I wonder what other people did with their Jubilee extra long weekend? For me, there was only one way to make the most of the freedom: to utterly stuff my face.
This probably conjours up images of me sitting in a room on my own, snuffling my way through a troughful of snacks not dissimilar to a pig in its sty. Although this concept doesn’t sound too repulsive to the food-obsessed side of me, the bank holiday was also about celebrating with friends and family, so I extended the invitation and hosted a girly Jubilee picnic. Obviously the original intention was to bask in the South West sunshine, enjoying Pimms and sandwiches in the great outdoors. Sadly Mr Weatherman had other plans, but no matter, we moved the feast indoors and decorated the dining room in a most patriotic fashion.
When organising a get-together like this, I usually spend weeks obsessing over the arrangements. Not in a stressful way, but just because I love to make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to things like this. Going into the most ridiculous minute detail, I’d usually make little labels for each buffet dish or individual place names for my guests. I’m renowned amongst friends for going to the nth degree as a host. But for some reason, I didn’t this time. Ok, so I will admit that the night before, I did painstakingly paint my nails (or attempt to) in a Union Jack style whilst watching some rubbish on the telly. But I left it to the day of the picnic to go food shopping and even an hour before the guests arrived, I still didn’t know what I was going to wear. Something was niggling at the back of my mind that somewhere at the back of my wardrobe was something utterly perfect for this occasion. Now what was it….ahh yes, a dress which my Mum had made for me ten years earlier to wear to a Golden Jubilee party. That’s right: a Union Jack dress! And given my lifelong struggle to put on weight, after all that time it still fit perfectly. I couldn’t wait to see the girls’ faces when I opened the door!
I’d done that thing which is a major cop-out as a host: asked my guests to all contribute something to the picnic. They didn’t seem to mind though and once we were all assembled with the food laid out on the table, it looked like a feast fit for The Queen. An assortment of meats, breads, dips, salad, olives, crisps, nuts and tapas were up for grabs and my guests even brought paper cups and plates so that there was no washing up!
As a self-confessed foodie though, I would have felt terrible if I hadn’t made some kind of effort. And of course I didn’t want my party planning reputation to be in tatters. So something I did put planning and time into, was a Jubilee cake. I took inspiration from my bible (also known as Good Food Magazine) and created a twist on the classic Victoria Sponge, with a hint of lemon zest and juice, topped with fresh cream, strawberries and blueberries. I even made my own strawberry jam for the middle – now if that’s not going to a bit of effort, I don’t know what is. Combined with the nails and dress, my hostess with the mostess image was perfectly in tact.
And how about my guests? Well, we ate more than enough delicious food, washed down with Pimms and of course a good dose of putting the world to rights. And for a brief moment the sun even came out, allowing us to have a mini outdoor picnic after all, even if it was only for half an hour. So with excellent company, moorish food and lots of laughs, what more could we desire for our extra day off? Thank you, Your Majesty.