On being 50: Friends, family and so many adventures
If you follow this blog you will already know that I have just turned 50. I wrote about how 50 feels like a defining moment. But I am settling into this grand age and after a weekend of belated celebration with friends and family I am feeling a whole lot happier about it all.
My 50th birthday celebrations comprised a weekend based at Mhor 84 Motel, near Strathyre. I invited friends and family to enjoy some outdoor activities and share a meal on the Saturday night. (Sadly I had a limit on numbers and could not invite everyone.)
I was worried about the weather and generally anxious about how it would all go (would everyone mix, would it be fun, would the food be ok?) but I should not have been concerned.
Making the most of the great outdoors
Everyone made the most of the location at the heart of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. Despite a sudden bonkers thunderstorm on Saturday afternoon and more evening midges than anyone will ever need or want, people walked, swam, kayaked and cycled.
G and I led a walk to the summit of Ben Ledi, a popular Corbett near Callander. Around 20 friends – including my 77-year-old aunt – enjoyed a leisurely hike to the top.
It was brilliant to have the time – and sunshine – to walk and talk with everyone and to properly catch up with people who I hadn’t seen for ages, as well as those I see more frequently.
I think that everyone in the group chatted with each other at some point during the walk and several people realised they had spoken before (through work) or had friends or activities in common.
Others enjoyed a lower-level walk along local lochs or to waterfalls. Many people swam in a nearby loch and two friends took their dogs for a kayak and a swim.
Some friends cycled from Glasgow to the hotel while others headed out on road bikes and mountain bikes to explore the local area.
This was exactly how I had envisaged the weekend, with everyone having fun outdoors in their own way and according to their own aspirations.
Saturday’s group meal
It was a huge pleasure to have so many people sit down for a meal in celebration of my birthday. I don’t think I had a chance to take it in until after the weekend.
The photos show so many smiley, happy people. It also made me realise that I had enjoyed numerous outdoors adventures and holidays with almost everyone in the room.
I have cycled in the Pyrenees, the Alps, across England and in Scotland with many of my friends. I have skied in the Alps on several trips with friends.
I have completed triathlons, run races, enjoyed long walks, participated in cycling sportives, gone open water swimming, kayaked and bagged Munros with so many friends, too.
I am struggling to think of anyone who attended the weekend that I have not done something sporty or outdoorsy with at least once. Well, maybe there are a few now that I take another look at the photos but they are most likely the partners of friends. I expect those few people have been told about adventures enjoyed.
While my own family isn’t hugely sporty, I can recall many canal boat holidays making the most of the outdoors in a wonderfully slowed down way. And dad did play tennis, squash and badminton with me until we realised we were too competitive to thoroughly enjoy it together.
Over the weekend, my sister and brother-in-law walked a trail route to Bracklinn Waterfalls with my daughter and her boyfriend. I am not sure I ever thought that would happen but that is exactly what the weekend was meant to be.
I wanted friends and family to come together to enjoy a little of what I like to do – and to eat and drink.
The most lovely speeches
The cherries on the cake were speeches made by my husband and my dad. G hates public speaking and he did brilliantly to stand up and say some very heart-warming words. I was very touched.
My dad, normally known for picking up on the silly things I did wrong or in innocent error when I was young and running with them, turned this concept on its head and spoke some of the most touching and uplifting words I have ever heard him say.
He talked about what he admires about me, including my work and sport, and of my strengths. He also commented on how friends are such an important part of my life. He hit the nail on the head. He also welcomed Gordie into the family as my new husband. (G was very chuffed by this!)
Dad did manage to throw in a few funnies about various mistakes and silliness but by then I was laughing with him.
More thoughts on being 50
Looking around the room that evening – and thinking back over the decades – I have absolutely loved sharing many adventures, especially sporty and outdoorsy ones – with my friends (including my lovely husband) and my family (including my wonderful daughter).
If being 50 means you can enjoy spending time with a big group of fantastic friends then that’s fine with me. Over the decades I have collected so many brilliant mates.
I have also brought up a daughter, who I think is a most marvellous person. It has been a pleasure to see her becoming her own young woman.
If being 50 means I have spent two of the five decades loving her, taking care of her needs and responsibilities and teaching her how to become an independent person then that’s fine, too. It has been worth turning 50 and seeing her flourish aged almost 20.
As I am about to turn 50-and-one-month I feel far more at ease with my age. I like all the great memories I have already accumulated and I am confident I will enjoy many more. How lucky I am to have so many great people to love, like and support me.
Thanks to you all for making it such a wonderfully special and fun weekend.