Picking wild freesias for the house this morning reminded me that it’s just a week since I was doing the same thing for Jo’s birthday party in Los Aceviños on La Gomera – which is where the freesia’s came from several years ago.
Like today, it was a beautiful spring morning and the sun was blazing down on the terrace as preparations got underway for the party.
We’d already made the summer puddings the night before and they were sitting in the fridge with weights pressing down on them, ready to be turned out. We’d de-frosted the fish and prawns for the Caribbean curry; and the home made lemon ice cream was in the freezer for first freeze stage. We’d filled large platters with slivers of jamon Serrano and slices of smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade; we’d taken the brie out of the fridge to warm and we’d whipped up a big bowl of hummus. The neighbours were bringing homemade breads, goat’s cheese and salads.
Now it was time to get the garden and terrace ready.
Jo wanted the party to mainly congregate around her ‘new’ garden; the widest part of the terrace. So we carried the table and chairs out from the kitchen and placed them on the terrace, scattering cushions onto the flat stones and a small rug onto the ledge of the mountain for extra seating.
Then we cleared and swept the main terrace and Jo sprinkled glitter that she’d bought from the Chinese supermarket.
In what used to be the old ‘shed’, Jo had cleared the floor space and placed a fat log beneath the arbour where the jasmine and vine were just establishing themselves around the new fairy lights.
With everything ready, we cracked a beer and sat in the new garden, liberally applying factor 30 to our already-pink arms and faces and breathing in the amazing view over the valley.
At 4pm the first of the guests arrived and the cava corks began to pop. As we chatted, we felt a drop of rain and looked up to see bruma (low cloud) beginning to wisp its way across the valley. Ignoring the spits of rain in the firm belief that, if we didn’t acknowledge them they didn’t exist, we carried on chatting until we could no longer ignore the fact that it was in fact raining.
As more guests arrived, we grabbed the table and chairs and made a hasty retreat to the terrace just in time for the heavens to open. The valley entirely disappeared from view in dense bruma and the temperature slowly fell, sending factor 30-coated arms into fleeces.
There was nothing else for it; it was time to break out Steve’s home brewed cider – central heating for adults.
More guests arrived, laden with food goodies and the cava and wine flowed freely alongside the cider. As darkness fell and the smallest members of the party were whisked away to bed, the terrace fairy lights were switched on, Jack and I whipped up the Caribbean curry with rice; and the summer puddings were turned out and served with big dollops of lemon ice cream and whipped cream.
By 11.30pm the clouds had cleared to be replaced by the twinkling lights of the valley and, suitable fuelled by Steve’s cider, the guests began to wend their way into the forest and the darkness, leaving just five of us to try our best to defeat the cider and polish off the summer pudding and ice cream.
No DJ spinning sounds of the seventies that we all thought were crap at the time; no streamers with big, glittery ‘50 Today’ signs on them and most of all; no anonymous room in a pub with egg butties and shop bought quiche. Just the mountains, the rain forest, friends and neighbours and good, home cooked food.
Happy Birthday, Jo!
If you’ve never been to La Gomera, take a look at this but take my advice – watch it with the volume off, voice-over man is just awful!