It’s that time of year again when we risk rain clouds and impending thunder to huddle courageously under gazebos in the hopes of grilled meat…

By Katie Garner

l-r: Het, Jess and Noel getting started on the drinks

l-r: Het, Jess and Noel getting started on the drinks

One of the plus points of being Club Captain is that I get to arrange all the fun stuff – and by fun stuff, I mean all of the socials. Since being re-nominated in our AGM back in April, I sternly made the vow to members that yes, I would bring you an excitingly awesome social event every single calendar month. Coming from a family of big barbequers, summer for me wouldn’t be complete without trying to round up the troops and plonk them in the vicinity of a gently glowing barbie to munch happily on a selection of smoke scented meats.

We held our first Wychelm Club BBQ last year with the grand total of ten people present, and I have to say it was a huge success. So much so, that it was only natural that a repeat performance presented itself as July’s social. Kindly hosted by my parents at their Ardleigh Green address, on Sunday 28th July about 17 Wychelmers came over to get the party started, kicking things off at 6.00pm.

l-r: Frank, Diane and Kerry enjoying Het's Indian nibbles

l-r: Frank, Diane and Kerry enjoying Het’s Indian nibbles

Our club BBQ’s really allow everyone to get stuck in and that is one of the great things about it. Usually people hand over between £5 and £10 to cover the costs of the meat and then every member is required to bring either a side dish or dessert with them, as well as their alcohol or soft drink of their choice. This really spreads the responsibility out and means that the concluding meal is a real team effort! With almost double the numbers at this year’s event, it was piped to be a corker, and I for one was looking forward to it.

With two gazebos covering the patio, garden tables and chairs collected neatly together, benches and side tables adoring the lawn and the BBQ menacingly smoking near the shed, the scene was well and truly set for a summer social. Luckily the weather held out and with beautifully bursting sunshine setting in the background, my mum Tina was able to cook an abundance of ribs, chicken drumsticks and thighs, lamb kebabs, corn on the cob, burgers and sausages. Frank provided a pileau style rice salad, while Nick and his wife brought bowls of pasta salad. Gary cohered his missus into mass making potato salad, while Kay considerately brought coleslaw. Noel brought a mountain of bread rolls, while Diane had us all snacking on her dips and crisps. We also had some oriental offerings as Mike T brought some Chinese snacks and Het brought some Indian corn balls.

l-r: Katie and Clem catching up over burgers

l-r: Katie and Clem catching up over burgers

After stuffing our faces with the main event, it was the turn of the dessert bringers. Tina had already provided a chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows and sponge fingers ready to dunk, but Mike F brought some trifle pots, Clem her trademark cupcakes and Frank a classic Victoria sponge. Helen went fruity with her fizzy vodka jelly, while I went for more traditional baking, testing out a new recipe for plum and almond crumble slices (a winner I decided, trying to fob them off on anyone who stood nearby / walked close enough).

With the drinking and mingling in full and heavy flow, as it hit 9.00pm, it was time to roll out the entertainment – a special belly dancing routine by detective Sam and medical student Jess. Professionally trained Sam had been teaching Jess the moves in completely secrecy leading up to the BBQ so we could reveal a dynamic duo of dance as a surprise. The performance was a complete success, with some of ladies sampling the spangled skirts afterwards – much to the men’s amusement.

Part of Sam and Jess's belly dancing routine

Part of Sam and Jess’s belly dancing routine

The majority of members left between 11.00pm and midnight in preparation for the Monday morning to follow, although some hard core late nighters kept the party rolling until 2.00am. Once again, I would say the event was a complete success and it is fantastic to see everyone getting so involved. Everyone made a real effort with all the goodies that were brought along and we therefore had a brilliant mix of food, as well as enough to feed a small army! I honestly feel that this is going to be one of the highlights of our social calendar, along with Christmas, and I’m just extremely relieved that the rain held off until gone 9.30pm! I really enjoyed the opportunity of getting to talk to everyone off court as well as catch up with players who have been absent, such as Het recovering from an operation after a muscle injury, and Clem who is well into her pregnancy.

Clearly there is only room for one Mike at Wychelm...

Clearly there is only room for one Mike at Wychelm…

Thank you again to all the members who came, and if you didn’t – very simply – you missed out. The club socials are there for you to let your hair down with your friends and I think the BBQ has definitely had the best attendance of a social, excluding Christmas. August’s social is already lined up and in the diary, so please get the details from the Facebook page and sign up on the notice board.