Dining in Style

Now we are 10 following the arrival yesterday of Mike & Linda Eaton (our friends with a pad at Arçais, France), and Selina (Steve and Rosemary’s daughter) plus partner Phil. Birthday girl’s day began rather poorly with the usual tuneless chorus of …

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Rosemary,
Happy birthday to you.

… but rapidly improved with a spot of Buck’s Fizz to accompany a proper English breakfast. Even better, it had stopped raining for the first time since we arrived. In celebration both of Rosemary’s birthday and of the appearance of the sun, a group trip to the attractive north Cornish harbour of Boscastle was planned.

Boscastle was the scene of devastating flooding in 2004. The surrounding precipitous valley funnels three rivers out tio sea through Boscastle’s harbour. Under normal conditions the main river looks small and innocuous. However, following prolonged heavy rain, normality was set aside and a severe flash flood swept through the village and out through the harbour carrying over 100 cars plus a few buildings with it. Carol and I had visited Boscastle shortly before the flood so it would be interesting to see how the restoration work had done.

IMG_4528_Boscastle IMG_4531_Boscastle It had done very well; dear old Boscastle looked very much as I remembered it. Of course, having visited only once for a day, my memory may not be that great but Boscastle was looking good, especially so in Rosemary’s birthday sunshine following a day and a half of rain.

Catering for 10 is an interesting exercise. We’ve been taking it in turns to wear the largest toque [Ed: the tall white hat worn by chef’s, just in case you were wondering]. Today, for Rosemary’s birthday feast, Tessa was in charge and two slow-cooked lamb shoulders were on the celebratory menu. Given our numbers and situation, the baronial dining hall seemed particularly fitting. It’s rather cool, though, compared to the cosy scullery so a few of “the boys” set about lighting a log fire.

Something in the gene pool dictates that it always the males who enjoy playing with fire. This must stem from the days of living in caves as hunter/gatherers, I suspect. The same gene is likely to be responsible for most men suddenly wanting to cook when a barbecue is involved Normally, they turn their back on such domestic tasks and let the lady take over. it’s the fire-thing again, though, and the fire gene seems to trump the domestic gene.

IMG_5613_Dining_Hall IMG_5615_Dining_Hall Our number of diners suddenly jumped to 11 with the arrival of a former colleague, Ed, from (some of) our days working at Walker International and the baronial dining hall needed a little adjustment. However, minor adjustment made, with the log fire lit and occasionally bursting into showers of sparks when attended, and with the baronial table formally set in the baronial dining hall, the scene was set for a particularly atmospheric and memorable 60th birthday dinner.

Our newcomer, Ed, saved the day when it came to the cheese course. One just had to admire a man who travels with an emergency supply of oatcakes in his car. Thanks Ed!

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