So that was my fiftieth birthday! And yes, before you ask, I can remember it. I’m not entirely sure how, though. I don’t drink as a rule – well, a Snowball at Christmas because it’s traditional but that’s about it. It only takes a couple of alcopops and I’m everyone’s friend and that’s the truth. So the fact that I didn’t get even a sniff of a hangover is a complete mystery.
We arrived late – obviously. We headed into reception three hours later than we’d expected and got the keys to the caravan and a map showing us where we were going to be staying. Easy, right? Well, let’s just say there was a bit of a delay as we circled the camp trying to find our caravan. Turns out we’d been put at the furthest edge of the park as far away from all the amenities as it was possible to place us without actually dumping us outside the park boundary. Maybe they saw the booking form and panicked. Seven females, all in different stages of hormonal meltdown…make damn sure you keep them well away from the decent law-abiding families and the pubs!
So, after driving round and round countless times we finally found our caravan and there was a mad rush for the door as seven women with bursting bladders scrambled for first place. Luckily, there were two toilets. Well, I say two toilets…put it this way, you could sit on the loo and brush your teeth at the sink at the same time. One of us did. I won’t say who, she knows who she is. So, legs uncrossed and sighs of relief all round, we had a poke around the caravan. This was where I played my trump card. It was MY birthday, right? There were three bedrooms and a pull down double bed settee in the lounge. DD2 and her partner were noble enough to accept the bed settee on the condition that we weren’t up at some ungodly hour disturbing their precious sleep. That left two twin rooms and a double.
Now, I have stayed in caravans before. I have stayed in caravans with this particular company before. Hell, I’ve even stayed in caravans on the same park before. And let me tell you, considering this was the most expensive caravan I’d ever booked and that it was billed as the absolute best available, it was microscopic compared with some of the others. I was expecting it to be huge. The last caravan I stayed at with this company was in Somerset and it had a washing machine, a proper table and chairs, a flatscreen TV on the bedroom wall, an en suite toilet…this caravan was not in the same league. Oh, it was clean and probably brand spanking new, but it wasn’t really big enough for seven adults. But, as I say, it was MY birthday, so I got the double bedroom, hehe. Even that had its problems. You couldn’t walk round either side of the bed and had to either shuffle sideways or crawl over the duvet to get into bed. I chose the latter. So that left two twin rooms.
My DD1 and daughter-in-law bagged the first one so my sister and sister-in-law were left with the final one, which seemed okay at first. Until they realised that it was actually even smaller than the first one with no room for manouvre at all. My sister-in-law grabbed her choice of bed before my sister even saw it. She didn’t want to be near the door in case someone broke in and grabbed her. Fair enough, said my sister, if that’s what you want. It was only later that S-I-L realised that she was now sleeping underneath the window, which she decided was much more risky. Not only that, but the wardrobe was at the base of her bed, and because the bed was so short she was sleeping with her feet up on the doors. How we laughed…
Before we’d even had time to unpack, my sister brought out the vodka and grabbed the glasses from the cupboard. Now, I should say that I’d seen one of the doctors at work that morning (yes, I’d worked that very day!) and he’d given me a prescription for antibiotics, due to the fact that I’d developed an infection in my ear lobe caused by wearing cheap earrings. I have very discerning ears which will only entertain gold but I have a very stubborn nature which says I can’t afford gold and if I only keep them in a couple of hours everything will be fine. It often is, but this time, no. My ear lobe was swollen and painful and I was getting a lump under my jaw bone. However, you can’t drink alcohol if you’re on antibiotics, so guess who didn’t go to the chemist? By seven o clock (about an hour after arrival) I was already the worse for wear, having drunk a quadruple vodka and coke and a quadruple Malibu and coke, but at least my ear had stopped hurting.
We then ordered pizzas from the park fast food joint and were so drunk that we didn’t realise that it was going to cost us an arm and a leg for a simple pizza and salad. They didn’t even do chips so we had to be content with potato wedges which just wasn’t the same. It was only when I’d sobered up that I realised how expensive it had been. My wails of, “But I could have bought three pizzas for four pounds at Sainsburys” could be heard round the caravan for hours.
If I learned anything from that weekend it was, never play Truth or Dare after drinking quadruple anything, unless it’s lemonade. Let’s just say truths were told, misunderstandings abounded, strops were thrown and sulks were had by many. Onwards and upwards, though. After a couple of shots and a sip of Jack Daniels – why? It’s truly disgusting! – it was time for bed and we all headed to our rooms to sleep it off. I fully expected to be throwing up all night, but in fact I slept like a log and woke the next morning clear-headed and more refreshed than I’d felt in months.
To Scarborough then and a fry up in a cafe, or a bacon sandwich in my case. Very nice, too. By this time my face was scaring the other tourists and I looked like a half moon so I headed up the long, long, looong hill that led from the seafront to the town and found a chemist. After crying over the cost of the prescription I left the shop to find that the heavens had opened and it was pouring with rain. My family were cowering in a shop doorway and after some discussion we decided to rush across the road to the Poundland, mainly because it was dry and had a roof, but also because it sold toilet roll and we were out. Priorities.
