Sometimes travel writers get a bonus. We work hard for our clients and by way of thanks we receive occasional invitations to their events. I received one for the end of July 2013.
Of course, I accepted and rushed out to buy a hat! At the milliner's, I failed to stick to the 1920's theme because I'd long wanted a fascinator, but my dress turned out closer to the Gatsby ideal.
The two hundred plus guests had dressed to the nines, hats galore. Obviously everyone was thrilled to have an excuse to wear a hat—some had jewelled headbands and feathers, others sported wide brimmed-Ascot-style hats. But no-one wore a cloche. A vintage Rolls Royce Phantom, red and black, was parked on the lawn and attracted much attention. Flappers circulated with trays of flutes full of pink champagne; a band played soft jazz from the terrace, and a traditional afternoon tea was served in the inn.
I only knew a handful of the guests, but it didn't matter. Everyone was friendly as we mingled or relaxed around the pool on the banks of the Harrison River.
A couple danced divinely to the music of the era, but I didn't see them do a Charleston, which seemed a pity. They did teach two couples how to do a few moves, but the afternoon heat made everyone languorous.
Inside the inn, once the family home of the Pretty family, afternoon tea was laid out in the traditional way. We ate the dainty cucumber sandwiches and smoked salmon canapés in the living room or under the beach umbrellas on the terrace. There were scones with jam and clotted cream, and multi-coloured, tiny cakes too, and guests enjoyed cups of tea.
Before I said my farewell thanks to Betty Anne (Pretty) Faulkner, the owner and host of the event, she kindly posed looking gorgeous for a few photos beside the Roller.
The Rowena's Inn inaugural garden party had delighted me and provided everyone with a taste of a more gracious era when time seemed to move more slowly. And I kept expecting the queen to materialize...
IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos (Julie H. Ferguson) 2013. All rights reserved.