My Mum was 70 on 2nd February this year and we concocted an elaborate plan to get together and surprise her. They are still living on their barge in Bruge and we visited them at Christmas, so Mum was certainly not expecting any visits for her Birthday.
My best Mate Mags and her lovely wife Mano live in Brussels, so we co-opted them into the plan. We stayed with them Friday to Monday. Chris and Kate travel from Manchester to Brussels and check into hotel. On Saturday morning we decorate the living room with posters, flowers, birthday cake, bubbly. Chris and Kate go shopping for party later on.Mags (who has known my Mum for ever) invited them over for Saturday lunch to celebrate. Mum and Dad get train from Bruge and amazingly arrive on time.
Mum and Dad arrive, we (me Alan Kate Chris Markus and Patrick) are all hiding in the living room crammed on the sofa - Markus is very excited and keeps "shushing everyone". Mum takes an age to actually come into the living room, and when she does she doesn't see us at first, but then just explodes with laughter and surprise. Cue more laughter, hugs, glasses of bubbly. Saturday lunch was at a lovely local brasserie, where we had our room upstairs. Steak, chips, red wine, yummy pudding, lots of photos.
The final surprise was a themed party in the evening for my Mum. We had been wondering what theme to have for the weekend and the week before, my clever little sister realised that Desert Island Discs is also 70 years old this year. Normally the guest chooses 8 records to reflect their life, but we did it the other way round. Each of us chose 2 or 3 pieces of music that reminded us of Mum. During the evening, we would say why we chose that music, then played the clip. We even got Mum's brother Geoff via skype to join in. It was a lovely way to talk with Mum about her life and family, and to celebrate as a family. Kate had made a wonderful Desert Island cake and I had brought themed posters for the wall.
On Sunday Chris and Kate had to leave mid morning. My Parents went for a short snowy walk along the cycle path with us to the playground, followed by lunch. Mum and Dad left in the afternoon and we leave Mags and Mano early Monday morning, after a fabulous weekend!
more photos here