Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Gazebos … and the wisdom of Weebl and Bob.

I’m sitting here with a nice glass of Spain’s finest watching a surprisingly large spider climb down the wall in perfect safety (the hound has fallen fast asleep on my feet) and it occurs to me that I haven’t given you an update since last weekend’s BBQ.

The photos are now online
and in case there is any question of whether it was a camera or a daguerreotype pressed into reluctant action, the photos were taken by someone who, despite being a snifter short of la-la-land, had the presence of mind to pick the camera up and point it in the vaguely the right direction. Huzzah Rob, I salute you!!

Anyway, I’m a little ahead of myself, because those photos were in fact the culmination of one of the party that was everything we could have hoped. The lead up was, in all honesty a little less perfect and a bit more of the usual “poking the backside of chaos with a sharp stick” that I’m sure you’ve all come to expect.

Friday night was a bit of a blur of cooking, until Keith finally realised that his huffs and puffs weren’t penetrating my fog of concentration and was forced to get off the sofa in order to express his vexation at dinner being 3 hours late and counting.

After that it was a blur of tandem huffing and none too subtle hints that there was always the chippy next door if it was just too difficult to wait. The sofa being mightier than the belly, peace was restored until the ham, courgette fritters, champagne jelly and chicken were all safely in the fridge.

Despite the mad rush to get cooking and cleaning done ahead of time, it was pretty obvious as soon as the curtains were lustily thrown back on Saturday morning that the biggest dark cloud hanging over the party was in fact the dark cloud hanging over the party – but no fear, because we have in our possession a gazebo of such magnitude, we were pondering a call to nearby Luton airport to discuss a temporary change to the flight path. The gazebo, originally bought to house my race car in the pits at Santa Pod was in a bit of a state, having apparently taken the fancy of some squatter rats who had exercised their constitutional right to residency in the barn over winter (until we exercised our constitutional right to poison them back to the Stone Age) but it was large enough to house all the guests and it was waterproof. And missing the bag of connectors.

I’m sure we’ve all been there, standing indignantly explaining that you are SURE you’ve seen “it” since you moved. You remember it all clearly, “it” was in that box labelled “random shite you don’t need but can’t be bothered to get rid of” and you’ve searched that box five times now and “it” has obviously been moved by someone else, since you so carefully packed “it”.

Obviously, that conversation either ends in one of two ways, either the person you are spouting this pointless drivel to will patiently point out that of course “it” has moved, you moved “it” yourself several months ago and “it” is in actual fact in this other entirely obvious place. Option B is that you both search the same box again (and all surrounding boxes), in case “it” has found the door to Narnia and was just off on a bit of a jolly last time you looked.

We took option B. The door to Narnia stayed firmly closed and I accused the ex rats of some very uncharitable behaviour.

We bandied about some ideas, and having ruled out gaffer tape, or welding as a viable alternative, Keith made some calls to our friends. Despite a total of three other racers set to join the festivities, not one of them had a bag of connectors between them. Those rats had obviously been on top form. I’d resigned myself to squashing everyone into the house, when Keith called with the news that we had a live one.

An hour later a fine specimen of a gazebo was being unpacked onto the lawn, poles sorted into numbered piles, canvass unfolded. And the connectors?

An hour later and ANOTHER fine specimen of a gazebo was being unpacked onto the lawn. All parts present and correct. A little while later the women folk stood proudly by while the men folk made shelter.

Food was brought out, drinks were consumed and our wonderful friends and family made the effort to come and share an incredibly special day with us. We were, in all honesty, overwhelmed, and to everyone that came, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Those who stayed over were somewhat broken the next morning, so Keith took over his usual duties as chef extraordinaire, and outdid himself in the breakfast department with the invention of …. The breakfast pizza!! None of us were in a fit state to commit the moment to photographic memory but I think it will live long in the physical memory, and set the standard by which all future hangover cures will be judged. The fried egg in the middle possibly a leap too far for fragile stomachs though.

Since then things have returned to normal, and save a lemon tree called Korma, an olive tree in full bloom, a stack of fabulous vino, a fabulous foraging Carluccio cookbook, a pair of tickets back to Gibraltar (excited? Moi?) and the large stack of poles still piled in the middle of the lawn you’d never have known we ever had a party.

The Carluccio book, is indirectly the reason why I’m currently sitting here looking like I’ve just been indulging in a spot of slaughter. I haven’t of course, by dear lord sour cherries can stain.

Last year we discovered that on our regular riverside walk, there are a row of cherry trees that, with the gentle hand of my dear husband, can become the most delicious cherry pie in the world. And the hardest won too.

It took us hours to collect half a bag of cherries, Keith swaying gently in the breeze up some precariously thin branches, me on the ground, humming away as I collected the few unspoiled cherries within my magnificent 5’ 4” reach. Then, we had to drive to Hitchin to buy a cherry stoner after I refused point blank to repeat last year’s marathon of finger pruning, and finally, having set up a nice little conveyor belt in front of The Doctor I got going.

After having lost my fingerprints, painted myself, the coffee table, hounds and TV remotes in exploding cherry juice, we now have an entire ice cream tub of cherries waiting Keith’s ministrations, or in the immortal words of Weebl and Bob … when come back, bring pie!!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

P-A-R-T Y? Because it’s our Anniversary (Nearly)!!

Now that it is officially the right month, I’m allowed to start getting excited about our anniversary party. WOOT!!

To remind those of you already invited, and those of you Keith hasn’t yet mailed, we’re having a bit of a get together to celebrate one whole year of married life, and come rain or shine, we will be stuffing ourselves with BBQ all day and possibly most of the night as well.

Seeing as we’ve had an awful summer so far, I have already started evicting spiders from the gazebo just in case it needs to be called into action on the day. I have also double checked the bunting which was lovingly made by cutting up Keith’s old work shirts for a friend’s surprise party recently, and ‘accidentally’ left up for the rest of the week. (I freely admit there was a certain childish thrill to walking under a canopy of fluttering flags on my way in from work, and a total lack of desire on my part to return to adulthood. It was only the threat of rain that made me regain my senses.)

Most of my attention, however, has been given over (in true Gibraltarian style) to the menu for the day, and I have to admit, I’m pretty excited …

Big slabs of Spanish omelette, crunchy hot and sour salad and soft centred spiced courgette fritters will make up the bulk of the vegetable offering.

Cumberland sausages, chicken skewers marinated in buttermilk and black treacle, and slices of Coca Cola ham, should satisfy the meat eaters.

And for pudding, honey buns with nuts sprinkled on the top, home made scones with lashings of FTC’s very own fig jam and a very special jelly, which I hope will make even the most ardent grown up smile with nostalgia.

Drinks are entirely up to you – anyone brave enough can help us enjoy the apple and plum home brew from last year – anyone with a more sense might well be advised to bring along a little of what they fancy.

Only 15 more sleeps to go!! Anyone in need of directions or sleeping space might do well to let me know before I lose what’s small amount of common sense I have left!!