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Posts tagged ‘celebrations’

Celebrating Dad’s 70th in St Andrews

The timing was such that dad would turn 70 while away. I intended to meet up with them for this occasion and so the question was, where would an appropriate place be to go? Mum and dad had a few days in Scotland planned sometime during the UK chapter and mum suggested dad might like to go to St Andrews. Having been a keen golfer for 20+ years, and seeing as St Andrews is where the game originated not to mention the golfing mecca for players, this was a pretty easy decision.

While in favour of the idea, dad wasn’t actually bothered to organise to play there. While you can hire clubs it may have meant packing shoes and as a one off activity on the trip, it probably seemed too much hassle.

Fast forward to birthday morning, 3rd May. After breakfast and whatnot our first mission of the day was shopping related. We found a golf shop in the Links clubhouse where dad wanted to buy a shirt. This was a bit of a challenge but I reckon he chose well.

Along from the clubhouse and on its roof are good views across to the Old Course and the Old Course Hotel, as well as a couple of the other courses. There are 10 courses in St Andrews.

Looking over to the Old Course Hotel where we’d be dining that night

Nicely mown yet bumpy green paddocks – I was surprised how barren the general location is with gorse bushes and the lumpy terrain. I guess that proves how little I knew about St Andrews before arriving

He wasn’t going to be playing but it was enough of a kick just seeing it all in the flesh

Weather vane, useful because of the exposed coastal location

Golf trundler next to a fountain commemorating Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897, the year in which the Jubilee Course opened

We parked in one of the free carparks in town and continued on foot. Not far away, dad veered into a shop to buy golf shoes and look at more shirts. Dunno about you, but there’s only so long I can browse in a golf shop. But it can’t be that often that a bloke especially the likes of dad is actually excited to go shopping. So I think he did pretty well out of birthday gifts to himself.

We halted the golf theme while we saw some of the other sites, as noted in my last post.

Mum and dad in front of the cathedral outer wall, which extends for about 1km

Lunch was some pretty heavy duty fish and chips at the harbour overlooking East Sands beach

But sure as eggs we gravitated back to the golfing end of town.

We were surprised to find that you can walk across the course (so we did)

If you follow golf you probably know this feature. If you’re like me you simply admire that it’s a cute little concrete bridge. It is very historic, being of Roman design, and was originally part of a path from the town, long before golf arrived. All golfers seem to line up for a photo here before continuing on

Dad in front of the 18th on the Old Course; Old Course Hotel at the rear. (The exposure came out strange hence my heavy manipulation!)

While having a nosey at the West Sands beach end we watched some combat jets take off in the distance from Leuchars Airforce Base

I left mum and dad to it while I hogged some Starbucks wifi and when they picked me up it was time to go back to the b&b and get ready for dinner. Before the trip I had booked us into the Road Hole restaurant in the Old Course Hotel, which sounded a bit fancy and a suitable place for a celebration meal. Unfortunately for dad this meant carting around a dress jacket and shoes for the trip. Deary me.

We’re hungry, let’s go

On the way we went for a brief tiki tour around some of the nearby courses before arriving at the hotel. We had a drink in the bar first.

My first drink of the trip. Mum and dad on the other hand had visited Glenfiddich Distillery earlier in the day for a tour and tasting

Looks a bit like they’re dressed for dinner in the lounge at home?

The restaurant has a great location on the top floor of the hotel and looks out over the Old Course. The food was great but it was the engaging staff who really lifted the quality of the evening.

On the menu was a Loch Kyle oyster dish. As my brother is Kyle, that’s the entree mum had to have. Can’t help but think there’s something a bit disturbing about that…

Whatever it was we ordered (that was so last week hence completely forgotten) it was delicious

The mentions of it being dad’s birthday resulted in this at the end of the meal which was a nice touch

A nice ending to the day and most importantly, dad enjoyed himself. It was nice having a family celebration for this birthday (his 60th was a big party) and it was just a shame that my brother wasn’t able to be there as well.

There’s one more milestone birthday to come on this trip… who could that be for I wonder?

Vietnam: 18~A birthday party and some local night life

After the visit to the markets and the cooking school, the evening was reserved for the birthday party.

Danielle and Mark, the tour organisers and friends from way back, both had 40th birthdays on the horizon and this night was the official party. The last few days had been building up to it and with the birthday boy and girl both having extensive hospitality backgrounds, this was always going to be an impressive occasion. Read more

Vietnam: 8~Birthday celebrations are go!

After a long day outside the city and a few days on my own, it was time to meet up with some friends. The birthday girl Danielle, the birthday boy Mark, and a group of their friends had now arrived in Saigon. I wandered over to their hotel for a few G&Ts, checking out the nice digs that I would be checking into the following day. Read more

The girls turn 120

It was Saturday with another busy day ahead. The birthday activities would kick off later, but first priority after getting myself organised was food. Decided to shop local with a hot breakfast and coffee from the Art Stop Cafe in Helensville. Really good. First time there and will definitely return.

