The invitation was quite specific ’You are invited to a May Day Holiday Food Fight. Bring your swimming goggles’.
In all my sheltered decades I have never before been invited to a food fight. and when my daughter suggested I might just want to sit and watch I decided, no, I actually wanted to take part. The prospect of legitimately wearing my diving mask in an Oxfordshire wood (given the cancellation of my scuba trip this month) was too tempting.
It also seemed like an exciting end to what has been a year of ‘Rolling’ birthday celebrations and thanksgiving for friends, family and health. Admittedly, the last few months have been a bit challenging healthwise, but that has only made me more appreciative of my blessings and determined to continue having fun and enjoying life.
We almost overshot the small un-signposted track off the Oxford to Reading road; we bumped along a grassy pathway, slowly wound through rampant bluebell woods and finally came out into a clearing that turned out to be an unkempt, rural hideaway. It was breathtaking in its rural simplicity.
Under the trees a shambolic cluster of old cupboards appeared to have gathered themselves together. They housed useful everyday things you would need for living in the woods: cooking pots and pans, BBQ implements, picnic utensils, crockery, cutlery, water containers, bottle openers and more.
Battered old wooden chairs were casually grouped around a huge low-level cast iron barbecue and basic stove whcih sttod in the clearing. Whilst the chaps did the ‘boy thing’ of finding kindling and wood and building a fire, the kids began exploring and experimenting with the posibilities around them. Time for climbing trees, spinning down the DIY Zip line, swinging on old inner tubes and hanging upside down from trees. Not an iPhone, tablet or Xbox around.
The fire blazed into action, conversation flowed easily and the sausages and beans were cooked and served up.
everyone was fed and watered the serious business of choosing teams for the iminent Food Fight began. Family and Friends took sides and prepared for battle!
Protective clothing and swimming goggles were donned. Next the anmmunition was unveiled. Two huge pans of soft cooked fusilli pasta, bags of self-raising flour, canisters of shaving foam were displayed and the two team leaders divided it up and the teams carried it off to their own personal armouries !.
Small containers of soggy pasta hidden in rows amongst the bluebells
Paper Plates, smothered in foam laid in formation behind tree trunks
Paper Cups filled to the brim with flour near the nettles
On a given signal, battle began. The two ‘goggled’ teams ran in and out of the trees, whooping with glee as an unsuspecting ‘victim’ was caught with a full frontal plate of foam or pasta. Two-handed techniques were hilarious – usually this involved creeping up behind an unsuspecting ‘victim’ (who was usually intent on throwing pasta on someone else) and clapping a pair of paper plates on both sides of his or her head. There was much rolling around on the ground, goggled faces rapidly became unidentifiable, screams of laughter echoed around the woods, giggling, ghostly figures took over the landscape and a cloud of flour wafted gently in the breeze.
And then, just as suddenly as it had begun it was over. Triumphant photos were taken before everyone trooped back to the warmth of the fire, clearing up the debris on the way.The old cupboards were locked, ghostly teenagers safely put out the camp-fire and we made our way back to our cars. What a crazy, fun Saturday afternoon in Deepest Oxfrdshire.
My daughter looked at my pale face and said seriously “Maybe we should add a bit of colour with baked beans next year?.“