Last weekend my parents and brother came to stay for a sort of pre-birthday celebration. It’s actually my birthday today and I’m spending it having a day out with Tom but I always like to have a bit of a birthday do with my family as well. In fact I ideally like to have as many birthday celebrations as possible! Birthdays and Christmas are always occasions punctuated by family time, and now that we all live in different places (my brother in Norwich and my parents are about an hour from us), it means a lot to have them all descend on the house and for us to all be together in the same place. I was looking forward to this weekend for some time, and we planned a barbecue as well as the grand unveiling of the results of our conservatory overhaul. I found out the week before that there was a jazz festival in our local town on the Saturday so that went on the itinerary too and we kept our fingers crossed for some sunshine.
When Saturday rolled around luckily the sun had got the message and it was a beautiful sunny day. After giving my parents a tour of the conservatory and wallowing in the appreciative coos at all the hard work we’d put in I dashed off to get changed and my parents very kindly did half an hour of weeding and did an amazing job in our garden, which is starting to look a bit more normal and a bit less Day of the Triffids. Then it was off to the Jazz Festival (also known as Stomp on the Quomps – the Quomps are an area by Christchurch Quay that used to be Quagmire-y Swamps, hence the name, and are now a lovely green field!) As we arrived at the Quay you couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by what a perfect, British afternoon it was – the sound of jazz emanating from the bandstand, families picnicking on the lawn, all manner of food tents and a local ale tent, Pimms being served from a red marquee and dinghies and yachts pootling past in the Quay.
It was about a couple of miles’ walk from our house to the Quomps and so of course the first order of the day was refreshment! We settled on the grass with the dogs (Bodhi and his best friend, my parents’ dog Henry) and hotfooted it to the Piddle Tent – courtesy of our local brewery, Piddle Brewery of course! I had an amazing cider (Gypsy’s Luck), the boys all had their ales and my Mum had a glass of wine. There was a lot of different food on offer, Tom went for a hogroast, my Dad and brother went for fish and chips and my Mum and I shared a cone of chips.
Of course I couldn’t resist a cupcake stall – Miss Nattie’s House of Cupcakes are regularly seen at local fairs and markets and they are absolutely divine. We bought a box of cupcakes to take back with us – peanut butter, marshmallow, mocha and lemon meringue.
After a couple of hours of lolling on the grass and enjoying the music we headed back to ours to fire up the barbecue and crack open some more ciders. Some cold drinks were well deserved after walking the further two miles home (in which I discovered that Converse are wholly unsuitable for five mile walks and Henry gave up and had to be carried). Of course we took full advantage of the new conservatory, letting the afternoon sunshine stream in. Henry had definitely had enough sunshine by then and hid under my Mum’s chair! Isn’t my Mum coordinated with her stripey top and stripey espadrilles?
This is Tom and my brother, I believe they were supposed to be barbecuing at this point but look to be doing some sunbathing instead! Do you like my new deckchair? A present from my Mum’s vintage website!
Being inside out of the sun wasn’t looking too shabby either if I do say so myself! We have a new coffee table, a £10 eBay bargain, and Tom’s parents’ kindly bought me some flowers this week which have been happily perched atop.
After barbecuing lots of yummy bits from our local farm shop (I love having an amazing farm shop nearby) we had a lazy evening of watching films – not to mention I opened some rather lovely presents which I’ll show you at a later date (I’m a lucky lady!) Oh and I had a Percy Pig birthday cake, cool or what? (It tasted like Percy Pigs!)
All in all it was a perfect day and it was just lovely (I overuse the words perfect and lovely but they could not be more appropriate in this context) to spend some quality time with my family. I got some really sad news on Monday night and took some time away from the computer to reflect and take stock – losing people makes you realise how important it is to keep your family and friends close and seize any opportunity to tell them how much they mean to you.
From quiet homes and first beginning,
Out to the undiscovered ends,
There’s nothing worth the wear of winning,
But laughter, and the love of friends.