Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My 60th Birthday Surprises, 7.9.08

On the Sunday, the day after my 'actual' birthday, we had to get from Worthing to Stanstead airport. As we were leaving very early in the morning (to ?) on Monday, Jim thought it best we stay somewhere close by. We were also meeting my son Jason, his wife Sam and my Grandson Jack for tea at 4pm. We packed our clothes and drove to our hotel called Pearse House. A fabulous old house and our room was beautiful. I changed into my 2nd suit, the one I almost wore to the wedding! I was very excited about seeing Jack+.

We drove to a fairly local Beefeater and Sam was waiting outside for us to show us where they were sitting. We walked in and first I saw Kay, my daughter, then, surprise of surprises, my son Ben was there from Spain. I was so shocked. Ben and I had a huge, long hug (with Jack looking on and wondering who this person was)! Ben had never met Jack before, nor K. Then it was a huge hug from Jack, K, Luisa, David and Sue (friends), Rene (Sam's Mum) and of course Jason. Wow, I was just over the moon. After all the traumas of a party I was having that was cancelled, this was the very very best present I could have. All 3 of my children together for the first time since our wedding.

Jack was so good and adorable as usual. There was a big carrier bag of presents ready and he was telling me what he'd bought before I'd opened it! Luckily I couldn't quite work out what he meant! In fact he'd bought 2 of those 'bath bombs' one of which released rose buds as it 'exploded'. Bless him. Also he had bought me a Thornton's Chocolate Plaque. It said on it 'Dear Gran's Birthday' which is what he told the lady in the shop to write!! He said it was only flat and sounded a bit disappointed that it wasn't a car or something in chocolate! Jack is 3.

Sam's Mum Rene bought a plaque which read 'Welcome to my Fairy Garden' for my fairy garden of course! A silver photo frame from David and Sue (bottle shaped) and a big craft cutting mat from Jason and Sam (that I'd requested). There was also a card from Ken, my first husband. David as of David and Sue, is one of Ken's brothers.

Food was ordered and was splendid. We had a fun time with the waitress called 'Jo'. She spilled beer on my suit and was mortified. She offered to have it cleaned but we didn't care! Jack was fascinated by Jim's dinner as he had prawns. Jim explained all about them but Jack wasn't brave enough to try one. I wanted pudding, always my favourite part of any meal! Jack wanted chicken flavoured ice cream and went into hysterics thinking of silly flavours but actually had vanilla with chocolate sauce. Then Jo brought in a cake with 2 sparklers saying 60 on it and almost threw it on my lap. It wasn't her day!! So we all had cake.

Jack and I blew out the candles and everyone sang 'Happy Birthday' including some of the other diners! Ben and Jason had a good chat, which was great as they see little of each other. There are 14 years between them. K loved meeting Jack and took loads of photos, as yet I haven't seen those, but Jim took some on my camera, which I have. We had to sit on 2 tables, so we swapped about with the seating.

I can't express how much this all meant to me and how happy I was. If I could bottle the feelings I had when I saw Ben, I'd make a fortune. And K of course, though I'd seen her a week before and I knew Jason was going to be there. She laughed because they'd had the party supposedly for Luisa and my birthday when really she knew she was going to see me on the 7th! It was truly the best thing I could have asked for. We had photos of me and my 3 offspring, lots of them!

All too soon it was over and we had to go. We milled around a bit in the car park, after I'd gathered up all my presents. I ran over to Ben for one last hug - he is sooo huggable - and then Jack said 'one last hug' too! So we enjoyed another cuddle. Then we boarded our Doblo car and K ran over to the window for one last kiss!

Jim and I drove back to our hotel and had a couple of drinks in the bar. I think I didn't stop smiling for hours, as I am now. Up to our room where I had a bath with the 'rose bomb' in it and the bath had those swishy jets in too! What luxury.

I read a while then to bed but I couldn't sleep!

A very funny photo of me - looking rather surprised!!

Me greeting K! Another surprised look!

Sam's Mum Rene and Jack showing me his new shoes

A huge hug for Jack. See my lipstick on his cheek! Ben standing behind, smiling.

Jack puckering up for a kiss

Luisa, Ben and K

Jack pulling a funny face, doting Gran watching.

Jason, K and Ben. Jason was clearly too busy eating to look at the camera!

Me, Jason, Luisa, K, Ben


Me and My Children

Ben, Me, Jason!

That's about it really. Apart from our hotel:

Some benches in their garden

Jim on the hotel bed!

Now these 2 photos are funny. The bath bomb in action!!

