Phew, never before in the history of my life has one afternoon consisted of so much preparing and organising.
We invited hubby’s family to lunch. The occassion being welcome to our new home/it’s summer let’s have a barbecue. Naturally, I wanted everything to be perfect.
Invites were sent via Facebook (with map to our house and parking facilities) and word of mouth.
Next, I planned the menu by trailing through barbecue ideas online, and al fresco dining.
I then remembered that al fresco means flies, and wasps, and I rather dislike the thought of either creature landing on my food. So I purchased ladybird decorated food covers, and daisy and strawberry themed food covers. I’m a sucker for things looking pretty.
Whilst considering the amount of people invited, it became apparent we did not have enough chairs, plates, glasses and cutlery. It would not be considered polite to expect guests to stand, or eat with their fingers. Therefore, operation chairs and eating/drinking equipment began.
The previous tenants at our cottage left behind 3 tatty stools. After staring at stools and wondering what to do with them, I realised painting them white would inject a new lease of life. And 3 more seats for our guests. Actually, I delegated this task to Mark, after he questioned whether paint fumes and pregnancy should mix. He painted them in the garden, the weekend before the afternoon, and I also asked nicely if he would mind painting the bedroom furniture white too. Luckily he didn’t mind, if I supplied him with beer and Madness songs on the iPad. Deal.
I also scouted my parent’s house for suitable seating. Here I found a lovely green wicker chair, which parent’s have now passed onto me, as I kept mentioning how much I liked it. My mum also very kindly painted another wicker chair white, for our nursery, and for another family member’s bottom to sit on.
The seating problem became more or less solved with these extra additions and a text from Mark’s cousin. She reminded me the Wimbledon final would be shown during our family lunch, and as it looked likely a British Andy Murry would be competing, could we possibly have it on in the background? The answer was a definite yes, as it meant tennis fans could sit in the lounge by the TV. Hey presto, everyone has a seat!
Pink plastic cutlery, rose patterned paper plates with matching napkins and bowls, were ordered online to avoid messy finger and lap eating.
I even purchased brightly coloured plastic cups, to prevent my pink glasses from smashing (I am always paranoid about this) and so our thirsty guests could each have a drink. See how thoughtful I am!
Polka dot bunting for our wooden area in the garden was something I’ve had my eye on for a while, and now I had the best excuse to buy it. See, I really like things to look pretty.
The garden centre, walking distance from our cottage, provided me with tubs and white, pink and purple flowers (no idea of their names, I just liked the colour) to liven up our decking area.
Okay, now it was time to spend money on the food and drink, before I cleaned out my bank account and we all had to drink tap water and eat fresh air.
A trip to the supermarket, accompanied with a very long list, was required. With a detour to Argos for light bulbs and a doorbell. We’d actually not had a working doorbell for 3 months, but this was essential for hearing our guests.
The day before the event I weeded the garden, disposed of fallen leaves, and rubbed marks off walls with a very handy magic marker for such matters, and retired to bed at a sensible early hour.
On the day of the event, after dreaming about disastrous food and drink, I awoke very early and practically jumped out of bed, shouting, “I have so much to do!”
First job was to bake cakes and this was when the first catastrophe struck. Well, it wasn’t really a catastrophe, I’d unknowingly run out of caster sugar so I sent Mark to the supermarket to buy some. Unfortunately he was too early for the supermarket, he had to wander around the streets waiting for it to open, whilst I kept looking at the clock and muttering, “Where is he?”
During his long absence I decided not to waste any further time and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and prepared the salad. Pots of coleslaw and beetroot were opened and emptied into my baskets. Onions were chopped and cheese was grated.
Finally, a hungry and sweaty hubby returned with caster sugar!
Cakes were baked and decorated, potatoes were boiled, rice was cooked, rolls were buttered, crisps removed from packets, breaded turkey unfrozen.
All food was prepared whilst barking out orders to Mark re hovering and cleaning bathroom, and I also swept, cleaned windows, wiped surfaces with disinfectant, and arranged seating and cushions in garden.
Dear readers, by the time everyone arrived, I was shattered. And very hot. It was the hottest day of the year so far, the temperature was sweltering. Us Brits are experiencing a heat wave. And we are not used to it.
After oven on for 3 hours, and bending with pregnancy bump and dodgy leg and swollen feet and ankles, all I wanted to do when they arrived was lay in a cold bath and not think about all the food and drink that I was fed up with looking at.
Of course, I was not unsociable and I did not disappear into a cold bath, I was the perfect host. At least I like to think I tried my best under the circumstances. It was lovely to see everyone, and they all came bearing gifts of flowers, chocolates, fruit cake, etc, whilst remarking how hot it was.
Plus, Andy Murray won the final of Wimbledon. The first British winner since Fred Perry some 77 years ago. Not that I care much for tennis, but I am a little patriotic about these things. It was also nice to stay out of the heat and watch some of the celebrating in the cool lounge.
So all in all, not a bad day. Although I’m not quite sure if I will be in a hurry to entertain for 19 people again for a very long time.
At least not during a heat wave and nearly 7 months pregnant.
Polka dot bunting.