29 April 2018

My dad's 80th birthday

My dad is a bit like the previous Dutch monarch. She has her birthday in winter, and thinks chances of having good weather then are slim, so she used to celebrate it in late April instead. This winter she turned 80. And so did my dad! Who decided to celebrate it in late April. And it was a bit close to my date of moving into the new house, but well, first things first! So I flew to the Netherlands for only a weekend (I saw coming I might be busy with houses and/or work, so I had booked a short trip), leaving behind a house that still needed a lot of work.

It would be a special birthday. My father had tried to celebrate his 70th with all his daughters, but with two of them not on speaking terms (and one not on speaking terms with his wife) that hadn't happened. And he hadn't really made a conscious effort to change the situation, but he hadn't changed his wishes either. So when quite unrelated to his birthday he had started to improve his relationship with mainly my middle sister (but also, when he was at it anyway, with me) he thought he might have a chance to do better on his 80th. So he went on a mission, and to everyone's surprise he was successful! So for the first time since my PhD viva I would see both my sisters in the same space. Exciting! And to make it even more exciting, my Finnish sister would bring her weekend family. She has a sort of foster child, Miro, and she would bring both him and his father Jiri to the birthday. And I'd never met them before!

On the Friday I went straight to my mother, as usual. Which was great! I was there early enough to have a brief beer with her in the garden before thunder chased us inside again. It was great! And on Saturday morning I went to Scheveningen, as that was where Marieke and her men were staying, so I would get to see them a bit before we would both vanish into the birthday crowd. I met up with them in a petting zoo. Miro was a bit shy but I didn't impose myself so very soon he was too engaged with baby goats again to mind me. It was good!

We then got ready for joining the actual birthday party. I seemed to be the only one who was keen to not be late! It was a bit stressy; the party was a ride in historic trams, and my father had warned they would just leave when it was time to leave. Anyone who wouldn't be there would be left! And I didn't want that to happen. We got there just at the recommended time. I was relieved!

My father was in excellent spirits. And why not; he had relatives, friends, ex-colleagues and neighbours all gathered for his birthday; he was in fine health, the weather was great, and he had a tram from 1924 and one from 1912 ready for him! What's not to like.

Wim does a welcome speech

When the trams set off we trundled through the Hague and Scheveningen. We stopped for a group photo, and for a drink and a snack. Later we stopped for a few minutes at the beach. During stops people were encouraged to swap trams, so they would mingle. And the trip ended at the the Hague public transport museum. It was full of trams! And had some buses we didn't end up seeing. But my dad likes buses too. There we got a tour.

In the tram from 1912

A museum tour from a suitably greasy tram connoisseur

After the museum the group split; those who would go for dinner and those who didn't. It turned out that nobody knew who was in which group; something in the organisation had gone slightly awry. But many of us proceeded, still by tram, to the Garoeda restaurant, for dinner. An awkward moment followed; I walked in in the rear guard, with my Finnish sister. When we got in, the only table that still had space for us was the one my other sister was on. Oh dear! A quick reshuffle followed and then we could all enjoy dinner. It was lovely!

After dinner all went their way. I would go to Harderwijk with my dad, but things got late, and well, my love for ending up in bed rather early is barely a secret. I bailed out on Amersfoort station! I left them and went to my mother's. That way I was in bed at a reasonable time!

Three brothers at the dinner

I spent the Sunday with my mother. Did the usual thing of going for a run. And I did my hair, and did the usual pootling around. It was great! 

It was a bit of a hit-and-run visit, but it was good! My dad had, I think, the birthday he had hoped for, and I got to see many people I was glad to see, and I must admit it was nice to have a lazy Sunday after the recent hectic house business. All good!

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