Oh boy did I nearly make a hash of this one.
Janie was very excited a few weeks ago when her friend, Toni Friend, made Janie a Friend of the Chelsea Physic Garden for her birthday. A very generous and friendly gesture. This enables Janie to book the delightful cafe/restaurant in the garden for members-only dinner evenings during the summer weeks.
Janie arranged for us to celebrate birthdays with John and Mandy White later in August. But a few days later, out of the blue, Janie texted me to say that there was also a table for two free on 8 August and she had grabbed it. Was I available?
As it happens, I had arranged to meet Simon Jacobs that evening, but then the realisation began to dawn on me that 8 August was actually a rather auspicious date. Checking back through the notes I had made ahead of doing some anniversary Ogblogging, I realised with horror that 8 August was the 25th anniversary of the day Janie and I first met.
I messaged Simon:
I have goofed bigly (as the POTAS might put it if he could ever admit to a mistake). Can we possibly move our evening meet up…
Naturally/kindly Simon said yes.
Janie found the whole thing rather amusing when I told her. She has no head for dates, anniversaries and that sort of thing, so had no idea that the date was significant – only that there was a table available and so was she. But my memory lapse would have taken some explaining once that 25th anniversary of meeting piece went up on Ogblog had I not put matters right.
Of course the Chelsea Physic Garden is wonderful – this whole business was sparked by the visit Janie and I made there with the Gresham Society back in May – reported here.
So Janie and I didn’t particularly want to stroll the garden on this occasion, although no doubt we shall with John and Mandy when they join us later in August. But strolling the gardens before, during and after the meal is very much part of the Chelsea Physic Garden deal.
The set starter (which can just about be seen in the top photo) was prosciutto with fontina cheese, a sort-of celeriac slaw plus a beetroot and chickpea thingamebob.
Plenty of choice for the mains, but we both went for the duck confit.
I was pretty full by this stage, but Janie fancied some cheese and so we agreed to get a plate of cheese and one desert – a summer pudding – to share:
The cheeses were Neal’s Yard – always a good sign – and the summer pudding was home made and delicious, as indeed were all of the dishes.
The waiting staff are all charming and helpful without being overly-attentive or unctuous. The other dinners seemed mainly to be of the Old English Chelsea set (see above photo); this might be another of the very few places (along with Lord’s and the Wigmore Hall) where I might still be regarded as a young man.
We are already really looking forward to our next meal at the Physic Garden. This evening was a really delightful way to end an enjoyable day and to celebrate such a big anniversary.