So, I was thinking, Twenty is seriously grown-up, isn't it? So a Seriously Grown Up Granddaughter, coming to ours to celebrate her birthday weekend, needs a Seriously Grown Up birthday cake.
I was (seriously) impressed by the quite amazing Ferrero Rocher cake which my God-daughter, Pip, made for her Mum's 70th birthday. Now there was a grown-up cake if ever I saw one. I requested the recipe
which dear Pip dutifully sent me. I read it through three times, growing just a little more daunted on each reading. In the end I decided to make my own version which, to be honest, was not a million miles away from my usual cake, recipe courtesy of the Divine
Delia - though I did, in a moment of devilment, add chocolate chunks to the cake mixture before I consigned it to the oven and I did buy a box of Ferrero Rocher chocs to decorate my cake as a nod to the original inspiration.
Despite all my good intentions to make this a Grown Up Birthday Celebration, old habits die hard. So I still hung up a recycled birthday banner - "Katie is 20" - above the patio doors, and I couldn't
quite resist the temptation to sit the Giant Penguin out on the doorstep wearing a natty waistcoat and tie plus a hat shaped like a birthday cake, candles and all. Was this all a bit OTT, I wondered, especially as Our Katie was bringing her boyfriend
to meet us for the very first time. What would he think of us?
I didn't have this cautionary thought, I must explain, until the car bearing our visitors
turned up outside and by that time it was a bit late. "I thought you might as well meet us in all our craziness," I told The Boyfriend, who, bless him, seemed to take the shock of being greeted by a Giant Penguin (not to mention Mr B and me) with admirable
The banner came in for some discussion on the lines of: when, exactly, should I stop producing them? Would the day come, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters
had enquired when I told her I would still be producing a banner this year, when the banner read "Katie is 35"? We came to the satisfactory conclusion that, while a banner would most certainly be needed for next year's 21st birthday, after that banners should
be reserved for the "significant" dates - the 30th, 40th, 50th. I imagine myself at the age of 99, carefully threading letters reading "Katie is 50" onto a piece of string. I might have to ask someone else to hang that banner up for me...
In spite of me, it was a Grown Up Birthday celebration. We ate my famous (if only in the family) Madras beef curry, opened presents and drank champagne in the sunny back garden. As
is tradition, on the sound of the cork popping, Eleanor hared off to search for it, eventually finding it nestling in the azalea bush.
And then, of course,
there was the Posh Cake. Except that you can't have a cake without candles, now can you? If I had been following through the Grown Up theme, I would have satisfied my Inner Candle Lighter, with a couple of elegant gold candles or, perhaps, a stylish 2 and
0 to tell the years. But no, I'd been seduced by a set of candles shaped like presents and spelling out Happy Birthday which just kind of hopped into my shopping trolley at Tescos, along with the chocolate chunks and the box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
The trouble was that the chocolates decorating the top of the cake took up a lot of room; finding space for 13 present-shaped candles wasn't all that easy. All I can say
is that (i) it was pretty crowded on top of that birthday cake and (ii) it didn't look like a Posh Cake anymore. Having said that, everyone seemed to enjoy it, including our next door neighbours who happened to be in their back garden at the time and so were
treated to a slice over the garden fence.
The family, plus The Boyfriend, headed off at six o'clock for an evening at the Greyhound Racing. In the hubbub of departure,
they completely forgot to take the birthday banner with them. "Can you post it to us anyway!" my daughter texted me - birthday banners have a long life in their household, remaining in place on the wall in the Family Room until replaced by the next person's
It will be in the post, as requested, on Tuesday - but I have left it up today, which is Katie's actual birthday.
"Katie is 20" it reminds me, each time I look up. As if I'd forget.
Happy 20th birthday, dear
Katie. You are, unlike your birthday cake, Seriously - and delightfully - Grown Up.