With news that the happy and glorious Queen reached 90 our village decided to celebrate with an almost as happy and glorious garden party. But the question was, in which garden? There are about 40 to choose from and some can be ruled out straight away. Like ours with its steep climb into the back of beyond and the restricted noise policy around the B&B. Nothing says dampener like a hostess anxiously hushing people and turfing them out of the ‘guests hand carved swing seat’. Or three grubby children passing around a platter of sausage rolls they have already taken the sausage out of, a random snail clinging to the underside of the Wedgewood. Both farms at either end of the village were ruled out due to general farmer grumpiness in one and the same in the other as well as stray poultry that were trained to kill. There was heated debate about applying for a road closure in good trad street party style but concern about those who wouldn’t want to come being forced to sidle past just to get to their front gate. In the midst of all of this Den, our neighbour and good friend, announced he was actually a Republican and didn’t hold with any of it so was very much hoping that iconic royal imagery would be kept to a minimum. However he was very happy to make his award winning Victoria sponge for the occasion. Nobody mentioned where the cake originally got its name from.
We almost didn’t do it. It felt like a big old hefty ship to get out of the harbour and I would have been happy with a stiff gin in front of the highlights of Trooping The Colour. But we did do it. In our lovely neighbour’s Mr and Mrs Eliott’s garden. A garden so beautiful, tranquil and meandering it was fit for a queen and historical tittle tattle has is that one did stay once. One of Henry VIII’s wives so a fairly brief Queen, eventually headless, but still. Mrs Eliott was as generous with her home as she was with her punchy Pimms and that helped Den forget why we were all there in the first place. We got the sun, content children playing in one big group, neighbours and friends catching up, masses of delicate floral bunting, vases of blousey peonies, wrought iron tables and chairs dotted around the lawn, scones, cake, quiche of indeterminate filling, tea urn steaming away in the summerhouse and a tiny little picture of the reigning Monarch in a sparkly crown tucked in a mound of fairy cakes. God bless you Ma’am.