Well, the Big Weekend arrived. I was very excited about my birthday, and about the plan to celebrate it in a place we’ve been to several times before, with both the boys and both the girls – a house in Hay-on-Wye which belongs to the sister of a close friend and has felt to us like something of a retreat during the past few years: a place we could go to from time to time for down-time, walks, and comfortable sitting around just being.
We had some lovely things planned (a favourite walk, a meal out, Sunday lunch cooked by everyone bar me), and I had my crochet packed ready to go. Oh, and one or two other things, including a stash of cards and presents to open.
In addition the young people and Malcolm had (unknown to me) between them planned a succession of lovely surprises and treats.
The weekend proved to be relaxing and fun and restorative and exciting and a great laugh. And completely wonderful.
There were balloons, carved pumpkin lanterns, banners, sparkler candles, a long walk, sunshine, a picnic lunch with a grand view, cake, bookshops, wood fires in the burner, a delicious main course cooked by youngest son and daughter-in-law, a favourite pudding made by Malcolm using a recipe from Danish friends and apples from the community orchard and home made breadcrumbs, lots of wine, beer and good cheer, lots of hugs and laughs, and more puns (and cooked breakfasts) than is good for anyone. Youngest son has definitely inherited the pun gene.
I received lovely presents, many of which reflect a single theme – making things. In particular, I have a voucher for a mosaic course, something I’ve wanted to do for years and I am very excited about the course. I have two books about craft and creativity, which I am looking forward to reading and expect to find thought provoking. Some gorgeous jewellery made by crafts people and (in one case) a talented friend who is a silversmith. A wonderful Scandinavian baking book, from my Danish friends of course: I predict it will be grubby from much use before long.
And Malcolm is going to buy me a wooden chair for the garden made by the man who runs the woodland at Stourhead – what could be more fitting? Somewhere special to sit and crochet, read, or just be in one of my favourite places, on wood from one of my favourite places, made by a craftsman.
I did absolutely no crochet at all, but I did do a little bit of (undemanding) knitting. There was also time for me to reflect on the past year (and the past decade), and plan for the next (both year and decade). It has been a momentous period for us in all sorts of ways – both good and bad.
We have been through a series of real challenges and (mostly) emerged stronger and wiser. We have experienced the severe illness and death of some people we were very close to, significant changes in employment, and some very difficult emotional stuff.
We have also had great joy and pleasure, especially in watching our sons grow into adulthood and independence, and create families and traditions of their own.
One thing that reading other people’s blogs has reinforced for me is that we never know what may be round the corner. We could worry ourselves sick with all the possible terrible things that could happen, but what would be the point?
I find myself surprised to be so content at reaching 60. But content I am, and more than that, excited at what the next decade may hold for me and for those around me. And excited about what I will choose to do and choose to be.