Friday, 22 July 2011

The Big Bash

For those of you who have been wondering where I'd disappeared off to for the last couple of months, I've been a bit busy!

I've NO idea why it keeps leaving a big blank space here - if anyone has any advice on blogger's idiosyncrasies, please let me know! :)

A couple of years ago my beloved(?!) daughters realised that their 18th and 21st birthdays would happen 9 days apart in the same year ....not necessarily good planning on our part although it was deemed to be an excellent idea for a joint party! :P They then worked out that our Silver Wedding anniversary (25 years) and my dad's 80th birthday would also happen in the same year therefore we just HAD to have a HUGE party, at home, in a marquee, self-catered, with live music, space for camping and all our friends here to share in such a momentous occasion. A few weeks before the Bash we also realised that my wonderful Parents-in-Law would have their Golden Wedding anniversary 3 days before the party and, although they were playing it down, we counted them in too!
Great idea two years ago! Quite a good idea last year. Still a moderately good idea as we hit this New Year, but hit my traditional pre-party 'whose stupid idea was this and why on earth did I agree to it?' panic in March!

What did I do? Did I succumb to the desire to get caterers in? Think that an iPod and some manky speakers would be the perfect music option? Pay a small fortune for a fully erected, bedecked and ballooned marquee? Nope ........ I made lists - lots and lots of lists!!! Then I put my head down and got on with it.

Lists are vastly under-rated things. You can do lists for just about anything. They keep you organised and focused AND you can have the thrill of 'crossing things off' when you've done them ....and, if you're like me, when no-one's looking you can quietly add new things on as you do them - just so that you can cross them off again 2 minutes later safe in the knowledge that that job has been done! I LOVE lists!

There were various comments that I should have a list of my lists because they included:

  • guest list

  • menu

  • food to make

  • food to buy

  • food for others to make (quite a small list that one, but I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to the other cooks!)

  • jobs to do in the house

  • jobs to do in the garden -general

  • jobs to do in the Japanese garden

  • jobs in the vegetable garden

  • things to buy

  • things to borrow or scrounge

The combined guest list came to around 130 people aged from 8 to 80 - hence the reason it became known as 'The Big Bash'! Okay, I thought - I can cater for that many for one night ..... then various friends and family (9 of them) said that they'd be coming on Friday to help and First-Born announced that all her university friends would be coming for the whole weekend (another 10!)

I turned into Mission Control. I was the Flight Director and CapCom combined AND I had the lists! I called in a few favours. I persuaded bored teenagers to do some gardening for me. I borrowed tents, chairs, serving dishes and camping fridges from friends. I scrounged crockery, cutlery and mugs from school and had a free glass loan from the local supermarket (Sainsbury's, if you're interested!) and I cooked ....from May to July, I cooked. I can't help it. I'm from Yorkshire. It's innate. People are coming - we cook! I could feed an army for a month just from the normal contents of my pantry and freezer, but for that many - mass catering. Yo! Bring it on! Good job I've got big freezers!

I also borrowed a couple of mess tents, 10 tables and a load of benches from the local Girl Guides - and the weather turned just as we got them home. It threw it down for 24 hours.

The day we put them up was glorious.....

but the forecast for the weekend was dire - cold wet and windy. NOT what you want for an outdoor party in July!

So Friday saw Himself, the Wonderful Pete, Ower Dave and Last-Born's boyfriend - the Drummer Boy, building a structure that would have been worthy of Scrapheap Challenge! (Why did they stop making that series? It was great and I developed a bit of a thing for Dick Strawbridge! Oooops - did I just admit that out loud?!!!)

Using only what we had around the house and garden, they produced two 10 foot high
frames (I thought they were building gallows when I looked out of the window!), which they then covered in a range of awnings and tarpaulins fastened down with rope and tent pegs, but held together with clothes pegs! It worked.

The finished structure covered all the area between the 2 two mess tents and stretched across to the potting shed (the bar) and the black shed (the food 'hall') to keep us warm and dry.

It bucketed it down overnight and only finally stopped raining about 2.00pm on Saturday, but it was still a slightly chilly evening, so the 'extension' was worth all their work ...thanks chaps! :)
Friday also saw us erecting 'tent city' ...or 'Chesterbury' as it became known! There were 12 tents up there in the end - the joy of a big garden!

Friday night's tea for 25 in the tent - moussakka, followed by gooseberry crumble and ice cream!

