I'm not going to try and play catch-up, mostly because I simply can't remember anything particularly exciting of late. At least until this weekend. Emily and John have finished decorating their room, so the guest room is now available for the first time, and they invited me to stay, to coincide with my birthday, or at least the nearest weekend to it.
So we arrived on Friday night to find that Steph and Dave were also staying the night, though on the living room floor. A nice curry from the local takeaway and lots of chatting and drinking ensued, with children in need on the telly as background, and us getting to bed around 1:30am.
Saturday Emily had to work, and John had taekwondo, family and football, so Steph and Dave took us off to spend the day out and about, but not before we'd had danish pastries and crumpets for breakfast. Being in Hull, and Mike not having seen it before the first stop was... The Humber Bridge. We didn't go over it in the end, as I'd thought to toll might be a bit expensive for just driving across and back, but in retrospect maybe that was a mistake. However we did walk down from the visitor area under the bridge and down to the shore, which was briskly windy and rather cool, in both senses, especially impressive when the sun came out. Then we walked back up through the trees of the country park, which was rather lovely, and kept us nice and sheltered. Then we headed into Hull and spent 45 minutes trying to get parked. Here we had time for lunch and a bit of pottering, and looking at some historic ruins, before heading over to the shiny new St Stephens shopping centre to find Mum and Dad buying shoes in Em's shop. Well OK, mum buying shoes. Steph then joined in, while I popped into New Look to find a top - it's nice to be in one that actually stocks the Inspire plus-size range. Then the six of us headed over to a rather nice pub called the White Hart for nice beer, before heading back to Em's.
Mum, dad, Steph and Dave headed off to check into a hotel for the night, while Em and John tried not to panic about the oven not working. Thankfully it eventually got up to temperature, allowing us to have a lovely 3 course dinner. Steph and Dave provided a starter of cold meat and assorted anti-pasto with bread and salad, Em and John proceeded to stuff us with chicken and bacon cooked with cherry tomatoes, along with broccoli, spuds and butternut squash (hint, you can roast it with the skin on, and then either eat the skin or remove it while eating, which is much easier than trying to remove before cooking, and hadn't occurred to any of us but John). Then we needed something of a break before we cracked open the champagne and cerise liqueur and tucked into the tiramisu, all courtesy of mum and dad. It was another lovely evening sat around talking.
Sunday morning they all came back for a big cooked breakfast at about 11, leaving me just time to finish off my French Harry Potter before I had to get up, and then they insisted I open my presents a day early, since otherwise they wouldn't get to see what I thought. So now I have some lovely artwork on the wall in the living room (though I doubt that will be its final home), a gorgeous lamp sitting by the stereo, a fab clock made from a CD with a picture of a VW campervan, and a huge box of dark chocolates. We barely had time for all the food to go down before it was time to head out yet again to the Pipe and Glass pub in South Dalton (http://www.pipeandglass.co.uk/), for a 3 o'clock Sunday Lunch. The website has menus which are rather out of date but can give you an idea of just how good the food is. I had the hare, pork and fois gras terrine to start with, served with toast, pease pudding and a sail of air dried ham. Followed by a lamb casserole with rosemary dumplings and carrots cooked in local honey. And finished with a fabulous warm plum and almond tart with eggnog ice cream. And then they even brought us truffles with our coffee. We could barely move by the time we left at around 6, but it was utterly utterly wonderful. And just a shame they didn't have space for us to sit in the bar for a bit before we ate. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone.
When we got back to Em's again everyone else had to get off, to get home and get a reasonable night's sleep, but we sat up watching telly for a while, including Top Gear which had an item featuring not only the Humber Bridge but the Alfa Romeo 159, which happens to be my dad's shiny new car, in rather an impressive coincidence. It was strange seeing James May down on the beach in the exact spot we'd walked past only the previous day, in the car we'd just been driving in. We didn't have room for dinner, just a very large gin and some pringles, before we bid them goodnight and thanks for having us. Sadly while Emily had booked the week off work she ended up having to work on Monday after all, for the induction of a new team leader, which was definitely a shame.
So in the end my birthday itself featured a lie-in, a long journey, a lazy afternoon geeking, and a lazy evening watching TV and eating fish and chips. Very quiet, but lovely nonetheless. And today I got chocolates in the post from Janet, and couldn't be happier, noting it's also now 2 years since Mike and I went on our first date. Yay!