Posted by: ginalazenby | July 11, 2013

How will you celebrate your 80th birthday?

Barbara's 80th Birthday

Barbara’s Birthday Ritzy Afternoon Tea !

My Mum decided she wanted an afternoon tea with her girlfriends from her various group activities. “At 80 we are a bit too old for a late night party and many of them are widows” she said, “so an afternoon party will be better”.

And that is what we, the family team, did last weekend …. a sumptuous tea in the garden inspired by the atmosphere, menu choice and quality of service that you’d get at the Ritz, except it was in Scarborough on the Yorkshire Coast …..  a Ritzy afternoon tea for Mum and 18 of her girlfriends.

I am sharing this story with you because a few things have come to mind since we, Team Archer, got this big project accomplished … how amazing to even have 18 girlfriends to invite to a party at aged 80 ! And that’s not all her friends, just those she has been in clubs with since the 1960s ….. wow!  My Mum, Barbara Archer, joined the Business & Professions Women’s Club in 1969 when she ran her own hotel/turned holiday apartments  business in the resort. She has served as President twice and although the Club no longer meets (and of course she retired years ago) several of the Club members have continued with a social spin-off group meeting regularly for swimming, morning coffee and Trivial Pursuit … those girls are now known as the Trivial Group. Then there is the crew that used to play Canasta (some members have sadly passed away) and finally there’s the Tuesday Afternoon Tea girls who have been meeting every week since the 1960s.  That’s nearly 50 years of a very strong social network! I’d definitely like to have tea with my girlies on my 80th …. wouldn’t you?!

One of the challenges we had was to stop Mum worrying about how it was all going to happen. As a family we had had ‘secret’ several planning meetings, conference calls across Yorkshire and memos to organise everything. We had a massive list (just like any professional catering operation) of all the things we were going to supply (awnings, tables hired from the church, bunting, champagne glasses, white aprons & gloves … you name it we had thought of it!).  So I was rather surprised to find on Friday evening that Mum had been out buying food and drink … just in case.

She had been organising a kind of shadow event without telling us, making sure we had everything!  Not knowing what we had up our sleeves beyond tea, scones and cream, Mum was quite overwhelmed by the whole event … us all smart wearing black and  white uniforms like any old-fashioned 5-star hotel ! You see if you have spent a lifetime caring, cooking  and looking after people, it’s not so easy to let go of the reins and let others put on the event – she is just so used to doing everything that she just could not conceive of what we might pull off on the day. That is the thing about being a “Mum”   ….  you are always doing for others and can find it very hard to receive from your children . Well this was our Mum’s special day and we were thrilled to create a fabulous experience for her and all her girlfriends who said it was actually “better than the Ritz”!

Check out the photo gallery with the girls, the laughter, the tables, the flowers, the sandwiches …. cakes, champers and our fab outfits with white aprons and black bow ties … oh, and the red carpet too.

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 10.47.15 PM

We made up a photographic album book, a kind of “This is Your Life” in pictures for her. It was a colossal venture researching all the pictures and putting it all together and a fascinating exercise to do. It helped to have a professional photographer in the family team as he made some of the vintage snaps look better that the originals!

Check out the online version of the book here:

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 11.19.29 PM

So how would you like to spend your 80th birthday and with whom?

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