The joy of hosting

I do love having people here to stay or for a day. This was a non-hosting weekend, but it gave me some time to think about the differences between a houseful of guests and one without.

I do make more of an effort with the physical environment when visitors come. So, yep, I clean if you visit, not so much if you don’t. This became a bit of a joke when the children were very small and I would ask people over for coffee explaining that nothing else would motivate me to get the vacuum cleaner out.

My house is not huge, but it’s not tiny. Having people here to stay or even just for the day is an exercise in re-enacting A Squash and A Squeeze by Julia Donaldson, one of our favourite children’s books. Well one of mine. I early on recognised the joy of cramming lots of people into a house and then the realisation when everyone leaves that there is plenty of space really.

Over the years, having the aim of inviting people over has led to certain decisions in arranging the house. A small extension now houses a large dining table. We replaced two chairs with another sofa in the sitting room, as that gave a bit more space for people to squish in. For ages there was no coffee table, because playing room for children was much more important. There is a variety of spare beds stashed throughout the house. The garden was changed to add in sofas and a few extra seats, recognising that our garden is a place for people much more than plants really.

I enjoy the challenge of catering for groups and am rarely happier than when the house is full at breakfast time. All of which makes me think I need to plan in some weekends hosting folks. Off to the diary I head.

Being where they know your name

Remember the 80s American sitcom Cheers?  I need to re-watch that, I can’t quite remember why it was funny, but it was.  The theme tune mentions a bar where everyone knows your name.

It came to mind yesterday when one of the offspring and I were chatting about where to meet for our ritual Monday afternoon coffee.  We had a choice between the place we usually go to and somewhere with better cake.

The usual venue won out because, he said, “they recognise me there”.  I really wanted the excellent scones from the other venue, but feeling that you belong is much more important than cake in the end.

The choice of our usual venue came about despite the fact there is better coffee elsewhere and it is one of the chain coffee shops, not one of the interesting independents.  But it’s the one that first appeared on our high street, so the younger offspring has been going there since he was teeny tiny.

I moved homes and towns and schools a lot as a child.  A lot. My children have never moved home or school apart from the natural progression from one stage to the next. Those two facts are definitely linked. I really relish and appreciate the fact that a teenager can choose to meet at a coffee shop where he is known and which he has known forever.

Sometimes it’s good to stretch out for new adventures, other times it’s better to feel comfortable and amongst familiar faces in familiar places.   It is perfect when you have the choice between the two.

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I missed out on this – but it was worth it.