As this year’s almost complete and utter lack of summer draws to a close, we were amazed to find ourselves heading off to a 50th birthday party under blue skies with temperatures reaching the dizzy heights of 26°C. Somebody’s Gods must indeed have been smiling on Robin (birthday boy) and Tessa’s celebrations.
The term “birthday party” really does not do justice to the planning and organization that so obviously went in to this event. This was a 50th birthday garden party that would not have not looked out of place behind a stately home – Buck House, for example. With a guest list stretching to something like 250, everything seemed to go very smoothly with no sign of any hitches. We had a field to park in, a huge marquee containing a bar, a stage, a dance floor, and enough canvas to shelter under should the need have arisen which, very happily, it didn’t.
To help with the draining of the bar, those who wished to stay over had been offered camping facilities. Desperate not to miss such an opportunity, we had Billy in tow and were looking forward to the night away followed by an al fresco breakfast of bacon and eggs the following morning. We arrived just after 4:00 PM and were greeted by a relaxed Robin and Tessa in very everything-is-ready-and-completely-under-control mood. Impressed! Even more impressed when yet more magnificently thoughtful planning and organization became apparent. They had provided cinder hard-standing and now had an all-weather campsite with views over some very pleasant Buckinghamshire countryside that could stay open all year. Brilliant!. Billy should have no trouble on battery power for one night. (When are the electricity hook-ups coming for longer stays?) We were soon comfortably sited and ready for action.
The feeding of the five thousand was to be accomplished by an eight-legged pig – genetic engineering at its very best. Well, maybe not an eight-legged pig. The actual menu consisted of a large pig sporting the normal Darwinian complement of four legs – this was estimated to satiate about 200 gannets – supplemented by a further four legs to make up for evolution’s shortcomings and cater for the remaining small multitude. As I walked back to Billy after having parked the car in the field provided, the roasting pig had been spinning for about four hours already and smelled utterly divine.
Having managed to resist a pre-emptive attack on the pig, once back at Billy further friends with tents soon began arriving and a practice party swung into action. Erecting new tents for the first time accompanied by some fermented grape juice is clearly a great way to warm up for a party. We simply must do it again – a yearly reunion, perhaps? Eventually, though, we disbanded and joined the main event. (Photograph courtesy of Steve Blasdale. All his pictures can be seen here.)
The stage was shared between the usual disco and a not-so-usual blues band whom I thought absolutely excellent. When the hog roast was declared ready the smells did not disappoint; it was quite simply the best roast pork I have ever tasted. The beer from the local Chiltern Brewery washed it down very well indeed, too. Any event that makes me attempt to remember how to dance must be declared a complete success. The bar having run out of Chiltern beer, we crashed out in Billy after a most enjoyable evening sometime before 1:00 AM leaving the party still seemingly in full cry. There was, after all, some lager left.
Thank you Tessa and Robin for all your hard work and a great time. I’d love a lesson on eight-hour hog roasting but I fear it’d be wasted; I simply don’t know 200 people to invite.