A Surprise in Spain

We’re in Spain. Emily and Miquel had invited us to celebrate her 30th birthday with them, so off we went to Barcelona on Thursday. Where they immediately announced ‘Some friends have lent us their holiday home near the coast for the weekend. Don’t unpack. We’re off in an hour.’

The sun was setting as we arrived at a village, somewhere near Girona. As we arrived, I was sure it must be the wrong place – there were cars in the drive, and this was no small holiday cottage. We got out anyway…. and a line of people appeared on the balcony singing ‘Happy Birthday’…. to me.

It was my family. My whole family. My three children, their partners and children, who had all secretly plotted and contrived to come here for a long-delayed 70th birthday celebration, just for me, here, this weekend. And I hadn’t suspected a thing.

On the actual day, two years ago, Ellie was in the middle of chemotherapy and celebrations were in short supply.

So here we are, all 15 of us, all in the same place at the same time – something that almost never happens. For a whole long weekend of glorious weather, spending our days playing with the children on the beach, and our evenings on the terrace outside eating, drinking and talking, always talking…..

Lunch by the beach

Emily’s birthday hasn’t even had a mention yet. That’s on Monday. We’ll celebrate that then, back in Barcelona.

Phone photos are hard to come by in bright sunshine. Here’s some fun in the pool at our weekend home.

January 20th in Washington, Wakefield and Bolton

We’ll all remember 20th January 2017, the day Donald Trump took his oath as President of the United States.  No comment.

The 20th January was special within our family too.  It was the day my son Thomas celebrated his 40th birthday.  Really?  How did that happen?  Is it forty years since my son kicked and chortled in his pram, his simple world revolving round milk, sleep, fluffy nappies (no disposables then) and besotted parents?  Now he’s a besotted parent in his turn.  And nobody much remembers that it’s forty years since Jimmy Carter became President of the United States.

Thomas is no longer newborn here. All those colour photos got so faded. But here he is in his splendid woolly bear coat that I crocheted for him- all by myself
Thomas is no longer newborn here. All those colour photos got so faded. But here he is, nearly a whole year old in his splendid woolly bear coat that I crocheted for him- all by myself.

Unexpectedly, 20th January turned out to be even more special for our family.  It was the day that my daughter Elinor, having seen off her husband to cancer nine months ago; having been diagnosed as a cancer sufferer only four months after that; having had one operation that failed to dig it all out; and having had a mastectomy only the week before last was declared cancer free.  She’s got preventative chemotherapy and radiotherapy to face still, and breast reconstruction.  But she’ll be fine.  And that was more than we dared to hope only a few weeks ago.

Thomas and Elinor explore Glastonbury Tor, getting on for forty years ago
Thomas and Elinor explore Glastonbury Tor, getting on for forty years ago

This makes 20th January a Red Letter Day for this family.  Even Donald Trump can’t take that away from us.

Donald Trump was inaugurated in Washington DC.  Thomas was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire.  Elinor lives in Bolton, Greater Manchester.