We’ve been in Noddyland for more than five years now, would you believe, but this weekend was the very first time we have been visited by a pair from this charming species…
…but enough about the charming pair of blackbirds that turned up on Sunday morning, tweeting more vociferously than Trump. I’m getting ahead of myself.
As it happens, Saturday evening was also Caroline and Alan’s first visit to Noddyland. Let’s not talk about blame here for so many years passing without us getting together; at our age most of us are equally rubbish at keeping in touch.
Caroline and I have known each other since our youth; Janie met Caroline soon after Janie and I got together nearly 25 years ago. We’ve known Alan only since he and Caroline got together a mere 16-17 years ago. Yet strangely, in recent years, I have seen more of Alan (through cricket at Lord’s and slightly tangential business connections) than I have of Caroline. Janie had seen neither of them for years.
It was about time we put this matter right, so when Caroline got in touch a couple of months ago on matters unrelated to pleasant Saturday evenings, I responded by suggesting a pleasant Saturday evening in Noddyland instead.
So that’s what happened.
Janie pushed the boat out with:
- mini open sandwiches based on Helga’s exceptional Irish smoked salmon from her local smokehouse in Kilcolman, West Cork – which we sampled with delight when we visited Helga a couple of years ago – click here . Subsequently, Helga has generously treated us to packages of same periodically – e.g. this Christmas. If you are reading this – thank you once again Helga – it was lovely to share some of your present with good friends;
- additional nibbles of goose rillettes on black oat crackers, together with carrot sticks and tomatoes so we didn’t feel quite so indulgent;
- Janie’s classic roast fillet of beef served with wasabi mayonnaise, roasted potato slices and salad;
- apple strudel with cream and/or custard (most of us went for the latter).
Not ridiculously boozy, but we started with Prosecco (for three) and decent white wine (for me), followed by an Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon named cover drive (well we all like cricket) and then a rather special Argentinian Malbec once the Aussie wine had been lofted through the covers for six (glasses).
Caroline and Alan told us the story of how they got together…or were somewhat encouraged together…which made us think to recommend Through The Wall to them. I’m sure it also brought to Janie’s mind her recent Noddyland efforts in the matchmaking department.
We talked about cricket quite a bit and managed to keep Alan off the subject of Tottenham Hotspurs more effectively, I suspect, than he is used to. We also managed to keep Trump and Brexit out of the conversation for a surprisingly large proportion of the evening…which I think proves that the conversation was mostly of the right sort; interesting without being distressing. No “rush to the bathroom as a result of distressing Brexit talk misery” on this occasion – click here only if you want to read what can go wrong in such circumstances…and/or if you want to read about my most recent get together with Simon Jacobs.
One running theme of the evening was young Alex, Caroline and Alan’s teenage son. Alex was enjoying an early experience of going out with his friends on a Saturday evening while his parents were out seeing theirs. There was a bit of parent/child message exchanging towards the end of the evening. Caroline and Alan won hands down – i.e. they steadfastly remained at our place until after Alex reported that he had got home safely.
Soon after that, we all realised how late it was, so off went Caroline and Alan. We all swore we wouldn’t leave it so long again next time.
The next morning we rose a bit later than usual – we knew that it would be futile to attempt tennis at our regular time as it was so cold and frosty. But we were treated to an especially magnificent dawn chorus, probably as a result of so many birds visiting that morning, including the new pair of blackbirds who were the bird equivalent of Simon and Garfunkle on tour, visiting Noddyland, perhaps only briefly.
All our regular visitors, including many parakeets, collared doves, blue jays, starlings and the woodpecker turned out to see the show, join in the chorus and eat from the feeders.
Before I was allowed my feed, we went off at lunchtime to the tennis courts where Janie continued teaching me a lesson on how to play slice and cut touch tennis properly. I worked hard at it and improved as the hour went on. That improvement doesn’t show from this picture, whereas the fact that it was still blooming cold does show: