An Alfresco Birthday Party

603877_10153036980050428_4354530538375350352_nIt was my granddaughter Jessica’s eighth birthday yesterday. She and her sister Imogen and friends were taken out for a pizza and there were four extra little girls sleeping over at Haywood Road, Mapperly that night. Louisa posted some photographs on Facebook. Except that Jessica’s mother, Louisa, enjoyed a May birthday, and could have the parties in the garden in Newark by the time she was eight, this, for me, was reminiscent of my daughter’s own celebrations.

I was, of course, in attendance at Louisa’s events with the camera. I still haven’t found any of the negatives of these, so have resorted to scanning prints from her seventh birthday in May 1989. Here is a selection from a great deal more:Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Kate & children 2 007Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Kate with children 1 006

Our teenaged baby-sitter, Kate, was engaged to organise the games in this particular party, and a great job she made of it.Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Emma C, Louisa, Blake, Jason & Matthew C 005Louisa's birthday party Emma C, Sam, Sarah-Jane, Louisa, Blake, Jason 004

One particular activity involved each child in turn moving forward for a purpose which now escapes me. First Louisa, then Sam, are having a go. The others sat behind them and waited their turn.Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Sam 013

For some reason Sam sported a T-shirt bearing a facsimile of my signature.Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Sarah-Jane 003

Some of these children, like Sarah-Jane Hyde have remained lifelong friends.Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Matthew C 011

Matthew Colbourne was to provide the musical entertainment on the evening of Louisa’s wedding to Errol.Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Kay & Wayne 001Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Wayne & Jason 002Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Jason 010

Others dropped out of the circle after a while. Louisa’s parties were to continue for another  seventeen years, by which time the activities and the groupings had changed a bit.Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Jessica 012Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Louisa 008Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Sam and Louisa 009Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Jessica, Kate, and children at tea table 014Louisa's birthday party 5.89 Kate and children at tea table 015

Jessica provided a general oversight, but more importantly, plentiful party platters to be devoured at tables on the lawn.

Louisa was able to send her photographs around the world seconds after she had taken them. The process, for me, has taken rather longer. Such is the march of technology.

This evening’s platters for Jackie and me contained her smoked haddock and cauliflower cheese (recipe) meal that I call her symphony in white. Fried leeks were added today, and it was followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard. We both drank Cimarosa Zinfandel rose 2013.

On The Road


Michael, driving me through the night, was probably skirting Paris when the digits of the clock turned to 00.01 today. We were aware of the metropolis as the dark midnight sky brightened with the multicoloured lights generated by urban living. A surprising number of other vehicles were on the road, most, as we continued further south, heading north towards the capital.

My son had not enjoyed dubious sandwiches he had bought at Calais, so we made a number of stops in search of more sustenance. These were unfruitful, as every outlet was closed. Fortunately there were a number of all-night public conveniences, albeit of variable cleanliness.

The indigo sky was largely cloudless and sprinkled with numerous stars. It was not until about six in the morning that light, then eventually a strong sun, began to emerge behind my left shoulder. Parts of the landscape seemed to be scattered with creamy white pools amid the undulating hills. Nearer to hand, swirling mists, which is what these were, rose from moist fields and drifted upwards to dissolve into the air. The low sun cast long shadows across the pink-tinted countryside.

I regretted that we had ‘no time to stand and stare’ nor, more importantly perhaps, to photograph such evocative scenes.

What happened on arrival must await my next post.

Having borrowed yesterday’s title from one American writer, I turned to another, Jack Kerouac, for today’s.