I was invited to dinner at a restaurant with Piers and his parents last night because it was his dad’s birthday.
Then, just hours before dinner, Piers suddenly MSNed me from work and said, “OMG my sister and her daughter are in town tonight so dinner will be at my parents’.”
So the event became just a bit more nerve-wracking for me.
But then, nobody’s ever died from having dinner with someone else’s family in their home, so I was able to be reasonably relaxed about it, only tearing out two handfuls of hair as opposed to, say, every last strand.
We arrived and discovered that the whole family clan was there, including grandmother and aunts and all. There were, like, 12 people in total.
Quite lucky I didn’t know that before dinner or I would be bald now. The last-minute discovery left me with no time to worry my hair off my scalp since it’s probably not very polite to dehair oneself while at someone’s birthday party.
So I did the next best thing I could do at that given situation: Enjoy myself.
It was very friendly and casual, really. Piers’ mum and dad were at the kitchen finishing up with dinner preparations while people streamed in, wished his dad a happy birthday, then stood around the kitchen to sip champagne and chat and, at times, get in the way.
Very warm and relaxed atmosphere.
Piers’ mum (Piper) prepares chipolatas for appetisers while Piers helps spoon out the English mustard.
Piers and his sister, Lisa.
Lisa and her daughter, Freya, and their dog, Herbie.
The lovely dinner spread.
Dinner was buffet style. We piled what we wanted onto our plates and sat eating in the sitting room (with a log fire).
Piper (that’s Piers’ mum) tells me it’s called a Fork Supper because you put your dinner on your lap and eat it with a fork. Something like that, I think.
I thought that was fun but Piers insisted on not following the rules so he got out some little tables for us to place our plates on. So naughty!
Well, okay, grandma had a little table too, so I suppose that’s okay.
Here’s a picture of Grandma Lily with her food, and Herbie the dog looking hopefully at her. On the armchair is Candy (Piers’ aunt) and at the fireplace is Basil the dog. The two dogs are brothers but live apart because they fight.
Grandma Lily is so cute. She asked Piers if I was from China and he said no, I’m from Singapore. At that point, I overheard their conversation and went over to join them.
Lily then looked at me and said, “Oh, I’m very glad you’re not from China because they only allow you to have one child there.”
Lily is 87.
I think Piers was a bit mortified by that conversation. You could see his face going “OMG”. So funny!
Anyway, Herbie didn’t get any scraps from grandma, so he came over to look mournfully at Lisa, who was sitting beside me.
My food. I had two servings!
It was quite amazing, really, being able to experience firsthand an English family doing their English thing. I don’t know if all English families are like that, but Piers’ folks are warm and friendly and humorous, often joking around and teasing one another.
Piers’ other sister wasn’t able to make it last night, so he put on a video of her with her new sausage dog, Ringo.
Ringo is so very, very cute! Oh, I have some photos of him from when Charlotte came to town some weeks ago. She lives in London.
Sorry, not very good photos.
Anyway, so, Ringo was on TV, bounding around in cute puppy fashion, when Herbie suddenly went ballistic.
He leapt towards the TV and started barking and snarling on the screen. He was all angry and jumpy and I thought he was going to leap at the TV. But he didn’t get a chance to because he got restrained and told off shortly after.
Then it was time for the birthday cake and dessert.
The cake is a special cake from a secret recipe supposedly handed down through the generations in Piers’ family. It’s called Queen Mary’s Cake because it was once made for Queen Mary. (I think it’s the Queen Mary who became queen in 1910 when she married King George V.)
The ingredients include dark chocolate, eggs (loads of it), cream, sugar and melted butter. It’s apparently very hard to make because there’s a special process, so you probably can’t make it even if you had the recipe.
Quite delicious but the chocolate layer is very sweet so I can’t have too much of it.
I suppose the next part is the same as anywhere else in the world. The birthday cake is lit, everyone sings the birthday song as the cake is brought into the room where the birthday person is, then the candle is blown and cake is served!
Freya readies the birthday cake.
Taking the cake into the room.
So, the first thing that the birthday boy did when the cake entered the room was to get his camera, lol. He was taking pictures of his cake even while his birthday song was being sung to him. So funny!
That’s Piers’ father, Peter, the birthday boy.
Peter holding his birthday candles.
Peter with his sister, Toni, and Basil in the middle
Yes. Piers’ dad is Peter and his mum is Piper. How cute is that! =)
We also had meringues. So nice! I’ve never had them before. They taste so good with cream and strawberries and raspberries.
I was so very full at the end of it.
After dinner, it was just relaxing by the fire, chatting, sipping wine or coffee or tea, although Piers and I didn’t stay for that. He was so worried that I’d be traumatised walking into a huge English family where I hardly knew anyone, so he dragged me out the house right after I’d stuffed myself sick with birthday cake and meringues.
Quite silly of him, really. I had a lot of fun and would have enjoyed staying. But it was nice of him to be so thoughtful. ;)
Anyway, I think I need to start skipping meals soon to balance my calories. I do very much want to be still recognisable when I return to Singapore. And able to immediately attack all the Singapore food I’m missing.
Oh, well, no Singapore food here, so I’ll do an England food post soon!