I threw a belated birthday celebration yesterday and luckily for me the weather was splendid. Every year I try and do something I've never done before: on my 29th I painted pottery, on my 30th I had Tea at the Ritz, on my 31st I went to see Torvill and Dean ice skate, on my 32nd I went to Poland for a weekend with my dad, and on my 33rd I explored some local history. This year was no exception. I think the world needs more love letters, and since I'd never written one, that was my challenge this year. We decided to write love letters to strangers and leave them around the city for people to find.
I asked people to dress up - and most obliged! We had some truly wonderful dresses and red lipstick and the Fairy Princesses got me a tiara so I even had a crown (albeit plastic, but still). Miss R came in a navy cocktail dress (I brought her a blue and white tea cup to match). Miss V came in a swishy black number that is a replica of Audrey Hepburn's dress in Sabrina that her mum made for her by watching the film (when she put her sunglasses on she looked like a celebrity trying to hide from the paparazzi). Miss H came by in a lovely red 50's number, having knocked up a bow tie for her young man on Saturday night so he was suitably dressed. One of the lads came in a three piece suit. So we ran around town on a Sunday afternoon being incredibly dressed up, it was so much fun!
Some of us met for tea and cake in a cafe to start off with and wrote some love letters. It was quite interesting to see what kind of letters we all ended up writing - we had some long, soppy ones, some inspirational ones, some soothing lovely ones and some funny ones and some slightly post modern ones... (even one of the Fairy Princesses wrote one and she's only 6!).
By the end we had about 25 letters to scatter around town in various places. We left a few around the Cathedral and the grounds, we left some in cafes and some in random places around town.
Then we met the others in the park for a picnic. Everyone brought a dish, a cocktail and a tea cup. Most people were quite inventive, particularly Miss V who made me lavender and white chocolate popcorn and earl grey and lemon cupcakes. The drinks were even more inventive - Miss V brought some rhubarb vodka (lovely with lemonade) and some earl grey vodka (she just put an earl grey tea bag in a bottle of vodka), I made some spiced rum (by infusing a bottle of rum with yogi tea) and ginger beer, someone else made gin and elderflower fizz, while Middle B made up a cocktail just for me by adapting the recipe for a London Calling Martini by Hendricks:
The Thursday Night Natini: Infuse gin with orange peel, fennel, cardamom, coriander, and gentian drops and leave for a day. Strain. Add lemon juice and some sparkling wine. Consume. Ice and tea cup optional but recommended.
Quite a few of my friends had never met each other, so it was lovely to see them all getting to know each other and putting faces to names. We lounged about and generally had a giggle in the park, ate and drank and were merry... and since I had a really swishy frock on I did insist on having at least one dance, even if we had no music! Towards the end of the day it was getting a bit chilly so the few of us who remained went inside and carried on drinking gin. I must say that I consumed an awful lot of gin. This is no bad thing.
It was such a beautiful day, I'm so lucky that I have friends who are happy to run around town in ridiculous frocks spreading love everywhere. It made me really happy! I get the feeling this won't be the last time we'll be writing love letters... and certainly not the last time we'll be drinking gin!