We had such a fun evening yesterday that I felt compelled to run in order that I could write about it.
My run of 2.5 miles on the machine was completed in 20 minutes and 40 seconds, an average of 7.2 mph. The only thing of note about it was that rather than my normal lollop, I tried to run with my body relaxed and my head as level as possible, which meant that my legs needed to work a little harder.
But last night…
Our friends (who might well wish to remain anonymous) and their two children were house-sitting in a rambling old pile in the country and the intention, having finished aperitifs, was to wander down to the cosy pool house and cook at the table on a French raclette hotplate.
The sitting room had lazy chairs and sofas perfect for aperitifs, but Kim, famous for her ability to dial up her younger self, sat on a thick rug on the floor and instantly connected with the other eight-year old children.
Three dogs and a cat ambled through this set from time to time, occasionally demanding attention or surreptitiously trying to relax into one of the chairs, as if they too were owed a G&T… only to be spotted, told off and sent out.
Having relaxed into the evening, we locked the house and set off like Sherpas through the drizzle or the pool house, where the table was set and the hotplate was ready to go. Seats were taken, drinks poured and the hotplate brought up to temperature.
At which point the power inconveniently went off.
The pool house fuse board, when we eventually located it, was of the old variety and before we set about trying to figure out whether one had actually blown (or searching for a stash of fuse wire), we sensibly checked the board in the house. This had circuit breakers and there was a cheer when the lights came on again, truncated abruptly when they went straight back off.
We tried several times, with and without an ageing extension-lead and in to different sockets, before we reluctantly acquiesced and turned to the barbecue sitting outside by the pool.
This was lit and almost up to temperature, in the damp, fading light, when it promptly ran out of gas. Undaunted, a replacement bottle was located and, having eventually figured out that the thread is reversed, was ready to be connected.
Apart from a plastic security cap, which we were unable to remove.
Fortunately there was a second replacement bottle and the barbecue quickly sizzling with chicken goujons, steak strips and halloumi cheese. About this time the sky faded to black amid the odd drop of rain and a runner was dispatched to turn on the garden & pool lights… at which point all the pool house lights went out again.
We then realised the halloumi, overlooked in the conversation and commotion, had become charred on one side. Sacré bleu!
We reset the circuit breaker and resigned ourselves to lighting the barbecue proceedings with a torch, which worked pretty well until the torch suddenly faded from bright to dim and quickly expired to a collective groan.
My iPhone was not really up to the job, but it at least provided a glow by which we could locate the final strips and we beat a hasty retreat to the pool house.
For the duration of this episode, Kim was totally absorbed in a strange board game with one of the other eight year olds, the low murmur of dialogue between them occasionally punctuated with a defensive shout: a claim that one or other of them had cheated, generally followed by a vociferous denial!
The feast (served around ten from a six o’clock start) was magnificent, with baked potatoes covered in raclette cheese (heated on the stove in the pool house), the saltly charred halloumi, barbecued meats and a delicious salad… surrounded by the bubbling conversation of old friends.
The only slight tension amid the hilarity was when we realised that one of the dogs had uncharacteristically disappeared from the proceedings. The children went off in search but came back empty-handed, although at least we knew that the front gates to the grounds were shut.
While fresh coffee was brewed and perfectly made meringues and tasty berries were wheeled out to be united with extra thick double cream, a search party finally located the dog. He had sneaked into the sitting room, probably when the circuit breakers were being reset.
One imagines that he was relaxing comfortably into a deep chair, listening to Rachmaninov and supping on a heavy glass tumbler of single malt.
Thank you to our great friends for a truly memorable evening!