Two sorts of people converged on the Fairburn Hall for Queen's Birthday high tea on Monday — the quick and the hungry.

The former queued successfully for a piece of Lilo Merker's decadent Black Forest gateau; the latter had to make do with photographs of what they had missed out on, and pikelets, Peter Niepel's German fruit rolls and damson plums soaked in sufficient gin to guarantee a good night's sleep for any insomniac.

It's always a good sign for any Fairburn Hall function when parking is at a premium, and that was certainly the case on Monday.

It was a full house, hall committee president (and baker of genuine German fare) Peter Niepel said, leaning on the coffee machine and wondering if he should special the few remaining pikelets.


The gateau, made by Peter's partner Lilo, had been the star though, and anyone who had been a bit slow off the mark had missed out.

"We skipped the cherry brandy though. We didn't want drunk children running around," Peter said.

"I would have liked a piece myself," he added, "but I turned around and it was gone."

Lilo was heard asking if she should go home and make another one, but the question was clearly rhetorical.

Meanwhile Sylvia Haines, who travelled from Lake Ngātu to be there, was rewarded for her stylish effort with the prize for best-dressed guest, her ensemble including what she confirmed had been, perhaps until very recently, a lamp shade. Not one was betting that it would not soon be one again.

Her prize was a large porcelain chook, which she admitted she wasn't sure what she would do with.

It was suggested that with two holes in the bottom it might serve as a salt shaker, but that did not seem likely.

Next on the hall agenda is a soup night. It might pay to get there early.