding taking place in the magnificent gardens. The bride and groom looked so happy and the air was full of the lovely sounds of a harp. I have never seen a harp before and hadn’t appreciated how large this instrument is or how sweet its sound.

The garden was enormous and peaceful. The green laws were surrounded by majestic trees.


Our visit fell during the August holiday period so the college was quiet. I don’t know what it is like when the University is in session but it certainly had a very traditional and studious look and feel to it.

I would have loved to have stayed longer in Cambridge but we only had a few hours to spare before driving on to Suffolk. Our brief visit was very instructive and, if I get another opportunity to visit this town, I will ensure we allocate sufficient time to visit the University and all of the colleges.

Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town