Week’s End: Happy birthday to me!

I recently turned 50, and marked it this weekend with a really special dinner in the company of some of my closest friends.

The setup

We turned our living room and garden into an intimate dining space for 23 guests. I spent a good part of the preceding week trying to figure out exactly how I’d seat everyone without it turning into a game of Snake on the night —I realise that my gaming reference is really showing my age — and tried everything, including a U-shaped, T-shaped, even S-shaped table arrangement starting inside and ending outside. I learned that as soon as you introduce corners, you lose valuable seating space, so finally settled on three big tables with one on the terrace.

Thank God the weather was divine.

A unique dining experience

A huge thank you to the Plateful Cafe, who sent two refugee cooks to prepare a delicious three-course dinner, topped off with a stunning birthday cake. Faten and Sana are from Syria and the Plateful Cafe now gives them a London Living Wage. They spent the whole afternoon in our kitchen and enthusiastically showed me the cooking techniques they’re so proud of.

The food was all delicious and our guests loved it all, as well as the entire experience itself. The cake was made by an Iranian refugee and tasted of orange, lavender and poppy seeds, and looked magnificent.

We got to thank Faten and Sana before they left us to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Cook for Syria

Shout out to the beautiful Cook for Syria recipe book — a gift from Sarah and Jo — that inspired my search for refugee cooks.

We also raised money for refugees

In lieu of gifts, we also raised almost £800 (so far) to support the work of the International Rescue Committee who help and rescue refugees fleeing conflict and natural disaster, all around the world. It’s an impressive and effective organisation, which I’m also proud to serve on the UK board.

Thank you so much to my friends who donated so generously. In case anyone else felt like making a contribution to a worthwhile cause, here’s the link to my Just Giving page.

Thank you

We’ve now retrieved all our furniture from the neighbour’s back yard and have a living room again. The night was a great success and my only regret is that we couldn’t have extended invitations further, but were limited by tables and chairs!

Thank you to everyone who joined us. I loved it…and love you all.

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