A family visit

I had forgotten just how exhausting it is hosting a dinner party. It’s been so long since we last had guests that it had slipped my mind. I remembered as I made my weary way up the stairs just before 11pm tonight.

It had been planned for a fortnight, our first visitors since Lockdown. Mirinda asked Will and Will would have bitten her hand off if he hadn’t been the other side of a laptop at the time. He was much in need of social interaction rather than distancing. And Masha agreed.

I started planning my menu.

I figured tapas was the way to go. Our guests had only a gluten issue so there were no food type embargoes. I went with variety. And, I think, produced a nice mix.

Along with the main tapas on the board above, I also prepared marinated olives, chorizo and manchego, alioli and a hot, spicy dip.

I also planned it to such a degree that it only involved half an hour actual cooking before serving. That way I was able to socialise with our guests when they turned up rather than be chained to my (albeit open plan) kitchen.

When our guests arrived, Masha was immediately taken with the extension. She thought the whole effect of the doors and the garden and…well, everything, was like that moment when you arrive at your accommodation on a beautiful holiday. She not only received the full guided tour but actually accepted it. And asked questions.

Will has been to our house before (management meetings that Mirinda organised, during which I had to make myself scarce) so other than the bountiful flowers and sunshine, was not so surprised.

Oscar and Sacha weren’t impressed at all apart from with rearranging Mirinda’s miniature gardens. Actually, rearranging sounds a bit organised. ‘Scattering’ would be closer to the truth. Still, they had fun and I think a change of scene did them good as well.

After lunch we all went to the park for a walk to the castle which Oscar was quite keen on until he realised it was further than he thought. His scooter made a handy seat as he headed off in front of us then settled his butt down on it, in the middle of Avenue, waiting for us adults to catch up. He may have grizzled a bit too.

Still, we eventually made it to the castle where the kids were less than enthusiastic.

Then we found the Adventure Playground. That’s where the enthusiasm kicked in. We lost Oscar almost immediately to the delights of everything while Sacha became a victim of her swing addiction. As Masha said, she hasn’t been on a swing since Lockdown began and that’s a long time for any kid.

And we weren’t alone. The park was fully utilised with family groups dotted around, making the most of the longest day with picnics and play. As I said to Will, it’s only been since Lockdown that the park has been so full of people. He agrees with me that it’s lovely to see. Of course, he lives near Greenwich Park so knows what a crowded park really looks like. Still, our little bit of green looked delightful today.

There was even a BLM rally going on on the ski slope. And, while the family groups scattered around didn’t bother, a lot of the BLM group had masks on. Well, some of them did. It looked a bit odd, particularly after the rally when they all started hugging each other.

While on the subject of parks, today we were booked into Sunday in the Park with George at the Savoy but, obviously, it was cancelled. I booked it late last year and had been really looking forward to it. While I was disappointed, having lunch with friends was a lovely result of the cancellation.

Eventually we managed to pry the kids off various bits of playground structure and headed back home for a bit of tart. Then, sadly, our guests had to make their weary way back home.

What a simply marvellous day it was.

Sacha didn’t join us at the table because she was busy with her garden re-arranging.

And a massive thank you to Masha who brought over a whole load of fermenting food for me. She makes her own kombucha as well as kimchi and kefir. She told me that she grew up on kefir. It was just something they had every day as kids in Russia.

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