Around the table
I like nothing better than spending time around the table with family and friends. The food and drinks are only part of the enjoyment - it's the conversation and good company which I treasure most of all.
I pottered around yesterday morning then, getting things together for a family lunch. My hero had already laid the table and with a shoulder of lamb slow-roasting in the oven, I was at a bit of a loose end.
I'd already made the pudding the night before...you can guess who was coming to lunch, can't you? Actually, not one, but three Pavlova Queens (Bettine, my s-i-l Mandy and cousin Jennifer), so I made it super-sized! I'd also made a summer pudding and a batch of Nigella's Salted Caramel Ice cream earlier, referring to the recipe to check quantities in her (appropriately titled) book At my Table - it's a while since I looked at that one and made a mental note to spend some time reading it again for some fresh ideas. Can't keep making the same old same old, can I?
I went out into the garden in search of a flower or two for the table but had trouble finding anything - not a rose in sight, nor anything much for a bit of colour. Thankfully the sound of the bees led me to the lavender, so I apologised to them for stealing a few stalks and gathered a bit of greenery to go with it. I don't think I've ever had to resort to a few stems of sage and rosemary to put in a vase but hey, it didn't look too bad! (No WI Flower Judges around here <g>) I don't know what the other purple flower is - all I know is that no sooner had I put it on the table than the heads all dropped off it, making a terrible mess. I don't suppose Nigella has such trouble, do you?
But after all of that, by the time lunchtime came it was a little warm in the garden room. Being family, we each picked up our table setting and moved ourselves into the cooler, shadier kitchen. Our dining table has been the scene of many special family occasions and could tell a tale or two, but yesterday was not going to be one of them.
By the time we'd got to this stage however, washing up offers were starting up. Oh no - let's not do that yet! One of my bugbears is when someone gets up and begins to clear away and in the blink of an eye, the party's over...and since days like these are such a rare opportunity to simply sit and chat, something had to be done.
Move to the third table of the day! Another round of tea in the garden and here we sat until gone five o'clock, when really, we couldn't sit any longer.
An hour later, the dishwasher was full and all three tables were empty. Not for long I hope...