"Bon année et bon santé", "Godt nytt år" and "Happy New Year", these phrases were all said a fair few times between friends and neighbours after midnight on January 1st 2018 after we hosted a last minute gathering for an international new year guest list... We had everyone here, the French, the English, the Norwegians and the Northern Irish!
It's not the first time we've had a party here, we've had them twice before, the first time there were just four of us (trust me, we can make a party with just four people!), the second time there were seven of us (again an even better party with a dancing Jesus, a strong man and MC Hammer!) and the most recent time there were 20 of us, most of whom didn't know one another, but that didn't matter once the champagne and aperols started flowing and the box of random hats and wigs started working!
To add to the 'international' angle of the evening, we decided to do the food 'Auberge Espagnole' style - this is like a buffet, but one where everyone on the guest list brings a dish to the table. We asked for 'a dish of your home country' but I don't think that's what we got, but it didn't matter as we were still spoiled for choice as homemade houmous, apple and walnut salad, foie gras toasts, beef bourguignon, salmon blinis, cheese, gateaux and pavlova arrived...all great international dishes but not necessarily matched to the patriots that brought them!
The air was thick with different languages, particularly our badly spoken French, but it didn't seem to matter as everyone enjoyed the food, alcohol and conversation. It turns out that in France there isn't a traditional song sang at midnight, so once midnight arrived we 'showcased' 'Auld Lang Syne' (which is actually Scottish but hey we're one Europe right?!)...I think it went well, even though we don't know the words or the second verse, but at the end of the day everyone likes holding hands in ring so I think it was a success!
As with all parties, it took until midnight for people to really loosen up, the music was turned up, the fancy dress items were worn and some terrible dancing happened. We even had an 'international conga' around the kitchen island! There were moments where I wondered if I was in a parallel universe but seeing as we couldn't have family here with us, it was nice to share our new year with our lovely neighbours instead. All in all it was a good night, which ended with four men, two English, one northern Irish and one French man drinking whisky - and that just about sums it up!