Wednesday, 6 August 2008

96th birthday party

It's been quite difficult getting started on writing this. I really was exhausted by the whole weekend, then had early starts on Monday and Tuesday, and yesterday was Mr A's birthday so there was stuff to do for that, and all the other things that get in the way of the reflective mood I need for writing.

What an event it was, though. Preparing for it was hard enough, what with the shopping, cooking and cleaning and (in Mr A's case) video editing. We started early on the big day: I finished setting out the food and Mr A looked after the drink and fashioned his waterproofing solution in case of rain, because the weather really did look threatening. Nearly everything was done by the time the first guests arrived, and then the sun came out.

And what do you know, we both enjoyed it! A constant stream of friends turned up, starting at 12 noon on Saturday, with people still arriving on Sunday morning for brunch. The last of the guests left at about 3pm on Sunday.

People at the partyWe had quite a few tables and lots of chairs in the garden, because it's much easier to eat lunch and chat when sitting down with your plate and glass on a table. It was great that people who know us from all sorts of different activities all turned up, mixed and mingled: Mr A's Plymouth-Dakar crowd, my badminton friends, our neighbours, Random Badgers from the pub quiz team, friends from when we lived in Manchester, from my previous work, from my current university and from university the first time round, old friends of Mr A's from when he was a young man in Dorset, and our families, of course. Some of them won't thank me for the pictures I included in the collage.

The food went down very well, and the quantity I made was just about right. The Boy's new girlfriend even brought a homemade fig and almond flan, which was delicious, and she's very nice too. Lola II made brownies, and wrote Interesting Facts on greaseproof paper so that at the end of each brownie there was an Interesting Fact. And then at about 6 o'clock we trooped over to the pub, where we'd arranged to show the DVD of the Plymouth-Dakar charity trip that Mr A and others went on over Christmas and New Year 2005-6.

Part of the whole party idea was that it would be the only way to impose a deadline that would force Mr A to edit the footage he'd taken on this trip. But he's the relaxed kind of guy who leaves everything to the last possible minute, so it was no surprise when he found that he couldn't save the finished file in a format that would allow it to be played on a standard DVD player. So it had to be played on a computer. But the projector in the pub worked through a television...

By sheer chance, The Boy had a projector in his suitcase. Balanced on a bar stool on a table, it was the perfect height for the big screen, with ad-hoc cables to the sound system, which only fell out a couple of times. There was far too much noise and chatter to hear the soundtrack properly anyway, but Mr A had added captions to make it a bit clearer what was going on. It went down very well, even with those who hadn't been on the trip.

Lola erecting tentAfter the DVD, some stayed in the pub while I led a party back to the house to clear the garden to make room for tents. From then on there were two separate wings of the party: one at home and the other in the pub, according to mood and taste. Tents were pitched, the party continued until it was closing time, at which point everyone still awake was in the pub. So we just carried on. Table football, a bottle of whisky, mingling with the locals and the charming Smurf keeping a watchful eye on proceedings... until after 1 am.

I'm too old for this sort of activity at the best of times, but after a 17-hour day including a lock-in it's tough to get up at 8.30 because the campers from your garden are milling about in your kitchen looking for coffee. I suppose I could have just let them get on with it, but I take my hostess responsibilities seriously. Coffee, tea, croissants, and I finally had time to eat my brownie which Lola II had thoughtfully saved and hidden for me. Did you know that all porcupines float in water?

The subject of unicycling was raised - so a demonstration was called for. Some campers departed, but more guests arrived, and the weather was perfect for sitting around in the garden again. Eventually we decided that Sunday lunch in the pub was called for, but it was packed to the rafters with bowlers. Have I mentioned that the English Women's National Bowling competition is taking place on the greens at the end of the road? It meant that there were only four roast dinners left and we had to wait quite a long time for those. I don't mind, it's worth it to have such a great pub next door.

Bowling in front of the Cricketers pubThe poor bowlers have had a good deal of rain since Sunday. I've now returned the borrowed wine glasses, taken the car for a service, been to the dentist, checked out my university timetable for next term, posted off a couple of mooched books, mopped floors, done a ton of washing up and laundry (curse this rain), sorted my accommodation for the next month in Rotherham, spent my birthday book tokens, had my hair cut, toiled over this blog post, and much more. All with the rain pouring down. Tonight Mr A and I are going on my birthday trip to Whitstable for two nights, and the forecast looks like rain and more rain. Luckily, I've got all those books to read!

All in all, the party was a grand success, but I don't think we'll be repeating all the effort for our 98th next year. Perhaps when we reach the century?


aims said...

Wow! Running on adrenalin I think!

Sounds like a wonderful time Lola! You are obviously a wonderful hostess and Andy is very popular to boot!

Moley-Bloke said...

Sal, Rosie and I had a fab time on Saturday.. Rosie is still talking about your loo seat....