17-19th January 2020
The surprise party
The question was posed at the end of 2019 : what were we thinking of doing for dad’s 90th birthday ? You can’t just have a wee get together with jelly and trifle for a 90th and planning would be needed to make sure that the entire family could attend.
It also had to be kept secret from dad. Early on I made excuses that I would not be over for Christmas 2019 so that my parents could accept the invite to Nigel’s for the holiday. That left me clear to organise my January travel arrangements with Anton.
The organisation slowly came together. Anton booked the necessary rooms at the John Lewis Country Club at Cookham not far from Slough. The initial proposal was that he and Debs would invite the folks for a meal on the Saturday ; this was then expanded into staying a night and having lunch before being taken back to Slough.
I booked the train for late on the Friday night giving me time to go for my usual Friday swim on the way. Phoned dad in the afternoon before leaving for Boulogne — still no suspicions and he was looking forward to his trip out.
Arriving in England I found Debs still in the process of finishing off the two cakes. The chocolate cake (made from chocolate, and then more chocolate) needed its chocolate icing added so more hours spent in the kitchen. It never ceases to amaze me that chocolate gets everywhere. In a month’s time you are still finding traces of it on the backs of spoons that were never near it.
By Saturday lunchtime everything was packed into the cars and I set off at about the same time as Hannah and Paul. Anton and Debs were heading directly to Slough to pick mum and dad up giving us, others, time to get to the club and booked into our rooms. The motorways were reasonable except for the M4 being closed at the junction we wanted. I had a long meandering trip through Langley which had the knock on effect of passing the Lithuanian shop where I get beers and Vytautas water (earth juice according to the adverts). I can also get caraway seeds for next to nothing and I use a lot in bread and cakes.
Arriving at the Club Paul and I parked right up the back so that the cars wouldn’t be spotted — especially as mine has give away French plates. We got our rooms sorted out with mine being next to mum and dad’s. Out came balloons and decorations and we got those up just in time for the text messages announcing that Anton was only a few minutes away. Having explained to Eleanor that we had to be very quiet, because it was going to be a surprise, we huddled into my room and awaited the footsteps along the corridor.
The surprise was suitably complete.
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Posted : 22 August 2021