it was my niece's 18th birthday yesterday, so 8 of us headed off to the best local chinese restaurant. the group consisted of birthday girl, birthday girl's mum, dad (my brother), sister, auntie, uncle, grandma and grandad.

As normal everyone was late apart from birthday girl's dad which amazed everyone as he is normally so laid back he is horizontal - never been one for convention and has often turned up at ours 3 days late!

I had been in earlier to prepare the table with confetti and cards, and load it up with presents. Taking our seats, drinks topped up and menu decision left to me we started on the 'do you remember when', hoping to suitably embarrass birthday girl. It appears this is quite easy to do. Then it was present opening time.

A deluxe, full day make over with hair cut, manicure, facial, photo shoot and so much more from Auntie and Uncle - now, birthday girl is a stunner, really drop dead gorgeous but she takes some convincing and won't have a photo taken so maybe she will see what the rest of us see with the photo at the end of the day.

From Grandma and Grandad, a GHD travel bag with loads of products, brushes and of course so oh so essential straighteners. Not sure who reacted the best to those - birthday girl or birthday girl's mum both took a sharp intake of breath and a look of total astonishment and pleasure!

From Dad a very nice Zippo which we are currently running a book to see how long before birthday girl loses it. My money is on before the weekend!

From Sister a fab cuddly teddy bear carrying big birthday cake and wearing party hat. The obligatory AAhhhs were uttered by the girls around the table while the guys looked at us with that 'Why???' look they so often get.

And from Mum - a drum kit! Ok so she hadn't wrapped the whole kit, just the drum sticks and had promised delivery for this weekend. Now Uncle's face lit up - always wanted to play the drums and make even more noise than normal. Said drum kit will be set up in grandma's and grandad's house so there could be some tension in the following weeks as Uncle gets in from work at around 3am and will be wanting a bit of a bash to help him relax.

Anyway, birthday girl was happy and the horse dervs arrived, followed by crispy duck and then about 8 different dishes for everyone to try - except veggie dad who filled himself up with seaweed, cucumber and loads of veggie stuff in really hot sauces.

Birthday cake was brought out, lights switched off and a really bad version of Happy Birthday being sung by us. Big explosive party poppers made a right mess and ended up in drinks, down tops, in other diners dinners - just about everywhere.

A good night was had by all, though not particularly raucous.

up this morning to take birthday girl to work. She was a little bit late, and was faily quiet in the car. Maybe Peach Schnapps and malibu don't really mix??

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Filed Under: BBC