Well, you know what? I wasn't wrong!
Suspicions were well and truly aroused when Mr. G, after suggesting in the morning that we go for coffee at a very specific time, steered us in the direction of a local pub. An extremely delightful local pub, granted, but not one that would have Starbucks' (other coffee chains are available, natch) Baristas losing any sleep.
After questioning (a lot. A gag might have been useful here, just saying...) why we were in said delightful pub, and not in one of the countless coffee shops that were pretty much everywhere, we decamped to a cafe across the road.
After two hot chocolates, and much confusion on my part, it was mooted, casually, that we return to the pub. At this point, the game was pretty much up.
So, back over the road we go. I push open the door to the pub (with more than a sense of déjà vu) and, like a Magic Eye picture slowly coming into focus, I realised that, stood right in front of me were assorted members of my family. And then I happened to look out the window and saw my Aunt and Uncle driving past, waving furiously. My Aunt and Uncle who I had thought, until that precise moment, were holidaying in Malaysia.
Each time I looked around another friend or family member had materialised. It was like an episode of This is Your Life. Except in a pub. And minus Michael Aspel. And without a big red book. So, er.....not really like it at all then.
The sheer delight at being surrounded by so many people who mean the world to me, is a feeling I shall cherish for a very long time to come.
Once everyone (all 30+ of them!) had been accounted for, we trooped en masse to a nearby restaurant.
A chaotic frenzy of food ordering, present opening, card reading, and noisy conversation ensued. I barely ate, however, as I was too overwhelmed. I just kept staring around the (very long) table in wonder. I don't think it had sunk in what was happening.
After our plates had been cleared away the table fell strangely quiet. And then the singing started, and this work of art was brought out to me:
Isn't it a beauty? It was made for me by one of my dearest friends, and decorated by another. They'd been up until 11.30pm the night before rolling out and colouring icing, crafting sugar paste flowers by hand and putting the finishing touches to it. That's not to mention the fact my friend actually made the cake in London and managed to transport it all the way down to Bristol- in one piece!
And yes, it tasted every bit as incredible as it looks!
After cake, I was whisked back to the flat for a much needed bit of rest and relaxation. Before the evening's festivities began. Yes, ladies and gentleman, we weren't done yet.
Three hours, four manicures (that's a manicure for myself and three others. Not that I have four hands or anything. You don't suddenly grow extra extremities upon turning 30. Sadly.), copious cups of tea (and a sneaky glass of wine) and no rest at all later, it was time for me to put my glad rags on. With some much needed assistance. And even then I still managed to nearly go flying trying to wrestle my jeans off. Note to self: tights under skinny jeans? Just don't.
With me finally dressed (jeans 0 - Jen 1) it was time to pile into a taxi. We arrived a very short while later (as in, a minute or two. But hey, I cant walk far; it was uphill; it was my birthday party and also? It was bloody freezing. So, y'know my prerogative and all that...) outside my favourite pub in the whole of this fair city.
I was escorted upstairs, to be greeted by a very loud rendition of Happy Birthday: if I thought the turnout earlier in the day was impressive, this was off the scale. Again, as my eyes focused on the scene in front of me, I became aware of my family, Mr. G's family, and pretty much every friend I'd ever known ever. At least, that's what it felt like.
It was, quite simply, incredible.
Once I'd found my feet, and hugged more people than I thought it possible to hug in the space of ten minutes, it was time for yet more presents and cards!
And more cake....
This one courtesy of my wonderful Mum. And yes, that's a baked bean with legs. It's my nickname: Bean. See...?
Before I knew it, it was gone midnight, and I'd talked myself horse. It was time to, regrettably, call it a night. But what a night. What a day in fact. What a birthday...
It's taken me four days to write this as I just haven't had the energy to do it all in one go. Instead, I've had to keep adding to it as and when I've been awake. Which, given the fact I've spent the past three days practically comatose, hasn't been very often.
Oh but it was so very worth it. This is one birthday I will truly never forget.
A post on my presents to follow soon...
As for Mr. G? The boy did good. The boy did bloody good.