Birthday Celebrations

I ran my most recent piece last Wednesday, to mark my birthday. In it,  I referenced a previous post which described the grand day out my two lovely daughters gave me to celebrate my 60th birthday. I thought it might be good to share again an edited version of that piece, as it was a lovely day and I doubt many of you will have seen it before. I’ve also updated it to this year.

I first posted the piece on my birthday in 2016. On that day I awoke – or more precisely, was awoken by,  a thunderstorm and torrential rain – to the thought that I was then 63. I’d never been that old before! But we are told that ‘age is just a number’ so who’s counting? Just as well, really, as I’ve now added another four to the score! Seven years ago I retired from a lifetime of work, on my 60th birthday, and to celebrate that milestone my two wonderful daughters arranged a special day out for me in London. I had commuted into the capital to work for more than 35 years, and this marked the beginning of my re-acquaintance with London as a place to enjoy, rather than somewhere I was happy to escape from on a daily basis. During a comments ‘chat’ with a fellow blogger a few weeks prior to the original I realised that I had never written about that day out. I would have laid odds that I had, but when I checked I found several photographs in my Facebook and Instagram feeds, but no blog posts. I decided that I would write something about it, and as it is one of my favourite posts I thought I’d give it another airing.

Due to their work commitments the girls arranged the day out for the weekend, Saturday 14th to be precise. This had the bonus of there being lighter usage of public transport than on a weekday, which made it easier to get into London and get around while we were there. They knew that I had a longstanding desire to take a ride – or ‘flight’, as it is officially known – on the London Eye, so to be honest I wasn’t surprised to be taken to the Southbank Centre, adjacent to the Eye. And yes, that was where my grand day out was beginning, with a flight in one of these:

img_2695

img_2696And in case you haven’t seen it before, that pod is part of a much bigger structure (see left). I don’t have a head for heights, but didn’t at any time have a problem. The Eye moves very slowly, and the only real sense of movement that you have is the changing scenery around you, as the ground disappears further into the distance!

London has centuries of history and many famous landmarks, most of which are visible from the Eye. Here as an example is the Shard, one of the more modern buildings:

img_2693

And this is Elizabeth Tower, previously known as St Stephen’s Tower, until it was renamed in 2012 to mark QE2’s Diamond Jubilee:img_2691

Before anyone corrects me, Big Ben is the name by which the clock goes, not the tower itself. A common misconception, which the pedant in me (I am, after all, a Virgo) takes delight in correcting! The ‘guide book’ to your flight is an iPad, suitably encased in a stand to prevent theft, which is programmed to show you where all the landmarks are as the flight progresses. I thought that was a nice touch. After the flight we also took in the exhibition attached to the Eye, which by total coincidence led us into the gift shop…

Having had a wonderful time, we then went into a nearby bar for a light lunch, before the next part of my treat. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any more but shortly afterwards we were climbing onto one of these:

img_2690

Spot the operative word: ‘amphibious.’ Believe it or not, this little bus worked both on land and water. Apparently they were originally designed and built in the Second World War for troop movements, and the actual bus that we travelled in was 70 years old. After a trip around some of the landmarks by road, with a knowledgeable guide covering quite a lot of London’s history, we were driven to the side of the headquarters of MI6 – appropriate, I thought, for an air  of mystery – and down a ramp. Moments later, we were in the Thames:

We've fallen in the water!
We’ve fallen in the water!

