Helen was 50 last month and we'd already celebrated with lunch and gifts but Easter Saturday was her official birthday party held in the village hall near the family holiday home on the West Coast that I've written about before (scroll down a bit I couldn't get the page exactly). Such a long way for everyone to travel, from our house it is a good four hours drive, from London it's an epic journey but so many people made the effort. Speaking to Malcolm, Helen's husband, he said it was a wonderful feeling to have filled the local area with their friends, to know that all the available accommodation was booked by them. We stayed in the lovely Arisaig House, a beautiful old property with glorious gardens and walks down to the beach. We left it a bit late to book, when we received our invitation last October there was the offer of camping by the village hall and that seemed a good idea. Wrong, the logistics of dressing for a party in a tent were impossible, most of the teenagers were camping and while the party might finish at a reasonable hour there was no guarantee that the kids wouldn't keep going, so hotel it was. Our blue room wasn't the biggest, it was the last one available, but it was very pretty and comfortable. I like a bathroom with clear glazing, privacy permitting, though by the time I took this picture we had managed to steam up the window. The view was down to a field full of sheep and the loch.
The village hall also located right on the water's edge was full to bursting, mountains of food, fizz, music and dancing. After we'd eaten there was a band and Malcolm in his kilt got up and played a solo dedicated to Helen on his sax, something he said he hadn't done since their wedding over 20 years. He then sang and played along with the band as the dancing began. After a break the ceilidh band arrived and as always in Scotland that is a signal for everyone to be up and on the floor. White sergeants were dashed, willow was stripped, all the energetic favourites that get everyone moving, young and old.Finally there was a disco, with a strong 70s theme. A coach had been arranged to deliver and collect 40+ guests staying locally but since I don't really drink I was happy to drive. We left just after midnight offering to take some children back to the hotel as they were looking a bit exhausted but they refused to leave, worried they might miss something.
Next day it was open house at Helen's. After breakfast at the hotel, delicious kippers from Mallaig, we arrived at the loch house to find dozens of people tucking into bacon rolls and most people looking surprisingly perky. After a quick coffee and more chat we left for home about mid day.The journey back was long and we both felt a bit jaded, in fact I still do, so we stopped off briefly and shared a bag of chips, just what we needed to keep us going.A fantastic party in a most beautiful part of Scotland, happy birthday Helen and thanks to all the family who worked so hard to make it so special for us all.