Christmas came and went and was pretty much a non event. Friends and family sent gifts from home which was lovely but it just wasn’t the same. We made the best of it that we could.
One of the highlights during this time was a visit to a colleague of dads. It was a party and a barbecue at which alot of our friends were also attending.
He lived in a smallish detached bungalow in well established and secluded grounds.
The garden was awash with colour from beautiful plants and shrubs, a large lawned area and a fair selection of large trees. The bungalow had double doors as the entrance which were wide open for this occasion.
A member of his staff was in the garden at the barbecue cooking an array of food, the smells were delicious and mixed with the familiar smell of burning charcoal.
Drinks were flowing and there was a large punch bowl full of floating fruit.
Music was blaring from inside the house and some people were already dancing on the marble floor.
It was noisy, people were laughing and generally having a good time.
John, the host of the party wanted to show us something on our arrival and led us down the garden to one of his large trees.
There draped over one of the branches was the largest snake I had ever seen in my life!
Or what was left of it!
The outer scaly skin of what wouldve been a huge snake was all that remained. Its body probably measured about a foot in circumference!
I stood there with my mouth open.
Why was its outer skin just left, what had happened to all its insides?
John relayed the story to us that it had come in his garden and was believed to be venomous and one of his staff shot it with a gun!
I was a little horrified and upset by this but maybe its the only thing that couldve happened to ensure everyones safety.
What happened later was the snake was put over a tree branch, I have no idea why but maybe this might explain it. Over the following day or two, ants and other creatures had completely devoured the internal body of the snake! Natures way of dealing with things. So it seemed John’s member of staff knew what he was doing by leaving it in the tree.
Inside the house Martine and I were studying a series of boxed framed pictures on the walls. Inside these displays were real life butterflies. About 6 to a box depending on the sizes.
They were the most beautiful butterflies I had ever seen! None of which I had ever come across in England. The colours were spectacular, shades of emerald green turquoise, purples and yellows. Some with long fancy shaped tail bits on their wings.
They were fixed to the boards with a pin through their body. This I didnt like at all but they were already dead so all I could do was admire them.
I pondered not on how John had caught them or what happened next, I pushed it out of my mind.
Regardless of that Martine and I were in awe and fascinated by them and their beauty.
Our attention strayed to Johns daughter.
She was about 18 and had been in charge of the music.
She had just changed the record to a very lively number and then proceeded to take control of the dance floor.
We watched her and giggled behind our hands as she started dancing. I can only describe it as soom kind of deranged headless chicken routine!
She mustve been on the punch.
We were hysterical.
Luckily she was unaware that we were laughing.
Martine and I copied her dance moves spectacularly well but with added exaggeration for effect.
We attracted some glances from fellow guests who looked on with amusement as they could see that we were mimicking her.
New Years Eve there was a big party at the Okapi Hotel some miles away. It was a big swanky place with a pool and on the lower ground floor there was a night club and discotheque.
For some reason I was allowed to go.
Chaperoned by Louise. It was only the young people going, mum and dad weren’t attending nor any of the other parents.
I wore my best dress that grandma had made for me, it was gypsy style with a white blouse under the main bodice and laced up front. I felt amazing and very grown up.
Louise looked very glam with her furry eyelashes, hair styled to perfection and wearing a short stripey number.
Dad took us in the car to pick up Dominique from her house.
Two other girls were also in the car, daughters of some friends.
Odette, Martine and Dominique came out of the house to meet us as we pulled up in the drive.
I was very excited but also very sad and felt quite guilty that I was going to this place.
Martine was not allowed to come.
Even a gap of 12 to 18 months makes all the difference I suppose when youre young and her mum didnt want her to go.
I was devastated for her. Dominique got in the car and we all waved as we drove away.
She never once displayed her sadness or disappointment that she wasn’t coming with us.
Instead she waved back excitedly back, shouting that she hoped we all had a good time, as dad’s tail lights of the car disappeared out of the drive and headed into the night.