Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Catching Up: A Birthday Party

What with me having been away for a week to work at the GamesCom in Cologne and having RJ staying with me for several days before that, I have some catching up to do not only blog-wise, but obviously with some household stuff such as washing and ironing as well, while at the same time getting back into my normal pattern of work and sleep, sports and play.

Therefore, only now, more than ten days after the actual event, am I posting about my mum's birthday party.

All of July and August, the weather here was very unreliable and mostly way too cold with a lot of rain. Some mornings in July, I even had the heating on for a little while! So we had to plan things in a way that bad weather would not mean the end of the party.

I have written about my parents' allotment several times before, for instance here, showing pictures of the garden and the shed they have there. For smaller gatherings, we often use the patio in front of the shed, but for mum's birthday, there would not have been enough room for the roughly 20 party guests (ourselves included).

The allotment is part of a larger area of similar gardens, and everyone who has a garden there has to be a member of the local gardening club. Now, this wouldn't be for me (too many rules and regulations to observe), but there are some advantages to it, such as having a fence around the perimeter, a parking space and well-maintained paths as well as running water and toilets, and although my parents are not happy about each and every rule, they have adapted to it and made some good friends among the other garden owners there.
Another advantage is that there is a communal area the members can use for free: tables, chairs, a fully equipped kitchen, a bar, and enough space to have rather big "dos" indoors as well as outdoors, and my mother chose to have her party there.

At first, my sister and I were not particularly enthusiastic about the idea, because, frankly, we thought the place looked a bit shabby, not pretty enough to celebrate such an important event. But there simply were no alternatives, and since it was of course for our mum to decide where she wanted to have her party, we organized everything to make it a really beautiful day.
We were lucky with the weather - as you can see in this picture of the allotment, it wasn't overly sunny and hot, but dry and warm enough for us to set up the tables and chairs outside.
We put up some decoration as well, like this "Happy Birthday" garland. There was a lot more; we had candles and lanterns everywhere, but there are people with their faces visible on those pictures, so that I can not show them here - most people are very sensitive about their pictures being posted on the internet, and I have to respect their wish. In this case, the two men in the background are not recognizable except to those people who know them anyway, and therefore I have decided to use this picture.

 The tables and chairs...

...and some decoration on the tables, flowers from the garden and citronella candles (these are supposed to keep flying insects away).
My mum had sent out her party invitation by email, asking everyone to not give her any presents, but to bring food instead and get in touch with me, so that I could keep track of what was going to be there - we didn't want to end up with 5 bowls of the same kind of salad and nothing else! As you can see, we had plenty of cake :-) (From left to right: apple, plum, pear, peaches & cream, poppy seed)

As the afternoon wore on and everyone had had some cake, we got the food ready for the evening. I do not have pictures of all of it, only of the starters which consisted of Caprese (tomato, mozzarella, basil) and melons & ham as well as some mediterranean-type vegetable antipasti and baguette bread.
For the main course, there was plenty of meat (chicken legs and others), spuds salad, pasta salad, and at least two other types of salads.

My contribution to the buffet was one of the salads and, for dessert, fruit salad which I made out of what you can see here:
 It looked like this when I was finished chopping everything up, which took me about 3/4 of an hour :-)
It was the wonderful afternoon and evening my mum deserved, and we all had plenty of fun (and plenty to eat!).

PS: It was pointed out to me that, in fact, making use of the communal area did not come for free. My parents paid a small fee for using the place, including water (no electricity, since there is only a generator which we did not want to use for the noise it makes). It still was a lot less than what it would have cost to have the party at a restaurant, and it was more fun that way.


  1. What a nice party! And the cakes look divine.

  2. So fabulous, all the work you did, you must have a wonderful mother. And those pies look very well made. Were they as good as they look?

  3. That sounds super and I'm glad you had a wonderful afternoon. I love the colours of a fruit salad.

    I wonder if those citronella candles work. I've had some sitting at home for years but never tried using them.

  4. It all looks wonderful, and what a great idea to ask for food instead of presents.

    As for the cake...mo-one makes cakes like the Germans do (I assume the party was in Germany?)!

  5. Sonia, the cakes were indeed quite divine!

    Julie, yes, my mother is wonderful and she'd deserve such a party every week :-) The cakes were as good as they looked - although, sadly, I only managed to eat three pieces and could not try all five.

    The citronella candles do work; nobody (as far as I know) got stung or bitten by anything. We also had a wasp trap, because wasps are not really impressed by citronella.

    Frances, yes, the party was in Germany. That's where we live, in a middle-sized town near Stuttgart, down South.

