I promised to tell you what my special surprise for husband Olley's birthday was, so here goes!
It was a big one, but Olley decided not to celebrate with a party as he'd rather spend the time and money with our children, who are rapidly growing up and becoming independent.
We see less of the older two nowadays (Bex, 17, has just finished A levels, and Charlie, 16, is recovering from GCSEs) but offer them a trip abroad and they're hot on our heels. So I thought a birthday lunch somewhere different might fit the bill…
After checking all our commitments at home against cheap flights to various places, the destination of choice was…SICILY!!! Lunch in Sicily – how decadent is that?!
Actually, we had about 40 hours there, in a little medieval town called Trapani on the west coast – next stop Africa! We arrived late in the evening and woke to sunny skies and happy birthdays on what turned out to be the perfect day.
After a leisurely breakfast in a little open courtyard with a mosaic of blue tiles on the floor and lush pot plants creating a tropical feel, we explored the lovely town on foot, before taking a boat to a small island called Levanzo about 20 minutes away.
We swam in the turquoise seas, ate fresh prawns and the local almond pesto pasta for lunch and then took the most amazing excursion that I will never forget. A little fishing boat took us around the craggy coastline and dropped us off at the bottom of a short path leading uphill to the Grotta del Genovese – a system of caves in the hillside.
Inside are cave paintings dating back 10,000 years to the Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras. They were discovered only about 50 years ago and I've never seen anything like it – we were all fascinated. The feeling of walking on ground first trodden on by early man so long ago was quite spine-tingling. What an unexpected treat!
The perfect birthday ending
Back in Trapani we found space for a delicious supper in one of the local alfresco restaurants and embarrassed Olley by singing Happy Birthday to him over a scrumptious lemon tiramisu decorated with a single candle!
We'd all had a lovely day and, most importantly, Olley said it was his best ever birthday!!
What's your ideal birthday?
I wonder what your perfect birthday celebration would be. Tell me about your favourite birthday memories and you may give me some ideas about how to celebrate my 50th next March!