Little Neil, being me, is actually all growed-up now. I suppose that, despite what I like to think, I’m not all that happy about being 30 years old. This conclusion is obvious when one considers that I hired a jumping castle for my 30th birthday party.
But so what? Jumping castles are awesome!
If you couldn’t make the party because you’ve gone overseas (or just never made the migration to Joburg) I missed you. The more jumpers on the castle, the merrier it would have been.
Not only was there a jumping castle, we also had Zoo Biscuits, Chomps, Creme Soda, and Sparberry. Adam and Nadia seemed to think that Pick ‘n Pay’s No-Name brand Creme Soda and fake Raspberry soda didn’t cut it. “It just doesn’t taste as good,” they (especially Adam) argued.
“Elitists!” I labelled them.
As retribution for my venemous attack, they left behind the bottle of Sparberry they brought. Now I have a full bottles of both varieties of imitation raspberry drink—disgusting. Why didn’t people drink the stuff? It was a 3-year-old’s party. At least the Creme Soda was polished off.
Even 3-year-old children cannot survive on crisps and sweets alone, so we also provided a vodka-soaked fruit punch. To this day the remains of it lurk in the fridge, although about two-thirds of it was consumed on the day.
Hamburgers were prepared as lunch. Since 3-year-olds should not be allowed near fires, the grown-ups cooked the burgers on the braai. By grown-ups I mean, my dad Tony and Angie’s dad Bill. None of my friends complained about the burgers, so good work Dads!
The jumping castle provided plenty of laughs, but kids these days have such short attention spans that they were quickly looking for something else to do. Fortunately the party organisers had prepared for this eventuality by arranging for incredible party games—with incredible prizes! Of course, along with the short attention span, these kids have become so cynical and they disputed the magnificence of the Made-in-China Bought-at-Crazy-Store plastic toy prizes. I guess they all want cell phones or something.
Game playing did take place, and the worthy games master, my mum Annie, made sure that no cheating took place. We had Pass the Parcel (won by Jenny) and Pin the Tail on the Donkey (won by Rachelle). The parcel was thoroughly wrapped as only Mum could do—layers within layers within boxes within other boxes within more layers. Every seemed to expect the prize to actually be in the parcel, and so it wasn’t long before they were complaining that the “incredible prize” was most likely to be a small piece of fruit, or possibly a nut of some sort.
Pin the Tail was no less tricksy with my mother at the helm. The donkey was twisted and turned and cunningly rearranged so as to fool the participant. Expecting such trickery, I pinned the tail on the donkey’s neck. The trick for me was that there is no trick. Very Zen. Thanks Mum.
On the cutting of the birthday cake, I was compelled by those gathered around to make a speech of some sort. Boy did they regret that. I think I make good speeches, but I’ve never been too fond of impromptu speeches. They need to be prepared. Plus I was fairly tipsy by this point in time.
So basically I complained that everyone liked me too much because they had all accepted my invitation (almost no-one declined it), thus destroying my budgeting for the party and rendering me insolvent… but it was worth it I quickly added, realising how piss-poor the preceding sentiments sounded. But if you cut through my issues with spending money, you’ll see how I was actually really pleased with the turn-out. Hopefully everyone who was there had a lot of fun. I know I did, and the fun would’ve been diminished if it was me alone with a jumping castle (fashioned after a clown, so in fact the fun would have been creepified).
Although I ended up not hiring a clown, Dave provided a clown service absolutely free, and provided a beautiful demonstration of how to use the jumping castle in a most exciting manner. Thank you Dave!
There was also the incident of the destruction of my son’s favourite soccer ball, and I have the ruffians Quinn, Gareth, and Chris to thank for this. They devised a number of peculiar jumping castle sports, and one of them seemed to involve the ball. The ball rebounded off one of their heads, struck a rosebush, and deflated. Their excuse-making is best illustrated in pictures. The rest of the party pictures reside on Flickr. Click here to see them
There is a lengthy story to go with this too, but lengthy stories take time to write (hell, uploading and titling the photographs took long enough). Plus, I received many gifts and need to thank all the nice people who gave them to me. Hopefully, a longer story will be forth-coming. But if not, the photos tell the story well enough, I think.
If the longer story never emerges, perhaps this notice I gave to my neighbours might help you piece it together:
A party is happening at No. 14 on Sunday, 9 August, starting at 1pm. We are celebrating Women’s Day!
Not really. It’s a birthday party. But we may also celebrate women although that wasn’t the original intent of organising the party.
I don’t expect it to be too disruptive, but there will be music and a jumping castle. Noise from my home is likely to be elevated above normal Sunday afternoon dog-barking levels.
Roughly 35 guests are expected, so you may find the road inside the complex becoming a little congested. I hope this will be bearable for one afternoon.
If you find yourself becoming incensed by any aspect of the activities taking place at No.14 on Sunday, please let me know. I’m a reasonable man. I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.
All manner of people are impressed, and want me to throw together Baby Shower Invitations and Wedding Thank You Cards. I’m more interested in creating things involving human ears, toilet bowls, and chunks of meat — but I guess I’ll have to postpone the surreal for later.
I should start charging for the cutesy stuff.
If you think you deserved an invitation, and didn’t receive one (and you are actually in the right part of the world to join me on the day) let me know. You too could be celebrating my 30th birthday in juvenile-jumping-castle style!
The restaurant is part of the Aloe Ridge Hotel which is situated in a game reserve. I didn’t properly register this fact before arriving there. The reality of a restaurant inside a game reserve was driven home to both of us as we drove there.
The tarred roads ended and we drove upon the dirt roads. Depending on where we were along the road, the quality of the road surface sometimes left much to be desired. As we drew closer we were warned to drive slowly as there might be hedgehogs crossing.
Didn’t see any though. Perhaps this was because of the next warning sign which mentioned the crossing of rhino and hippos at 40km/h. I felt a little more nervous at this point, but I figured they wouldn’t want to stampede over my car.
Once we finally reached the restaurant (for some reason I was surprised that it was placed near the top of a ridge) we got out of the car and were met by zebra. Up close and personal. They wandered over to us and seemed to expect us to provide them with something to eat. When we didn’t oblige, they ambled off amicably.
We started to follow them since they were headed in the direction of the restaurant, but another restaurant patron stopped us.
“You can’t go there. There’s a rhino in the path.”
Ha ha. These jokers.
And yet there was a rhino in the path. I took some photos, but they came out blurry since I wasn’t brave enough to use the flash and risk enraging the rhino (who seemed a little restless in any case, especially when it started herding the zebra).
Eventually the hotel staff herded us to the restaurant and the security of brick and mortar.
Food at this restaurant is excellent, and I highly recommend it.
In addition, during the night one is called from their table to take a look at the night-sky. I vividly saw a cluster of stars on the edge of the milky-way that appeared as a fuzzy, barely discernible blob by the naked eye. I saw another galaxy, beyond our own.
My understanding was that we would also be shown a comet, and possibly other sights during the evening. Unfortunately we had to leave a little early because the Neil-and-Angie-Spawn was making Angie tired and nauseous. Even so, we both had a wonderful time and are probably going to be forced to return in the future.