For some reason that I have never figured out, if everyone is invited to bring along food even without specifying what it should be, the result always seems to produce a balanced and satisfying meal, plus a balance between sweet and savory.
There were about 25 of us in the Ston Easton Garden Club at our annual Christmas party. Fortunately, Françoise made a particularly good and varied salad consisting of all the usual plus feta cheese, broad beans and the whole bowl-full which made the centrepiece for all the baked quiches and meat pies.
This informal meeting started with greetings, followed by food, followed by someone reading poetry, followed by a quiz and then a raffle for secret Santa presents. We all had to contribute a present costing no more than three pounds. Finally a small group played Christmas hymn tunes. We were joined at our table by two widows, whose husbands had had very interesting lives. One was a judge of sheep and the other one traveled widely throughout Europe in connection with his job. It was a pleasure to meet with them and talk about travel.
I can compare the atmosphere at this meeting in a humble village hall with the previous one at the Old Down Inn. Atmosphere and attitude is most effectively communicated by the person who is running the show and it seems to filter down to everybody else. If the person at the top has difficulties or is nursing some problems, this definitely affects the atmosphere adversely. We were lucky this evening. Paulette cheerfully supervised the evening; my contribution was to support and make sure she didn’t get too worried or concerned if everything was not absolutely right.
Off on a cross-country ride home, with clouds scudding in the sky and the moon shining brightly.