Wednesday, 5 July 2017

50th Celebrations in Bath - Part One

rljlowe | 50th Celebrations in Bath
So on the 1st July 2017, my wonderful Mother turned 50. If anyone reading this knows my Mum, she's not really one for birthday celebrations, but this year I wanted to make sure that her day was truly special. Well, it's not everyday you turn 50 now, is it? The idea of a big surprise party was out of the question, I imagine Mum would have walked in, been completely horrified and turned straight back out the door again. Instead, she'd mentioned that she wanted to spend the day with me and the girls, and was trying to plan her own birthday weekend - naughty lady! Instead, I told Mum that all she needed to know for now was that we would be going for a day out in Bath, then onto a meal in the evening - just us. But of course, I had more planned...

Part one - the deception

A little setting up is needed before I delve into the story of the day. My Grandparents live quite nearby to us and always make our birthdays, without fail. This year they had planned a holiday with my Aunty and Uncle (who live in Kent) and would still be on holiday on my Mum's birthday. Or so she thought. Grandma and I had made sure that they would keep their actual travel plans a secret; they would be travelling back on the Saturday, to then turn up at the restaurant to surprise my Mum.

Part one - sorted.

Part two - the cake

When living with the person you're trying to surprise, it's a bit difficult to make a whole birthday cake without them noticing. Also, how on Earth were we going to get this cake to the restaurant without Mum knowing, especially if we were planning to have a whole day out beforehand. Well luckily for us, my Grandparents, Aunty, and Uncle were onboard to help out. The girls and I would make the cake, leave it at my Grandparents house for them to then bring on the evening. Just one minor problem - Mum has the spare keys to their flat. So I had to elaborate this story about how Grandma had asked me to water the plants and do little jobs whilst they were away, Mum was non-the-wiser and handed the keys over.

Onto the actual making of the cake. Mum was at work on the Friday (the day before her birthday), which meant that Ellen and I could crack on with baking the cake. We only had a small window of time during the day to get everything we needed to get done before the shops shut, and before Mum got back from work. The cake was on the go, Ellen made the sponge and I made the buttercream as it was all baking, ready to go on when the cakes came out the oven.

Whilst the cakes were baking, we had the perfect opportunity to wrap all of Mum's presents and get them hidden. Although, we didn't have a bag big enough to hold all of the presents (we went all out on the gifts) - another thing to add to the day's shopping list. Now, it was quite a warm summer's day when we were making these cakes, something I probably should have factored in before trying to decorate a 4-layer cake. Cue buttercream sliding down the cake and each layer sliding off each other. Not ideal when we needed to transport the cake to another location.

We got in the car, I sat the cake on Harriet's lap to closely watch as I drove painfully slow to our Grandparents house. After a stop-off at the corner shop to makeshift some cake dowels out of straws, we eventually got to the flat and stuck the cake straight in the fridge. It had to just sit and chill out whilst we went out to sort the next part of the plan out.

Part two - sorted. For now.

rljlowe | 50th Celebrations in Bath

Part three - balloons and flowers

Now, I wanted the meal to be a nice surprise and feel special for Mum but I also really wanted the whole restaurant to know it was Mum's birthday, a big one at that. I pre-ordered two huge number balloons that I could collect the day before Mum's birthday (Friday) and leave with the lovely people at Bill's Restaurant. That part was pretty easy. We still had to get some "proper" cake dowels, a card from Harriet, a big gift bag, and some flowers with not much time left. The cake dowels and the birthday card were easy, the flowers, not so much. I wanted a bunch of peonies to put on the cake and then give the bouquet to Mum - we searched all the florists for peonies but couldn't. Find. A. Single. One. We decided to get in the car, drive over to Aldi and pick a nice bunch from there instead where we'd get more value for money. We walked into Aldi and right in front of us were several bunches of perfect peonies, things couldn't have gone any better.

Part three - sorted.

Part two - continued

We brought back the flowers and the cake dowels to try and rectify the cake, or at least cover up the parts that were beyond saving. We got it out the fridge and... the buttercream was now too hard. We just couldn't win! That being said, I persevered and got the cake looking decent, covered it in pretty peonies and stuck the candles in. Done. Finito.

Part two - sorted.

rljlowe | 50th Celebrations in Bath

So after all that rushing around and stress, it was time to go home before Mum finished work, get the massive gift bag inside, place all the gifts in said gift bag, put the remaining flowers in some water and hide them away to give to her on her birthday. Oh how wrong we were. As it turns out, Harriet had a dance lesson she had completely forgotten about and we needed Mum to meet us at the dance school with Harriet's dance clothes. From Mum's end, that all seemed fine as she thought we were already in the centre, when we were actually still at our Grandma's house. We rushed into the car trying to get into town before Mum, despite the rush hour traffic. We got there, dropped Harriet off and left before Mum did. Perfect, now Ellen and I could get home and hide the flowers.

Nope, my car seemed to have other ideas and started to play up, meaning we had to park on the side of the road to repeatedly turn the engine off and on again, to get it back up and running. This drastically ruined our timing and we ended up getting home after Mum. How on Earth were we meant to get a huge bunch of flowers  and a massive gift bag past her without her noticing?! Ellen did some top-notch diverting (it's a shame you can't sense sarcasm in text, Ellen was completely horrible at being subtle!) and I managed to get the flowers and the gifts safely tucked away.

So marks the end of our ordeal. After writing this and realising how long this post is, I've decided to split Mum's birthday posts in two. Part two, our actual day out, will be published shortly. Let me know in the comments if you've had any birthday disasters like ours!

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