This weekend I've been away, and I'm not long back. I've had such a good time with such lovely people (between you and me, they are some of my favourites, but don't tell them, or they'll get cocky) that I feel a bit flat and forlorn to be home again now.
I can't really do it in usual "This Weekend" ten point format, so instead I'll ramble.
So, this weekend, the lovely Lorraine turned 30. She has had the good sense to leave hitting her third decade until a couple of years after us, which (a) makes us jealous, and (b) allows us to drag out the 30th birthday celebrations.
The thing is that, two and three years ago, when we turned 30, most of us were footloose and fancy free. Now our group of ten has become a group of thirteen, with two more on the way, and we're all shackled to our mortgages. On balance, we thought that a weekend away was a better way of celebrating this landmark. And I'm jolly glad that we did!
On Friday, I picked up my hire car and set off for Basingstoke, to collect the cake. All was going to plan until the direction to take the last left before the one-way system, which I missed, catapulting myself into a system of roundabouts, one way streets and dual-carriageways about ten miles long. RATS! After A LOT of driving 'round in circles, I finally got to my destination, and aren't I glad that I did? This little beauty was made for us by the magnificent Hazel of The Purple Cake Company (plug plug plug). The reason for the theme will become apparent ...
And then off I went to Gloucestershire, to this house. What do you think? Grand, ain't it? Well, this is the back view (oh, err ...) because it's nicer than the front view, and I want you to be jealous. Is it working?
Anyway, ten people and three babies sure can eat a lot of food, so no sooner was I there than Simon and I headed straight for the nearest supermarket to stock up. Exhausting! But thank heavens for bob-a-job week! When we got to the check out there was a nice young Boy Scout waiting to help us with our packing, and BOY did he earn his Bob from us! When we were done, I double checked that he'd packed a bottle of gin. "You sound like my parents," he observed. We both laughed at his foolishness for thinking we were so old, then realised that, in truth, we probably were old enough to be his parents. Don't you hate it when reality strikes?
Anyway, over the course of time everyone assembled and we got to lavish our birthday girl with presents. You want to see what our girl's husband bought her? Jimmy Choos. JIMMY CHOOS!! Is Simon a good husband, or is Simon a good husband? (And now you know why the theme on the cake!)
And then it was time to get stuck into the booze. And pizza. We bought a lot of pizza. What can I tell you. I'm a domestic goddess.
Saturday was a family day so we all went to a farm park and showed the babies some cows ("Moooo," said Baby Rachel) and sheep, ("Moooo," said Baby Rachel) and pigs, ("Moooo," said Baby Rachel ...). It was pretty cool really. This guy was my fave. Don't you think that he looks kind of majestic? He was a proud and dignified goat ... until he ate the whole bag of goat food, including the bag. Not so dignified with a lump of paper hanging out of his mouth.
I left the kiddies to it to head back to the ranch and get a start on dinner. I don't often get the chance for mass catering, so I've been looking forward to getting stuck into the catering-sized pots of cream, and double sized sacks of potatoes. It was kind of tiring, but you know what? It was fun! People drifted in and out of the kitchen all evening and did the odd job here or there, and chatted to me whilst I stirred things and poured me drinks when I looked thirsty, and it was fun!
And whilst I was at the stove, look what Ruth and the boys were doing in the dining room! Balloons, streamers, dingly-dangly number 30s, glitter and sequins, and ten napkins folded into ten different shapes. Those boys are full of surprises!
It was fun! It was lovely to sit around and eat and laugh and gossip and laugh at Andy's hair, just like the old days. And, with a certain inevitability, there was booze.
And then we had a racing night ... which some people took more seriously than others ...
So yesterday was a proper old fashioned Sunday. We loafed and slouched and pottered and did not very much, before eating the most gi-ga-nor-mous Sunday roast, which the booze of the night before ensured everyone inhaled, without allowing those roast spuds to touch the side!
And then people started to drift away. Angela and Mark headed back to their new house and shortly after Ruth and Adrian headed west with little Baby Amie, and in the mean time the rest of us loafed some more, then, when the time was right, we hit the kitchen and ate every morsel of food that was left in the house. Honestly. You'd think those people had never seen food!
So that was it. The weekend. All fabulous fun, and super chilled out, and, as ever, lovely to see them all. And best of all ... we're planning to do it all again next year!
house of eels: july 2017*
1 week ago