  6. An allotment with a BAR??? Now that works for me. I know a secret bottle of sherry for a quick snifter in the allotment shed is quite common and my old dad had an underfloor space entirely full of beer cans.
    My allotment doesnt even have water, but then, it doesnt really have rules either. All that malarkey with being told what colour to paint your shed seems a little hysterical to me. You need muddles for ths slow worms and toads to live in. (pictures available on request).
    Nice cakes, by the way. Perhaps I will have an allotment party and invite all my friends to dig my potatoes. Its worth it for a few cakes, surely!

  7. This looks like the background for a lovely celebration! You mother is obviously a wonderful woman lucky enough to have great daughters and good friends. You brought me some memories of living in Dachswald, a suburb of Vaihingen outside of Stuttgart. Our street looked out over a little valley with lots of allotment gardens all together and we had a friend who had one of the allotments so we spent some time there. In the spring it was so beautiful to look out over the little valley full of blossoming fruit trees. I wish your dear mother "alles gute zum geburtstag" even if a little too late.

  8. Belated birthday wishes to your Mum from the west coast of the US.
    Beautiful party in a delightful setting. I wish I could have joined you...my southern accent (I was born in the deep south) mixed with your German would have provided laughs all around.

  9. Perl, some of their rules are rather ridiculous, while others make sense - and the whole rule-thing is, at least to me, way too restrictive in the first place. But it is not my allotment, and my parents are happy there, which is what counts.

    Kristi, vielen Dank :-)

    Jill, thank you!

  10. It's the people that make the party isn't it. Everything else is a bonus. (I wrote that ages ago and have just found it - unsent. So I'm sending it now. Which is a statement of the obvious!).

  11. GB, my parents have such good friends, some of them go back as long as kindergarden times more than 60 years ago, and the guest list was a mixture of old and new friends as well as some family. Indeed, the people make the party!

  12. Looks like a wonderful party! It's so nice when guests bring food, especially in this economy! Happy Birthday to your mum!

  13. Mary, it was indeed wonderful. Having the guests bring along food also makes for some nice variety, since they of course have different favourites and recipes than what we usually serve when we prepare it all ourselves.

  14. Thank you for letting me share in your Mom's birthday party! We really must be sisters under the skin... I thought I was the only one who takes photos of fruit before and after I make fruit salad. You should see me arranging the fruit, you would think I was trying to arrange it for artists to paint or something! (But it IS beautiful, you can see why the old masters wanted to paint it.

  15. Kay, I so agree with you - the camera is my easel and paint brush, since I have neither the talent nor the time to actually paint or sketch all the beautiful, curious, interesting and funny things I see every day.

  16. Are these the kind of allotments that sometimes have a little house on them? I forget the name in German - "Schrebergarten" springs to mind (??)I would imagine the rules and regulations can be a pain but it would be wonderful to have a little cottage to go and stay during the summer months, and potter around there doing gardening. In England they only have sheds on allotments.

    What professional looking cakes! and your fruit salad would have been one of my favourites.

    I'm glad your mum had such a nice birthday.

  17. Yeah, the Schrebergartens seem to be quaint little places - almost sometimes as if a small boy and girl, lost in the woods might havve stumbled upon the "sheds" whilst leaving a trail of (cake) crumbs. Sweet. Twee even. I think I would be chucked off after a month.
    My own allotment shed is home to many spiders but otherwise rarely has any other occupant. This is typical of allotment sheds here. Though when the kids were little, we used to go down there and cook soup on a primus stove in the dark, because it was an adventure. And they hadnt yet noticed the spiders.
    I like sheds. But I want to be free to paint them whatever colour is cheapest.

  18. Jenny, the allotments where my parents have theirs are relatively big, not like the narrow strips of vegetable beds one often sees here between railway tracks and where I would not want to sit down for coffee and cake or sunbathe and read. Everyone there has a tiny cottage, and some people sleep there every weekend during the summer (I wouldn't want to - I want my shower and my comfortable bed).
    Thank you for saying that about my fruit salad!

    Perl, I wouldn't last long, either, with all them rules and regulations there. Strangely enough, there seems to be no rule regarding a limit to the amount of "decorative items" to put in the gardens. Some are so cluttered you hardly see the flowers for all the "deco".

  19. That smorgasbord made me uncontrollably hungry. How will ever find something that even slightly compares for breakfast??!!

  20. Dear Librarian...so glad to see you posting today...wondered where you'd gotten off to.

  21. Hello westwood, thank you for stopping by at my blog. I have just checked out yours. What did you have for breakfast then? :-)

    Jill, I did not actually post this today, but more than a week ago; I only added a "PS" at the end of the post. Work and other things have kept me busy this past week. Hope you're alright!