Dinner Party: gather your kinfolk

There is a brief time in the year - those puddled months of January, February and March - when everything is over and nothing has yet begun. It is a time of waiting...waiting for days to lengthen, waiting for the wind to stop howling, waiting for the first shoots of spring to pierce the sodden earth. All the mid-winter frivolities are over and we retreat indoors with good intentions. We batten down the hatches and try and stick to resolutions to become more this, less that. Here and there the detritus of Christmas still drifts about - a pile of cards awaiting recycling - a reminder to get in touch, just a text or a phonecall maybe? And the days go by.

In these times of instant communication it is so easy for us to keep in touch with anyone and everyone and because we can all feel instantly connected to our friends and family with the ping of a text or a facetime video, so we can become complacent; we can seem as though we are in touch whilst we are actually losing touch because somehow life is more busy than it has ever been.

There is something restorative about swathing oneself in blankets, closing the curtains on the darkening world halfway through the afternoon and spooning hot soup from a bowl during the hibernating months. However, this is also the perfect time for getting in touch with your favourite people and gathering to share food, warmth and conversation on a bleak winter's night.

I love a proper dinner party; I like the sense of occasion. A good dinner party should delight the senses in every way: the smell of delicious food drifting through, woodsmoke from a log fire, maybe other scents - rosewood, nutmeg and frankincense; a room transformed by candlelight and a table beautifully laid; music playing, wine flowing, glasses clinking. A dinner party should be a relaxed affair where you can take time to linger over good food with people you love and celebrate each other and the good things in life.

We love throwing a dinner party for our friends and so we've decided to throw dinner parties for our guests too.

So, here's a thought...if you like the idea of a dinner party but don't fancy the preparations or clearing up, why not get in touch with your friends and book all four of our bedrooms at the farmhouse, and we'll throw the dinner party for you?

You'll have the Morning Room for your exclusive use during your stay, and the Dining Room beautifully decorated for your dinner party with its wood-burner lit on a cold night; a delicious three course candlelit dinner cooked for you by us, using seasonal and local ingredients. There is also a fairy-lit courtyard with a roaring log fire to huddle round on a cold night, if you fancy. There's no hurry, no kicking out time, no cars to drive or taxis to order; you just wander off to your comfy beds when you're ready.

The next morning come down at a leisurely time for a full English breakfast and just while away an hour or two with your friends, flicking through books or newspapers. Then, if the mood takes you, you could go adventuring. Sussex is such a cosmopolitan, artistic county with its uniquely changing scenery, villages and trendy seaside towns. Walk in the bracing wind on top of the South Downs or gulp lungfuls of salty sea air as you crunch along the beach. Warm up with a hot chocolate in a quaint tea room, or sip a hair of the dog in a country pub afterwards. You'll feel so relaxed and enlivened.

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