Big Birthday Celebrations

Friday, 6 October 2017

 A little over three weeks ago it was my birthday. It was a milestone one this year as I turned 40.

I've never been one to be bothered about turning another year older. It is a blessing that some are not fortunate to see and so I think it's wrong to be concerned about entering a new decade. In a similar way, I'm embracing the grey hairs that are appearing more regularly too. I'm far from being a feminist, but why do we as a society accept it when men go grey naturally, yet when a woman does, especially a younger one, she is accused of having 'let herself go'? I'm choosing to view mine as a reminder of all the years of sleepless nights with little ones, and of the many years that I have been blessed to spend with my husband and family.

It does also help that one day one of the boys told me that he didn't think there was anything wrong with going grey, 'especially since you don't have any wrinkles. I think going wrinkly would be worse'!

Anyway, back to the day of my birthday.

As is tradition, I was banned from the kitchen while the boys made dinner and baked a cake.

Calum (14) baked the cake and James (17) decorated it. He was eagerly watched by Fraser (3), who I think may have been more interested in the chance of getting some leftover icing!

David always likes to have the job of setting the table nice, and he takes it very seriously. I don't remember why I bought these cocktail umbrellas but he found them in a drawer and used them to decorate the table.

Dinner was slow cooked Chicken Tarragon.

And the cake was understated and beautiful in it's simplicity.

The boys knew that I had recently thrown out my wellies as they had holes in them, and so chose to buy me these lovely ones for my birthday, as well as a couple of pretty scarves and a little rabbit keyring that Fraser insisted they buy for me.

My parents. my brother and sister in law, and my mum's side of the family all bought me this thing of beauty. I already had a stand mixer and didn't think that I really needed a Kitchen Aid. Now that I have tried it out though, I realise how wrong I was. 

My husband was in some top secret negotiations with a friend of mine who makes tweed bags. He had commissioned her to make this beautiful handmade tweed bag which I love. The colours are amazing and the size is perfect. When you have to carry an emergency allergy kit around with you everywhere you need a decent sized handbag.

My husband knows that I would absolutely hate to be the centre of attention, and so took this into consideration when planning the main celebration for my birthday, which took place two weeks later. The reason we had it later on was that months ago my parents had booked a holiday that involved them passing by this way for a few days. If we held the birthday do later on then it meant that they could be there too.

The only tiny snag was that when he booked the venue back in the summer we didn't know that James wouldn't be returning from a school trip to Italy until the day after. Still, I didn't mind James missing it, and neither did he, and I wouldn't have wanted him to miss out on a trip like that just for a birthday dinner. His trip to Italy was with his Gaelic class and they went there to take part in a conference on minority languages. He loved the whole experience.

I knew that there was a celebration booked, and that we were going out to dinner with family, but didn't know until the day itself where it was we were going.

So on the day of the do we all dressed up fancy.

The venue was the Dalmahoy Hotel, just outside of Edinburgh, and we had a room to ourselves.

The room had a balcony on the far side.

The balcony had steps leading down to the golf course.

And the view from the room and the balcony was this idyllic view of the golf course.

The long table had been set with personalised menus.

And my parents had printed out some old photos of me to decorate the table too.

This amazing birthday cake was made by my brother's wife. She had made it gluten and dairy free so that everyone could have some. I hadn't clicked why she was taking such an interest in where James had bought the edible ink pens for my cake on my actual birthday a week earlier!

The guests at the dinner were: ourselves and the boys (minus James); my mum and dad; my brother, sister in law, their three boys and their daughter; my youngest brother; my husband's parents; and my husband's sister.

Everyone was dressed in their finery for the dinner, but I think these two were the best dressed of the lot.

The rest of these photos were taken by my dad with his fancy new camera.

This was the awesome free from pudding - dairy free ice cream with a dairy free magnum style lolly.

This is me and my two brothers, as well as our youngest two little ones.

And in this one we are joined by my mum and dad. I don't actually know when we last had a photo taken of just the five of us.

We were soon joined by my littlest man!

And of course a chance for a photo of myself and the Mr in our finery.

The room we had was a perfect size, as it was big enough to allow the little ones space to play on the floor, but not so big as to encourage them to charge around!

After dinner and cake we were entertained by some of the boys playing music.

David started things of by playing Lament for Iain Ruaidh on guitar.

My oldest nephew played us a few tunes on his pipes.

Calum played some accordion for us, and led us in a little sing song.

And the two littlest sang The Wheels on the Bus for us as a finale.

It really was a perfect way for me to celebrate a milestone birthday.

Next year it's the turn of  my brothers to have the celebrations. One of them will turn 40 and the other one will be 21!

Summer Holidays - Weeks 3 & 4

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Time for a selection of highlights from weeks 3 and 4 of our summer holidays now, which started off in a very similar way to the previous two weeks (you can find the Weeks 1 & 2 post here) with a beach trip.