We then went for a ‘boat trip’ along part of the Thames, which was quite an experience. To prove it, here’s a shot of the Parliament buildings – the Palace of Westminster – as seen from the river. As it was a weekend nothing was happening inside, but I’m reliably informed that on a working day you can see the hot air rising from here:

We all bowed in reverence, of course :-)
We all bowed in reverence, of course 🙂

Until that day I’d not been aware of this service, and it really was an unusual experience, which I felt very lucky to have enjoyed. Doubly so a few weeks later when one of the vehicles caught fire while on the river, causing a suspension of the rides until thorough safety checks had been undertaken on the entire fleet! There but for the Grace of God…

After all of that excitement, we ended the day in a lovely restaurant tucked out of the way in Camden, where to my further surprise I was treated after our meal to a cake, and a candlelit rendition of Happy Birthday To You from staff and customers. Truly, a lovely day and a perfect celebration I’ll always remember, made special for me by these two beautiful young women:

img_2687

****************************************************

Seven years on from that milestone we are, as you may have noticed, in strange times. Celebrations like this, or some of the others the girls have arranged for me, were definitely out this year, even if my health would have allowed it. Their work commitments – and busy lives in general – also militate against it, but we still found time for a partial get together. Yesterday my elder daughter came for a socially distanced visit, along with a little person who wasn’t around when I retired. Presents were given, and we had a lovely time. This is my favourite present:

And this was my favourite birthday card:

 

Both presented by our family’s little star:

You can see from that how we managed it: guests in the garden area outside my flat, while I took a chair out onto the balcony. Strange times indeed, but at least we still have ways to keep in touch – until the next lockdown, that is. Thinking back to seven years ago and to yesterday, I realise what is important in our lives. Without the love of our family, what do we have? I know I’m much luckier than some, and I’m grateful for it every day, even when we’re apart. Every time I drink from that mug I will treasure my thoughts of my granddaughter and my daughters – that’s a nice warm feeling to have, isn’t it?

46 thoughts on “Birthday Celebrations

  1. Clare Pooley September 27, 2020 / 12:55 am

    What a wonderful day that must have been! I still haven’t been on the London Eye and I hadn’t realised that the amphibians had been used as tour transport! You are quite right about the importance of family and their love for us and ours for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive September 27, 2020 / 10:12 am

      Thank you, Clare. It was absolutely wonderful, more so for the parts I wasn’t expecting. I don’t know if the amphibians are still being used but can recommend them if they are – fires permitting. Your recent post also showed the importance of family, which we should never underestimate.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Stevie Turner September 25, 2020 / 3:17 pm

    What lovely daughters and granddaughter you have, Clive! We’ve been on the Eye and on London boat trips a few times now, and I always look forward to them. Our next trip to London is next weekend when we have a cycling trip around Hampton Court, courtesy of our son and his wife.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive September 25, 2020 / 3:23 pm

      Thank you, Stevie. I hope you have a great time at Hampton Court – somewhere I’ve never been, with or without a bike 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. robertawrites235681907 September 21, 2020 / 9:07 am

    Your granddaughter is adorable, Clive, and your daughters gorgeous. What a great day. I have been to London many times but we have never been on the London Eye. Somehow, we have just missed it. Next year if things are back to normal and we can visit again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive September 21, 2020 / 9:51 am

      Thank you Robbie. I agree, but I’m biased! I hope you can get back here and take a flight – you won’t regret it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. petespringerauthor September 21, 2020 / 12:01 am

    That sounds like a memorable day. I’m sure the best part was being with your daughters and granddaughter. What a cutie she is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive September 21, 2020 / 12:05 am

      Thanks Pete. A memorable day for my 60th and a quieter one this year, with the little one. She is cute – and very cheeky!

      Like

  5. tidalscribe September 20, 2020 / 2:04 pm

    Happy Birthday Clive. I remember when the wheel first went up saying I certainly would not be going on it in case it got stuck or toppled over. After taking numerous photos near and afar we sauntered over the river one summer evening after a theatre matinee, with the reassuring plan to just ‘see if there was a queue’. There wasn’t and I found myself on it and glad to be up there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive September 20, 2020 / 2:16 pm

      Thank you, Janet. I’m glad you took the chance to take a flight – it really is an unforgettable experience, isn’t it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jim Borden September 20, 2020 / 2:03 pm

    sounds like a wonderful birthday celebration seven years ago. When I taught in London two years ago, we stayed in the Southbank area, a five minute walk from the Eye. It’s a wonderful area. And how lucky were you not to be on one of those amphibious vehicles when they caught fire. We have those in Philadelphia, but I think they have been banned because of too many safety issues.

