I’ve been rather pre-occupied lately with the planning and execution of a short trip to the UK. This is something we’ve done a number of times since I relocated to Canada about 17 yrs ago, but this time was very different – for a couple of reasons;… (1) it was the momentous occasion of my parents respective 65th birthdays, which fall just two weeks apart in September, and (2)… we planned to arrive unannounced!. Not only were my parents oblivious to our cunning plan, but we also opted to keep siblings and friends in the dark too, so as to maximize the surprise factor! It was unbelievably challenging to keep this secret, what with weekly phone-calls home to catch up on news and regular messaging with folk through other media. Add to this, we didn’t want to miss the chance to get an early order in to Santa for nephews and nieces xmas gifts (to bring them with us)…so an elaborate story about needing ideas for gifts was hatched back in July, under the pretence of shipping them by sea and thereby needing 3 month’s advance notice.
As our departure date drew closer I could hardly contain my excitement to see everyone – but I hasten to add that I (we) also knew it would be the first (and last time) we would embark on a mission like this. I say this simply because I think the “looking forward to it” part is something to be savoured, in and of itself, and the sweet anticipation of familiar smiles and embraces only serves to enhance the overall experience. This said, and as my mum and dad have since confirmed, a ‘surprise!’ was the right thing to do in this instance.
I had envisioned in detail how things would unfold (many times over and often at 3:00 am!). We would arrive by taxi and hop out just around the corner from my parent’s home so as not to prematurely alert anyone. We would sneak up to the side of the house, where a large bay window provides insight to the warm family situation. There…we would find mum (and perhaps dad) hanging out in the peace and quiet of a Saturday afternoon…, before their kids (and their kids alike) showed up with birthday gifts and an energy for celebrating this milestone in style.
And so it came to pass…”surprise!” – we hollered, as mum caught the outline of our foreign presence through the window in her peripheral view…total shock ensued, with tears and laughter following closely thereafter, and the love that is family expanded into every corner of the home that day…and that evening…and for the rest of the visit – filling the void that living thousands of miles from your roots can often create.
It never ceases to amaze me that $18 worth of dollar store party goods (and some 1D music) can yield a fun performance with some budding wannabe pop stars.
Lessons learned on previous visits dictated that carrying a tripod (as well as my camera) is mandatory for this and future trips….and the discovery of ‘interval timing’ on my D700 also made for some fun attempts at getting everyone in frame at the same time – first of many I hope!
(click on first image in gallery to scroll through)