I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do on my 65th birthday so Sue said she would arrange something. She loves surprises but I didn’t make it easy to keep things from her as we spend most of the time together.
The celebration started with the arrival of Chris and Vicky on Wednesday. We prepared a 3 course meal for them and had a lovely evening swapping news of our various family members. C & V slept in our newly revamped guest room christening our new zip and link beds.
We said goodbye to Sheila and Gary who had rented our upstairs flat for 6 weeks. We had decided to try to ride the Mawddach cycle trail on the Thursday and Chris had brought up his bike especially. We borrowed a bike from Manya, one of our neighbours, for Vicky who had not been on a bicycle since she was 14. We set off for Dolgellau in spite of the weather and sat in the car park eating our lunch hoping for the rain to ease.
Fortunately it did ease and we set off and were going well until Vicky discovered that the route was 10 miles each way. We didn’t quite make it to Barmouth and the ladies started saying they needed to get back before the shops in Porthmadog shut. We stopped for a cup of tea and a beer and just about made it back to the cars before the rain re-started. Chris and I arrived back before Sue and Vicky and I started to prepare the quick spaghetti we were to eat before our evening of jazz at Cadwaladers ice cream parlour. There was a knock on the window and looked out to see a familiar face, that of my sister Ros. Her arrival was a complete surprise to me and was the real reason for the dash back from Dolgellau. Cadwaladers was busier than ever as there was a guest musician but we just managed to squeeze in as Anita had saved a few seats. We left around 9pm and shortly after I had another surprise as my brother David, who’d had a 9 hour drive from Canterbury, appeared.
The weather was still a bit iffy next morning but we set off after coffee with a picnic lunch for Morfa Nefyn, the 6 of us in our old Picnic. We walked through the golf course down to Ty Coch Inn on the beach where we ate our picnic washed down with some drinks bought by Ros. In the afternoon we drove to the art gallery at Llanbedrog, an entrancing old country house with stunning views over the beach below where we drank tea in the weak sunshine.
We moved to the flat upstairs for the evening meal as Nicola and Shaun were due. Chris, Vicky and Ros did most of the preparation and we had Lebanese beetroot salad, followed by salmon, leeks and new potatoes, followed by pineapple and ice cream.
Alisa, Jo and Louise (Alisa’s friend) arrived in the morning as we’d planned to take everyone on the Cambrian line to Machynlleth to the Centre for Alternative Technology. We walked up to the station en masse to catch the 9.50 train which only arrived at Mac at 12.28.
Then it was a short bus ride and walk to CAT where we had lunch and did the guided tour which was not really very interesting. We cut our visit a bit short so we could visit the town but unfortunately the shops (and there were some interesting ones) had closed by the time we’d had a cup of tea. The return journey was quicker and a further surprise was in store for me – Sue had arranged for us to eat as guests of Sylvia and Dave at Seabank hotel. Chris, who had been wearing an ECG monitor, experienced the irregular heart rhythms he’d been trying to record and he and Vicky decided to go to bed. The rest of us went to Porthmadog yacht club to listen to Django Jazz playing. Jo’s headache got the better of her and the 3 girls left before the music began but the music was superb and the 6 of us that stayed enjoyed it very much.
David and Chris and Vicky all left fairly early after a splendid cooked breakfast and Ros Sue and I chilled out on the front in the sunshine after we’d made the flat upstairs suitable for the next lot of paying guests. We prepared a roast dinner for 4pm and invited Dave and Sylvia. Shaun was persuaded to bring his guitar outside after we’d finished and we had a singsong. In the evening we watched the TV and Nicola and Shaun went out.
Sue and I went rowing from Porthmadog yacht club leaving Ros to watch us from Borth y Gest. We had a coffee afterwards in the sunshine with some of my rowing friends. Shaun and Nicola had just got up when we returned at lunchtime and poor Shaun was not well and spent the rest of the day retching and sleeping in the back of Nic’s car. Sue and Ros went up to the shops after lunch and I did a bit of gardening. They were so long we were late for our visit to Anita’s for tea. She lives in a stone cottage with a large garden and gave us tea in the conservatory. Carla was here when we returned, yet another surprise! We had a vegetarian aubergine dish (except Nicola who went to the chippie and Shaun who was too ill to eat) and then said goodbye to Nic and Shaun. We watched TV in the evening.
Just after breakfast Bethan arrived – I’d ceased to be amazed by Sue’s surprises by then – and we were told to equip ourselves with walking gear. The ladies prepared a picnic lunch and then Dave and Sylvia arrived. We said goodbye to Ros who was returning by train to London and set off towards Snowdonia. I kept guessing where we were likely to be going but it was only after we headed towards Croesor that I thought we might be going to visit Simon and Elaine (rowers like Bethan). As we drew into the car park Simon and Elaine were there as were 4 friends from Criccieth who do the pub quiz with us and a huge banner wishing me happy birthday hung from the trees. Sue gave everyone coffee and her flapjacks. Two minibus loads of youths sang an impromptu “Happy birthday” in the carpark just to add to it all making me feel even more overwhelmed. Then Simon guided us on a full day’s walk to the west of Cnict.
Two of the ladies found it hard going at times and even managed to fall over more than once but they just laughed it off and managed to really enjoy themselves. Pete and his two lovely children was waiting for us when we returned to the car park and I received two handmade cards from the children. Simon invited us in for tea to his delightful cottage and the spread that greeted us was amazing. Simon had made chocolate brownies and Elaine had baked a cream sponge cake, a carrot cake, scones and a magnificent chocolate birthday cake with candles reading HAPPY BIRTHDAY BILL 65. I managed a bit of all Elaine’s efforts.
We only had 25 minutes for the next (and almost the last) birthday treat (also a complete surprise) – a trip to AllPorts fish and chip shop to listen once again to Andy McKenzie’s music. Carla and Dave and Sylvia came with us and Anita and Arthur were waiting on our table. Elfryn and Brenda were there too but unfortunately could not sit with us. Colin, Christine, Terry and Cath turned up too but even more unfortunately were told there wasn’t a table for them. Jeff (another rower) joined us later for a beer.
The last event was our normal Tuesday pub quiz but more rowing friends turned up, Dave, Ceinwen, Bethan and Mark so we formed a new team (Bill’s Brains Trust) which managed to come 3rd, just 1 point off winning.
Drove to Wrinehill. An Indian with Mike and Jo.
Set off at 8.30 from Crewe station with 12 others on The Great Aleway Trip, organised by Alan on a blueprint set by James May and Oz Clark. First pint with a cooked breakfast in the railway bar at Dewsbury then visits to other similar on different stations. A short walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and more pints.
Bloodied 65 year old
No more celebrations. So a huge thank you to all my siblings, children and friends who made this week so enjoyable and especially to Sue who managed to organise all these events without me knowing anything about most of it. It was the best birthday ever!