A 30th birthday gathering
Determined to mark the occasion in some small way, a couple of months ago I started thinking about what my ideal weekend away would look like with the aim of creating it to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday.
With the help of a friend, I found a couple of cottages in Anglessey, North Wales that would be big enough to sleep about 12 people. North Wales is a very special place to me so it seemed like a good choice, especially when I had much less of a personal connection with the other options on the cards! The cottages were booked and I sent out an invite to some of my nearest and dearest inviting them along for as much or as little of the weekend as they could manage to hang out, play board games, explore the scenery, eat, and drink! The idea was for it to be a pretty low key weekend where I could just enjoy the company of some lovely people.
I organised a sleepover at Grandma and Grandad’s house for twins for the weekend in question so I wouldn’t have to be on constant mum duty, but as the weekend drew closer it transpired that we had managed to mix up all of our dates and our childcare plans fell through. A little anxious about how things would be with the twins bumbling around too, Mike very kindly said he would be on complete dad duty all weekend so I could still kick back and relax without having to worry about the twins.
The weekend came, and I stocked up on lots of food before heading over to Wales. The cottages were easy to find and surrounded by gorgeous countryside. We had access to a huge, and completely enclosed garden with a big climbing frame and slide in the middle – the twins absolutely love being outside so this was perfect for us.
People started to arrive, and it was hard not to feel completely and utterly loved as I was surrounded by so many of my favourite people. As it happens, the days leading up to this weekend had been hellish (a story for another time) and I was thrilled to have this happy event to look forward to and take some of the edge off what had been a horrid week up to this point.
On the first night, we chatted, ate pizza, laughed, and played a few party games. We managed to work out a sleeping arrangement that worked very well for the twins, and after running around in the huge garden and the excitement of lots of new people, they went to sleep without much fuss, meaning there were plenty of evening hours left to enjoy child-free.
The following day, I started the day by being totally pampered by one of my dearest friends, Violet. She did my hair, and I felt like a princess. A little later, some of the party decided to go for a walk in the local countryside and the rest of us stayed at the cottages. I had a go at some screen printing using the Artful box I had brought with me, while Mike and a friend played board games in the kitchen and the twins happily bumbled around with CBeebies in the background. Low key but lovely.
I prepared nibble boards full of cheese, veggies, crackers, and all kinds of other things, and a few more people arrived with more board games to try! The walking crew returned and we had a full house – it was wonderful. After the madness of having twin babies late in 2018 closely followed by the outbreak of Covid, it has been many years since I’ve had so many friends in one place.
The kitchen was transformed into a mini banquet hall with platters of food covering the table, and everyone started to dig in and those who were drinking started on the gins and the wines.
After another long day of excitement running around both the cottages and the garden, the twins were tired and we were able to put them to bed long before their regular bed time. We had a bit of a meltdown before bed, but Mike handled it exceptionally well and took a little time out to calm the twins down, make sure they were happy, fed, and watered, before tucking them in and saying goodnight. They went straight to sleep.
By this point there were ten adults, so we started off by hooking the laptop up to the TV and playing a few rounds of Jackbox party games – always fun. After that we had a couple of rounds of Confident, working in teams, before diving into some of the board games that people had brought with them. Between us we probably had 50 board games, and while I would love to have had a go at all of them, we managed two or three. A valient effort nonetheless, and I think Dixit was my favourite from the night.
At some point we took a break from the games to deal with the cake that I had brought. After Mike and my wedding, we were left with the untouched top tier of our wedding cake, and it has been sitting in our freezer for over four years taking up an annoying amount of space ever since. I decided that while it was probably not edible any more, it could come along this weekend and be some kind of centrepiece – it could have one final hurrah before being binned, and it wouldn’t have been sitting in the freezer for four years for no reason!
One friend had had the thoughtful insight to bring candles, so the cake was brought out ceremoniously, complete with sparkling 30 candles. I can’t remember the last time I had a room of people singing happy birthday to me, but it was cracking.
After the cake, we pulled together to get the kitchen cleaned up before continuing with the games – the tidy up always feels like the worst part of staying somewhere with lots of people. We worked like a well oiled machine, and despite the countless used plates, glasses, and cutlery, we had the whole place sparkling in under 20 minutes.
As the night went on, people dropped off to go to bed, but the last party people standing made it to a respectable 2am before calling it a night. A valiant effort!
The following morning, we all pulled together to finish the tidying up, and were ready to check out by 10am. Mike and I decided to make a stop at the Welsh Mountain Zoo on our way home, as the whole area brings back fond memories of living in Wales, and we thought the twins might enjoy the zoo. It’s a much nicer zoo than some others I have been to in recent years, and with a big focus on conservation and animals that are clearly loved and looked after it feels like a good place to support rather than others that feel like they exist for pure entertainment value.
Three friends decided to come along with us to the zoo and we had a beautiful afternoon. The twins had a great time and made some fantastic connections with the friends that came with us – always something that warms my heart when the twins can sometimes struggle with making meaningful connections with people.
We said our goodbyes and headed home. On arriving back to rainy West Yorkshire, I felt the most overwhelming feeling of happiness after a spectacular weekend.