With tummy happy it was back to Auckland. A trip to the Big Smoke isn’t complete until I’ve caught up with Hannah so I popped in. A glass of wine and girly chit chat easily took care of a couple of hours. (Matching denim jackets were not organised in advance.)

It was time to think about birthday festivities. I was staying with Kirsten & Mike in West Auckland and there I went. Wee Mitch was at his grandparents giving his mum and dad the night off. I brought some celebration bubbles with me which seemed a shame to let linger in the bottle any longer than necessary.

Kirsten and I have been friends since we were babies


The main birthdays in question were the imminent 40ths of Kirsten and a friend from high school, Debbie. However, as mine is also on the horizon the evening was billed as a small triple celebration, or as one of the girls alarmingly put it, our 120th.

We met Deb and her partner Barclay at a bar in downtown Auckland.

At Soul Bar in the Viaduct Harbour

The birthday girlies

The actual Viaduct Harbour

Dinner was at a restaurant within walking distance, though uphill, and there was discussion at length as to whether this was achievable given the ladies’ footwear. We decided to give it a go.

The skyline was filled with the Sky Tower, churches and various high rises.

The award winning Grove Restaurant was our venue as we figured the occasion suited somewhere a bit fancy. Predictably the girls went for bubbly.

Kirsten, Mike, me, Barclay and Deb

We were in raptures over the food, even the bread roll appetiser was divine.

My fish main, absolutely yum. Could've eaten two.

Kirsten and I are dessert eaters from way back and both chose petit fours

Over the course of the evening it’s probably fair to say that we forgot why we were there. Until this came out, which Mike had organised on the sly.

A nice touch

I suppose one benefit of celebrating my birthday early is that I get used to the idea of entering my 40s. (Even writing it there freaks me out a bit.)

All yummy things must come to an end and we had another couple of stops to make. We tottered off, enjoying some city illumination.

Mo’s, a tiny corner bar and evidently one of the city’s best kept secrets, wasn’t far away. Mike had joked earlier that the five of us would fill it, and that was only a slight exaggeration. A couple dozen people would be quite cosy. I was a bit shocked at how expensive cocktails are now. Maybe they were Auckland prices.

Inside Mo's

A final wander around the Viaduct with a stop at one of its bars and we were ready to call it a night. We were 120 after all.

Happy birthday Deb and Kirsten!

A day with family: plotting, planning, celebrating

I was in Auckland for a long weekend following the Roger Waters show. With many family members and friends up thataway it wasn’t going to be hard to find stuff to do.

The timing was good for four other reasons:

  1. Mum had reached a rather significant milestone birthday during the week which also signalled her imminent retirement.
  2. I’m planning with my parents a month away in England, Scotland and Turkey in May.
  3. Two of my girlfriends would soon be turning 40 and this would be my opportunity to celebrate with them.
  4. I could visit the Auckland-based tall women’s clothing shop during its summer clearance sale!

So the morning after the night before, in no great hurry and after one or two deviations, I headed on out to my parents’ town. At their place I found Mum, Gran (who lives with them now), and my brother who had a day off work nursing his dodgy back. It was a normal working day for some though and I wouldn’t be seeing Dad til later.

With Kyle who was nursing the crook back that caused him to miss out on the show

Gran came with me to run an errand up the road

Also in the house was an old childhood friend. Mum and Dad recently retrieved him from storage. He’s needs some running repairs but at some point he’ll be well enough to relocate to Wellington.

A little the worse for wear, but Big Ted isn't bad for almost 40

After lunch and whatnot, Mum and I got into trip planning. I’ll preview this in a separate post. It’s eight weeks til my departure so I’m on a bit of a countdown. Any trip outside of NZ is pretty significant!

Later, in the midst of rental car comparisons and bookings, a rather grubby father walked through the door. The plan was to go out for dinner as while there was a birthday celebration or two for Mum earlier in the week, my visit was good excuse for another. We decided on a local restaurant. A few of us were feeling a bit poked so after making ourselves presentable we went in for an early sitting.

Venue for dinner

You could say that the Grand Hotel is one of Helensville’s icons. At the eastern end of town, the hotel was originally wooden and burned down, twice. Consequently, the rebuild in the 1930s was done in concrete. New owners have renovated The Grand and restored many of its original features. They’ve done a lovely job and I’d like to have a better look around one day.

Tis a bit Grand I spose - for Helensville at least!

We’ve eaten at the restaurant before and it was definitely worth a return visit. The dining room is quite stunning: red walls adorned with artwork, concrete floors, fireplace, striking chairs and ceiling lights, arched windows. The menu options are well matched to this quite grand room, and as we were all pretty hungry we didn’t muck around with our decision-making.

Ready for food!

To the exaggerated sighs of some at the table, the wait for food was an opportunity for photos.

Mum, Gran and I

Well I win the grinniest grin competition - and Kyle could just be enjoying his pain medication

The meals were great and everyone enjoyed their selections. Since it wasn’t late, some more trip plans were sorted when we got back home. I farewelled everyone when I had to take myself back to the motel for sleep as would not be seeing them the next day.

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