I enjoy entertaining friends. Feeding them when they come around, I mean, not tripping down the stairs in front of them or having a perfect bite of food fall off my fork just before getting to my mouth when out for a nice meal together. Having said this, when my Nanna turned 80 last month it was just a little too soon after Mum's birthday extravaganza for me to think about cooking for more than a handful of people without breaking into a cold sweat and getting anticipatory aching feet. I was therefore very happy to hear that Nanna's birthday was going to be held at the Northampton District Bowling Club for a number of reasons - we would not have to prepare and clean a house for the event; we could enjoy bowling club prices for drinks; there might be some homemade jams and conserves on sale; and all the catering would be taken care of by the lovely old dears.
It had been quite a few years between mock chicken sandwiches and freshly made scones for me, so I skipped lunch in order to take full advantage of the bowling club fare on offer during the afternoon party. Skipping lunch would normally be an impossible task for me, but I was actually driving up to Geraldton through lunch time, had only packed some fresh fruit for the journey and didn't fancy a roadhouse cheese sausage or bag of chicken wing dings (I can't see a roadhouse 'treat' filled paper bag without hearing "if the paper turns clear, it's your window to weight gain!" in my head), so it was remarkably easy to pull off.
Just as well, as the old dears clearly knew how to put on a good old fashioned bowling club spread. I was also quite impressed with the restraint they showed with use of parsley garnishes, only going all out with it on the plates of assorted finger sandwiches. Even greater restraint was demonstrated on the doily front - I did not spy a single one!
From the top: chocolate slice, scone halves with cream, finger sandwiches, chocolate covered profiteroles, pumpkin & leek slice, cheese & bacon mini quiches, more profiteroles, lemon meringue slice, more finger sandwiches (with some more parsley) and finally even more profiteroles.
From the top: vols-au-vent, sponge cake, meat pastries, creamy pink lamington things, date slice, party eggs, little boys (one about to meet his demise), and finger sandwiches (some with a little bit of crust still left...quick, cover those ones up with some extra parsley)
Cheese & bacon quiche, mock chicken sandwich triangles, pumpkin & leek slice, finger sandwiches and a couple of saucy little boys
Cream-filled profiterole, half a lemon meringue cupcake, lemon meringue slice, creamy pink lamington bite
Nanna's birthday cake was made by the resident family cake maker, my Aunty R. We have quite a large family, and when my round of cousins were going through our 18th and 21st years, R was pumping out seemingly endless batches of cakes, decorated with all manner of fondant creations and sometimes fresh roses from her impressive garden. I have memories of stealing the birthday candles off my much older cousin's 21st cake to nibble on the icing she used to adhere them to the cake board, and thinking I was so sneaky until I was given away by my black stained mouth.
Nanna's birthday fruit cake, complete with freshly picked roses and icing-adhered candles (using non-giveaway white icing)
Now, I can't comment on the state of the men's, but the ladies toilet in a bowling club is always an impressive place, particularly when compared to the toilets in your standard pub. They are always very clean and tidy (spick and span, if you will), there is always a spacious room in which ladies may leave their belongings and hang their hats and coats, and a place to sit should you need to have a quiet moment away from the riffraff of the drinking area outside or if you have found yourself to be a little worked up over a particularly tense round of bingo. I also noted with interest within these particular toilets that one of the metal hand towels dispensers had an inscribed dedication to a deceased member. I can only assume that the more standard dedication objects had already been bagsed, but luckily there is a second un-inscribed dispenser in there should anyone else need to dedicate something.
Sitting area of the women's toilets in the Northampton District Bowling Club, overlooked by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
A great time was had by all as we celebrated our much loved Nanna's birthday with her, and I'm looking forward to her 90th birthday so we can do it all over again. Happy birthday Nanna! Thank you for all the tea towels, crocheted coathangers and homemade fig jam over the years I've been lucky to know you, and here's to many more years of telling it like it is and making the world's best scones.