Yesterday was Rachel’s 23rd birthday, and she decided that she’d quite like to head over to Stratford for a bit of shopping, some ice cream and a picnic. So that’s exactly what we did. Heather and Tiny Tin Bird are visiting at the moment, so out little party consisted of Rachel, my mum, Heather, TTB and me. I managed to catch the (right) bus all by myself and even got off at the right stop when I arrived. There was a slight issue when I was waiting for the bus and saw it pull up on the other side of the road. I’d forgotten that not all bus routes go past uni, and that sometimes you do have to wait on the other side of the road to get to where you want to go, so I ended up running over there, not getting hit by traffic and making it safely on to the bus.
Once I’d finally found the others (‘I’m on a bridge.’, ‘Which bridge?’, ‘A stone one’. ‘The road one?’. ‘I think so…’. ‘Well we’re on a metal bridge. Wait, I think I can see you!’, ‘I’m wearing a pink and white stripy top.’, ‘Oh, then no, I can’t see you.’), we headed over to a lovely little cafe where we sat outside and had some drinks and cake. I’d been prepared enough to buy both Heather and Rachel’s birthday presents the day before I was seeing both of them (because I’m a really good sister) and I THOUGHT I’d been prepared enough to have wrapping paper at uni. That was before I remembered, about an hour before I had to leave for Stratford, that I’d used all of my wrapping paper to wrap a present with 21 layers of wrapping paper for my friend’s 21st birthday. After a few moments of deliberation, I decided that the best idea was to go all ‘Gavin and Stacey’ on them and wrap their presents in tin foil. I don’t know why people don’t do this more often – just wrap and scrunch, no cellotape needed, and it’s shiny and silver! Perfect! Either way, it amused them when they opened them. Unfortunately, Heather had already been given the DVD that I picked out for her, so I told her that if she saw anything she might like while we were out, that I would buy her it (or tell her it was too expensive…).
Once we’d finished at the cafe, we headed out for a bit of shopping. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of shopping. I’d go so far as to say that I even dislike shopping. Especially clothes shopping. But thankfully, when you have a cute nine month old baby for company, it can make it a lot more interesting. Instead of looking at clothes for us, the only clothes shopping we did was for him. We tried a few hats on him, and then a few pairs of sunglasses which he found absolutely hilarious, and that was pretty much all the clothes shopping we did. The rest of the shops we looked round were more quirky little shops with lots of interesting things to look at. They were full of little nicks and nacks, bizarre things and beautiful things. Much more interesting than clothes. The shop we spent the most time in though was, of course, Waterstones. We spent ages in the children’s section, looking through all the books, picking out ones we used to have as children and playing with Tiny Tin Bird on the floor until everyone was ready. I was very impressed with the child-friendliness of the shop actually, they had little chairs for kids to sit on and weren’t bothered one bit by TTB crawling around and playing with his toys, as long as we intervened when he got too close to the books. We ended up buying a few books for TTB, and Heather picked out two beautifully illustrated ones that she said she’d like me to buy her for her birthday. That’s one of the great things about having a child in the family – the excuse to go and looks through all the children’s book you know and love, and to buy nice ones that you say are for him, but know they’re really for you.
Once we were done, we went to Marks and Spencer’s to buy a few things for a picnic and then went back to the cafe we were at before to try some of the amazing looking ice cream. I was in awe when I saw all the flavours they had. There were all the usuals, as well as snickers, toblerone, millionaire’s shortbread and the two I was stuck between – ferrero roche and oreo. I opted for oreo in the end. They also had a few more interesting ones, such as something with earl grey tea in it and candyfloss which just looked like someone had squeezed several tubes of blue toothpaste into the container and sprinkled some marshmallows on the top.
Once we’d finished our ice creams, we sat by the river to have our picnic. Just as we were rolling the picnic rug out though, we felt a few spots of rain. After putting TTB’s pushchair in the car which was nearby, we decided to take our chances and speed-eat our picnic whilst we heard a few rumbles of thunder in the distance and prayed that the rain would hold off a bit until we were done. It turned out alright, and we made it to the car just before the heavens opened.
We drove home (with TTB, Heather and me all having a bit of a nap in the back of the car) and decided it would be nice to dig out the boxes full of all our old children’s books that we’d been saving for our children. Although, funnily enough, whenever TTB came anywhere near them, we swiftly redirected him to some of his toys whilst we continued to relive our childhood a little bit. My grandma came over and was delighted just watching TTB go about his important nine month old business, but all too soon it was time for me to leave. I hugged everyone goodbye and waved at TTB who was much more interested in his mushed up pasta bake and yoghurt, but kind of bashed the tray a bit, which I took as a sign that he was saying goodbye; and then drove back to uni myself.
It was a lovely day and nice to see everyone after such a long time. It’s always such a shame that Heather, Andy and TTB live so far away, but it makes it that much sweeter when we do get to see them.
Happy 23rd birthday, Rachel!