A week beforehand the météo promised sun and thirty degrees - in October!
Well that would be very welcome. We could have everyone at tables on the veranda. So the garden needed to look good and much time was spent in weeding, mowing, strimming. And removing a year's worth of cobwebs from way up in the top of the veranda roof.
We nervously watched the forecast deteriorate as the week wore on and began to talk about "plan B". Eat inside. That meant the effort switched to dusting, hoovering, removing a year's worth of cobwebs from way up in the one-day-to-be our entrance hall roof and cleaning off the evidence of our spring broods of baby red-starts who had learnt to fly there.
Additional chairs and lamps and cutlery and dishes were brought up from the cottage and we anxiously reviewed whether we would have enough of everything. Larger serving plates were needed and it looked like more knives and forks were required - so they were added to the Leclerc's food shopping list.
We kept hoping the météo was wrong and checked out several sites - his météo seemed to promise better weather than mine. Saturday was spent cooking: One in the kitchen in the house and the other in the kitchen in the cottage - better to keep out of each other's way. And still we hoped.
Sunday dawned wretched - a steady grey drizzle. Who would want to be on the veranda in this? Our guests would be arriving shortly and we needed all the tables inside - including the long heavy oak one that lives outside and seats ten. I thought it wouldn't work. He said it would. And time was ticking by.
There were salads to be made - tomato, cucumber and watermelon; chicory, pear and cashews - melon and parma ham to be laid out; tomatoes and mozzarella to be cut up and dressed with basil and balsamic vinegar; the cold chicken roll stuffed with prunes to be carved. The slow roast lamb to check, the mashed potatoes to pop in the oven, the peas to gently simmer with onion, lettuce and coconut milk. And we were still moving furniture.
With half an hour to go Tod had managed to fit four tables in the house with seating for thirty-two. I dashed round laying out napkins, place mats, cutlery, nibbles. The one-day-to-be entrance hall had flowers and greenery and tables ready with glasses and wine bottles. Beer and soft drinks were on ice. It all looked inviting.
But all the salads were still to be made and our first guests were arriving.
Oh the joy of friends who come wandering out to the kitchen, away from the hubbub in the hall saying "can I help?". And suddenly the salads were ready, the chicken carved and Tod's char-grilled vegetables laid out.
Some time later, pottering alone in the kitchen, I could hear the laughter from the lounge and knew, despite the weather, it was going to be a good day.