It started on the Friday, with Ian taking the day off to be with me while the kids were at school. We headed off to Trentham Gardens where we started the morning with a Frankie and Benny's vegetarian breakfast before going into the gardens for a walk. The sun was shining and we enjoyed a gorgeous walk around the lake. It was beautiful. We spent time looking at the amazing wooden sculptures and watching the birds on the lake.
On Friday evening, Megan and Ella along with Ella's boyfriend Frank arrived to spend the weekend with us. We ordered a huge Indian meal from my favourite local Indian restaurant Oruna. I love Oruna, the food is excellent and there are lots of veggie options to choose from...Sag Paneer, Tarka Dahl, Mushroom Bhaji, Chana Dahl and Mushroom Biryani being my favourites. The staff are so lovely and even sent me a card and a bottle of wine to help me celebrate the occasion. Oruna is such an integral part of our little market town, and so involved in the community. So it's perfectly fitting to have Oruna cater my birthday dinner!
The meal was superb and the birthday cake that followed was lovely. I even had candles to blow out while everything sang "Happy Birthday to You".
The next morning we headed off to Alton Towers for mine and Ella's joint birthday weekend. The weather, although forecast to be grim was actually glorious. We booked into the Alton Towers Hotel in two adjoining Moon Landing themed rooms. The rooms are so cool with incredibly detailed decor that made you feel like you are in a Jules Verne novel! Each room also had its own giant teddy bear in it and an XBox games console. The attention to detail is fantastic and makes a stay so much fun.
With our Merlin Annual Passes we had free reign of the park for two days. The older kids went off to do all the big rides like Thirteen, Nemesis, Air and The Smiler, while Ian and I took Freddy into CBeebies Land. I love what they have done in this corner of the park, elevating Alton Towers to a theme park that pre-schoolers will love just as much as the thrill seeking teenagers. It really is a place for all the family to enjoy.
Freddy spent ages in the Tree Fu Tom play area tackling climbing walls, cargo nets, the zip wire and the spider rope frame. He unleashed his inner ninja jumping, rolling and overcoming obstacles. Nina's Lab was also a big hit for my science loving schoolboy and he explored all the hands on exhibits. Charlie and Lola's house was another great place to explore, bringing the illustrations of Lauren Child to life in an imaginative and interactive way. With the Driving School, Froghopper, Big Wobble soft play and Carousel rides too, Freddy had a full and exciting day.
Day two was even sunnier! The older kids hit the park to take advantage of the early ride time, following a fantastic buffet breakfast at the hotel. They took the woodland walk into the theme park.
Meanwhile Ian, Freddy and I went to the Splash Landings Water Park. With the beautiful blue skies and sunshine, going into the outside pool was just too tempting and we had a lovely time relaxing in the warm water whilst feeling the sun on our faces. It felt like being abroad and on holiday.
After a couple of hours of playing in the water park, clambering up cargo nets while jets of water squirted at us and getting soaked by the giant, tipping bucket of water, we were ready to hit the park again. We met up with the older kids and after lunch went on a couple of rides together. Nemesis Sub Terra is my favourite, an immersive, psychological horror ride with a thrilling drop. It's fab! We also all went on the River Rapids, which is a fast, furious, fun and very wet ride. Thank goodness for the sunny weather, which soon dried us all off! Freddy finished the day with a ride on the new Octonauts rollercoaster and he loved it. We left the park exhausted but thoroughly happy.
Unfortunately, my girls and Frank had to return to Manchester on the Sunday evening, bringing us all back to reality, but we had an absolutely fantastic time together. I just adore being with my family. It's the most precious thing in the world to me and I am grateful everyday that I have these amazing people in my life.
So far, 46 is turning out to be a pretty good age.