So late afternoon came and Jan had made it home from work sober, which was her instruction, as I had arranged for just the two of us to go out for a quick meal early evening, before the family came over to wish Jan for her birthday.

Why the meal? Well a number of weeks ago, Jan’s Mum and great friend Kate had got in touch with me to see if it would be alright for them to organize a small surprise birthday party for Jan at our house. I of course agreed and my only action was to get Jan out of the house for an hour or more, so the Family could arrive for the big surprise. I book us into Prezzo’s for 6:45, so my job was done, but what started as a small gathering, turned into a full blown party!

Anyway, Jan made it home from work with her balloons and presents from work, along with a large bouquet of flowers that Carl had arranged to be delivered to Jan.

Jodie, Laura & I were all playing it cool waiting for 6:30 to arrive at which time Jan & I would leave the house for the restaurant, so the preparations could begin.  Everybody was on standby waiting for the off. As the time got nearer Jan suggested we drive! Now this was not in the plan, because if we walked that added another 30 minutes to the time that we would be out of the house. Jan’s  idea of driving was so that we got back in time for when the family started to pop around. For the first time with Jan making that statement, I then knew she had no idea what was going to happen.

So we left the house in the car at 6:40, Jodie made the calls to say the coast was clear and operation ‘get the house and garden ready for a surprise party’ started.  Jane actually called Prezzo’s and told them to slow the service down, so we would be in there a bit longer!

We later found out that once we left the house it was mayhem , with people arriving every minute, door bell going and the dog barking. One funny point, just before we left the house Laura and Elle had put a pizza in the oven for themselves to eat before the party. Well with all the people arriving with food and drink, someone took it out of the over and started to cut it up for the table for the party!

The house was set with banners and pictures up, some good and some not so good (ie me in pink trousers and matching bow tie)

We pulled up on the driveway at about 7:50, which had given everyone about a 10 minute rest before we arrived. On getting out of the car, I told Jan we need to go into the house via the garden. When she saw the picture and notice on the back gate, this was the first time she had suspected anything and later I found out, she was still only expecting the family to be the other side of the gate.

I let Jan enter the garden first and there was about 40 people who shouted ‘SUPRISE’ I think you could have knocked her down with a feather, she was totally shocked.


The music started and the birthday wishes commenced. There were a few young ones at the party from 13 to 19 years, you know family and boy/girl friends. So here we had the house party going on with three generations all mixing, drinking and dancing together, it was very strange but also great and it just worked. I think may be that shows how times have moved on, because back in our day, those three generations would never have mixed to that degree, it just wasn’t the done thing, thank God for progress.


The final part of the plan was to get Carl on-line via Skype. I had arranged with him via email to be online at 8:15pm our time, which was 5:15am his time. Due to the fact he is sharing a room and the fact that everyone else in the house was fast asleep, he was forced to broadcasting live from his bathroom in Melbourne, Australia!

Online he came right on time, I think he was a bit overwhelmed with everyone who he could see. Then everybody did the old (going right up to the webcam and saying) ‘Hello Carl’ bit. I still find it amazing that there he was 12,000 miles away, appearing on my Mac in moving picture with sound and not a cable in site, from his toilet!

The Millar's - Carl

Emma decided to take him on walkabout (how appt) around the garden and house so he could see what was going on and what had been done for the party. We then placed him (the Mac) on the table so he could watch the final surprise of the day.

I knew Jo and Kate were going to have a collection for Jan, so instead of lots of presents, she would receive one big  present.  A presentation party had been commissioned (well Kevin) to hand out Jan’s present. Kevin gave a little speech then handed a bag to Jan. Inside was some small joke presents, and a small bottle of champagne. Carl was watching and listening to all the banter going on during the presentation, so that just added to it, knowing he was a part of it, laughing along.

Right at the bottom of the bag was an envelope, which in it was a ‘Voucher’  for £420 + some additional spending money, so Jan & I could take ourselves away for our 25th Wedding anniversary in September.  How lucky are we to have such great family and friends.

Happy Birthday

With the presentation over and Carl being online for 45 minutes it was time to log off and let him go back to sleep and the party really begin, which it did.

Dancing, drinking and laughing continued until 2am. What a great party, what a great family and friends we have. Thanks to all involved, but special thanks to Jo, John, Barry and Kate for the idea in the first place and all your hard work. ( oh and thanks to Sue for making sure Jan never got hammered at work, because that would have been a disaster!)

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