Party time…8 weeks to go!

January 30, 2008 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Food, Friends, Life, Travel | 3 Comments
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I remember Denise had been toying with how to celebrate her 50th birthday for several months. Shortly after I told her about my placement with VSO she rang very excitedly to say she had decided to have a party. A big party! I listened to her ideas, the venue, the music, food, drink, and the invitations. She then suggests we make it a joint party to celebrate her 50th plus say farewell to me and instead of birthday presents she would ask people to donate to VSO. Yep she was serious, and that’s where it started… preparation for the party which took place last Saturday.On the day it was like a military exercise everything went as planned. The plan was written after a birthday meal with her family at Picolinos Restaurant, with lots of sparkling …Prosecco actually darling!Up and at the venue …(The Guildhall in the centre of Chester) by 9.30am to decorate the 16 round tables that would seat the 160 guests later that evening.I went straight into VSM …Valerie Singleton Mode – being creative with pastel coloured tissue paper, scented tea lights and tartan napkins (it was post Burns night!) not a coat hanger or sticky backed plastic to be seen.We did have some troops, Denise’s in laws, who I set to task counting out the cutlery, plates and taking the labels off the glass tea light holders, every little helps and it did by 12.15 the place looked great. Even the stage was set for the entertainment the Choir (www.handbagofharmonies.co.uk) and Safe House (blues /jazz ensemble 3 sax players amongst the 10 piece band)Returning to Denise’s for lunch via M&S for tights and earrings, there was no time for a siesta …(the door bell never stopped with the arrival of flowers, gifts and cards for the birthday girl.) before stage 2 in the proceedings… the preparation of the cheese platters.Family members enlisted again to assist in the conveyer belt process. Everything going well until yours truly sliced her thumb with the bread knife, Joe, Denise’s Bro in law took over and for a dentist with small hands he made short work of those baguettes. Remaining on schedule Pete, Denise’s hubby loaded up the car to deposit the food to the hall and let the sound guys in to their checks. We cleared up the kitchen and then started on stage 3…getting ourselves ready to party!By 6.45pm Denise and I were by the front door awaiting the taxi booked for 7…giddy and giggly nothing to do with the glass of champers of course, but pure excitement. Evie (daughter of Denise and my god daughter)bless her, had done our make up, 15year olds know what’s cool… we looked great.imgp0017.jpgAs we arrived the barman was setting up the complementary drinks and the guest list was checked for numbers yet again… “fire regs“ you know people would have to be accounted for… yeah whatever!Well the people did arrive and were crossed off the list, hugs and kisses were exchanged with friends new and old, faces from the past, from far and wide, Hay – on – Wye, Galway, Belfast, the Manchester posse ,London to name a few!I had prepared a few words to follow Denise’s opening welcome speech but decided against it when on stage, looking down at the guests, decided they really didn’t want to hear me prattle on about development, so I just smiled nervously, thanked them for coming – pointed out the stand in the hallway with the VSO information and said I would be free to discuss Sri Lanka all evening …and the merriment began!

Matt Baker lead the choir into the first number and we were off…

It was brilliant, a fantastic atmosphere everyone knew me or Denise, we had worked together ,were related, were neighbours /mates or had sang together in Denise’s case.

People were very kind and did speak to me about my forthcoming venture, handing me cards which included a donation among their good wishes.Some had travelled to Sri Lanka and shared stories of the lovely gentle people, and the beautiful country I would encounter…my jaw was aching from smiling I was overwhelmed but managed not too cry …I had been warned( Evie) as it would ruin my make up !

Vodka was consumed in moderation I was too busy chatting, listening ,laughing or dancing then eating to over do it on the alcohol…although that was not true of everyone not that there are tales to tell but maybe another blog…

The band assembled after the food had been enjoyed, the guests danced and sang and danced some more and the band played on with songs from the Commitments, some soul, blues etc etc… all finishing off about midnight.

We walked our aching feet home opened the champers the cards and Denise’s pressies, everyone agreed it had been a fantastic fun evening absolutely brilliant…and to top it all ,over £700.00 was donated  believe it or not I was momentarily lost for words…

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Countdown to a new life…9 weeks to go!

January 16, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Friends, Travel | 1 Comment
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Enjoying a short break in Northern Tenerife with good friends Andy and Jack as I’ll not see them for two years. Apart from the usual late nights and alcohol consumption, they’ve been really helpful as Sri Lanka’s been a favourite holiday destination of their’s for many years.

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