Having just celebrated my birthday, I started thinking about birthday celebrations over the past seven decades.

In my family we always celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, sometimes in just a small family gathering and other times in a more lavish way.

In my first decade it was wartime for the first six years and rationing for the whole decade, but my mother always seemed to have hoarded a few treats. These were supplemented by Aunty Cis’s offerings from her home in the country and parcels from my father, who visited America on the North Atlantic convoys and also “scrounged” from the ship’s cooks! Somehow I always  had a birthday cake whether it was a “fatless or eggless sponge a la Minstry of Food” or on lucky occasions one sent from the ship’s cook! One thing I always had was strawberries! This was in the days before strawberries were flown in from around the world, and there was just a short  “strawberry season” so I was lucky to be born in July!

My seventh birthday was memorable because  it was the first time my father was  there to join in as he had just been demobbed from the RN. Another thing I remember about my seventh birthday was that my lovely brother had saved all his pocket money to buy me a copy of Alice in Wonderland. It cost him 7/6, a huge amount for someone who got one shilling a week pocket money! I kept that book for years, but sadly it seems to have been lost during one of my many moves.

In my teens I had a group of friends and several of us were born within days of one another so we had a  combined celebration. We were all members of the school guide company so when we were about fifteen we decided to go on a hike into Derbyshire and end up with a campfire.

We all met at the central bus station, rucksacks neatly packed with maps and food to cook on our campfire etc. The day had dawned bright and sunny and the weather forecast was good, and then, just before we boarded the bus, the black clouds arrived and the heavens opened up to a torrential downpour. The Met office had got it wrong again!

After a hasty consultation we abandoned the hike and all went back to my house (it being the nearest) where we cooked our sausages and potatoes on our gas stove!

When I started nursing I was usually working on my birthday so the celebration usually consisted of tea and cake in the Nurses Home sitting room at 9.30pm after we all came off duty.

My twenty-first birthday (then the age of majority) was spent working on the Maternity ward. The patients were all those who had potential medical or obstetric problems, so they had often been in for several weeks and we had got to know them quite well and they had got together and presented me with flowers, cards and a cake. It was a very happy day and then I had the family celebrations on my next day off.

One of the grandest celebrations was in 1973, just before we got married. It was my last summer working with Dr A. and, as it coincided with his fortieth year in practice, he decide that we should have an outing to celebrate. The outing was a visit to Glyndebourne Opera House. It felt very strange for Jan (the receptionist)  and I to be picked up in his Daimler, all of us wearing evening dress, on a Sunday afternoon from my flat on the council estate!

I am not much of an Opera Buff but I loved the sense of occasion. We started with a picnic tea in the lovely grounds. Some of the other members were very grand and had butlers and proper tables set with silver candlesticks etc.

There is quite a long interval so that you have plenty of time to dine. Mrs A was an excellent cook and provided us with a veritable feast. It was interesting to gaze around celebrity spotting!

Since then we have usually had a meal out or a family get- together, which I much prefer these days.

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