Saturday, October 19

Big Ben's 21st

This weekend was a rather special one for my family.
After weeks of planning, hundreds of pinging emails and multiple train time switches, the big day finally arrived.
For one weekend and one weekend only, family & friends were driving over from north, south, east and west to celebrate my brother Ben's 21st birthday.
Of course, there was also a jolly mini bus cruising up the A1 full of Exeter University students!

Ever wondered where my baking skills came from?
Well my incredible mother whipped up this enormous birthday cake, made of genoise sponge, that could feed the five thousand!
She even managed to add a slight rowing touch to the decoration too (Exeter's green & white colour scheme seemed to feature quite a bit!).

The Exeter crew had a party night in the local town the day before and stayed in a rather nice hotel nearby, but on the Sunday itself it was time to have one too many glasses of bubbly and stuff our faces with a delicious roast dinner.
Nearby there is a charming, character filled hotel called the Falcon. We decked out a side room with champagne, nibbles and balloons, whilst the Oak room by its side was ready and waiting for us to sit down for our meal.
Now I'm not being bias as I work in the Falcon's sister restaurant...But the food is good. Very, very good. And because I knew that I had one heck of a delight heading my way, I was ridiculously giddy with hunger and excitement.

I did manage to sneak a couple of cheeky snaps before the room became choca-blocked with people though!

As the flows of close friends and family began to arrive, the students did what they do best and began to have a couple of glasses.
(Of course Ben had to see off the bottle for good luck!)

I handed over my present for the lucky lad, an enormous personalised canvas of him & his rowing crew. Throughout the day we managed to make sure that everyone signed it for good luck. 
I can't recommend these enough if you're stuck for a birthday idea- I got mine from Photobox, but they are a fabulous gift that's simple, adaptable and not overly formal.

Of course, the Exeter ladies all looked incredible regardless of the gail force storm thumping outside the windows!

Naturally I was photographer for the day, so I managed to get a cheeky shot of my brother and his beautiful girl friend Charlotte (above), and a cracking family photo which my mum will have a great deal of pride in putting on the mantle piece!

Before we knew it, an hour of drinks and nibbles had vanished before our eyes and we were being beckoned to take our seats. The orders were in, the atmosphere was merry, and by George we were starving!

Luckily I managed to take a couple of sneaky photos of my mum's food next to me, and we ordered completely different things, (it also meant we could sample a little bit of everything too!)
Mum chose the Caesar Salad to start, a classic to say the least!

But of course, I just had to pick the smoked salmon for starters, my taste buds gave me no option on this.
Juicy, flavoursome salmon with marie-rose sauce and crunchy ciabatta? Umm... Yes please!

But of course, the star of the show was without a doubt the Sunday Roast- all locally provided and cooked perfectly.

Juicy, meaty roast beef, with all of the trimmings of course.
Cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes, mixed vegetables and a giant Yorkshire pudding.

Of course I smothered mine in red wine gravy, it is the cherry on top of the cake after all!

Luckily enough my mum chose the seared salmon fillet and I managed to persuade her to exchange a bite for a bite.
I have to say, I know the roast beef was smashing, but the salmon was nearly right up there with it!
Light, packed full of flavour and delicately placed on scrummy hollandaise... A serious thumbs up from us all!

Safe to say, I demolished every single mouthful- including seconds.

But no, the food coma was not finished quite just yet.
After we had let our stomachs settle for a break or two, it was time to devour the beautiful creation of dessert!

Our friend Val went for the lemon tart with mixed berry sorbet, Mum went for bread & butter pudding (with blackberries mixed within...)

...And of course I plumped for the chocolate brownie.

OH MY... It was good.
Warm, melting, sweet, chocolatey... It was heaven.

It was a food coma, but a seriously good one!

The conversation was flowing, the wine bottles a-popping, and then my dearest Dad stood up and said a couple of quick words- no big, formal speech (saving that one for that 'big day'), but still a charming touch to say thanks to everyone who came.

