Not quite at the hyperventilating stage but my pulse certainly hastening by the moment. We were the final four of the foray, enjoying a late lunch, just before dessert arrived.
This longwinded missive regards a birthday that had to be ignored. Said birthday for persons who will not still be mentioned other than Tea and Boy as a merest hint for regulars. The nameless one had been utterly emphatic, feisty, lecture worthy, gladiatorially grumpy, stompy soliloquy’s, shall we say exchanges (all of which he knew I would, and did, completely ignore) regarding celebrations and particularly parties. “The only good thing to come from Covid lockdown is … ” grumble, rant, growl, gripe … ignore. Once assured there would be no surprise party or the likes thereof and indeed, I kept my word. Miserable old sot, that’s with a t though should be a d!
If it makes you feel that uncomfortable let’s just leg it and fly away to foreign parts. A quest to find the patron saint of hand sanitiser? Suggested I. Imagine if you will an (ahem) ‘mature man’ thumping the table with glee, whilst sporting a beaming smile and an echoing, jaunty allegretto. Yes! (oh and yes, I did mention it’s also known as running away).
From this clarion of showy, blustery, pensive reverbance, you may well deduce that someone hates fuss and just craved the familiar…. a jolly decent claret and some dark chocolate digestive biscuits! Though not necessarily at the same time.
No need to explain to anyone what it’s been like trying to organise and weave such an event though these higgledy-piggledy times. The weft of angst and weave of want affecting us all. Our travel agent (wonder-woman) and a few close-ies (everyone) knew my plan and three attempts to sort had been scuppered.
“Aha!” you think “So she did have a dastardly plan! Indeedy! I’d been working on it for a few years. Agreeably nodding to myself as I type, and whispering to self .. and I love it when a plan comes together! (Though not whilst chewing on a cigar)
Travel corridors opening and closing, it was like plate spinning in a hurricane. Swan on the surface etc. Gut wrenched and torn as I spoke with close friends and associates who had lost, or loosing, loved ones to C19 and many not even being able to attend their respective goodbyes. Coming up with constructive ways to say fond farewells, to help calm and balm others offered more than a whiff of proportion.
I could see him scanning the airport like a headless chicken,(see below) as we were leaving, to see if he knew anyone. Nope. A seamless flight, though muzzled, and our usual driver to collect us at the airport (sigh/bliss/joy). Our lovely hotel albeit comparatively sparse and skeletal still felt like home from home. Cases cracked open, keen as whippets, off to the bar we scamper. Our chums (already at the hotel) all dizzy, giggly and fit to burst as we sat in tall comfy directors chairs. The warm breeze wafting its relaxing magic, overlooking the blush moon that twinkled and shimmered over the Agean. Next to us, an attractive couple who should have seemed more familiar and indeed were.
Recorded for seven minutes extolling how delighted he was in that he’d escaped his ‘big’ birthday shebang. A total stranger (?) sent over two bottles of shudderingly cold white wine and we raised a glass and thanked him. The decked bar separated by pools of cool blue water. Everyone, but everyone, in on the ruse. They were the friends. Our gorgeous, leggy, terpsichorean, diamond merchant, mucker had helped me ‘play a blinder’ and with a majestically straight face, also strung him along. He’d walked past (and not so much as recognised) our family who had all arrived days before, just to be there for him on day that would absolutely not be his birthday.
The completely premeditated, non-birthday lasted for a full five days. Naturally for him he took the helm and we were wined and dined, whisked hither and thither to many of our cultural haunts, winery’s and exquisite restaurants. Overlaps all calculated and last to leave were the kids and after we dropped them at the airport we had (and needed) a few days left to ourselves to recover.
A long promised treat to selves was the craic of finding a small family run taverna that we stumbled over 10-15 years prior. He dug their potatoes from behind the ‘kitchen’. She fried them their own olive oil on a single Calor burner in a knackered old wok. Which has since been upgraded see above . They grow the salad, make the cheese etc. The fried potatoes didn’t disappoint and remain, to us, the best of the best and she was still gifting him some serious ear ache (love her!).
Champagne Charlie (who should better be known as diamond Lil) and her beau were the couple that made up our final four for lunch. Finishing their meals with apple pie(!), chocolate fondants and the like it was my time to celebrate. I had been looking forward and likely earned my own celebration dessert. As my mate Steph and her family have a gorgeous quirky, outsey-dorsey restaurant, where she makes the best balklava and kadifi ever.
My plate stoked that I couldn’t eat it all hence brought the rest home in a container. The next day I sent it to No 1 Son who also shares my passion. Steeped in delicately flavoured sugar syrup I’ve always thought it would last in an amphora for centuries and still be delectable. (Euphoric sums the recipient acceptance). For only days before he had sought and bought me an ice cream, a Kadifi ice cream so as I can bring this epistle full circle..
Ahh she gets there at last. Cobble your version together with proper kataifi pastry, ultra fine fried noodles or no effort crunchy breakfast cereal pillows, the effect being finely shredded phyllo wrapped around a nutty filling steeped in an unctuous syrup.
Totally desperate? A small quantity of (ridiculously stunning) flavoured syrup. A strong stock syrup (equal parts sugar and water) infused with pithless lemon and orange skin, lemon juice, a clove, 2-3 drips of rose water, a small notch of cinnamon stick. Whacked into the microwave on low for a couple of minutes. Once cooled and strained add about half the finished quantity of a floral or herby honey. Boom. Yum.
For the crunch – time short here I default to the cereal and added a handful of whizzed nuts sloshed it all together and left to combine for an hour or so before blending it through some slightly softened vanilla ice cream….. it’s so absolutely wrong its right (thought technically couldn’t be further away from the delicate and divine original).
His Lordships wishes adhered to. Telling all and sundry of the exemplary trip and his best ‘holiday’ ever. My mission well and truly accomplished. Then a gentle drive to the airport to fly home. Gifted a four hour gap (if everything went according to plan) there would be no necessity to lock down for 14 days. Whoppeee. This being a happy fluke rather than an an orrery alignment or of algorithmic design.
Fingers crossed that I haven’t given the game away and wrap this up wishing you safe and well.
Happy birthday dear Tea Boy, happy birthday to yoooooo… x
Toot toot x