02 March 2013

We are having an "Affair"

On this very wet and cool second day of Autumn here in the Garden City, I thought it would be good to bring a little sunshine into our lives and announce that the Raywards are having an "affair".  

That's right folks.  The first big "affair" we have had since Mrs R. was diagnosed with MS.  In fact, it's because of MS that we are having this "affair".

You all know I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006, but do you know what MS really is - how it affects the life of people with the disease, what it means for people living with the disabilities MS inflicts on individuals, what research is being conducted?  Did you know there are different types of MS with varying degrees of symptoms?   Did you know that MS conditions can be exacerbated by stress, or a lack of vitamin D?  

Do you know how many Australians are affected by the onset of MS? Did you know that it doesn't just affect the person with MS (PwMS) but that family members, especially partners, and relationships are also casualities of the disease?  Often the partner in the relationship has to become the carer, and taking care of a PwMS is no easy task - just ask Mr R. after Mrs R. has suffered a relapse.

So because of MS, and to answer some of these questions, and raise the awareness of MS, we are hosting a 'GARDEN AFFAIR - High Tea in the Hills' at our home on Sunday 31st March.

This special "affair" will be a fund-raising event as part of the MS Qld campaign called "The Big Dinner Party Fight for MS". Our "affair" will be my contribution to that campaign and I hope to raise at least $100 (more if my guests and followers choose to dig deep).  Not a large amount in the greater scale of things, but my belief is that every little counts a lot.

As the 31st March is Easter Sunday I thought it very appropriate to host a Garden Party and High Tea in our beautiful Garden City.

Traditionally High Tea was served between 4 and 6pm to appease the hunger of affluent members of the community between their lunch and evening dinner.  Whilst the latter was always a very formal affair,  High Tea was a little more informal but there were still protocols to be followed.

Formal invitations were always sent to selected guests, and ladies and gentlemen would arrive in their carriages always fashionably dressed. High Tea was served in the garden or conservatory, or if inclement weather threatened, it was held in the fashionable "sitting room" in an almost intimate atmosphere. 
Tables would be laid with fine linen and napkins, and fancy teapots, matching cups and tea plates, and silverware.  The hostess would offer a variety of fine teas, delicate finger sandwiches, delectable pastries, and scones with jam and cream.  All prepared fresh in the household kitchen.

In contrast, a Garden Party, usually held between 1 and 5pm, would be an opportunity for the hosts to "show-off" their beautiful gardens in a less formal and more relaxed atmosphere.  The grounds would be immaculately groomed and adorned with small tables, chairs, umbrellas, garden swings, and flower pots and statues.  

Female guests would wear fashionable dresses with beautiful hats and parasols, and the gentlemen would wear fashionable sports jackets and slacks.

There would be platters of delicate sandwiches and pastries, served with champagne and fresh juice or lemonade.  Music of the era could be heard all around the gardens and guests would wander around the grounds gossiping and admiring all in bloom.

Well, our "affair" may not be quite as grand as in the Victorian era but we'll have a "jolly good time old chaps".  There will be traditional faire offered, fine teas served, even some "bubbles".  The garden will reflect the theme and we hope our invited guests will come dressed to also reflect the elegance of the "affair".  Music will be "piped" into the garden and there are a few extra little "surprises" planned for our guests.

But of course, we mustn't forget this will be a special "affair" - a fund raiser for MS.  Guests will be invited to make a donation, small or large, to support MS Qld - all tax deductible.  For those unable to attend but who would like to follow the progress of my efforts, there is a website set up for my "affair".  All contributions acknowledged.

Might I now say after all that, the only reason I am able to have this special "affair" is because I am currently in a "remission" period.  Unlike many diagnosed with MS I consider myself very lucky with only Remit-Relapse MS (RRMS) and have a very good prognosis for the future.  But how wonderful it would be if research could find a cure for this disease so that even people with RRMS, and their famililes, could lead a normal lifestyle.

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