A birthday party is a good excuse to jump in the car and drive for five hours. We weren’t the only ones either. As we staggered up the motorways after work on Friday evening, Hoover dozing on the back seat, Jay and I shouting answers back to the Any Questions team on Radio 4, others were preparing to make the journey from Bristol, Edinburgh, Cornwall, Norwich, London and just round the corner in Greater Manchester. It says something for the strength of friendships that so many are prepared to make such long treks.
After a restful night’s sleep Hoover was more than ready for a brisk check of the countryside. Friday’s heavy rain gave way to weak sunshine – this was The North after all, and the North West at that. Manchester is famous for the amount of rain that washes it regularly.
But without the rain, the nearby Lake District would just be hills, and Wordsworth and his friends would have settled themselves elsewhere, no doubt. Think what that would mean to the countless children who would never have had the chance to lean that line about ‘ten thousan sore eye’. Or is it ‘saw rye’? Every time we had a poetry learning homework, either that I was set as a child or that I have set as a teacher, someone came up with that poem. Whatsit Gove has decided children should benefit from learning poems again and I suspect a lot more parents will be becoming familiar with those dancing daffs.
But I digress.
Times have changed. Wordsworth was startled by Daffodils. The clouds were not lonely as Hoover and I set out for our morning constitutional and I was startled by the Joderell Bank. It’s quite something when it pops over a hedge.
And that set the tone for the rest of the day. Festive cooking turned into festive eating. The sun chased the clouds away. Blue skies beamed down upon us as we lazed on the grass watching the smoke from the barbecue drift up between the leaves of the trees. Hoover hoovered, we bounced on the tiger, we somersaulted, we vaulted, we cheered, we celebrated. And finally the cheese cake shone in the darkness, lit by candles, lit by Ben, blown out by Rosie.
Birthdays are good; shared with wonderful friends and family, even more so.