And then the Levetons arrived. And the house in France was as full as it had ever been during our ownership. We had six Candys, four Whites and now four Levetons. And everyone introduced themselves and although Candys and Levetons have met over the years they don’t know each other very well at all. And we all did lots of grand emotive ‘marvelous to see’ you sort of air kissing. And then Benny and Seb probably starting fighting as this is what they both love to do.
Best friend Petra has been best friend Petra (as opposed to Petra who works with friend Darren which is how she first entered my life) for twenty years or so. We met when we shared a house together back in the early 90s when she was a young accountant, I was an editorial assistant and we shared a diet of covent garden soup company soups and Jacobs Creek Chardonnay. Apart from our love of dry white wine we had little in common. It still baffles our other mutual friends that we were and are still so close. Petra is sensible. I am not. She has a big serious job these days doing something big and serious in a big bank. I edit a magazine about shoes and lipsticks. If we were in a Bronte novel, she would be that good and sensible older sister who wears her hair in a bun and marries well while I would have ringlets and be running off with some penniless, handsome soldier to Brighton! But best friends we are. And her daughter Cara is my god daughter and I aim to be a terrible influence on her and steer her into some highly inappropriate career in the media. In turn Petra is godmother to my eldest son Arthur and I expect her to return the favour and convince him to go into banking, earning loads of money so he can keep us all when we are old.
The Levetons were repeat guests and Cara was rightly a little miffed that ‘her’ room where she stayed last Easter had been given over to Mabel and Henry for the duration of their stay and she and brother Benny were squeezed into the guest room with their Mum and Dad. At least for the nights of overlapping guests. But to lighten the initial faux bonhomie I decided to take everyone to the La Maison Des Chameaux. Where better to bond than in a muddy field covered in Llama poo?
We can at La Maison Blanche provide wellies now for every size child as we’ve been collecting them over the years, so while the girls had style issues (tho Gracie, who has forged a pretty great fash-identity already by dressing in boys clothes 80% of the time was thrilled with her black pirate ones) we made like we were off to a festival.
And Sarah and Paul welcomed friends of La Maison Blanche to La Maison Des Chameaux with bras ouvert. Opening up, letting the kids feed the animals and showing them some basic goat and sheep training which for 8 kids who have been born and raised in central London is like seeing rhinos mating in the wild. And although my friends who between them edit a fashion magazine and do something important in banking are more used to lives that involve expensive restaurants and private hire cars (NB Petra stopped drinking Jacobs Creek a LONG time ago) in vertiginously high heels, they both threw themselves into a day of mud and camels.
And they have both dined out on tales of their friends’ friends who have camels and live in SW France. And the children tell their friends at central London day schools of the time they fed real, live, llamas and their friends probably have to google ‘live animal’ just to verify their existence.
And in the evening we invited Sarah and Paul from the Maison Des Chameaux to dinner and they brought their boys and Troy, an American 20something student who was living with them for six months to get some vet training. And Peter was able to bore/regale Troy with the story of how he was cut from the film Titanic. And Petra, Lorraine, Sarah and I were able to drink lots of rosé and dance in the kitchen. And the kids all watched a film or played table football until they were so tired they begged us to let them go to bed! And they were probably a bit bored of their rosé weary mothers saying what a “lurrvley time all of us togethuuur were haaaving”
Which left just Richard and Shona to arrive…. And for THAT We definitely needed a bigger cubivin!