In my time, I have thrown the odd, gorgeous party. Once, outside under the mango tree, with my own basil-cured salmon and enough champagne to swim in. Outside, under another mango tree, on picnic rugs, with candles all around (a guest, Paul, who knows a thing or two about hosting, told me I was a woman who knew how to use candles), ending with a pear and brie tart. Another time, in winter, serving seared kangaroo fillet and a mushroom risotto to good friends who brought good wine. At the time, and in hindsight, all really rather lovely.
I've also been a guest at the odd gorgeous party: farewell do's in pink mansions by the river, lights from the city sparkling on the pool; tipsy dinners on the verandahs of old Queenslanders, conversation sharpening as the wine flowed; a catch up lunch of corn from the garden and butterflied lamb, barbecued on Paul's deck and eaten under a grape vine, followed by sundaes with raspberries from his garden. My friend Tambo has made me peach bellinis for one birthday and Maggie Beer's quails in a fig bath for another (don't believe the book - removing those backbones and ribs is much trickier than you are lead to believe).
Today, I hosted my first proper kid's birthday party, a few weeks after Lu's actual birthday. Honey joys, chocolate crackles, and not quite enough Cheezels, red and green cordial, a cake with sky blue icing and a Tyrannosaurus marked out in sprinkles and smarties; carrot sticks that the kids didn't even sniff. Plus, lots of space in the park and ducks to feed. And balloons. I was hailed by the younger set as the hostess with the mostest.
Whereas I once measured the success of a gathering by the volume of the laughter and the lateness of the leave taking, today I was pleased that no-one got stung by a wasp or run down by the Little Athletics cross country carnival that was racing past the picnic table.
Now it's back to Brisbane to work for a week, taking Lucy to play with the grandparents. Grandad, Meema, be warned - there are plans to scare you at the airport tonight with much roaring like a dinosaur.