Sara and I knew that we would need his help to get things ready. There was the little cabin to sort out. Just a good vacuum and maybe clean the windows I thought. But when I looked outside I saw ladders and powertools! What? That wasn't on the list! Frans and Stephen decided that it was a good time to remove the little pot belly stove that was sitting rusting just inside the door of the cabin. It was the resting place for a dozen or so dead birds. The smell permiated the cabin. Not the welcome to our visitors I'd imagined. A few hours later the beds were made, flowers were placed inside and it looked more 'liveable' if a little rustic. There were tents to be put up. And not to mention picking up a trailer with two portaloos. I was concerned that having 40 people at the party may put undue stress on our water treatment plant. Hiring the portable toilets was the answer. We then had to press some solar lights into the ground around them to light the way. It's very dark in the country at night!
Bunting was strung up along the fence beside the driveway. Sara and I cut and sewed over 50m of bright hand dyed cotton triangles onto lengths of satin ribbon. They fluttered in the breeze, welcoming all who came down the drive. We hung paper lanterns in the trees and strung fairy lights up outside the shed. The stage was set.
We had visitors arrive from near and far. Some came days before the party, a few days after Christmas. I reverted to my excel spreadsheet to keep the meals interesting. Stephen's Mum and Nonna stepped into the kitchen and didn't leave for four days. They turned out Italian pizzas, stuffed zucchini from the garden, salads, antipasta platters and mountains of beautifully sliced fruit platters. The birthday feast had started. Lunches were taken under the willow tree next to the old shed. Lazy days ensued. Bocci was the game of choice. Some played while others sat back with a cool drink. Children (big and small) swam in the old pool. Glasses of champagne were sipped whilst floating on foam noodles. At this point we could no longer keep the party a surprise. So we then played the 'who's coming next' game. A few slips here and there, and he knew it all. So he sat back and enjoyed it. Happy Birthday my Love!
Bunting on the fence
One of the lunches under the tree
Hay bales were borrowed from our friend John's paddock. Here are Michelle, Viv, (from Brisbane) Emma and baby Valeenah (from Woolloongong).
Big and little kids having fun in the pool. James, Chris, Willow and Max.
Sara made it into the pool with a little help.
Janelle and Richard
Michelle knitting for her man, Reg in the background. Don't know who's hand is in the foreground!
A serious game of bocci.
The man of the hour. Frans, in his Captain Aloha shirt!
Nonna and Nonno (Stephen's Italian grandparents) arrived on the farm on the 29th. Half an hour after they arrived they were in the greenhouse staking tomatoes, cutting back overgrown parsley and doing a good job of bringing some conrtol to the chaos of overgrown vegies! I suggested they come back once a month to help with the vegies. They said "we come live here!". Here they are sitting in the shade of the mulberry tree peeling freshly picked carrots and beetroot for dinner.
The kitchen crew. Doris, Ami & Nonna. Food prep flowed from one meal to the next. We served over 300 covers in 4 days!
A lunchtime spread. Help yourself and take a seat in the garden.
Nonno, Nonna and Ugo. Cooking kebabs on a coal bbq. "It's the best" says Nonno. Don't try and convince him that a gas bbq can do the same for the flavour. Fortunately we had no total fire bans on the days we cooked on the open coals.
Evening. And the fairy lights started to twinkle.
Frans' birthday cake. Army camo and a gun. All organised by our friend Eugenia in Melbourne. Thanks Eugenia!
Speech and cutting the cake and opening the present. Friends and family contributed generously to the purchase of a fancy camera. He is a happy man!
After the birthday formalities, we kicked on till around 1am, dancing in the old shed, welcoming in the new year. Happy 2012!
Nonna and Nonno celebrated their 53rd aniversary on this night. Here they are dancing together. This was the first time that Stephen had ever seen his grandparents dance together. Aaahhh.... true love indeed.
And then there was the cleanup.....
Some of our friends and family who shared Christmas and New Year with us.