Saturday night finally arrived - and so did the guests.
Ower Dave gave a bit of a speech

and Himself brought in the cake (Thanks Linden, you did a fantastic job). The girls had a hat each, we had a bouquet of white roses, dad (a retired painter and decorator) had a painter with all the tools of his trade and Himself's parents had gardening related things. It was beautifully done and made me quite teary-eyed!

After the speeches and cake, as the singers got ready to do their bit, (they're the couple behind us in the next photo) we were taken completely by suprise when our best friend - J went totally off-list and presented us with a combined present from many of our friends. They'd all clubbed together to give us a wopping cheque to buy a carpet or something of our choice when we go to Marrakech in a few weeks ....I cried!

A huge thank you to all of you ...we are so lucky to have such great friends :)

Last-Born sang us a beautiful song before handing back to the singers again.

There were people everywhere - in the gazebo.....

up in the tea house....

but mainly dancing to Rachel and Mark, the singers, in the tent. They should have done 3x 1/2 hour slots, but they were having such a good time that they just carried on singing most of the night ....nothing to do with the food or wine they had, honest! :D

They were fantastic and the range of music was perfect for dancing - not sure my grass will ever recover though! :P

Around midnight they turned it into a karaoke. Sadly, I have an appalling singing voice but when First-Born's friends called on me to join them in a song, I did my first-ever karaoke session in the knowledge that the lads were actually all worse singers than I was!!!!

We finally went to bed around 3.30am for about 4 hours before doing bacon butties for 40 for breakfast. We don't do things by halves here!

It was a wonderful party and an amazing weekend, surrounded by a huge bunch of fantastic people of all ages - not a party to be forgotten in a hurry .... nor one to be repeated at any point in the foreseeable future!

But did we rest afterwards? Not exactly!

First-Born graduated from university on Monday despite trouble with her tassle!

making a magnificent end to two months of hard work!

But if I mention hosting a party again any time soon ....just slap me!

PS. Normal service on tea house and garden related stuff will resume again shortly - once I've got my energy back! And please don't think I did it totally single handed....Himself's part in it all will become clear in the next couple of posts!


Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

And you survived this??? You are a hero! Fantastic! Congratulations to everyone (everyone had a reason to celebrate!)

RobD said...

What, we're not going to have a teahouse party? ;>) Congrats on the anniversary - and to everyone else celebrating. Sounds like a cracking party, next time we have a 'do' to plan I'm giving you a call!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Tatyana - and thank you! I don't think I'm a hero ...maybe a bit daft, but not a hero! I have to confess to waking in the night a lot and scribbling notes in the dark - night lists! I was exhausted when it was over, but it was worth it - but thank goodness there won't be another mega combination to celebrate any time soon! :D

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob. Haha, don't worry - the tea house party is still going to happen as that'll only involve about 6 or 7 of us local bloggers...but the barrel of Pale Rider got finished I'm afraid!
I'll be emailing you all soon with details!

Pondside said...

Whew - when you have a party you have a PARTY!!What an event! I'm trying to get my head around bacon butties for 40 - that's a lot of frying.
I'll bet this party goes down in family history as the best ever. (and it's great practice for a wedding, should one be on the horizon).

HAZEL said...

Congratulations to everyone for the various reasons.
Congratulations to you for having the guts and energy to pull it all together.
Congratulations to you and the Berry Gnome for surviving!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Pondside. It was great fun, but jolly hard work preparing it all. I grilled the bacon because I could do more slices at once that way!
Haha...I think the party has gone down in chesterfield history as a 'damn fine do'....but if the gilrs get married at home someone else can do the catering!!!

Hi Hazel and thank you. I'm not sure it was guts ...maybe mild idiocy?! After 2 months hard slog getting everything ready, I'm still recovering my energies - mainly because I couldn't rest up properly for the best part of a week due to other commitments! I'm getting there now though :)

Casa Mariposa said...

WOW!! What a party! Have fun in Marrakesh!

joey said...

You are 'the bestest', dear Liz. So delighted to see the pics of your awesome bash! Only you and dear 'himself'/family/friends could have pulled off this memorable event ... every detail though of and happily enjoyed. Kudos to you and happiness for your beautiful family. I so prayed for good weather! As always, beloved hugs from across the sea, dear friend.

altadenahiker said...

Is that Himself in the last photo? What a looker. Actually, you're all lookers.

Shady Gardener said...

My Word! What an amazing amount of anticipation and planning, orchestration, and Whew! I'm worn out just thinking about it. But, what a wonderfully loving, memory-making time.

