I'm not quite sure how the party morphed into what it did; I guess I just got carried away. It was back in February that I told Jess, Claire and Jillian I was going to throw a party. They asked who I was going to invite and I was all, 'I dunno, YOU THREE?!' And although I know that deep down they died of excitement as soon as I made the announcement, they acted all cool and non-plussed about it. Which I think was their way of saying 'Beth, sweetie, we don't all bum the queen like you do...do we REALLY need a jubilee party?!' Which was probably the point at which I should of knocked the idea on the head. But I didn't. I just waited for a few weeks while I thought it over, and then five weeks ago I came upstairs, knocked up some invitations and invited the world and his wife to come and CELEBRATE THE QUEEN IN OUR BACK GARDEN. Ben died. And not in a good way.
Once I've decided I'm going to have a party, I go all out. I absolutely love planning parties. I love making lists, googling, visiting cute little boutiques to find quirky decorations, baking, planning games, painting, pinning, sewing and then tying it all together in a beautiful party-colour-coordinated bow on the day.
My mum has always baked us the most un.believable birthday cakes. Every year, for every birthday, all four of us siblings got the most stunning home made cake in whatever design we wanted. It was her thing - she'd stay up late crafting away at these cakes to make them as perfect as she possibly could for us. If you could put love into a package; it'd be in every single one of those cakes my mum made for us. She could have just bought us a cake from the supermarket each year, or given our requests to someone in a cake shop to knock one up; but she didn't. Those cakes were one of her ways of loving us. They were her thing. I can't bake cakes like my mum, and I wouldn't want to. Cakes is Mum. Cakes is Nanny. (Though my jubilee cake was pretty danging good, even if I do say so myself ;-)) But I can organise parties. And parties? They're gonna be my thing. My 'I love you' to my daughter, my husband, my family, my friends. And yeah, alright, the queen too.
So I made the bunting instead of buying it. All 55 metres of it. I cut every piece of gingham material, cut every strip of ribbon, glued them all together and then sewed until my eyes went funny. I made signs for the games and hunted through Warwickshire for potato sacks, hula hoops and skipping ropes (who knew skipping ropes were so hard to find?!), I googled famous Brits for days so I could have the widest variety of people for the British edition of the "Who Am I?" game. I baked, and cooked, and made my sister draw a queen for "Pin the Crown on the Queen." Cause as much as I want to, I can't draw. My mum made her famous cheese scones, my brother and his girlfriend made fruit scones, Ben's mum sorted out a marquee for the rain and hunted down a croquet set, the girls sent me 'You can DO it, you're doing SO good' texts when I told them I was done with sewing bunting, and Ben, well - Ben just held everything together. He cut the wood for my signs, nailed my bunting into the fence, found me balloons when I'd left it too late, and put bunting around our porch, even though he hated the idea. He is to me, as Philip is to the Queen. Ahhhhhh! Cringe. The point is, the party came together perfectly.
When I'm blogging events, I always get to this point and wonder what to say. Because everything that I planned, well, happened. And though it seems silly to repeat everything I've already said, it feels as though I've done a super long beginning, skipped the middle entirely, and wound up at the end. Which is so NOT how I was taught to write when I was at school. Which I know isn't really relevant since this isn't an exam, but I'm now married into a family of teachers and even though I doubt any of them even read this, I always sort of expect them to come up to me all, "You need a short beginning, a LONG middle, and a short end; your stories ALWAYS miss the point." Which they wouldn't do anyway - but the fear is ALWAYS there.
The party was amazing. I loved every minute. I always spend weeks before parties worrying. Worrying people will think I'm ridiculous, that they won't join in any games, that they'll think the food is vile and they'll all get in their cars and go, "WHAT was THAT?!" But at this one at least, they didn't. Well, not that I know of anyway. They all joined in the games and that was my main concern.
Ben's mum found the huge Union Flag that HER mum had at the Queen's coronation, we hung it inside the marquee and it looked perfect. Rumour has it that at some point in recent history, my Gran took umbrage with the royals and threw out all her books and plates and tea towels, so I was thrilled when Ann turned up with Meryl's flags. A piece of my little family's own family history, blowing in the wind at the party. It didn't take me too long to look past the history of it and turn it into a red-carpet-esque photo back drop though; I started screaming at anyone in sight, "Come and have your photo taken in front of the flag!! It's like a red carpet!! We're sponsored by the queen!!" All blooming kentish. I know. I embarrass myself.
The sun shone for us and we potato sack raced, hula-hooped, played croquet, guessed which Brit was stuck on our backs, ate food, took photos, played royal trivia and snuggled up to watch the Jubilee Concert. The only thing we didn't do was pin the crown on the Queen. Cause I forgot.
I'm so grateful for our amazing family and friends who came and made the day so wonderful. Cause although me, Ben and the girls can rock out a five-and-a-half-person-party like noone else you know, the jubilee wouldn't have been half as good without everybody there, jumping around like idiots, dancing barefoot on the wet grass, and staying outside even when it rained. Nothin' like a bit of good old fashioned British spirit to make a jubilee complete. I am SO, so sad it's over. So sad I nearly cried. But then I heard someone say something about people who write letters to the queen and my sadness went away in the click of the fingers. Tomorrow, my daughter is writing her first letter. It's going to the Queen. It's gonna be SO good!!!!!