So we finally arrived at the dread day -- my sister's 60th birthday.
The venue surprised most of the guests: the loft over the Real Tennis Club opposite St David's Park.
Julie had been planning the event for months, but what we actually needed was twice as much time and twice as many helpers. The 4 pm start was a bit of a debacle, but with a bit of good will things settled down into an enjoyable evening of music, food and chat. Our minister said that Julie had the most diverse range of friends he'd ever seen and I suppose that was true. There were old school friends, neighbors, members of the croquet club, ex-casino staff, even a couple of the science-fiction fan crowd.
We borrowed a keyboard for Madeleine, and Nikki brought along her violin, so I didn't need to worry about playing any music for the guests. We had the real thing, live and spontaneous.
As for the food -- well, we had a lot and people brought lots, so at the end of the evening we actually took home as much food as we brought. Not the same food though!
Amongst the items at the party, we had a toast to the birthday girl from the Bishop of Grafton (who'd been at school with Julie), a display of photographs of Julie's life (which also included a hunt-the-chicken game - sort of like "Where's Wally?" with feathers) and a trivia quiz. The final segment had three winners, who all scored eleven out of a possible twelve. Just as well we had prepared several prizes.
I had carried in a lot of drinks, but most of them were still left at the end of the day. We used the beer and cider and some of the soft drinks, but there was a lot of wine that wasn't needed; we used most of the personalized champagne that Julie ordered over the Internet though. A lot of the people from church who had only been there in the afternoon stuck to tea and coffee.
So about 10:30 pm everyone had wandered off and a couple of our faithful friends threw themselves into cleaning up the place. By the time we'd run the vacuum cleaner over the carpet and packed everything up, we were out of there by 11:20. Thanks to Leon for helping us out by providing a third motor vehicle to drive all the stuff home. He even took the helium balloons, which were a bit of a handful all in themselves.
So now we can start thinking about Christmas. It was so hectic that we couldn't even get our heads around the Christmas season until the party was over.
We should just about finish the birthday leftovers by the time we have to start piling the turkey onto our plates....