18 APRIL 2020
What a time to try to celebrate such a milestone birthday. There had been talk of surprise parties, obviously P.V (pre-virus) however Patrick’s naturally shy and retiring personality and our lack of organisation would probably have put paid to that plan, virus or no virus. Therefore, the night before his birthday we called a family meeting to plan the occasion. Firstly, we thought it would be nice to have a day off… probably unusually for most people in lockdown, we haven’t paused for a breath in the last three weeks. We are not very good at taking days off at the best of times but since lockdown began, we have been engrossed in projects non-stop.
We decided that Patrick could have a go at baking a cake – he has been learning to cook during lockdown and has made a spaghetti bolognese and a chilli con carne so far. We also thought we could finish the puzzle we started at Christmas and build the Lego model Patrick received as a Christmas present. We would also eat unhealthily and drink a lot! The girls also decided to accompany their dad on the morning dog walk – a nice idea but that was the first stumbling block of the day as Patrick likes to go at 6am! The girls really struggled to get up so early, but after a lot of noise, everyone departed in the rain! (Except me, I remained on elderly duty).
Our ‘day off’ obviously included getting dad and Jean up to face the day – at least an hour and a half’s work. Diane and Meave then going to help Atul at the corner shop by delivering his papers. This voluntary work, three weeks ago, started with 6 papers has now gone up to 50! Feeding and cleaning the chicken and opening up and uncovering plants in the polytunnel and cold frames and doing any watering. We then discussed with Patrick plans for the day over a fry-up. He scuppered all the chances of a ‘day off’ by insisting he wanted to go outside. Aideen then wrote a list of ‘dad’ outdoor ideas and ‘everybody else’ ideas on her whiteboard. His ideas included 1. Finishing the path 2. Digging the trench for water and power through the orchard 3. Erecting the gazebo on the mount and installing the water feature.
It was collectively decided that erecting the gazebo and water feature would be the least strenuous and most pleasurable job on ‘dads list’. He had already done his baking with Aideen while I was still sorting out dad and Jean, and the girls were delivering papers. To my amazement Aideen also gets him to make chocolate eclairs – one of his favourite things – I’ve never made eclairs.
After brunch, Aideen, James and Patrick depart to gather up the gazebo, I go outside into the front field and trim the grass edge alongside the rose bed and around the birch and cornus’s because it has been irritating Patrick, and it was his birthday afterall. Diane and Meave fall asleep on the sofa! When I am called by the work party, because they needed an extra pair of hands I go back inside and shout at Diane and Meave to wake them up and tell them to go and help!
We are all really pleased that we decided to put up the gazebo because it looks fantastic and we then sit on the 3 benches and gaze at the water feature which is mesmerising.It is a tall set of stalks with 12 flat leaves and the water spills from leaf to leaf.It is beautiful to watch, really calming and it gives everyone a great sense of achievement that the mount has reached this stage.We then eat chocolate cake and go inside for Patrick to decorate his cake and add cream and chocolate to his eclairs and we eat fish finger sandwiches.The girls carry on with the puzzle and Patrick is encouraged to open his ‘ship in a bottle’ Lego.As the evening wears on, out comes the Guinness and gin and tonics and we order a Chinese takeaway – bliss - generally a good day is had by all!