I was so happy when Anita of Cedar Hill Farmhouse announced that this month’s French Country theme would be ‘dining outdoors’. For us, here in Normandy, dining al fresco is an integral part of the summer. Long evenings, warmer temperatures, taking time to enjoy a meal outside with friends, or family, or both.
It feels completely different to lay a table outdoors. There is more freedom with colour, more space, cushions are scattered to make seats comfortable, flowers can be used in huge vases or in tiny glasses or simply laid on the tablecloth. More than ever, the table becomes the focus point and a pleasure for the eyes.
It is light until around ten in the evening at the moment, so early evening the candlelight is barely visible. As friends arrive we enjoy a drink in the garden first of all before sitting down to eat as dusk falls.
Yesterday evening, I laid my table and shot these pictures mostly before our guests arrived.
The dogs hung around, hoping for a ball to be thrown, a pat on the back, poised to be useful, country style.
As the light fades, the colours grow more intense, and we reach for a jacket or a shawl for our shoulders. We are lucky here not to have many bugs to interrupt our dinner.
In between courses I hopped upstairs to take an overhead shot, luckily my friends know about my strange habit of taking pictures at all hours …
and by the time it got really dark, we prepared to move indoors for coffee, and all that was left of our dinner table was a rumpled cloth and bright candles. This is maybe my favourite moment in outdoor dining, when all the light is centered on the table itself, when the conversation feels more intimate, a privileged and fleeting moment.
If you would like to see what Anita and her other guests have to say about summer dining, French style then pop over and check out their sites.