Oh look, it’s the end of the month already – which means I need to write a blog post, because as much as my publishing frequency has plummeted since I started out, I have still not left a whole calendar month devoid of an Adventures update. It’s been bloody close on several occasions (here’s to frantic blogging on the 31st), but I haven’t quite crossed that line yet. And this isn’t going to be the month that I do, either.
That’s how I started this blog post, on the 27th May. Clearly, I didn’t finish it when I intended to. So there we go, I’ve finally crossed The Line after all. Oops.
May went by particularly quickly for me, presumably because I spent a good two-thirds of it stepped away from the daily grind. I’m still not accustomed to the abundant generosity of french holiday allowance and so the fact that I could take 19 days straight off work (albeit including weekends and two bank holidays) without completely and utterly decimating my leave quota for the remainder of the year is still taking its time to sink in. Two full weeks have now passed since I returned, though, and I’ve reached that point of being so thoroughly reacquainted with normalcy, it doesn’t really feel like I was ever away at all. Such is life, and holidays. Thank goodness I like my job.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Work has been exceptionally busy – everyone seems to have gone on holiday just as I returned, so there’s been a lot of filling in the gaps. Actually, last Monday was a bank holiday in both the US and the UK, and that fact, coupled with two vacations and one instance of sick leave, meant the colleague (and friend) I sit next to and I were running the show on behalf of our whole, large-ish, international team for the day. Nothing spontaneously combusted, exploded, or otherwise ceased to function. I call that a success.
Apart from work (which I highly doubt is what you open my blog posts to read about), I’ve had several other interesting (in my opinion) ‘projects’ going on. I won’t start going on about my busking and auditions again – although an incurable rambler, I do try to avoid repeating myself where possible. But one of those ‘projects’ is worth a mention: last weekend, I threw a “grown-ups’ tea party” – the first proper party, I realised somewhere in the midst of my frantic preparations, I had ever hosted.*
The concept arose, more or less, from wanting to introduce my (non-British) friends to the joys of Pimms… and it developed (significantly)!from there. Along with the Pimms, I served G&Ts, a gin-based cocktail (featuring apple juice, mint and elderflower liquer), and a pitcher of iced tea for my tee-total guests (nobody’s perfect). Obviously, I needed to provide something to soak up all that alcohol too, so there was also a wide selection of British ‘party food’. (Far too much, in fact. I’m literally still eating the leftovers).
I made my own mini sausage rolls – pork and apple ones, and a (very) cheesy meat-free version (yes, I know, awful isn’t it – non-drinkers and vegetarian friends), as well as cherry scones (another ‘first’/rite of passage for me), finger sandwiches (cheese & pickle, and ham & honey mustard), and little individual lemon cheesecakes (the non-baked variety, for maximum British-ness). And then I raided the shelves of the expat Elysium that is Marks & Spencer Food for a selection of other appropriately English snacks. I even provided a grand total of THREE different types of British cheese (not one of them Cheddar), much to the surprise of my guests, who clearly had very low expectations of our national offerings du fromage.
I’m a touch obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, so that snuck its way into the theme (too good an opportunity to miss), in the form of ‘Eat Me’/’Drink Me’ style labels, teapots and cups/mugs employed as serving dishes, as well as my pièce de résistance: a beautiful, three-tiered cake stand from the Victoria & Albert Museum Alice in Wonderland collection. It’s a gorgeous piece, in my hopelessly biased opinion – adorned with John Tenniel’s original drawings, and finished off with a cup and saucer by way of the top tier. I am SO in love with the thing. Honestly, if I hadn’t planned the party before I bought it, I would definitely have planned one afterwards, just to get the chance to use/display/fawn over the thing.
I’m fairly confident in saying the party was a resounding success overall – my guests all seemed to have a great time, and I had an excellent excuse to indulge in some of the British treats I’d been missing.
Oh and most importantly of all? Everyone loved the Pimms.
*By ‘proper’ I mean a party at which the hosts provide alcohol, and it isn’t assumed that the night will end at a nearby nightclub. In other words, not a student get-together.