I was in such a dither about whether and how to celebrate my 40th birthday. In the end, I left it to Karl to arrange something suitable. What he and my lovely friends came up with surpassed all my expectations!
On the Saturday before my birthday we dropped the children round with friends while we had a lovely, sunny, breezy walk up onto the Cotswold Way near North Nibley to look at the Tyndale Monument.
But that was just the beginning. Karl brought me home and said we needed to leave for a meal at about 5. I thought at this point that some of our friends would perhaps meet us at a pizzeria or something similar. Perhaps the children would be there too as nothing had been said about picking them up…
As we wandered down a side road towards the Gloucester Road, I spotted some children playing by a tree. I was a little surprised to see that one of them was my good friend Bix – one of my lovely Sunday School students. A few steps later and, instead of carrying on down to the eateries of Gloucester Road, we were turning into the entrance to a church hall. The charming doorman (Geoff) greeted us with a “Your table’s almost ready!” before leading me through the doors.
The glass doors soon showed up an amazing surprise. Standing just beyond them were several people including, wonder of wonders, my GRANDMA! How was she there in Bristol? She is 96 and lives 100 miles away near Alton!
As that surprise subsided and I recovered from the noise of cheers and party poppers, I realised that there were lots of lovely friends. And hay bales. And an overhead screen with pictures of my life. And beautiful bunting. Wow!
I was truly astonished that so many fabulous friends had kept this secret and created a party that was perfect for me. A barn dance! What better way for my friends of all ages – from Benjamin (1) and Bix (5) to Grandma (96) – to join in?
After a couple of dances I had to ring my mum. With Daddy unwell, it was impossible for either of them to be there, but I knew she’d been in on it – many of the photos on screen were from her collection. I rang her and my sister-in-law answered the phone to say that she was keeping Daddy company while Mummy had popped out for shopping but I could try again later.
Another dance or two and it was time for tea. A marvelous spread provided by all the guests and with something for everyone. Tables were quickly arranged across the dance floor and there was a wonderful hum of conversation over the yummy nibbles.
And then, in the middle of chatting to some of the guests, I had a tap on my shoulder. I turned round and…
it was Mummy! I said something daft along the lines of, “But I just rang you! You’re out shopping!” That moment really was the cherry on top of the beautifully iced cake…
Talking of which, after Lisa read out some very kind words from friends about me and an impromptu band led the assembly in a memorable rendition of “Happy Birthday”, out came a huge and delicious cake covered in colourful smarties and ablaze with candles.
It took more than one puff to get all those candles blown out!
Well what a splendid occasion! I just loved it. I was so thankful to all the conspirators for their very hard work. There was lots of preparation, decoration and clearing up behind the scenes and one very happy me eased into forty-ness with lots of amazing memories.