• Louise Clarke

The Climb Down




There are things one knows after years of catering:-


The grander the house, the worse the kitchen

Don't wear yellow at harvest time, black pollen beetles (millions of them) will love you

Don't lift the lid on a pan of green veg. if you want them to remain green

Drunk people can't find the loo


and over and over again: You simply cannot rely on the weather in the UK. Surprisingly few people seem to know this.


The Derbyshire Peak District is very lovely and our bride's garden set on several spectacular terraces cut into the steep green hillside linked by rugged granite stone steps was particularly beautiful. We didn't find it quite so lovely though when we looked down to see the marquee and our service tent perched on a distant terrace rather a long way beneath the narrow country lane and our van full of equipment. The inevitable misty Peak District rain which chills and efficiently soaks through to your bones wasn't quite so welcome either.


My staff were made of stern stuff so they quickly made head and arm holes in black dustbin bags, slipped them over their heads to cover their clothes and cheerfully got on with carrying the not insignificant quantities of food and equipment down to our working area.


Our industrial - largely cast iron - calor gas cooker was more of a problem and we had no alternative but to try to magically create elegant food on the roadside high above the guests, in the rain, whilst trusting that a large vehicle needing the complete width of the narrow lane wouldn't appear at a crucial moment. Meanwhile the waitresses had to trudge up and down the steps (this time without the shelter of the bin bags) in order to get the food to the guests, hopefully still hot and not too obviously rain sodden.


Extraordinarily, the meal looked and tasted superb and I don't think it occurred to anyone that a small miracle had been performed. Mind you, I still think of the bride's family as almost the most thoughtless of all time. But we had our revenge! The rubbish (and there is a great deal when catering for big numbers) was inexplicably left behind and it must have been a nightmare to move in those black bin bags.