Monday, 12 August 2013


I've had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. We organised a 'mini festival' and lots of my lovely friends descended from various parts of the country to pitch their tents in my garden and recreate 'Woodstock'. 

It wasn't too difficult to organise. The Cheeky Boys from next door are the masters of the barbecue so they kept me on the straight and narrow. They helped me make a list of everything I'd need, hassled me where necessary to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything and then set up the seating and tables to make the best use of the gardens. 

I'd asked everyone to dress up in keeping with the Woodstock/Hippy theme and first to arrive on the morning was this gorgeous specimen.

I was just sitting on the garden bench, enjoying the sunshine, when she walked through the gates dressed as flower power. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my seat! Unlike my postman who, without batting an eyelid, greeted her with a cheery "Hello flower!" before handing over my post and wandering off to continue his round. 

Next came the guys with the bouncy castle and sumo suits, which I have to say were absolutely hilarious. I'd definitely hire these again. 

They weigh a tonne so if you fall over in them (and believe me, you definitely WILL fall over) it's virtually impossible to get up again without someone hauling you back onto your feet.

We're obviously quite a cruel bunch because we tended to leave people thrashing around like upturned woodlice, laughing ever harder as we watched their frantic, futile attempts to scissor kick themselves back into an upright position. 

They were so heavy that some people found it easier to squeeze themselves into the kids suits. I doubt it made them any easier to manoeuvre but they certainly looked funnier.

Friends continued to arrive over the course of the day and I was really pleased to see that everyone had gotten into the spirit of things and dressed up. 

Some of the guests even took the time to co-ordinate their outfits!

But without a shadow of a doubt, the pièce de résistance had to be these two. 

I think they'd gotten their decades muddled up but groove was definitely in their hearts and they looked stunning as they strutted their way around the garden. Or at least they were stunning until they saw the bouncy castle, at which point any semblance of 'cool' evaporated in the sheer unadulterated joy of a good old slide!

One of my friends made a great job of painting everyone's face and her husband had researched the lineup for the original Woodstock and made up a playlist to suit our theme so we had great music to accompany our food and entertainment. 

My culinary skills are appalling but luckily, everyone joined in to make sure the food was cooked perfectly. Many thanks to everyone who brought 'extras' to complement the barbecue.

This pic was taken by my friend, Howy
Note the difference in quality between his swanky camera and my half arsed iPhone pics.

It really was a superb day although there was obviously a tinge of sadness. At one point, late in the afternoon, as I looked around at everyone having such a good time, I couldn't understand why I felt as if something was wrong. Then I heard my friend telling the story of her burned poaching pan from the weekend before last, when I'd gone to visit her, and I remembered that the last time she had visited my house, Mark had made us both poached eggs for breakfast and the thing that felt so 'wrong' was that Mark isn't here anymore and I was hosting the party on my own. I felt a bit overwhelmed by it all and I had to take myself off for a mini weep as I realised that this is my life now and I'll always have to host parties singlehandedly but luckily, a couple of friends spotted my 'wobble' and talked me back to good humour quite quickly.

As the night drew in we moved round to the smaller garden at the back of the house and huddled round the fire to toast marshmallows, chat and sing - the usual drunken shenanigans really - until rain forced us all into the kitchen and conservatory for the final wind down before everyone drifted off to their respective tents and I went up to bed, only to find it was already occupied. My options were to squeeze in the middle of the snoring, sleep talking occupants or take my chances on the sofa. Needless to say I chose the sofa!

The next morning, as everyone began to surface looking slightly worse for wear, a seemingly endless round of bacon butties and hot drinks were required to get us all into gear and ready for the big clean up. Luckily, the breakfast worked a treat and the job was done quickly and efficiently so many thanks to everyone for helping out. I had very little to do and my house and gardens were soon restored to their former state, leaving us with plenty of time for a walk along the sea front to clear our heads. We even had a little paddle in the FREEZING North Sea before returning home for an early night for the friends who stayed over an extra day. Perfect!

I wish Mark could have been there this weekend. He'd have thoroughly enjoyed having everyone over to stay and it felt very strange to be having a party at home without him but I suppose it's another milestone and, now I've gotten the first one over, the next should be easier and feel more normal. Small steps eh?