Friday the 8th June our long journey begins with a train ride from Toulouse to Paris grabbing a quick bite to eat before catching the Euro-star into London followed by another train up to York – quite exhausting but both happy to be seeing family and friends again. We have two very busy days with hair appointments, shopping and more shopping before we head off to Cromford and our holiday cottage for the weekend birthday celebrations. Its a lovely big old mill on three floors with three kitchens, nine bedrooms and three lounges – plenty of room for the group of 16.
Damien, Sarah and Matthew arrive first and we get busy putting the food and booze in its place. Matthew has brought a keg of beer (along with loads of wine) so spends time setting it up as it needs to settle before its ready to drink. Kieran, Bobby and Laura are next to arrive. Joanne has to work until 6 so she with Simon, Angus, April, Louie Jack and Amelie arrive around 8ish with Daniel and Jonathan having the longest journey turn up when the party has started and we are all working hard to make a dent into the copious amounts of alcohol everyone has brought.
Unsurprisingly there are a few sore heads on Saturday morning with one of the younger members of the group suffering more than everyone else so bacon and egg butties are in order. Charles has organised a walking treasure hunt so we split into four teams. (An unenthusiastic) Angus, April, Louie Jack and Amelie are team leaders and we all set off around the village of Cromford with our clues. For some reason it becomes a little competitive with people running around like headless chickens. The weather stays dry for the two hours or so activity and we all end up in garden of the Boat Inn for lunch but scramble into the pub when the rain starts. Louie Jack and Amelie are rightly put out when there is no treasure at the end of the hunt – so after a bit of quick thinking some treasure is found and hidden in the pub garden for the younger members to find – so all’s well that ends well. The choice of pub is probably not my best decision as the food is very mediocre with a few people feeling poorly later on in the afternoon.
We have a lazy afternoon and for some reason none of us are in the mood for drinking too much. You know what its like when its your birthday and things are going on in the background with people coming and going and you just stay put as you don’t want to get in the way or end up where you are not wanted. It transpired that it was my surprise birthday cake that was the cause of the problem with the model of me collapsing so Joanne made the repairs with Louie and Amelie making regular checks to ensure no further damage occurs. To ensure one person isn’t left with all the organisation everyone has a role to play for the evening meal. Charles and I had ordered the food on an online website so it all came prepared and just needs heating up – unfortunately Damien (being a chef) is tasked with the main course but as he is feeling very poorly and one of the cookers isn’t working properly things didn’t quite go to plan – but everything works out in the end so after cocktails prepared by Daniel, Jonathan, Laura and Matthew we all sit down to my 60th celebration birthday meal with the table looking lovely adorned with white roses, candles, balloons and confetti. I’m not sure if its a mother thing but having hubby together with all the children, grandchildren and partners together is the best birthday present I’ve ever had. Saying that I absolutely love all my gifts too and just because I’m 60 hasn’t diminished my love of unwrapping pressies – it is well known that whilst I may not understand the rules of rugby it is one of my favourite sports to watch on TV which may have something to do with the physique and thighs of the players so am thrilled that I have been given tickets to go with Charles to Twickenham to watch England play Argentina later in the year – so exciting and must remember to behave and not get chucked out for inappropriate outbursts!!!
We retire to the lounge (unaware that Joanne stayed behind to load dishwashers and generally tidy up – what a star) and enjoy the rest of the evening drinking and chatting.
Sunday morning everyone is feeling bright as buttons and after wondering what to drink we are influenced by Kieran who starts early on the beer – as there is some champagne open from the night before and not wanting it to go to waste Daniel and Laura set about making bucks fizz and four bottles later we discover we haven’t wasted a drop…………
The morning is spent playing board games including the game of cluedo – Louie Jacks favourite – followed by an afternoon bbq in the garden. Simon and his gang leave in the evening as they have work and school in the morning but everyone else are able to stay for what turns out to be another boozy evening – Kieran is on form and performs an old school musical scene which in retrospect we should have video’s and shown at his wedding next year.
Monday morning arrives and gradually everyone leaves so inevitably I shed a few tears – all good things must come to and end and the cottage feels rather big and quite for just Charles and I. After tidying up a bit we go out for a drive to Matlock and then on Tuesday as it poured down all day we went to the cinema. Although we have the cottage for the week we decided to return to York so we can spend time with the family.
Joanne and the kids made a wonderful birthday breakfast on my actual birthday and then we all have a walk into York and have a boat trip on The Ouse.
Sunday, Charles, Laura and I drive over to Hull for a 10K race and I’m chuffed to bits for getting a PB of 52 mins 26 secs – and Laura does really well too as does her friend Kate. After quick showers we drive over to The Staveley Arms at North Stainley to Matthews pub for an excellent meal with him to complete the birthday weekend, well week really!!!