Phew! What a time I had. I think I've been smiling all the time I've been writing this. Thanks to Sam, Jason, K, Ben and of course Jim for arranging all this for me.

Russ and Caz Wedding, 6.9.08. Gina 60 Today

Gina Deen (me) on 6th September 2008, My 60th Birthday. Ready for Russ and Caz's Wedding.

So it was back to Ireland on Monday 1st September. Much chatting to Jim about my weekend at my daughter's and the fun we'd had. Then only 2 days before we drove back to the UK for Jim's son Russell's wedding and our holiday to??. The secret location.

The days rushed by and I flew around the Worthing shops trying to finalise my wedding outfit and accessories. Both Caz and Russ liked my 'off the wall' suit, so that was the choice. I wanted something a bit bright to wear with it and it was going to be red or turquoise. I finally bought a red fascinator, then went to Debenhams and saw a great pair of shoes with a bag in their Jacques Vert section for sale for silly money! So I bought them, took the red jobby back and rushed around looking for turquoise jewellery!

On the Saturday morning, we were up with the lark, getting ready for the wedding. It wasn't until 1.30 but was quite a way away, so we needed to leave about 12. Ali was having her hair done and was our driver, having hired a people carrier. She was late picking us up and Jim paced up and down and watched every car that drove past our house! She finally arrived and off we rushed. Poor Ali was in a panic and when we picked Jenny and Matt up, the sisters ended up shouting at each other!! Weddings! We arrived at the venue in plenty of time. It was a lovely place, part of a vineyard. The building was wooden and the grounds lovely. It was even quite bright weather wise to start with.

We all assembled inside, the bride was fashionably late! A chap in a red jacket kept us up to date with proceedings and what we should and shouldn't do. Russell looked nervous, as expected, but his best man Graeme kept him calm and we all laughed and chatted. I took a few photos before the 'official' photographer arrived with the bride. Jim and I took photos of each other all dressed up and ready to go:

Jim Deen

Gina Deen

The Bridegroom, Russell Deen, and his best man, Graeme, waiting for the bride to arrive. Russ on the right.

All assembled. Jim's daughter Jenny checking her camera and her husband Matt (right) saying prayers?

Jim's daughter Ali (right) having a baby in December. Her husband Jo.

The wind swept bridesmaids arrive

Mr and Mrs Deen go off to another area for drinks

Caz, the bride and the youngest bridesmaid


The buckets held bon bons. The little cakes were divine.


The Wedding Cake

It was quite a drive to the reception venue. It was a lovely place called Slaugham Manor. Beautiful grounds and ruins in the garden. Sadly, it absolutely poured it down for most of the time so the guests weren't able to enjoy the venue as they could have. The reception was in a marquee in the grounds. The photos were also all taken inside and the food was a barbecue, of course we had that inside too. Having said that, it all went well, the food was fabulous and I'm sure the bride and groom had a great time. The decor and colour scheme were really pretty, and all done by Russ and Caz.

The Best Man's speech was brilliant, including a section about Russell's dancing. He apparently does an 'elbow dance' and all his friends got up and demonstrated!

I think you'll all agree that Caz looked stunning. She had also lost quite a lot of weight and her dress showed off her fabulous figure. Russell has also lost a lot of weight but I think he needs to put some back on. He's running a lot and his ambition is to be picked for the 2012 Olympic Marathon team. Well, fingers crossed.

Jim and I both laughed at the official photo of him and Russ as they both look like they've just got off their horses! Those photos are on Facebook though.

Jim gave a little speech about how much hard work the couple had put into the wedding and then did a little bit on my birthday. Ali came in carrying a birthday cake and they sang happy birthday, which was lovely. Russ and Caz also gave me an orchid plant, which I love. I also picked up a few more presents and cards during the day.

I had forgotten that Jim gave me his presents before we got ourselves ready and he took some photos of me opening them:

This was the remote keyboard and mouse for my new computer (in the box on the floor) and if you look carefully you can see a huge bar of cadbury's chocolate on the desk! No wonder I look too large in the photos. Must lose some weight!

I hope you enjoyed the abbreviated version of the wedding. My next birthday treat started on the Sunday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday and Monday, 28-29th Sept. Blue Parrot?

The Deenery

Well, I forgot to mention this a couple of days ago. I saw a patch of blue at the top of the front garden and on approach I could see a load of very bright blue feathers. Buster's had a parrot, I thought. A Norwegian Blue? (for any Monty Python fans). Then I saw the white stick lying nearby and realised he'd demolished my blue feather duster! He'd pulled out every feather! I bet he had fun while he was doing it.
It does look like he's had a fight with a bird though, doesn't it?

