Tuesday evening, the last bank holiday of the Queen’s 60th diamond jubilee, my mum popped round to deliver some homemade shepherd’s pie & I instinctively saw it as my golden opportunity to do what my body had been telling me to do almost all day, to lay on the sofa and go to sleep! If that gives you the impression I was slightly worn out by the weekends activities? You don’t know the half of it!
Bobby’s birthday party was to kick off the weekends proceedings, for his 9th he had chosen to go for a ‘roller disco’ at the local sports centre with all of his friends on the Friday night. Cup cakes were ordered, skate sizes were pre-arranged and the complete beginners were identified so they could receive some one on one treatment!
The 25 kids arrived nice and early which was just as well because it took a good half an hour to get ‘their skates on’ a good example of an oxymoron if I ever saw one! The disco began and all around kids were scraping themselves off the floor which was hilarious at first until a half hour later when my back began to feel the strain from picking them up. Inevitably most got the hang of it except for poor Myles who even after an hour of one on one coaching had proven himself to be in-coachable! I’ve never seen such relief than the moment he took he’s skates off and stood firmly on he’s own two feet.
Despite the lack of goody bags a successful party it was and due to the extreme amazingness of the cute as a cup cake – cup cakes the children didn’t even notice they had gone home without a bag full of rubbish anyway (I’m not a fan of party bags, can you tell?!!)
Bobby had been upset about his birthday this year because of the unfortunate fact that my friend had gone and arranged his wedding on the same day! I think he worried that it meant he wasn’t getting a birthday this year but he didn’t go without. We had travelled to my girlfriend Nicola’s house after the party so when he woke up excited on the Saturday morning he had lots of presents to open and at the wedding Marvin and Holly the newlyweds so kindly got him up on his chair after the speeches to get everyone to sing happy birthday to him, a gesture that left me fighting back the tears.
I get lots of cuddles from my children but it’s a fact that the best cuddle I get each year is the one I receive on the morning of their birthdays, is it the same for you?
Just when you thought taking the birthday boy to a wedding was going to ruin his big day that notion was ruled out instantly when the disco started and we danced together hand in hand for hours on end.
It’s a rare occurrence being with your kids at a disco but on the dance floor is one of my favourite places to be with them even though Fred aka ‘Mr Independent’ was nowhere to be seen throughout the whole day. He runs around with the other kids and seemed to have made friends with absolutely everyone which is just what Fred does best.
That’s usually enough activity for a weekend isn’t It? Not this one! The next day I took the boys to watch me play at Reading FC in a charity game against an ex Reading XI. It was bucketing down but anyone who plays football will tell you those are the best conditions when there’s a bit of zip on the surface. Anyway! the boys love coming into the dressing rooms, being a part of the team, listening to the banter and getting to sit in the dug outs at a premier league ground. Consequently we won the game 5-1 and I had a particularly satisfying 90 minutes owing mainly to the fact that I’m really fit at the moment, I do at least 5 circuit classes a week and I could see the difference even the next day when I wasn’t aching from head to toe like I usually would have been. That said I remember sleeping very well that night.
Monday was one of those days where you try to be in two places at once, never works! Nicola had told me a long time ago that I was expected to be at her Jubilee street party but one of my best friends Paul also had invited me to his daughters 10th birthday. I’m all for enjoying two parties on the same day but it is made slightly harder with the added element of the 94.6 miles that separated the two!
None the less I’m a man of my word so we enjoyed meeting all of Nicola’s neighbours, jumping around on the bouncy castle and at 3pm, after having said were leaving in 30 minutes for the last 4 hours we made our way. Nic’s development of converted stables has turned out to be the perfect place for her to live, there are lots of families with young children all in a square that overlooks a central courtyard area. Jubilee street parties encourage a sense of community spirit but these guys had that going on anyway.
One of the guys is renting one of them until the much bigger family home is completed, living there was just a temporary measure but they now dread the day they have to move away because while they will gain a few more bedrooms, a garden and a lot of extra space what they will lose is a sense of security or of ‘neighbourhood’ the freedom for the children to play safely outside the front door always under someone’s watchful eye and as the man said, there’s no amount of money you can buy that for, keep your mansion, there’s a lot to be said for ‘knowing thy neighbour’ they should use this development as a blueprint for other developments elsewhere!
I’d been on the road to Brantham near Manningtree for around an hour and I could feel myself getting dangerously close to dropping off at the wheel, I was knackered, Bobby was asleep already and I begged Freddy to let me have 15 minutes sleep in order to be able to carry on our journey safely. I pulled into the next lay-by and got the sleep I urgently needed!
When we arrived at my friends BBQ the kids were delighted to find there were lots of kids their age and an even bigger bouncy castle to get to jump all over! I often opt for the kids company over standing around drinking beer at these events so I jumped on and got bundled for a good hour until I realised I had made myself a best friend in little Holly aged 4.
She was cute as anything and just kept coming over to chat! She was born in America to an English mum who had returned to England 6 months ago. I always had the impression that American kids had slightly more social confidence from an early start and Holly was no exception.
It was very interesting to hear a 4 year old not just answer my questions so maturely but throw some back at me too – I was smitten. Holly didn’t leave my side for much of the day and while we all congregated around the TV to watch the jubilee concert she jumped up for a cuddle and stayed there until she finally fell asleep. Obviously I have my own 2 to cuddle but there’s always room for anyone else’s kids that want some of my time, I love being Uncle Jeff.
Part of my compromise to Bobby for his actual birthday being hijacked was to allow him a second party on the 5th. He chose Hatfield Forest, one of our favourite places to be the venue for our family picnic. Will it or wont it rain was the debate in the morning but I think many hours can be wasted speculating about the weather, I just think let’s get on with it and if we get wet we get wet! We actually had a good 4 hours over there before it started to rain too badly so I was right.
We had Uncles, Aunties, Cousins and friends over there all playing In a big game of football (where my cousins and I all do our best to tackle one another as despicably as possible) and my favourite thing to do over the park with friends, a big game of rounders! For us it’s few and far between that we get together, you know how it is everyone has families, jobs, other responsibilities that leave us with very little time for days like this but I’m pleased I arranged it because it was a good laugh and we all caught up.
I’m writing this Wednesday afternoon, if the jubilee wasn’t enough to contend with its rolled straight into the half term so the only chance of me sharing my experiences with you was to bring them bowling so I could perch on the end of the seats and write while they bowl, I’m dying to have a go too!