Lisa made sure that Tim was around for the weekend of 24th August to celebrate his birthday with the immediate family – Diana, Louis, Ella, Jonathan, Luiza, Lucas and Anita. Jonathan + 3 arrived on Friday evening and Diana plus 2 arrived in good time for salad lunch on Saturday.
Tim was a little worried by Jonathan’s long absence for shopping but no one else seemed to share his concern. Then, to Tim’s astonishment, Jonathan finally arrived with SOPHIE having collected her from her delayed flight at Bristol Airport. Lunch over we, encouraged by Lucas and Anita, adjourned to the garden to subject Sophie and others to the Assault Course designed the previous weekend and tested by Lucas and Anita. Tim did manage to demonstrate how it could be tackled in gentle fashion but before we had managed to entice Sophie to try her skills
Tim was summoned to establish who needed help in the Courtyard. Imagine his absolute amazement and delight when JELTJE and TJIBBE came down the steps! So with Jeltje to show how the Assault Course could be tackled the youngsters showed how it really should be done. Then another car arrived in the Courtyard and Tim was asked to investigate: and now CHRIS and LISA came smiling down the steps. Back to the Assault Course challenge and finally Louis turned in the fastest time but then he is a champion boulder climber.
Now, Lisa decreed it was time for every one to pair up and tackle her specially designed Treasure Hunt which would involve not only the Old House but the Churchyard and considerable parts of Blaise Castle estate. Counting the number of chimney pots on the Old Vicarage proved pretty challenging but that difficulty was minor compared to the task of finding the Egyptian connection in the churchyard. After finding the horticultural clue in the Orangery next to the Luccombe Oak competitors were required to ascend to Blaise Castle itself. As Tim plodded up the steep series of steps thither Anita and Ella bounded past for all the world like two gazelles. Eventually everyone found their way back to The Old House and Lisa declared it to be time for tea and produced a lovely birthday cake complete with Avocet (Tim’s boat) on a fine blue sea with a windward mark as the next challenge.
Later after a sparkling toast or two and leisurely conversation with seemingly little further preparation but some appreciable assistance from Diana and Ella the most delicious supper for all appeared as we were seated around the enlarged dinner table in our newly established larger dining room. The secret to this was the the fact that Lisa had devoted the whole of two weekends Tim and Diana had spent racing in Chichester Harbour and on the Thames at Gravesend to preparing dishes for our meal. And all that on top of conducting a comprehensive secret correspondence to arrange for all the ‘surprise’ arrivals. It should be recorded that she was 100% successful in achieving complete secrecy and surprise.
Sunday morning was a time for a leisurely breakfast and assembly of those staying in local and central Bristol hotels. Lisa did brief Tim with the location of Sunday lunch which was The Glass Boat by Bristol Bridge but what she failed to tell him that when he walked onto the boat he would find FRAN, TRICIA and JAMES there in addition to everyone else. (He had had brief conversation with Fran who had just parked her car while he and Tjibbe were looking for a place but she did not let on who she was lunching with!). A splendid lunch in a delightful environment completed the formal part of a wonderful weekend of celebration. An album of photos of the weekend will appear if you follow this link