Has anyone seen my Norwegian Blue?

Yesterday Jim and I had another late start, we keep staying up until about 4am that's the trouble. Must do better. Still, it was a good day, bits of sunshine and cloud. I thought I'd better weed the beds on the arboretum, particularly the acer bed. I don't think it's been done since we planted them earlier this year. The soil there is solid clay so it's a hard job. I did about one third, collected up many of the smaller stones and added them to our road up to the meadow.

Jim decided to carry on with the path that I'd started. Then he thought the best idea was to cut down the willows first, starting with the smaller ones. So that's what he did, then he carried on with the job today, as did I with mine. I've now done about two thirds of the acer bed. If the weather's ok tomorrow, I should finish it. The rain stopped play for a while, that rather horrid drizzle we get. I came in and sat pulling the lavender flowers I had dried from their stalks. What a job! Has anyone any tricks or advice for doing it? It seems to take ages.

Both our cats suffer with ear mites, particularly Sandy and I noticed how bad his ears were when he was sitting on my lap. Out with the water, cotton buds and ear drops. Sandy hates it and fights like a demon. BlackJack moans a bit but puts up with it. They're both going crazy now as I suppose the drops feel a bit odd!

Buster was down the road earlier, visiting our neighbours as usual, when I heard him yelp. Quite a strong yelp and a short time later he came home. I wonder whether he had taken a knock from a tractor, as Martin was up and down with his most of the day. He was certainly not himself and slept in the conservatory for hours. He was shivering so I covered him with a blanket, but now he's just fine. Maybe it'll teach him a lesson. These animals can be a worry.

I've ordered a clock from Rima of The Hermitage. If you haven't seen her blog yet, do go and look. She is a wonderful artist and there's a link to her blog on my favourites. I'm a bit down the list so may have to wait a while, but it's just so exciting. It will go on the wall in our snug when the extension is finished in there. A genuine piece of original art. I'd like to buy one of her paintings too but may not be able to stretch to that. She's going to have a sale soon so it's worth keeping an eye on her blog.

Jim and I have been watching the financial news with trepidation, as have many people, I'm sure. It's all very worrying and you do wonder where best to keep any savings. Under the mattress?

Life's coincidences: Jim came into the snug last night as I was watching television and said 'What are the chances of that?' He had in his hand the card I had bought him 2 years ago for his 60th birthday. It was indeed the exact same card as he bought me for mine. Amazing. He also made me a huge concertina card but had bought the other one as it had a badge on it for me to wear.
Wow. My mother and I once bought each other the same Christmas card. I thought that was weird enough.

We've been chatting about Christmas and as we are having to pay for our extension/building work, things are going to be a bit tight this year, so I've warned relatives that it'll be a 'home made' Christmas this year, which none of them will mind, I know. I love getting home made presents, they're always unique and have taken time and trouble.

I now have the photos I took of the wedding of Russ and Caz and some of my surprise birthday meal, so will do an out of sequence blog of those 2 occasions.

At the same time as I took the flower photos, I took some others of berries, etc, so will leave you with those.
This odd piece of old farm equipment was in our barn. There have been lots of theories as to its purpose. It says on it '50 gallons' and D I ABOLO, presumably the maker. Something obviously sat on the top and it has a handle on the other side. Any ideas?

This lovely clump of fungi is by one of our living willow fences.

I uncovered this 'cave' when I was clearing away the years of weeds in this area. It's under a huge ash tree. It's just to the left of the area shown on the photo below

This is the other side of the fairy hill. It always gets covered in brambles, ivy and sundry weeds so I've just cleared it up again, the same day as I did the path.

Here is the little stream that runs at the bottom of the drop. You can see the same bunch of fern on the left. The stream only really runs when it's been or is raining

A very small part of a huge patch of honesty behind the sleeping shed. So many seeds.

I planted this fern earlier in the year. It's doing ok now, though it's still quite small.

In fact, Jim bought 3 ferns for me and this is another of them. It's really delicate and doing very well. These are in the grotto.

This is the 3rd one, also doing nicely. To it's right is variegated bugle.

This Ginkgo Bilbao is turning yellow. I love the shape of the leaves.

We planted a grape vine (2 in fact) earlier in the year and here are our first grapes! I don't think we'll be making much wine vintage 2008.

This orange berried pyracanthus is covered in berries this year. It was here when we bought the cottage.

Huge rose hips