It has been the most amazing few days!
One significant birthday has turned into a week long event. Cards started to arrive last Wednesday. I was overwhelmed on Thursday, my birthday, by more cards, e-mails, messages and presents. By the time our neighbour, Ludo, appeared with a bottle of pink champagne I was already in tears, which welled up afresh when bouquets of flowers started to be delivered.
Steve and I went out for a birthday meal together Thursday evening. We enjoyed a post-birthday supper when Katie and George arrived on Friday evening. After spending Saturday morning collecting food orders and more helium for the balloons, we had a post-birthday lunch with Jack, our nephew Nick, partner Kate and baby Esme who arrived from Bristol around midday.
Getting the party venue ready for the celebrations was a mammoth task, but with a fantastic amount of help from Steve, Jack, Katie, George, Nick and Kate everything was transported to the community centre and we managed to finish transforming the place just as guests started to arrive.
I was thrilled to see so many old friends from all corners of the UK, as well as Brussels and Vietnam (how impressive is that?) It was like the proverbial moment when your life flashes before your eyes, except in my case, the experience last many happy hours!
There are too many of you to name and thank individually on the blog for making my birthday so special, including my "oldest" friends from school in London; friends going back to student days when I first came to Oxford in the late 60s; friends I used to work with at the City Council, some of whom are still there, and others who have moved on; friends from my current work who are actually scattered around the county, enjoying a rare opportunity meet up, along with their partners, children and grand children...
...Not forgetting our wonderful friends and neighbours from Henry Road and the wider West Oxford community, and those special people who have come into our lives via other routes and have been there for us ever since. You all know who you are. Last but not least, the family - Jack, Katie (and George, of course) Steve's brother Martin (with whom I share a birthday!) and Mary, niece Heather and her son Zac, nephew Matt and girlfriend Fliss, and Nick, Kate and Esme.
Best birthday present of all, Steve was there, very much alive and kicking, notwithstanding the shattering diagnosis of mesothelioma last June. Who could ask for anything more? It really was a very special celebration!
The sun shone. We had tea on the terrace overlooking the park. Sol Samba the local Brazilian drumming band got us into carnival mood on the terrace then lead us into the main hall for the evening, where there was a buffet meal followed by a great session from the Pussycats which had us up and dancing the night away! I hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did :-)
Here is a tiny snippet of Sol Samba in action - turn up the volume to get an idea of how it felt to be there!
Over the course of the next few days, I'll be in touch with you individually to say thank you for the amazing array of cards and presents which piled up on the table in the course of the afternoon and evening. I have finally been able to open them. The house now looks like a cross between a garden centre/florist, champagne/wine bar, chocolatier, delicatessen, jewelers, and art gallery with a book store corner!
However, I want to say a special thanks to Ellie who designed and made the marvelous birthday cake (it looked wonderful and tasted delicious!) and those of you who helped set up the venue, lay out the food, clear away during/after the event and carry the important things back home! We could not have done any of this without your help - a real team effort! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I'm sorry I didn't have very much time to talk to many of you, in some cases little more than hello and goodbye - but we hope to catch up with you during the rest of the summer and autumn. My thoughts are also with those of you who would have joined us had circumstances been otherwise - whether it was for a nice reason, such as a holiday or your own special family occasion, something more serious - being unwell yourselves, or looking after loved ones who are poorly - or being unable to get away from work through no fault of your own.
If you want to know what you missed - here are some of the photos, courtesy of Steve and Jack. For a change, I didn't pick up the camera all day. We look forward to seeing some you your images too!
And thank you all again for the most amazing birthday ever!
|Katie and Esme|
|Kate, Matt, Fliss and Nick|
|Martin and Mary|
thank you Steve and Jack for taking the photos and video snips!