Last minute high tea

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou know those times? When your husband and your 14 year old step-daughter gleefully announce, "We have decided to host a High Tea party for our friends next weekend." And you think, "Oh great. That means I will be hosting a High Tea party for their friends next weekend," and then you think, "When did I get so old and bitter?" So you just tell them that is a brilliant idea, and stop yourself from thinking about recipes and decorations and logistics and instead you let them have their moment. That delicious moment when you plan and look forward to something fun.

And as the week goes on, you restrict yourself to the occasional question. "Have you decided what you will cook yet?" And, "Did you remember that Raya is gluten-free and lactose intolerant?" And when they answer, "We'd better get on to that soon," you hold your tongue and don't point out how long it generally takes to plan and cook for and set up these kinds of things.

Now it is Saturday night and the High Tea is on Sunday and as far as you're aware, nothing has yet been done. "What are your plans for tomorrow?" you innocently ask.

There is sudden panic in your home. In resignation, your husband rings their friends with the intention of cancelling but, before he can do so, said friends say "We're really looking forward to the High Tea!" so there goes that idea.

For a couple of minutes, your heart sinks and your martyr complex rises. You imagine yourself coming up with an entire menu of gluten-free, dairy-free High Tea treats and trying to concoct them that night and early the next morning. You think how tired you'll be, especially in between caring for a little baby and cleaning the house. You remember the last time you baked with gluten-free flour and how truly inedible the result was.

Then you suck it up and say, "BEGONE, Martyr Naomi." The next morning, you run up to the local bakery and buy a selection of assorted macarons, friands and mini meringues, then pick up some lovely berries, grapes and cherries from the organic fruit store. Back home, you and Mr B clean the house from top to bottom while Madeleine and Emily sleep in.

You pull out all the pretty china and set a simple table in the courtyard under the olive tree, decorating the table by putting some flowers that Emily picks from the front garden in an old marmalade jar. You put on a pot of tea. Mr B juices a dozen lemons for you to make fresh, sparkling lemonade.

Turns out, you don't have to make everything yourself, from scratch, for everyone to have a good time. Who knew?