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Having spent the run-up to my Birthday really not that enthused about the whole affair, I’m pleased to say that I actually had a really great time thanks to my girls, and Shelli and her family.

It wasn’t that I was particularly worried about turning 40, it was more the fact that Birthdays haven’t been the same since mum and dad died, and then only getting worse after the girls moved away.

I was lucky this year that my weekend with the girls fell on my actual Birthday, but as it was my turn to do the Friday drive, I spent half of my Birthday on the M25 picking up the girls after school. It’s always great to get them at school but it was extra special to get a great big Birthday hug from them both before we headed back round the M25 home.

After getting back and getting them changed out of the their school uniforms, we headed down to the Italian in the village where we had a table booked for dinner. Shelli, Asri, Eleni, Val and Tony were joining us too and we had a fantastic time, really making my Birthday something to remember. I felt spoilt rotten! A massive thanks goes to Shelli though for sorting out a proper Birthday card from the girls (they wrote it in the toilet in the restaurant!) and for the little presents from the girls. Thanks honey.

Saturday the girls and I headed off to Bracknell Forest to have a walk, take some photos and do some bark rubbings as the weather was lovely and warm. The girls were promised a play in the play area and some lunch at the Lookout if they actually took a walk this time – normally they’re too excited about the play area to actually do any walking!

We had a great time walking through the woods, each taking turns to be the leader and deciding which way we were going to go next. The girls loved doing the bark rubbing and collecting bits and bobs too before we made our way back to the Lookout for a play and food.

After getting back home we left the car on the drive and took a walk to the shop – yes, more walking! We needed to get the bits in for dinner and as the weather was still really good I thought a walk to the shop, followed by a visit to the Duke, would be a good way to spend the afternoon. The girls loved going to the pub and I must admit, sitting in the sun watching them play while I enjoyed a nice pint was indeed a great way to kill some time 🙂

Because I’d been at home Friday morning due to the drive down to Kent and back, I’d not taken cakes into work, it being my Birthday and all that. So, when we got back home, Alice helped me make a chocolate brownie, even doing all the grown-up bits like melting the butter and chocolate. She was brilliant and really enjoyed helping out…almost as much as she enjoyed helping to “clean” the mixing bowl afterwards! Elisa didn’t want to help and was happily watching a DVD while we slaved away in the kitchen.

Sunday I took the girls swimming first thing. It’d been a while since we last went as the girls seemed to have a cold every time they came for the weekend, and I thought swimming + cold = not a good thing, so we waited until everyone was fit and healthy.

Alice did amazingly well with her armbands, notching up 16 lengths of the pool at the Bracknell leisure centre on her own. Hopefully we’ll be able to start to get her off her armbands soon as she said she was keen to try. I didn’t want to do it that time though as I needed to spend some time with Elisa to try and boost her confidence in the water a bit more.

Elisa likes to wear her inflatable ring when we go swimming and for a while she’s not wanted to do anything other than hold on to the side, pulling herself along. I was determined to get her away from that this time and so I spent most my time at the pool with her.

At first she was a little scared but after I showed her that she wasn’t going to sink because of her ring she actually managed to kick her way through 11 lengths of the pool – a brilliant effort! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to move her onto her armbands really soon so that she can start to swim using her arms more, much like Alice. We’ll see, but the girls both did brilliantly!

Swimming out of the way we headed home and waited for Shelli et al to arrive. Asri and Eleni had dance exams during the morning – both doing fantastically I’m pleased to report.

By the time everyone had arrived, and we’d had lunch – including a Birthday cake with candles which were blown out by the girls – time was pushing on.

We all headed out to Dinton Pastures for another walk, this time round the big lake there. The girls fed the ducks/swans/geese and we had a great time in the sunshine. Walk over with, the girls had riot playing the play area before treating them to an ice lolly before hitting the road home.

Back home, and with the weather still holding and the girls not being picked up for a while yet, the girls played out the front with Anna from next door, riding on their bikes (Elisa with a little help from me) and playing in the play area. Fortunately dinner was pretty much sorted out already – I cooked a bolognaise in the morning – so we didn’t have to rush before the girls were picked up.

After a great weekend with everyone it was a little quiet indoors once the girls had been picked up. Not wanting to dwell on it too much I went for a run and notched up some miles on the exercise bike.

All in all I had an absolutely fantastic Birthday weekend, really helped by seeing the girls and all the effort Shelli put in to making sure I was a happy [old] bunny.

Thanks to everyone who sent me cards, texts, messages on Facebook etc. It really did help to keep that smile on my face all weekend 🙂