It was with pleasure and a sense of something different, new, momentous that I woke up on the morning of 3rd February, 70 years after I was born. I had been promised a special breakfast by my lovely spouse; scrambled egg and smoked salmon, with bubbly. I opened my cards and some gifts with a morning cup of tea, and was very struck by a sense of occasion.
I have sailed through my 40th, 50th, 60th with a shrug of the shoulder and the thought that numerically I might be shifting along the timescale but in life I am still feeling up to the requirements of life. Seventy is different if only because the perception of others is that one is, in fact, elderly!!
But not me. I have a day, a weekend ahead of me in which I will be constantly surprised. This is no small achievement on the part of Nick who has, in truth, enjoyed a lifetime of surprises for others and himself but has been rarely if ever involved in the planning of these events. In fact some of the things that unfold over the weekend are a surprise unto himself because our inimitable English weather has played a joker and some of Nick’s ideas were weather-dependent. So I am told that I need to be ready for a 4p.m. departure with nothing much in the way of luggage.
In the three days prior to my Big Day I have enjoyed convivial occasions with friends and my sisters. On the 31st Nick and I go to the village pub for supper with Eamonn and Cybs. We have had a good meal and are taking a nightcap in the bar when in troop my Bridge ladies. With some guilt I receive cards and a gift from them – I have not played this year for a number of piffling reasons. On the spur of the moment Cybs asks if I will play the following week. In a moment of weakness I say I will……..
On the 1st Nick and I drive to Ringwood to join up with friends who go back a long way. In Nick’s case the two guys date back to early schooldays, the very early 50s. We all went to each other’s weddings. Thus Mike, Stuart, Carolyn and Angela meet up with us for lunch.
The following evening my sisters have invited us to Dorchester for a curry at the Rajpoot. I receive my octopus glass bowl officially. The curry was wonderful.
So at 4 we leave the house and turn in the opposite direction to that which I had imagined. As it happens I do have the right destination in my mind, but Nick is clearly aiming to throw me off the scent. We arrive in Maiden Newton, at the home of dear Maddy and Andrew. We drink some champagne, we walk round the corner to Le Petit Canard. Surprise no. 2. We dine, very deliciously, a quatre.
The following morning the weather was still playing up but it became clear that a flight was on the cards. Before that however, Andrew took me for a spell of offroading up on the land around the Hardy Monument. At one point I notice that there was a single deer standing on the horizon.
After a bit of lunch provided by Maddy I was whisked off to Bournemouth Airport for a rendez vous with our pilot Brad Element and his small aircraft. We flew along the south coast of Dorset as far as Weymouth and back. It was lovely to see so many familiar landmarks from the air.
Asked if we planned a celebration in the evening I said no, we would be having a quiet restful evening at home. We drove back to The Old Workshop, we walked in the front door and I suggested Nick light the fire and I would make a pot of tea. I opened the kitchen door ……….