Once a year, one of the main residential streets of our village is shut off to traffic, lined with trestle tables, and decorated with fabric flags. It is the Southborough Rd Big Lunch – and the whole street spends the weekend cooking and putting together menus.
Then, on a Sunday afternoon, people spill down the steps from their old London terrace houses, loaded with bowls filled with Ottolenghi salads, whole grilled fish, tea cakes, and flowers to fill the tables with.
People have been talking about the Big Lunch all week – and have all dropped past the Deli to pick up some ingredients and discuss what everyone is making. We grabbed some fold down chairs from the attic and wandered down, loaded with greek dips and pita bread. For fun we had all decided to dress in denim!
As soon as we arrived, our plates were loaded with prawns, rice pilau, grilled eggplant with tahini and dukkah – more food than we could imagine. Theo was making everyone amazing pulled lamb brioche burgers.
We wandered between tables piled high with feasts, chatting to our neighbours and friends.
The musical instruments came out, and the kids amused themselves by banging on drums and cymbals.
Everyone had brought way too much food, so we all wandered the street offering everyone else bits and pieces from their tables. Theo gained a whole mackerel, and was pretty excited about it!
A little band was pulled together – my boss and his son at the centre.
As soon as the band finished, the whole street clapped and cheered – and in a very un-London-like fashion, the skies opened up immediately and drenched us in the heaviest downpour we have seen in a while. As one of us said ‘This is Sydney weather!‘
Immediately everyone ran, opening umbrellas, covering loaves of bread, draping jackets over musical instruments. As the rain started to get heavier, Jo, the owner of the bookstore, and I wore Deli boxes on our heads.
The recycled paper didn’t last long, and soon we were soaked. It hit a point when we realised it wasn’t going to stop any time soon, so in a mad, laughing rush everyone ran with the closest food item, child or handbag into the closest house. We all ended up in various peoples homes along the street, our belongings scattered in various houses, but safe from the rain.
I made a bunch of lamingtons – I’d say about 1/4 of the people in the village are Australian or married to an Australian – so I thought something Aussie would go down well! After our mad rush inside, and after we had dried off a little – cheesecake was cut, lamingtons were opened, and someone asked if anyone had any wine. Theo, as if on cue, walked in with a box from the Deli – ‘Why, here is 10 litres!’ We sat around laughing and chatting, dripping on the towels all over the floor and draped on the chairs. The kids bundled up in beanbags and watched Annie.
Perfect, mad end to a perfect, lovely day.