After sauntering round Poundland asking everyone “How much is this?” and being told in increasingly exasperated tones, “A pound!” I had replenished our stock of toilet roll and found a giant Toblerone at an unbelievable price, (a pound, go figure!) and we were ready to go back to the caravan. That evening we were much more canny, sending DD2 and partner off to Filey to get us all fish and chips at normal prices. This was washed down with Moet & Chandon champagne – classy. It was my first taste of champagne. Yes, I waited a full half century to taste some. Yuk. I could have waited longer. It’s just like wine, and I don’t like wine either. Still, the thought was there. Thanks, sis. After that I had a can of Malibu and cloudy lemonade – yep, I am a really class act – then we all got changed and headed out to the club.
We drove to the clubhouse and left the cars outside. Look, that may sound incredibly lazy but you have no idea how big that park is and how far away we were! Anyway, it looked like rain again. So we went inside and there were no seats to be had, but upstairs was a huge balcony that looked almost empty so we decided to go up there. However, two big, burly security guards immediately stepped forward and told us that upstairs was reserved for owners only. Since there appeared to be only three owners in that night and and approximately ten thousand guests it seemed a bit unfair but who were we to argue? So we finally found a couple of tables with stools that were so high I needed a crane to get me onto mine, and we had a drink, and we wailed about the cost…£10.20 for two vodka and cokes!…and laughed at the band who were trying to be Take That but were more like The Tweenies (bless them, they looked about twelve) and then we all decided that it was too loud, too hot, too expensive and we may as well go back to the caravan and get drunk there instead.
We tottered into the shop just before it closed intending to buy alcohol but ended up buying a pack of muffins instead after deciding all we really wanted was a nice cup of tea. It was pure rock and roll. We spent that evening in our pyjamas, eating junk and watching Big Brother. Bliss. And I say that as one who hates Big Brother.
The next day was The Big Day! I turned fifty at last. I lay in bed thinking about how old I was. I swear I could feel my bones creaking. Then the bedroom door flew open and little sister stood there singing Happy Birthday to You, which wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences. She was the only child ever to be thrown out of our primary school choir because of her dreadful voice. True. Anyway, when she’d finished that she launched herself at me and threw herself on the bed, wrapping her arms around me…she has very long arms, obviously…and giving me a big birthday hug. When I’d recovered from all this exertion I dragged my ancient bones into the kitchen where my sister-in-law quickly joined us looking like something from Shaun of the Dead but determined to be there since she’d waited all weekend for me to open my presents.
Usually I open my cards first. This is because I rarely get presents. Yes, I am that deprived. Tiny Tim had it easy compared with me…actually, it’s because usually I get money stuffed inside my cards but let’s not ruin the story. Anyway, today the table was positively heaving with gift bags. It was all very exciting. I opened them slowly and carefully – partly because I didn’t want to spoil the bags or the wrapping but mostly because it was great fun seeing my sister-in-law’s agony of impatience. What a haul! My lovely workmates had spoilt me rotten. Not only had they decorated my desk at work with balloons and banners, thrown a surprise buffet complete with birthday cake and clubbed together to get me a 22″ flat screen TV/DVD for my bedroom, but they had also bought me things individually, too. When they were fishing a few weeks ago to find out what I’d actually like, I’d just said, “A pony.” It’s my standard answer to that question and has been since the age of eight. Why change it now? Anyway, one of them had remembered that throwaway remark and bought me a lovely plush pony. She also bought me the Doctor Who Series Six complete box set of DVDs. And chocolate. I love that woman. I got a voucher for a hair cut and blow dry at a local salon, a complete set of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books,(they know me so well it’s frightening!) a 1963 penny set in a bookmark, drinks, chocolate, toiletries, jewellery, vouchers and money. And a fabulous Mum’s Survival Kit from DD2 which made me cry. I was overwhelmed by people’s kindness and generosity. It was amazing.
We celebrated with a bacon sandwich at the poolside cafe, where we watched in fascination as semi-naked, shivering creatures swam determinedly in an outdoor pool in pouring rain, and then we went gift shopping and headed back to the caravan where we had birthday cake and a cup of tea (and an antibiotic in my case – finally!) and then four of them packed up their cars and headed home. With just myself, DD2 and partner left, we spent a lazy evening watching Poirot and Miss Marple and, because it was a special occasion, we ordered pizza again and a good time was had by all.
So, the next morning we headed home and back to reality. Except for one last treat. I walked in to the house to find a huge 50 balloon, a present and a beautifully romantic card from DH waiting for me on the sideboard…aw. I have 46 cards sitting on the various surfaces in the living room, two balloons bobbing near the ceiling as I write and a lot of very happy memories of a very special weekend. Oh, and my face is almost back to normal. What a fabulous birthday, and what a great start to being fifty! Roll on sixty…but not too soon!
Have a great week xx