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Sunday, 13th April 2014
The weekend saw a major milestone - Virginia turned 50! She had chosen to have a barn dance to celebrate (or Ceilidh sounds more classy doesn't it!) So we turned up at the Baptist Church in Histon at 5pm (this being a convenient good sized venue which we knew well.) And discovered we had left the Church key at home. Minor panic dealt with. So back again to start setting up for the kick-off time of 7pm.

I had been worrying about all the chair moving around that was going to be required beforehand, and while it was just Virginia and I trying to get the main hall clear I was panicking, convincing myself I was wearing myself out. It really lifted my spirits when friends arrived early and gave a hand to creating a dancing space. Not just that the job got done quicker, them just being there was vital moral support. To have the feeling there's other people there to share the load is so precious.

We had fun too trying to work out how to get the lights on properly - happily among those coming to the Ceilidh were people who attended the Baptist Church so knew more about the illumination system than we did! At least the daylight sufficed while the band playing for the Ceilidh were setting. Virginia hired a group called Fendragon and they were very good. I was embarrassed by the challenges we presented the caller of getting people to come up and dance, but there were enough. Virginia and I danced all but one of the dances, including one called "Threading the needle" which went amusingly wrong for our group of eight. We had someone with Parkinsons, and someone else who's a little slow, who simply couldn't follow what they were meant to be doing. At least the caller was entertained!
I had done four boards with pictures of Virginia through the ages - there were differing opinions on where to put them around the hall, in the end they ended up near the tables with puddings and drinks on them which worked OK. I'm slowly learning not to worry so much if I don't get my own way, and my initial layout of the picture boards got overruled quite quickly. Ah yes the puddings. Virginia had opted for a puddings and Barn Dance party - and we had plenty of puddings, too many in fact. Sadly some just got binned at the end, there was no alternative. My sister did two cakes (one sponge one fruit I don't like fruit cakes) with books and cats on them, very nice. My niece Beth put blue cats on the icing cats which was spot on!

Virginia had invited a good range of people including our neighbours - they turned up early and sat right at the back, not mixing that much. I hope they enjoyed themselves, they probably weren't up for too energetic activities. It was very pleasant to see some old faces, people we hadn't seen for a long time. To my surprise my hirsute nephew Andrew also turned up, it had been his birthday this last week and I still need to get his present to him.
The party finished about ten and we were very grateful to all those who got stuck in to clearing up. That made a mega difference. I hope we got the main hall back towards the way it had been laid out! It was raining when we carried out the debris to the car, and there was quite a bit of it. Later on I worried if we had removed the 50th birthday banner I sellotaped up in the entrance foyer! My nephew was puzzlingly sitting in his car in the carpark for a while - I was told he's into tweeting and has hundreds of followers!

Sunday was Virginia's real birthday. To try and do something special I folded paper boats out of wrapping paper and set them on the lounge floor on a long reach of kitchen foil, then placed our soft toys with the cards and presents on them. Like many of my ideas I don't know how well it really worked. I got Virginia a book "Entry Island" she wanted plus a necklace with a topaz - the necklace chain was too small so more like a choker!

Virginia booked a Chinese restaurant Tai Yuen in Toft (our favourite Chinese the Phoenix in Histon doesn't open on Sundays). We were the only ones in there for Sunday lunch, it was nice enough. Another converted pub like the Phoenix. The Toft place offers an all you can eat which we went for but disappointed the English waitress by not gorging ourselves - we felt we had plenty even without seconds!