It had all started when we returned from our Winter Trip. After spending a few days visiting the kids, we had made our way up to Doncaster where we had stayed with Sonia, Shazza’s mum, for a few days before heading up to Berwick to commence our new season on our ‘Elf & Elfette’ duties. Whilst at Sonia’s, and out of earshot of you know who, Sonia asked if I knew what our working rosters were, which at that time I obviously didn’t. She was suggesting that a ‘few’ family members would like to try to arrange to get up and celebrate Shazza’s BIG Birthday by meeting up at a restaurant !! Now there were a couple of problems that I could foresee right from the outset, the main one is that Shazza didn’t want any fuss on her Birthday, no celebrations, she just wanted it to pass without ceremony, I think that she thought that if she ignored this particular Birthday milestone it may not happen !! The other little issue is that I had suggested that I may just put a few Balloons and Banners up around our ‘Wardens Compound’ but I had been threatened that any such antics would result in me being subject to a really brutal beating, I just love it when she talks dirty and gets so masterful !! My only chance of coming out of this unscathed in any way would be if our working rosters didn’t permit any opportunity to arrange any surprise event, or if Sonia just didn’t happen to mention it again !!
Now you may recall an earlier ‘Post’ where I mentioned our ‘first’ family visitors to come and see us, Joe & Linda, well during that visit, and again out of earshot of you know who, we discussed what dates we would be off around the time of Shazza’s birthday. It wasn’t quite as straightforward as that, the would be surprise meal attendees could only make it on a Saturday, due to their own work commitments, so that meant the day of any event would be limited. We only get a half day off on a Saturday every fortnight, a check of our working rosters and days off reflected that that wasn’t going to be the Saturday immediately after her mid-week birthday !! I put forward two possible dates and Joe took these away with him to put to those intending to come. After a while a date was selected and whilst Joe was left to confirm the family members who would be coming, I was left to find suitable overnight accommodation and restaurant.
The first hotel was a small one and didn’t have sufficient availability on the night we wanted, however, after another local search, accommodation was confirmed and as luck would have it, the hotel not only had a ‘Cocktail Bar’, memories returned of ‘Orgasms By The River With A Couple Of Zombies‘, and if that means nothing to you then you need to go back and read the appropriate blog post !! but also, this hotel just happened to have an ‘Italian‘ Restaurant, so accommodation and meal venue would all be under one roof, so not far for our guests to stagger. Now I was left with two problems, the first was completely out with my control, that was trying to keep the surprise meal a secret from you know who !! There were several people who were aware of the surreptitious goings on but who were not attending, people who regularly spoke with Shazza, so one wrong word and the surprise would be over. However, my ‘major’ issue was explaining to Shazza why, on this particular Saturday evening, I had booked a table at a Restaurant just for the two of us. Going out for a meal at a Restaurant was not unusual, but we had just had quite an expensive month, two days out at Castles, an Annual Service and MOT on Big Momma and as yet, an unknown bill for some Dental work, so, under normal circumstances we would have left any further ‘unnecessary’ expenditure until the following month, so I would have my work cut out convincing her that an intimate meal for two at this time was economically viable.
The day of Shazza’s actual ‘BIG’ Birthday arrived and as she exited the van to walk the few steps to the office she inspected our compound area for any tell-tale signs of external advertising, there wasn’t any, she gave me that look that told me that had I have ignored her veiled threats that I would have been close to drawing my last few breaths of life ! However, when she entered the office she was greeted by Dougie and Avril, both of whom had big grins on their faces as they had decorated the room with appropriate Birthday Banners and a balloon displaying that Birthday Number, the one she had been in denial about, they also presented her with a card and present, and for all her bluster she was really appreciative of the very kind gesture, little did Shazza know that both Dougie and Avril were also aware of the surprise to come !!
I had waited until we had returned from having ‘Big Momma’ sorted in Edinburgh before I told her that I had booked us a table at an Italian Restaurant on the Saturday evening. I had laid it on a bit thick, explaining that as we generally don’t buy each other Birthday presents these days, well there isn’t much that either of us requires and there is no space in the van for additional ‘stuff’, but I told her that I felt a bit guilty that I had not marked her special day in any way so I really wanted to celebrate, just the two of us over an intimate meal for two. It worked, there was no way she could throw such a romantic sentiment back in my face now was there, although I deed feel a little guilty when she said “Oh, that’s nice, a romantic candlelit dinner, just the two of us“, I smiled back at her, but not for the reason she was thinking !!
Finally, the big day arrived, we had worked the morning and fortunately it had started to rain, that was a turn of luck as normally on our half day off there is always some sort of shopping that has to be done, but not today. We had managed to keep the big event secret, but the family were now in town, the last thing that I needed was for them to be wandering around the small town and Shazza bumping into them, explain that for a coincidence !! Joe was organising getting everyone into the Cocktail Bar for 7pm, I told him that I would text him when we were on our way in the taxi, a short five-minute drive. As it happened, Dougie had offered to drive us to the Hotel, although it would have been nice if they could have joined us as well, unfortunately, one couple has to be on duty on the site at all times. I text Joe to warn him that we were on our way and he replied with one simple word, “Ready“
We entered the hotel through the main entrance, rather than through the Restaurant entrance, and as we were about to go into the Cocktail Bar a lot of ladies were exiting, ladies well inebriated and wearing pink ‘sashes’ with the words ‘Hen Party‘. Once they had all left, being the Gentleman, I of course held the door of the bar open for Shazza to enter and as she did so she was met by the shout, in unison, of ‘Happy Birthday’ and another large balloon displaying a certain number. It had taken her totally by surprise and her hands were shaking, but I soon cured that when I put her latest ‘new’ favourite tipple in her hands, a large ‘Gin & Tonic‘.