Sunday, June 18, 2017

Childs Hill, a Dinner Party and a Calamity

My dog is so weird. (Exhibit A: Photo above.)

Yesterday morning she and I walked to Childs Hill Park, an area north of where we live. We don't go up that way very often, but Olga seemed very certain about where she was going, pulling me this way and that. I don't think she had any idea, but she pretended she did.

I feel like there's a little Zen parable in there somewhere -- the value of not-knowing, rather than pretending to know. But honestly, it wasn't Olga's not-knowing or pretending to know that led us to the park. It was my iPhone.

In the background of the photo above you can see a couple of council tower blocks covered with cladding. I couldn't look at them without thinking of Grenfell Tower. I suppose councils all over the country, and probably the world, are re-evaluating the cladding on their buildings as we speak. At least, I hope so.

Last night, Dave and I had four friends over for dinner. I'm posting a bit late today because I just spent a couple of hours cleaning the kitchen and dining room. When Dave makes a five-course meal for six people, you wouldn't believe the number of dishes generated. We're on our third dishwasher-load now, and I did the rest by hand. But the meal -- an amuse bouche made with caviar, followed by cold white gazpacho, lobster newburg, chicken jardinière and a pavlova for dessert -- was quite amazing. Did I marry well or what?

My moment of mortification came when one of our dining room chairs collapsed beneath one of our guests, who is very big and tall but not overweight and certainly not accustomed to furniture failure. I believe my first response may have been "Did the chair break?" I honestly didn't mean that as an indication that I wasn't concerned for him, but I guess I took it for granted that he was fine. We have carpeting. Still, probably not the most caring thing to say!

So now one of my summer projects will be chair repair. Fortunately, the chair seems OK -- the joints simply became unglued, and I know exactly why this happened. We took the chair into the backyard at the beginning of the evening, and it sat on uneven ground, which, beneath our tall guest, led to uneven weight distribution and strain. Lesson learned: Keep dining room chairs indoors.

Still, it was wonderful to sit outside yesterday evening before dinner, with some prosecco and our caviar nibblies (apparently some caviar, like ours, is quite inexpensive). We also had thinly sliced, smoked ham and chorizo which one of our guests, who lives in Madrid, brought from Spain. Another guest brought several bottles of good French wine. The weather was beautifully warm and sunny, and everyone was out -- our upstairs neighbors, the Russians, had guests over and they were all sitting out on their terrace, and our neighbors a few doors down were playing volleyball in their garden and speaking some unidentifiable (to me) language. Piano music wafted from the windows of the apartments behind us. Magical London, a global crossroads!


  1. Yes. Immediate anxiety about the chair may show an uncaring attitude towards other people Steve! You may need counselling. As for Dave - sounds like he worked both hard and imaginatively to produce a very ambitious evening meal. In contrast, I ordered a Chinese takeaway!

  2. my husband is also the cook by default since I simply quit about 15 years ago. he's gotten better but is no gourmet. my kitchen looks like the one you just described as I haven't done dishes since we got back last Wednesday. I'll have to do them today though or we won't have a single dish or pan clean.

  3. I thought I was the only one to have a guest crash through a dining room chair. The same thing happened to me some 18 years ago when I had a little dinner party for a visiting guest. It was quite embarrassing. No one was hurt, except my pride. The chair came unglued just like yours. Here in the dry desert, that happens every now and then. Your dinner sounds fabulous and I quite understand the clean up process. My friend David does a many-course meal every now and then and I always help him clean up the next day. It usually takes around 4 hours.
    Olga is one very happy dog!

  4. The last homemade pizza-and-martinis party I had did it for me. After all of the work of making everything and the last person left and I had a kitchen full of dishes and pans to wash up, I screamed. I just screamed.
    And that was THAT.
    The world can get their gourmet pizza somewhere else.
    But damn, that sounds like an amazing dinner.

  5. That sounds like a fab dinner! :-) I love Spanish chorizo. That's my weakness when I'm over there.

    Have a great week.

  6. Yum yum! That sounds like a meal worth the extra cleanup!

  7. Your description of the day with the languages and the piano is just wonderful. I would like to be there and not here.

  8. beautifully described. despite the chair calamity, it does sound like an idyllic evening.

  9. Did the chair break? Really? Why don't you have some chairs that are meant for the garden? I hope your guest was merely startled and not hurt...Makes me glad to have my own chair...Loved your description of the various languages and piano coming from an open window. Sounds lovely.

  10. Dinner parties can be challenging. Chairs crash when they want to. Don't worry.

  11. It looks like that garbage container is smiling at Olga :)

    I'm with Red - the glue in chairs dries out and they fall apart. You can't help it!