We entertain quite a bit. Sometimes it might be dinner for six and other times its dinner for thirty six. I do many things but I don’t cook. Claire cooks. Claire our Top Banana. But I do like to entertain. I like to mix it all up: the menu, the setting, the guests. Sometimes its rather formal, around our dark mahogany dinning table, under the chandelier, with a fire burning in the fireplace. Candelabra’s alight, inherited silver, and place mats, passed down from my mother, each with an illustration of a British Stately home on them. Which guest gets Broadlands? The home my mother grew up in.
But for the most part we eat outside, moving our tables around, and around. Often in our green courtyard, overflowing with banana leaves and tropical palms, amongst terracotta pots of all sizes, boasting tyme or Domino’s home grown tomatoes and even the occasional pineapple, who will be much too pretty to ever eat, the over head fan whirring throughout heated family debates or innocent gossip.
On the evenings when our numbers swell and we no longer fit in the courtyard we rent folding tables from the church, and spread these end to end on the main terrace, narrowly sitting across from one another, not on pews but rather uncomfortable folding bamboo chairs. We upgraded recently and bought smart little cushions that tie neatly to the seat. We find our friends linger longer now. Down this runway we will place white starched table cloths and tall clear glass vases, filled with fresh palm fronds, placed with military precision, and a line up of hurricane lamps, with big chubby candles, around whom the money moths dance.
At other times we fit plywood boards (which we use during hurricane season to board up our house) on top of the tables, to make a gigantic square. Too large to be covered with a traditional cloth, I spread out a bed cover, masquerading as a table cloth, onto which we pile shells of all shapes and sizes into the middle, collected over the years, and dot tiny tea lights all around. Pray you enjoy the company of who ever is seated to your right or to your left, as there is no hope of chatting across this square.
We discourage everyone from actually staying with us any more. As David says, like fish they tend to go off after a few days. Now that I spend too much time in the office or on the road I’m not a very attentive hostess anyway. And with the tribe of children in and out of our home it would be hard to find a spare seat at the breakfast table.
The guest room is reserved solely for my mother, whose only request is tea at four. But even she has to battle for a spare seat…..