In our part of the world, February is late summer, the peak of the grape harvest and should be hellishly hot. It’s also my birthday month which means that I can often remember what the weather was up to. Our first February in McGregor howled – gale force winds. We had invited people for sundowners. About fifteen, as I recall. The plan had been to have all the doors open so that people could be outside and on the veranda. Impossible. We all had to squash into the tiny space occupied by the kitchen, dining and sitting rooms.
The following year was a milestone birthday, so the number of guests would certainly not fit into the “reception” area of our cottage. And I wanted it to be in a garden. We had found a beautiful garden venue in the village and after the previous year, I was nervous. The weather gods blessed my birthday which dawned with glorious sunshine and no wind other than the usual “four o’clock wind” which cools the village down a little. The evening was spectacular – in a garden, under trees. Last year, I cocooned and decided that it was a non-event and that I would let the day surprise me. It was a Saturday and I went, as I usually do, to have a natter with a friend who has a shop in the village. As we were chatting, we heard a clip, clop, clip, clop and a whinny. We looked at each other and hared out of the door. And there, hitching their horses to the nearest lamp posts, was a group of vintage horse and cart enthusiasts. They had stopped for some essential sustenance, for themselves from the pub next door, and for their beasts. Knowing the Husband’s fondness for things mechanical and historical, he was bidden to head down the road. As usual, he thought I’d lost the plot; it was the Cat’s Mother’s birthday, so he humoured me. There followed a wonderful few hours, sitting on the verandah, quaffing the local wine and chatting with visitors and locals alike. What a wonderful birthday surprise! This February was also memorable, for a whole lot of other reasons.
Valentine’s dinner in the street, under the stars, at the longest table imaginable. The evening before my birthday, Jazz under the Fig Tree at Tanagra, in weather that had us in our winter weeds.