Fortieth celebration weekend
Whoever you are, you can't escape the passage of time. Rich and poor alike all age at more or less the same rate. Some people fight it harder than others do; some seem to accomodate the passing years better than others; but all grow chronologically older at the same rate.
I've just passed one of those significant barriers, the big four-oh, along with my twin sister. The fact that two of us were celebrating together required some sort of joint event, so Fiona organized a weekend involving the families of Anne and I, plus those of our two siblings, plus my parents, which totalled 10 adults (pictured above) and 11 children ranging from 1 to 11 in age.
So we gathered at Moreleaze Farm in Somerset, where we occupied three cottages, with a swimming pool, games room and tennis court for entertainment. Friday evening was curry night, with my father as a chef, washed down with lots of fizz. But this was preceded by a trip to the local, one of the most remarkable pubs I've ever visited.
The Seymour Arms at Witham Friary is a bit of living history. For a start, it doesn't serve food. These days virtually all pubs are overpriced restaurants that serve beer. The Seymour Arms is what pubs used to be like, 60 years ago. There's one large room, with a wooden bench running around the perimeter, painted duck-egg blue. In the middle of the room are four large tables, with bench seats either side. The bar is effectively a large window, interfacing with the residential part of the pub in which there is a single cask of ale, a couple of casks of cider, and the other drinks. Only one beer was available, Butcombe, and it was £2 a pint. We had a couple of pints, played darts, and left in awe at this flash-back in time to a different era.
Saturday was a day of activity, including a tennis match in which sister Hester and myself were narrowly beaten by younger brother Arthur and twin sister Anne. Saturday evening saw a talent show with the various families each putting in a performance (brother Arthur's family rendition of Old MacDonald on the ocarina was the most memorable), followed by a slide and cine (super 8) show which my father had organized (seeing yourself on film aged five puts things in perspective a bit), and then the gala dinner - a black tie affair washed down with some serious fizz, good claret and Vintage Port. Significantly, we enjoyed some fizz from a Jeroboam, which is effectively a double magnum. Kindly provided by brother-in-law Beavington, it was an impressive Drappier Millesime Selection 1999 (pictured).