    And your birthday celebration this year sounded wonderful as well. The presents are perfect, and glad you managed to see each other, despite the social distancing.

    And today is my 63rd birthday!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clive September 20, 2020 / 2:13 pm

      It was, Jim. I’d kind of expected the Eye but the rest was a great bonus. I like that part of London too, home to one of the best concert venues in London, even if the architecture is hideous! I guess the amphibians are reaching the end of their life span – keeping them going for over 70 years is some achievement!

      Yesterday was lovely, thank you, and it’s so special to share it with the latest family member.

      Happy birthday to you! Hope you’re having a great day 🎉🎁🎂🍾🎊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden September 20, 2020 / 2:15 pm

        thanks for the birthday wishes, Clive.

        What concert venue are you referring to?

        I’d love to see a concert at Royal Albert Hall. I’ve watched videos of the Killers performing there, and it looks like a great venue…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 20, 2020 / 2:19 pm

        YVW!

        The Festival Hall, which is the main part of the Southbank complex. The acoustics are great and I’ve enjoyed several great shows there.

        The Royal Albert Hall is amazing. Again, good acoustics and far better architecture than the Southbank. I’ve been there many times too – also highly recommended if you ever get the chance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden September 20, 2020 / 2:22 pm

        embarrassing to admit – I had to look up what YVW meant 🙂

        OK, yes, we made many trips to the Festival Hall just to get out of our flat.

        Hope to be back in London in a couple of years…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 20, 2020 / 2:28 pm

        OMG! LOL!

        Hopefully you’ll get back here. If so, do try to get to the Albert Hall – if you liked the Festival Hall the RAH won’t disappoint.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden September 20, 2020 / 2:29 pm

        fortunately I know the OMG and LOL!

        even better if I could see the Killers at RAH!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 20, 2020 / 2:33 pm

        I hoped you might! I did think about spelling out RAH but thought that might be a bit much…

        My elder daughter – the one in this post – saw them there. She thought they were fantastic. I’ve seen Jackson Browne and The Chicks there, amongst others. A lovely venue.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden September 20, 2020 / 9:57 pm

        Wow – they have had some great concerts at RAH!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 20, 2020 / 10:01 pm

        It’s one of the country’s major venues – it can attract the best! You remember Bellowhead from one of the lockdown posts – New York Girls? I’ve seen them there twice, and twice at the Festival Hall too.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Jim Borden September 20, 2020 / 10:17 pm

        you sound like you must have an annual subscription 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 20, 2020 / 10:19 pm

        Back in the days when I could go to gigs. For about 4 years I managed at least one a month, and there were spells of one a week! It’s the thing I miss most, now that health restricts me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden September 21, 2020 / 12:02 am

        well at least it sounds like you have lots of wonderful memories of those concerts…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 21, 2020 / 12:06 am

        I do indeed. I can’t think of one I didn’t enjoy – I must have chosen them well 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden September 21, 2020 / 12:07 am

        I’m sure you did your research before hand… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 21, 2020 / 9:47 am

        I also know what I don’t like 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Darlene September 20, 2020 / 12:53 pm

    What a sweetheart! Grandkids certainly can make your day. Happy Birthday. Thanks for sharing your special celebration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive September 20, 2020 / 1:01 pm

      I think so too, but I’m biased! She certainly made mine – growing up so quickly and developing a really cheeky personality. Thank you for your good wishes 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Darlene September 20, 2020 / 1:15 pm

        My oldest granddaughter turned 33 today! Unbelievable. Seems like it was yesterday when she was the age of yours.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive September 20, 2020 / 1:21 pm

        Time does fly, doesn’t it! This is our first granddaughter, so far. Both my ex-wife and daughter were 30+ year mums 😊

        Like

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