British Czech and Slovak Association (BCSA) Garden Party 2014 was every bit as good as I expected, and I had high expectations based on the previous years.
The only regret was that this was Jana's last BCSA event before heading back east to work in Vienna.
This year it was the Czech Embassy's turn to host the event and they did a great job, especially with the food and drink.
The format was much the same as usual but then why change something that works so well? The embassy opened up to the communal garden shared with the Slovak Embassy with most people congregating on the paved area. This was a wise move as it rained at times and so the shelter there was useful. The less brave souls stayed in the two large reception rooms inside.
The point of these events is to mix and talk, it would be called networking if this was a business event, and that is just what I did. I went with Richard, as usual, but we spent most of the afternoon off talking to other people, mostly people we had met at the monthly Get to Know You Socials.
I had had lunch before the Party and had no great desire to have an additional meal. I managed to avoid the temptation of the veggie burgers on the barbecue outside but the cheese on the cold spread inside just had to be eaten.
I also tried some warm Halušky, one of the national dishes of Slovakia, on Jana's insistence but was not convinced by potato served as though it were rice pudding.
The drink was more successful and the draught Pilsner Urquell went down very well. I knew that this was going to be a long day so I tried to pace my drinking with some success.
There was a separate competition for teddy bears and I saw several happy children walking around clinging on to theirs. It reminded me of the year that I won one in the main raffle but was not paying enough attention to claim it and so Lady Burton cleverly called out the number of the ticket being waived desperately by a small girl at the font and my loss was the girl's gain.
The party was scheduled to finish at 6pm but a happy party crowd is difficult to disperse and it took some firm action from the BCSA Committee to shepherd us out around 6:30pm.
A sizable group of us simply moved across the road to The Champion, as we had done in previous years. It is also where I met Richard for a quick pint before the party.
There the party carried on much as it had before, except that we had to pay a lot more for our drinks. I also got to watch some of the football which was a weird experience in itself as the sound was turned off and most of the people in the busy pub were paying no attention to it.
My Oyster journey history tells me that I left the pub just after 9:30. By my reckoning that was seven hours of happy partying. I like days like that.