Both my sister and I were so excited the day before surprising my Dad on his 60th by appearing on the Scilly Isles that we barely slept! We ate breakfast in Exeter, nervously checking the weather forecast every few minutes. The problem is that we were flying from Land’s End to St Mary’s in the Scilly Isles, and if it was too foggy, we just wouldn’t be able to fly – ruining our plans! Our parents had already been delayed on the way out to their holiday a few days earlier, so we knew it could happen, and the weather looked particularly nasty…
|The beautiful harbour on St Mary's|
After wandering listlessly round Exeter for an hour or so, picking up a few bits in Primark and not doing much of anything else, we decided we might as well just head to the airport early and hope that in doing so we would be allowed on a flight. It was about a three hour drive, and as we got there, we ploughed into deep fog. Nobody said anything, but honestly, when we got to the airport, it was so thick that you really couldn’t see your hand in front of you. We took a photo next to my Dad's car to show him and it was so foggy, you could hardly see us! We went hopefully in to hear the news we already knew – ‘Sorry, we’re not flying at the moment…come back in a couple of hours.’
It was so nerve-wracking, not just for us, but for my Mum and Aunt on the island, where they promised us the weather was clearing – and my Dad couldn’t understand their concern! Realising there was no point just sitting in the airport, we drove to a nearby pub for lunch. The landlady was lovely and again reassured us the weather was going to clear! We ate, and had coffee while the boys played pool, and time passed incredibly slowly, and FINALLY it was time to drive back to the airport.
And thank goodness – it was like a completely different day! The sun was shining, the sky was bright and clear, and you could actually see the sea (I hadn’t even realised the airport was by the sea before!) Just fifteen minutes later than our original flight time, we were in the air (despite the air traffic controller seriously telling my sister we might not fly, because, you know, planes can break?!)
And when I say in the air, oh my god. Have you ever flown in a plane with only eight seats? And propellers? And just one pilot, pressing random instruments inches from your face? Where you have to be weighed, to make sure you’re sitting in the right part of the plane? Absolutely terrifying (although, admittedly, quite cool).
Upon landing in St Mary’s, where we were staying, it was a glorious day and we were all so excited. The SkyBus picked us up and after a quick tour of the island (which I don’t think anyone took in because we were all just so desperate to see my Dad) dropped us off at our cute B&B, Penhallow Guest House. Again, the owner was the most excited woman in the world and really wanted us to stop for tea and cake, but after dumping our bags in our rooms and literally brushing our hair, we were ready to go!
We’d arranged to meet my Mum, Aunt and Dad at a local pub in the ‘town’ centre (it’s more like a tiny village!) There weren’t many people in there when we got there, so the owner agreed we could decorate it. I cannot describe how fast my heart was beating as we hurried to blow up the balloons and blu tac the ‘Happy 60th Birthday’ banners to the walls, practically downing wine as we did so to try and steady our nerves!
My Aunt and my Mum kept texting to say they were on their way, five minutes away… time seemed to stop! My hands were actually shaking – not helped by my fiancé telling a story about how his family tried to surprise his Nan once but it went completely wrong. Not the time!
Finally, they arrived – we saw their heads bobbing along by the window, then my Aunt came in first, followed by my Dad, whose main response was… ‘WHAT?!’
He was really genuinely surprised and (I think!) happy to see us! We caught the whole thing on film and there’s a lot of excited (nervous) laughter and exclamations of ‘What are you doing here?! How long have you been here?!’ and so on. It was really nice that all our months of secret planning had paid off and he was as excited and overwhelmed as we hoped he would be. We both really love our Dad a lot, more than I think he really knows sometimes, and he never asks for anything or expects anything from us, and we’ve never done anything like this before. As we kept saying, it’s going to be hard to top on our Mum’s 60th!
We spent the evening eating a buffet dinner prepared by my Mum and Aunt (who had to do secret shopping!) and enjoying a frankly incredible birthday cake made by a woman on the island, whilst looking out at the insanely beautiful views from their rented apartment.
I know it sounds cliché, but sometimes, doing something for someone else is nicer than doing it for yourself – especially when it’s someone you really love. And I know it’s DOUBLY cliché, but I can’t think of a better way to say it, and I’m sure many authors have been trying for thousands of year and they haven’t either, so I’ll just say it – family is the most important thing there is.