It was fabulous. K invited me to be her plus one for a Buckingham Palace Garden party, so of course I said yes within about three nanoseconds of being asked. I’ve wanted to go to a Buckingham Palace Garden party since I was about fourteen, just because. I’ve been round the Palace gardens on a tour with the Carlton Club, I’ve been to the Royal Warrant Holders’ party event with my parents’, so I feel that I know the gardens themselves well. However, a proper Garden Party, with a Stiff White Invitation with Raised Printing (yes, just like my wedding invitations) hadn’t happened. And N no longer has access to the system that he built to organise the invitations for such events, so we couldn’t jemmy me in. Not that we would. But oh, the temptation!
We made a day of it, in our smart Guiding uniforms. We had lunch at Claridges, and, I will say, this was hands down the best gluten-free dining experience I have ever had. “What on the menu is gluten free, please?” “Oh, just choose anything, and we will make it gluten-free, madam.” We may have had the fixed price lunch (three courses, £35, then coffee and wine), but they treated us like everyone else, and, indeed, just made everything gluten-free for me. I’m going back there. I may range round the menu a bit more next time. It may become expensive.
(they have a long rope of marshmallow from which they cut slices. Four different flavours. Yum)
And then, we went to the Palace. Selfie outside to go on the Division Twitter Feed, photo with a Jolly Guardsman, in his Jolly Coat, with his Jolly Buttons to his Jolly Throat. The heavens opened. We opened our brollies and sheltered people nearby. Simon Hughes introduced me to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (a surprisingly deep voice, and you would not have thought she could be any more horsey in person than she comes across on the telly, but she is. Her lovely silk suit was soaked, and she can’t have been comfortable. It didn’t show at all). We met some Guides, and recruited a new leader, we met some scouts, mayors, holders of the Empire Medal. It’s lovely how a Guide Uniform makes you approachable. As someone entirely socially inept, I like the help it gives me, although I’m always conscious that I must be on my best possible behaviour in it.
(hours later, the button exploded off my left shoe. I’ve had those shoes since I was 17, and I’m determined to get them mended!)
Quite frankly, it’s the most exciting event of the year so far. It would be the most exciting event of the year, but for my wedding, which I anticipate is going to be even more exciting. Particularly since two of my Canadian Cousins are now coming over. They had a trip planned for October, then J’s third husband got carried off by Lymphoma three weeks ago (boo. Sodding Cancer), and they brought it forward. They’ve changed the dates again to come to my wedding, and this means I have an unprecedented eight members of my family (including myself) at the wedding. This is the biggest family reunion since my christening! There’s only the cousins in Norfolk, who don’t talk to us (we don’t know why, we tried) plus my Aunt and Cousin (insert whole can of worms which will be left firmly shut) who don’t really talk to my Mum and vice versa, left. All those on Dad’s side… I do send cards to my Aunt at Christmas. Mostly because I don’t want to be the impolite one.
I’m sitting in slightly lonely state at N’s Dad’s – who is rather perkier than he’s been recently, and was actually awake when I got here, which was rather nice. Poor N has gastroenteritis. I bought a thermometer yesterday, and then wished I hadn’t. A temeperature of 39.9C is, well, scary. It came down with paracetamol. He thinks he might try eating something today. Maybe. He’s got lucozade, rehydration drinks, ice lollies and the complete Sandman to read, and he’s staying put in bed until he’s better. I believe that once you’ve made your way through all the Sandman books, you’re better. Mostly because my re-reading them seems to coincide with my being ill, and it always takes longer to read them than it does to be ill.
I think I’ve avoided it. I do hope so. He started being ill on Sunday, and it’s now Wednesday, so I think I’m in with a fairly good chance here. Plus there’s been lots of handwashing and loo-cleaning going on. All hail the Dettol Loo Wipe, which makes one feel fairly secure. All hail plain old soap too. And, all hail the fact that for the first time in weeks, I’ve had enough time to paint my finger nails. I had a moment of epic selfishness last night, and did them after having run two DBS checks, collected stuff from Boots for N, and looked after him a bit (which involved another trip out to the supermarket for Lucozade). There was a point on Saturday where I was just totally fed up with being Div Com and I wanted my life back. It passed over OK. I was just a bit over-Guided. I had some B-vitamins and some iron tablets, and they seem to have helped.