Wait another 25 years... ;-) Great post!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Casa - yep, it was a cracking good party ...and I can't wait to go to Marrakech! :)

Hi Joey - it was all down to my many, many lists and your parayers my dear friend! :)
From the comments we've had since, I don't think it's going to be forgotten for some time yet .... but I'm not going to be doing another one for some considerable time - if ever!
Beloved hugs back across the pond for you and your wonderful family too :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Karin - that is indeed Himself, my handsome man! :) Thank you - we do scrub up quite well :P

Hi Shady - now you know why I've been MIA! :D
It was a fantastic weekend and, apart from the weather being a bit warmer on the night, I don't see how it could have gone any better, so I'm 'well happy' (as Last-Born would say) with it all.
We didn't have time to rest properly last week due to other commitments, but I've been taking it easy this week to let my energies build up again ....I'm just off out to do a little gentle pottering in the garden - planting a few plants we were given, some gentle weeding, that sort of thing - no extreme gardening for me today!
....and no more parties - except..! NO! :D

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

So many congrats to you, that was some bash. And what a great idea to combine it all together. Sounds like you had a great time.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Jen, thanks. We did have a great time - such fun...although I will only ever sing karaoke again with people who are worse singers than I am! :)
It was the girls idea to combine everything, but it was jolly hard work pulling it all together - good job we've got no more mega-combinations coming up!

Woody Wilbury said...

Brilliant! Sounds like a great party.

And we share the same approach to lists. One of the great [illicit] joys of list-making is putting something on that you've already done, for the sheer pleasure of immediately ticking it off again!!!!

The Idiot Gardener said...

I don't envy you. For any significant birthdays we just go abroad to avoid the need for parties!

Nutty Gnome said...

Ey up Woody - t'wa a grand bash!
Ah, you see! I knew there was a reason why we get on so well - great minds and all that!!! Lists are brill :)

Hi IG. I think after this party we'll be going abroad in future! Great fun, but exhausting!

Patsi said...

I hope you're resting now.
That sounds exhausting !!!!
But you did it...congrats !
Thank goodness you have a large yard.

The space on your post...
maybe check setting then editor.
I had problems because I switched to "new editor" now I'm back to "old".

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Patsi. You're right - I was exhausted, but I'm fine now thanks. Yes, big gardens area boon when you do a big party!! (not that I'm doing another one that big again!)

Thanks for that idea - I'll give it a go and see if it does the trick.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Wow, so THIS is what you were talking about on fb--no wonder you were exhausted. That was some partying!!!

Nutty Gnome said...

LOL - that's why I've been MIA for a couple of months too! It was indeed an epic party, but .... never again! :P

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

OK, I forgive you for disappearing on us, what a fabulous thing to do. I love lists too, particularly the sneaky "add things not originally on it and then cross them off" thing. I confess to being a little worried about the lack of portaloos for Chesterbury, but hey! Congrats all round.

PS I too confess to a secret fondness for Dick Strawbridge...

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Janet - it was indeed a fantastic weekend - never to be repeated, but still fantastic! :)

Haha - I told the lads camping up in Chesterbury to wee on the compost for me! The girls refused the bucket I offered (wusses!), so I let them into the house :P

Lol - I'm glad I'm not on my own re Dick Strawbridge!

Cameron said...

What an amazing story of your Big Bash! Happiness throughout all of your photos. You are indeed a trooper (aka 'hero for a cause') to entertain so many that involved so much preparation.

Kudos and happy... all those special days to everyone at your event....


PS the blank space is difficult to manage if your using the compose editor. It involves switching to html mode to hunt down and delete some formatting that is built, but not removed, when editing in the compose mode. No worries. We on bloodspot know the challenge!

Nutty Gnome said...

Thanks Cameron and your kind wishes to everyone have been passed on :)

I'll try your suggestion about using html mode and see if that does the trick. It's driving me up the wall at the moment!

catmint said...

Dear Liz, There's often a power struggle between me and Blogger too, and I usually lose. Like kids and pets, it knows what it wants ...
As for the party, that is seriously impressive organizing! So many lists, I probably would have lost some of them! lol. cheers, catmint

Kathryn said...

Awww. This is SO heartwarming, dear Liz! That last pic of you and Himself and First Born is completely charming. Congratulations to your beautiful daughter and to you, the proud parents and Silver Anniversary celebrants! Pure joy. xoxo

Nutty Gnome said...

Thanks Kathryn. It was a great weekend and Ruth's graduation was the icing on the cake! :) xx

The Useless Gardener said...

Just come across your blog and will certainly be back to explore it more later.

You asked about the gap have you tried looking at the html and seeing if you have any
or nbsp in there as they the html for creating line breaks or spaces.

When I've found random spaces it is often down to erroneous html code.