So, after months of planning, the big day has been and gone and now that I qualify for a Senior Rail Card I am officially OLD.
I can't thank Marion enough for all the hard work she put into the party. Arranging accommodation suitable for 12 adult guests plus two toddlers and a baby, sorting out a chef, cakes, wine and everything else was a mammoth task and she did things so well that everything ran like clockwork. I don't have any photos of the actual party as I was too busy sorting out (and drinking) wine and enjoying the event but I know that others took plenty of pictures so I am sure that I will have some to put on the blog in the weeks ahead.
On Friday I made a giant bowl of bolognese sauce and ten of us sat down for a very enjoyable evening which was sort of spread out over three sittings due to the needs of getting toddlers to sleep and guests having long distances to travel to get here. There was just enough for everyone to have enough to eat without overfilling themselves for Saturday.
Saturday morning was a blur of preparations, laying the table and making sure everything was ready for the planned four o'clock start.
The sun shone on us and we were able to venture onto the outside decking to have canapes and prosecco before the meal proper began. Here are Dave and Jane Haworth who have been our very good friends for over thirty years.
Chris Alder is the private chef who Marion arranged to come to the house and cook for us. We had some of my very favourite dishes and started with poached salmon and asparagus with bernaise sauce, followed by rare roast rib of beef with roast potatoes and green vegetables and a final course of panettone bread and butter pudding. Chris did magnificently. He kept exactly to the timetable we planned, cooked everything just as we asked, left the kitchen spotlessly clean and tidy and even helped out serving drinks (which wasn't in the remit). We aren't into bargain hunting but Chris' prices were very extremely fair. If you ever need a good chef you can find Chris on www.chrisalder.com - you won't be disappointed.
I asked for no presents but that didn't stop guests from presenting me with some wonderful champagnes,wines, chocolates and flowers. I hope that I thanked everyone fully for their unexpected generosity and if I didn't I can only apologise ( I was slightly worse for wear by the time I opened the gifts).
Another huge thank you goes out to Whalley Wine Shop. Owned and run by our guests Mark and Nita's son Tom, I've enthused about the shop on here many times but Tom excelled himself in providing an incredible array of prosecco, champagne, deep reds,dry whites plus some delicious dessert wines and fine port. All the wines matched the food beautifully. Thank you Tom - perfect choices.
More thanks go to the wonderful, kind and generous Jan Harbon who created this highly original and quite spectacular birthday cake themed around my metal detecting hobby. She replicated some of my finds perfectly. If you ever need a special celebration cake I can't recommend Jan highly enough. Just search for The Cake Shed Southport and you will find her.
It seemed like a good idea when the party was in full swing, to invite everyone round to a late breakfast at eleven the following morning. It went extremely well but a breakfast on that scale wasn't the easiest thing to put together so thanks go to Jane and Dave Haworth in particular for helping with the massive fry up of sausage, bacon, beans, black pudding, haggis and egg.
After the breakfast, we walked up the hill behind the house to clear the cobwebs. Here are Dave and Janet Wareing (left) together with Mark and Nita. Dave gave a very kind speech in toasting my birthday leaving me flattered and quite humbled.
Most of all, the weekend was about family. Although six of the guests are friends, as I said in my response to Dave, I consider them all family and I was extremely pleased that they made the effort to travel a very long way to join me for the event.
Duncan is Libra too and Rose presented him with another lovely cake made by Jan. It was so nice to be able to share my celebrations with him and we're looking forward to staying four more days in the house with Duncan Sarah, Rose and Melody. Sadly, Paul, Josephine and Catherine had to travel back to Rochester today but having my two children, their partners and my grandchildren at my party meant everything to me.
They presented me with this absolutely beautiful Swiss watch engraved with all their initials. I will treasure it until the day I die.
I started today's blog by praising the most wonderful woman in the world and I'll finish with the same. Marion is my life and, although she worked too hard over the weekend, I know that having our family and friends around her made this a very special event for her too.