Family Gathering–Dad’s 80th Birthday

8 Jul

Arriving back in the UK for our summer visit was especially exciting this year as we had a surprise party planned for my Father in laws 80th Birthday on July 1st. After a few days recovering from jet lag at Christopher’s house in Gateshead we drove down to the Midlands to be with Mum and Dad on the morning of his birthday. The surprise had been announced about two weeks before so Dad had time to get excited (i.e.prepare himself mentally for the challenge) with the rest of us.

What Dad was unaware of was that we had all been planning this since Christmas and had been excited for a very long time. We had booked 3 chalets at Centre Parks in Sherwood Forest for a long week end. With our busy family stretched from Gateshead in the north east to Plymouth in the south west, getting everyone together just does not happen.

Day 1 Friday – arrival day

Everyone arrived safely, Elizabeth,Alistair and Melissa with Zeena the dog, had a very long journey setting off around 7am and hitting slow traffic somewhere around Bristol I think, they did not arrive until 5pm. The rest of us had been settling in since 4pm and were ready for our evening meal at the Italian restaurant within the park.


As you can see from the happy faces the food went down well

Walking back to our accommodation took rather longer than expected due to a few detours and a little donkey ride racing.


Oh and maybe we did not actually walk the quickest route either!






We passed on dessert at the restaurant with the knowledge that waiting for us back in the chalet was a lovely chocolate cake baked by Helen who is our cake maker in residence.

We all joined in with singing the Happy Birthday song but fell silent quite quickly as we demolished the cake!





Kai and Ebony were very keen to get ready for their first night in the bunk beds and Christopher took on the role of Mr Storyteller.



Day 2 Saturday


There are lots of extra activities you can pay to take part in at Centre Parks but included P1010005is the use of the water park. Saturday morning most of the family headed that way for some wet fun. I do not enjoy swimming one bit and had ‘things to prepare’ for our afternoon party so stayed back for a while. When I did wander down to the pool I found them all having a great time with Mum and Dad happily spectating at the side of the pool and taking lots of pictures.


I had wanted to play lots of ‘old fashioned’ party games with the little ones (knowing the P1010029grown ups would join in too) and had pass the parcel organised; musical chairs; pin the tail on the donkey; what’s the time Mr Wolf were all on my list too. The outdoor space was a little ‘rustic’ but the children soon discovered the fun of the bank beside our chalet using it as a slide and climbing wall before Jennie produced a big bottle of bubbles and lots of bubble wands which kept everyone busy for a while.








Tea time was a noisy happy affair then in an attempt to settle the children we all decided to go for a walk. Along the way we found one of the adventure playgrounds, this one was designed for 8 – 13 year olds but was deserted – until we arrived and slightly took it over!






Jennie and Helen foot fighting on the rope swing!










Aunty Lizzy and Ebony have a chat








Purple dog braves the slide to receive a cuddle from Melissa








Then Ebony has a turn.










Great Grandma and Uncle Al lead the singing of Row Row Row your boat,

I am not sure who enjoyed this most them or the children




















We all had a fun time whether we took part or just watched!


Day 3


Back to the water this morning,but this time the peddle boats.









Our intrepid adventurers explored the outer limits of the lake returning with tired legs and slightly damp bottoms!





Finally we found time for my pass the parcel, it has been a long while since I packed a parcel, and trying to think of forfeits for two 5 year olds and a two and a half year old stretched my brains a little. Never the less with a little help from the adults, Jennie manipulating the music, even Melissa got into the idea of how to play. Kai seemed to draw the short straw each time with a forfeit and no prize while Ebony got the sweets and easy forfeit…. NB for next time I pack a parcel…




The great grandchildren went a walk with Great Grandma and Granddad picking daisy’s in the field to give to Elizabeth and Jennie.













Who then turned them into daisy chains!





The children took turns at going a ride on Uncle Al’s bike!











Or just hung out together having fun.







Day 4 Monday   (departure day)



All good things come to an end and the best ones end all too quickly. Very soon we were all packing our bags ready to return to our respective corners of the country. A subdued atmosphere settled on the gathering.



While grown ups packed the little ones spent some final time with us and Great Grandma and Granddad. A message from Elizabeth that her chalet was missing some cutlery sent Great Grandma on a mission to retrieve it from Jennie, Helen and Christopher’s and return it to its rightful place. Little did she know she would also be rescuing Jennie and Helen from a terrorist…….

The park is home to lots of wildlife, ducks, moor hens and coots but the swans with two young signets had been very much in evidence all week end. The female and signets were cute and of little bother.





The male however was a different story and we had already had to shut him out when he tried to enter our chalet, we left the patio door slightly open and he proceeded to pull the curtain through the gap in his frustration at not being allowed indoors.



Maybe it was because there had been some talk about swan neck kebab that he decided to retaliate. When Mum arrived she found Jennie and Helen in safe haven behind the kitchen divider while Mr Swan hissed at them from the other side! They had been trying to shoo him out for several minutes before she arrived only for him to flap his wings and hiss all the more. Happily as the front door opened and Mum walked in he decided he was now bored and walked out the way he had come in. Such a pity Mum did not have the camera!

A happy week end, a special time when we all had fun. Lots of memories, lots of photos to remind us too.

IMG_0390A few more ……IMG_0403for which…..IMG_0411 I make no apology for indulging myself P1000975with lots of pictures!!!


How could I miss them out?

4 Responses to “Family Gathering–Dad’s 80th Birthday”

  1. Rachel Collier July 8, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    So glad you had such a lovely time. Seeing the three children reminds me so much of us when we were small. Hope the two girls didn’t pick on Kai as much as me and Elizabeth used to pick on Christopher!!

    • elainethehill July 8, 2011 at 10:02 am #

      We did have a good time – thank you. The three children play very well together and were very good about looking after Melissa.Its a shame they can not be together more often.

  2. gracey July 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Sounds like a grand old time!!!!

  3. Katy July 13, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    Elaine, what a lovely time, gathering everyone together. Thanks for sharing the stories and all the wonderful pictures. You have such a beautiful family! 🙂

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