Chapter 27 – Pimlico House

Suzanne – July 1983
Jack had absented himself for the evening and was not expected back until lunchtime the next day as he was dining and staying over in Oxford. Suzanne had taken over food preparation for supper. It had been her idea to inveigle Penny and Caitlin to come over for the evening and Rebecca had agreed with alacrity. She had then volunteered to feed the juveniles on sausage, mash and beans a perennial favourite with her two and Charlotte.
Thus left to concentrate on the adult menu Suzanne decided to cook a medley of Spanish Tapas the recipes for which she had hunted high and low after her first trip to Spain. Failing to find anything that approximated her experience she had made up her own versions that tasted much as she remembered. Suzanne was happily engaged chopping and stirring various pots and pans when a ring at the doorbell announced the arrival of the others.
Tyrone was the first to get to the door hotly pursued by Reuben. Just tall enough to reach he opened the door wide and then fell back abashed by the site of the unknown guests. Charlotte raced inside leaving Penny to perform introductions between her children and Rebecca’s. The children soon recovered their composure, Tyrone and Reuben from the security of home ground and Simon and Lucy from the age advantage. Charlotte had already found her prey. A dozing Ziggy was instantly on high alert. He loved the children but there was only so much attention that a cat will put up with.
Penny was greeted with hugs of delight from her two oldest friends. Exclamations of how great each of them were looking, changes in hairstyle and dress noted and complemented, all of them genuine.
‘It’s a wonder we’ve all survived 30’ Suzanne commented dryly as she poured wine for each as they settled in their habitual place around the kitchen table.
‘The only change I’m aware of is the odd grey hair and an increase in alcohol consumption’ responded Rebecca, laughing. ‘The alcohol is probably due to the boys rather than the age though’ she added with a wry smile.
‘Speak for yourself’ Penny interjected, ‘I’ve been breast-feeding so I’ve hardly touched a drop.’
‘Except that you’ve made up for lost time since your arrival’ joked Caitlin as they fell into their customary banter.
By the time the children’s bedtime (late) had arrived no one could be bothered to up sticks and revert to the original sleeping plans. Speedy baths and dormitory sleepover arrangements were invoked much to the delight of the children who continued to chatter and giggle well into the night unsupervised by their parents who were engaged in the self same activity.
Suzanne’s Tapas dishes were a huge success and were greeted by oohs and aahs followed by silence; which is the greatest compliment a cook can get. Suzanne had prepared her version of Potatas Bravas (literally ‘Brave Potatoes’) potatoes in a hot chilli sauce, Tortilla, some Mediterranean vegetable dishes using tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant and celery incorporating beans, chorizo and chicken and ultimately seafood plates with prawns, bacalao (cod) and squid.
With fresh crusty bread to mop up the juices all thoughts of dieting were thrown to the winds. The food was absolutely delicious. Suzanne paced the food so that they tried a few things than rested before the next wave of food arrived. Washed down with some Spanish Rioja nothing could be finer except the camaraderie, which was the best thing about the meal for all of them.

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