I am, as you are doubtless aware, always up for a celebration. So when granddaughter Katie, eldest of the Tremendous Ten, contacted me some time ago to suggest a visit last weekend, it didn’t escape my attention
that it would be a fine opportunity to celebrate her 24th birthday, albeit a few days early.
We agreed to wait until nearer the time before deciding whether the
visit should be on the Saturday or the Sunday in order to check on the weather forecast. She is so very sensible, my eldest granddaughter. Eventually - let’s make it Saturday, she messaged me, adding: “It looks as if the sun will have its hat on...”
I am ridiculously touched that she obviously remembers the age-old nursery song which I used to sing to her (and other assorted grandchildren) when she was but a Tiny Tot.
In the middle of my preparations to welcome Katie and her boyfriend Nathan, there came a call from Our Boy, youngest of our Foursome. Did we fancy a visit, he asked, now
that the Welsh Government has finally relented and is allowing travel across the border into England? Well, what do you think I said - he hasn’t seen his Dad, Mr B, for sixteen months and my time with him has been limited to a short but very, very sweet
afternoon in a park in Swindon, back in August last year. The more the merrier, I replied.
We would still be only five of us in our back garden so within
the rules - in fact I brought the Giant Penguin downstairs to sit at the picnic table to make up the numbers. He wore the Happy Birthday hat, complete with felt candles, which has been brought out on many a birthday over the last twenty-plus years. I stopped
short of suggesting the Birthday Girl should wear it herself....
I would never have thought I would say this but, thanks to COVID-19, Birthdays in the Back Garden
have become something of a Family Tradition. There’s that special moment when the Birthday Person, having negotiated the side alley, opens the latch on the garden gate and peers into the back garden to see the (socially distanced) table which has been
dragged onto the lawn, the birthday banners, the smiling faces of Mr B and me, beaming the warmest of welcomes. Over the past year, we have celebrated so many family birthdays in the garden that I’m not sure what we would do if we could go indoors...
It’s true that the first such birthday party, my own big day back in June last year, has gone down in the family annals as the “Shivering in the Garden Birthday
Party”, only matched by granddaughter Hazel Bagel’s “Birthday Cake in the Car Park” celebration some years ago. On that occasion, we were supposed to be meeting up with Hazel and her family for a meal in a Southampton restaurant before
taking our seats in the Mayflower Theatre for a performance of Grease. As it turned out, heavy traffic meant the family only arrived shortly before Curtain Up so our plans to have the birthday cake (with lighted candles) brought to our restaurant table were
foiled. We ended up, after the show, in the car park where we lit the candles on the cake in the boot of the car and sang Happy Birthday to the accompaniment of revving engines as other theatre goers departed in their vehicles. It was, indeed, a memorable
Such a splendid day we had on Saturday! Presents, cards, picnic lunch, birthday cake - all went down extremely well, though I say so myself as shouldn’t.
Katie is the ideal recipient of gifts, always demonstrating sheer pleasure in each and every present. On opening the pretty daisy necklace and matching ear rings from her Uncle, she put them on immediately to the great pleasure of the giver who had chosen
them personally and was charmed at her delight in his choice.
I’d been particularly worried about one of our gifts, a Captain Tom rose bush. It had seemed
most appropriate, given that Katie’s birthday is on the same day as Captain Tom’s but when it arrived, being a bare root plant, it looked more dead than alive. I’d watered it diligently but despairingly over the four weeks since it was delivered
- then, on the very morning of her visit, Katie’s rose started sprouting its first leaves. I’m sure it will be well looked after in its new home where it will one day burst into bloom.
Today is Katie’s actual birthday and I’m looking forward to telephoning her and getting a full report on the day’s proceedings. Such a special girl she is to Mr B and me - and I hope her birthday is
every bit as special as she is. I wish her everything she would wish herself.
In particular, I really, really hope the sun will have its hat on....