We drove up to the community hall, where Jo had put on a fantastic spread. It was lovely to see everyone again. There was a bouncy castle in the garden for the kids, which they instantly gravitated towards. We tied the dog up outside with the kids, which worked for a while.
We did a lot of mingling, eating, making friends and chatting, followed by most of the washing-up while Jo wasn't looking. There was cake and singing. Jo's dad hobbled round on his walking stick, looking the spitting image of Jo, just 20 years older. The kids ran in and out. Pal got bored and chewed through his lead, in about three minutes flat, so he had to go and sit in the car. This is why we need to buy chain-link leads, and not rope-based or leather ones. He's got very sharp teeth.
There were a lot of kids there, and at some point they must have decided to get silly. Kids do that. Mel announced that someone had thrown his shoe into the bushes. Nick searched in vain for it, even going out onto the road outside. Eventually, he mentioned it had been thrown into the tall trees making up the hedge.... from the top of the bouncy castle slide. Looking up... there, stuck in the trees a good 20 feet up, was Mel's shoe.
We used a golfing umbrella as a shoe catcher to stop said shoe falling into the undergrowth and disappearing into the ditch below. Finally, we balanced 6'4" Nick on a box and made him stretch to poke the footwear out of the tree.
The Mark II worked well.
We celebrated with all the adults having a go on the bouncy castle.
Nick managed to split his trousers, but fortunately they were loose ones and no-one noticed. He does have a hole the size of the USA in them, and I suspect they are beyond repair.
And a good time was had by all!