Sunday 1st June was The Big Lunch. For those not familiar with the concept, The Big Lunch started at The Eden Project in Cornwall. It is all about bringing communities together. The aim is to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours in a spirit of friendship and fun. In my street, it is the 4th year that we have done this. We have had glorious weather for three out of the four of them. However, in 2012 there was torrential rain and we had to take cover under hastily erected gazebos. But Big Lunch still went ahead!
A small steering group meets a few times a year to organise it. Being someone who likes to be involved in things, I am on the group although my contribution is limited these days. Having had a Big Lunch for four years, it almost arranges itself. We always have some musical entertainment and borrow trestle tables from the local school or local church to put down the middle of the street. Everybody brings food and drink and it is all placed on these tables to share. Residents bring their own garden furniture or equivalent to set up in the street to sit at. Games are arranged for the children. This year we had an animal fancy dress theme for the children.
Luckily for us, yesterday was glorious sunshine. The day starts with closing the road at 11.00 am and stringing bunting up from first floor windows so that it criss-crossed the road. The bunting was made for our first Big Lunch street party in 2011 and has been used every year since. It is homemade from old sheets, duvet covers and other sundry pieces of material that were donated by residents. We set up a working party of people who either cut out the triangles or sowed them together. We made six sections of 5 metres each. As you can imagine it took a little while! However, it is unique and was a great deal of fun to make.
The tables were set up at 12.00 am and the first contributions of food arrived shortly afterwards. We had three different sets of musicians lined up. The first ones were a local jazz band who commenced playing at 1.00 pm. A young solo singer/guitarist followed them and the proceedings ended with an African drumming group.
The whole day was a great success. With everyone leading such busy lives these days, it is too easy to lose touch with your neighbours. The Big Lunch is a perfect opportunity to reconnect with people and to be introduced to new arrivals in the street. Obviously not everyone in the street takes part but we had over 100 people this year, which was excellent. There is a strong community spirit and a reassurance that if anyone in the street ever needs help, we have some lovely neighbours to turn to.
I am not sure of the date of next year’s Big Lunch, but I will be there!