Not being an expert on these Oxbridge matters I didn't know much about Lucy Cavendish College but I will say it sounds like a great thing. None of the snooty, white, genteric old dons sitting at high table discussing the effect the chafing Chaucer's underpants had on the development of middle English poetry, but a college for post-graduate women, without all the mortarboards, gowns and fagging. A college for post-graduate women, average age 30, I think I may have to pitch camp.
Anyway, on to the story of today's massive feast.
Before we arrived for the conference everybody was sent an email with the menu for dinner and asking whether people would be requiring the vegetarian option and if so could they please inform the conference organisers. I checked the menu, roast duck with stuffed apple, and decided it was too similar to something I'd had earlier in the year and opted for the pumpkin and courgette roulade instead - sounded great to me - so that's where the story really beings, with me sending an email as requested.
Skip forwards to the dinner. Jon is dining on a tasty watercress mousse with smoked salmon and drinking a glass of chilled wine. The plates are cleared and the staff ask if I will be requiring the vegetarian option and I say yes and there is an almost imperceptible sharp intake of breath - at the time I hardly noticed it.
But when my meal comes I can understand why - small, even a vegan would normally eat more than this. To make matters worse my Russian chums who were sharing my table (and of course were all having meat) thought this was abslutely hilarious and started laughing loudly. Hunger and humiliation, that's just what I need.
So here was I staring down at two tiny slices of vegetables almost in tears. Sensing my distress, the head of the college's catering came over (a lovely lady called Rosse) and we started chatting, she explained that the chef was new and hadn't made enough, vegetarian option, plus hardly anybody who wanted vegetarian food had bothered sending them an email and it wasn't actually the colleges fault. She did say I could have a couple of stuffed apples as well if I wanted as there was plenty of non vegetarian dinner left.
But I'm not a vegetarian, I explained.
"Then why have the veggy option." She asked.
So I explained about my blog and why I wasn't having the duck and yes, a couple of stuffed apples would go down very nicely thank you. And with my Russian chums, Ilyosh and Misha, giving me some of their duck as well, I thought I'd at least get a decent meal.
But my schmoosing of the staff had done more than that - not only did I get my vegetarian option, some duck from my Russian chums, two pieces of stuffed apple (where everyone else got one) I also got another piece of duck from the nice catering manager as well. Plus, I think they kept filling my glass more than everyone else's too. Triple dinners for Jon and who's laughing now Ivan?
So I had an excellent dinner and didn't go hungry either. The food was great, there was plenty of wine and afterwards Valentin (one of the Rooskies) played a small concert on the piano.
An excellent evening's entertainment all thanks to Lucy Cavendish College. After dinner we all strolled into town
for a few more beers, for which I barely had room in my belly.
The only thing wrong was that there wasn't any port after dinner - or being a ladies college they probably drink
Baileys, but there wasn't any of that either.
Exotic Fruit Pavlova