Saturday wasn't as hot as the previous few days, for which I'm extremely thankful. I woke about 5.45am, so was able to cook pasta (for pasta salad) and make a litre of custard (for apricot fool) with the windows open and a cool breeze blowing in the kitchen. The house was clean, vacuumed etc already, so I decided to do a thorough water of the garden, both front and back, since I wouldn't be able to in the evening.
The last of the visitors who had been staying left about 9am, so I threw his sheets and towel in the washing machine, wrote a list of the food and what still had to be done for the evening party, and felt as if I was doing quite well. Richard got up and spent over an hour cleaning the patio - far more thoroughly than I would have done - and all the plastic chairs. By late morning it was getting hot but I closed shutters against the sun, and came into the air conditioning for a couple of hours to read email and so on.
I thought there was perhaps an hour's worth of last-minute food preparation, so decided I would start that at 3pm, giving me two hours until 5pm, at which point I hoped to take a cool shower, change, and then sit for half an hour or so reading to relax.
Alas, I'm no organiser. There seemed to be vast numbers of things to do at the last minute. It didn't help that Tim developed a migraine and slept most of the afternoon, as he's usually very good at helping without being intrusive. I hate telling people what to do. I'd rather be the one doing what I'm told than the one delegating.
By 5.40pm I still hadn't finished, but I had to take my shower. Tim had got up so I asked him to wash grapes and put them in a nice bowl, and Richard to cut up the watermelon. They did so while I showered, but then at ten to six I had to wipe the kitchen counters, do yet more washing of used dishes, and five minutes later I glanced outside to see the morning's laundry still hanging on the line! So I rushed in with that...
Guests came promptly, and it was lovely to see so many of our closest friends all together. I felt tired and a bit headachey, unfortunately, and had to spent the first half-hour putting cold food on the table - and the kitchen isn't next to the dining room! Still, it looked like a good spread and everyone appreciated it. There was a bit left over, but not a huge amount, so we mostly got quantities correct. Three invited guests didn't come, so including four small children and the three of us, there were 32 people in all. A nice number for sitting out on the patio chatting - more would have seemed crowded.
Lora asked me if we'd considered 'grilling out' - which is the American term for barbecuing. We did briefly think about it. Richard quite likes barbecues, but I'm not much of a meat-eater, and I hate ending an evening smelling of charcoal. I also loathe having to clean all the trays and utensils afterwards, and tend to worry that chicken isn't properly cooked so it ends up half-burnt.
We've done barbecues for about fifteen people in the past, and that's been hectic... so decided that for thirty people it really wasn't practical. Also, although Richard does the actual barbecuing, I find it immensely hard work trying to organise other food and make sure the meat's all cooked at the right time. Here's a humorous (but somewhat accurate!) account of a typical barbecue that might explain my reluctance: A real man's cooking.
Did I enjoy our party? Well, I think so. As much as was possible, anyway, given that I find it stressful and difficult to have to organise large amounts of food and other detailed logistics. Being in the summer didn't help, as it was quite hot in the afternoon, and I would really like to have slept for a couple of hours.
But it was lovely to have all our close local friends (or most of them, anyway) together, and it was important to me to mark the anniversary in this way. By about half-way through the evening I did get a chance to sit down and chat to various people, which was pleasant. And at the end we came inside and talked more with a few friends who stayed on after the others had gone. By 10pm everyone had left, and my headache was back. Richard did some clearing up - ensuring all food that needed refrigerating was put in the fridge, for instance, and bringing in chairs that belong in the house - while I took an aspirin and was asleep by 10.30.
On Sunday I did almost nothing. Again I woke early with a bad headache, but by 8.30 was feeling better so I went to church as usual although I came straight home after the service rather than staying to chat. We ate leftovers for lunch and Tim cooked supper. I slept a lot, read a lot, and didn't go near the kitchen - which of course meant I had to do a vast amount of washing-up this morning!
I'm still glad we had the party. But I'm quite glad we won't have to do another July party for another 25 years. Or perhaps 15....