I’ve just finished planning a party.

Summer sunset in Tuscany

I’ve just finished planning a party. All completely academic, you understand, but exciting nonetheless. I have identified 12 of my favourite people, mentally rented tables, chairs and lanterns and set up the antipasti grazing table (prosciutto, salami, olives, sliced manchego and chunked parmesan, slices of ripe melon, brined artichokes, crusty bread and really good olive oil).

At my hypothetical party everyone piles up small plates full of antipasti and sits down to a slow, wine-fuelled and laughter-filled evening. Marinated vegetable skewers on the BBQ, a whole roasted beef tenderloin with salsa verde, and rosemary roast potatoes follow. Platters are passed around for everyone to help themselves, and the wine is poured freely and often.

The sun sets behind the houses, the strings of lights and glowing lanterns gently light the familiar faces of people we largely haven’t seen in over a year.

For something sweet, my frozen chocolate mousse with fresh summer berries makes the perfect cooling summer dessert, with the added logistical bonus of being mandatorily make-ahead.

After dinner we light a roaring fire in the outdoor firepit. The men get slightly carried away with the pyrotechnics.

Eventually, two-by-two, our friends take their leave. By nightfall I am left with just Tom and a sky full of stars: the way I spent many an ‘eve last year. It really wasn’t so bad, but I’m ready to feed a party again.

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