This time we headed to the north of the island, where there is a playpark built into the sand dunes by one of the beaches. 

We had arranged to meet up with the boys' cousins for a run around the park followed by lunch on the beach.

The weather had started out nice enough, but it soon clouded over, and since we were on the Atlantic coast of the island there was a bit of a breeze coming off the sea when we went onto the beach for our picnic.

Fraser and his cousin were nice and sheltered for the picnic though.

I think a Lewis beach looks beautiful in any weather.

And the boys and their cousins certainly enjoyed themselves despite the wind.

But nearly every day of weeks 3 and 4 of our summer holidays looked more like this...

This was the first of several trips we made to the beach in the village my mum is from, Bayble Beach.

The tide was going out this day, and Calum and David enjoyed jumping off the ladder on the pier and into the sea. 

Just to prove that I was in the sea with them on these trips too. Yikes it was cold though!

Calum and David really enjoy the chance to watch my youngest brother play football and so a few nights we went along to watch his team. We began to think that perhaps we were unlucky mascots though as the first two games we watched they lost! They won the third one though.

Of course we had to head back across to Traigh Mhòr again another day now that dad was with us too. 

I had a new cross stitch project with me for when everyone was busy building sandcastles.

Although everyone mostly wanted to be in the sea!

We had plenty more BBQs with Granny and Shen.

I enjoyed sitting in the garden working on my new cross stitch while the boys played on their bikes.

And on the odd cloudy/overcast day we went to the swimming pool.

One day some friends introduced us to a beach we had never been to before.

And I continued work on the summer cross stitch.

Our wedding anniversary is at the very end of July, and most years we are up in Lewis for it. This year we knew we were going to be busy at Shinty Camp when our actual anniversary fell and so we celebrated it a couple of weeks early. We went to see Calum Alex Macmillan at the HebCelt Festival, and it was a really great night. Flawless Gaelic singing, and some pipe playing too, from Calum Alex. I've been a huge fan of his latest album, Till (the Gaelic for return),  since it came out earlier this year and it was lovely to hear the stories behind the songs he chose for it.

Chasing around after Granny and Shen's mischievous dog Roscoe is always a fun part of the holidays for the younger boys.

One of the summer highlights for Ally (8) every year is the Lifeboat Open Day. The day starts with a charity 5k which has a prize for the family with the most members taking part in the 5k. We were pretty sure that if our family and my brother's family took part that we would have a good chance of winning it. 

Last year it was torrential rain all day on the Open Day. This year it couldn't have been more different. 

My brother, his three boys and our Calum and David all ran the 5k. My sister in law, my niece, Ally, Fraser, my hubs and I all took up the rear and walked. The 5k went up to a point in the Castle Grounds and then all the way back again, and all of the runners passed us on their way down before we had even reached the half-way mark!

However, we all finished it eventually and we also won the prize for the most family members taking part.

There were 12 of us in total, as James was still away at Army Camp.

I thought the prize might be a little plastic trophy or something similar, but was amazed to see that it was actually a really beautiful engraved slate plaque. Rather than pass it between our house and my brother's house we decided that the best place to display it would be at my mum and dad's house!

After some refreshments to recover from our hot walk, everybody enjoyed the rest of the open day.

The Lifeboat was moored right beside where my Uncle keeps his boat. As we walked past we saw he was sitting on his boat enjoying the sunshine and so we popped aboard to say 'Hi'. I love these pictures of us all sitting on his boat in the sunshine - complete with yellow lifeboat wellies!

I said earlier we paid several visits to Bayble beach. Here was another of those visits.

This time the tide was really far out so there was no chance of jumping from the ladders into the sea.

Ally picked up a little catalogue from Argos one day. It wasn't their huge one, but one that contained their big toy range for the summer in it, and he took it everywhere with him! He still has it by his bed all these weeks later!

The day after this trip I took the boys down to the beach again at about 9pm, after we had watched one of my brother's football matches, so that they could see how different it looked at high tide.

They loved the look of it so much that they asked me if we could go back again early the following morning so that they could go in the water. So we did. Complete with westsuits.

As our time in Lewis grew to a close, I managed to complete my summery cross stitch.

We had a final trip for Schmoos and fizzy juices at Cafe Roo.

And a final run around Bayble Beach, which despite the sunshine in these pics, was this day decidedly more chilly thanks to the wind.

And then, our four weeks were over and it was time to leave. But what a great four weeks they were. Crammed full of fun days and happy memories made with friends and family.

However, we didn't have time to be too sad about leaving Lewis, as it was on to the next adventure of our summer, and the busiest week by far - running the Shinty Camp in Skye.

More about that in my weeks 5 & 6 roundup.