With the formalities over of the fatherly speech & cake, Ben's friend Will stood up to say a couple of words too on behalf of the Exeter crew.
(Preparations for the 'one day best man speech'- aspiring big Will!)

And of course, Ben wanted to say a little thank you too!

And so the rest of the afternoon was spent devouring a ridiculous amount of cheese & coffee, chatting and catching up with everybody, and sipping on some more champagne.
Such a fantastic afternoon, but before long everyone had to draw themselves away from the fun and games, it was time for the mini bus to depart back to Exeter and for me to drive my little car back up to Leeds.

Happy 21st (early) birthday big bro, hopefully your actual birthday will be just as good!

(Also a big thank you to everyone that came, I know that one of the perks of writing this blog is that those who couldn't make it there can see the day in a slideshow of pictures! We all really appreciated it, what a cracker of a weekend!) 


  1. Looks like such a lovely celebration - and as an Exeter girl myself, I'm a massive fan of that cake!


    1. Thanks Bella :) the Exeter crew gets around! You might be a small uni in numbers, but I always seem to bump into a student/alumni!

    What a truly wonderful birthday celebration - I Love how you kept it all nice and homely, and so English with the pub set-up. It's all about the people to spend the day with BUT me oh my that food does look divine!
    x x x
    The Lobster & Me

    1. Thanks Ibbs- I've shown the boy himself the post when I put it out and now, he is so flattered that strangers are being so nice about his birthday! (Boys, ey?)
      True true, you can have all the money in the world, but it's the people that you are with that truly counts. (Plus, the food was the cherry on top!) xx

  3. What a lovely birthday! and oh my god Emily that roast makes me speechless. I haven't had a Sunday roast in so long, might just need one. Love the present idea as well, I have a friend's birthday and this could be a perfect gift!

    { Teffys Perks Blog } X

    1. I miss roast dinners too, they have been absent from my life too long due to silly student living and a summer break- Is there any meal more homely?!
      Can't recommend the canvas enough either :) xx

  4. That roast dinner looks amazing! I love roast dinners so much; they are just the most comforting meal.
    I had a rowing-themed cake for my 21st as well. Unfortunately once you get seriously into rowing, it just takes over your life and everything is about rowing!

    Lucy x The New Northerner

    1. I'm thinking this roast needs to be replicated at university... I don't think its possible to live without these comforts! No way!? What did yours look like? Me myself, I don't row, but I can understand from the commitment and hours put in how it takes over your life- it becomes a way of life!! xx

  5. What a beautiful birthday!
    I remember you telling Ibbs and I about this!
    You can totally tell you did Art by your arty writing!
    Lottie xx

    1. Seemed a long time ago didn't it?! We seriously need another blogger meet up!
      Thanks about the handwriting too, unsurprisingly my writing is utterly different to my family's- silly art! xx

  6. enjoyed reading this post. sucha sweet celebration and the food is so yummy! hapi bday to your brother! ;)

  7. Theeeee most beautiful of photographs! No wonder they made you photographer.
    Was SO SO nice to meet you earlier - hope the train was bearable and the perves were kept to a minimum. Lots of love X

    1. (I didn't really give them a chance of photographer anyway!)
      Same- so nice to actually meet someone that you feel like you know well in person!
      No perves this time- just a very enthusiastic Cambridge professor talking about the printing press...
      Should definitely do a Bills date again :) xx

  8. Can I just say wowsa! This all looks amazing. The setting, the food, your hair! A fellow red head! xx
    Heroine In Heels

  9. looks like such lovely celebrations- looking gorgeous as always em xxxx

    1. Aww thanks K Brig, I miss you....Skype soon please? xx

  10. Looks gorgeous Emily! How cute are your brother and his GF as a couple? looks like a lovely day. The cake looks incredible too.

    We should have a meet up in Exeter with a night out too - there's so many of us with connections down there!

    Katie <3

    1. Thanks Katie! I know...Ridiculously cute aren't they?! Another meet up would be fabulous- I'm thinking a Christmas meet up somewhere? xx

  11. I am so hungry after seeing all those food photo's haha! And that cake, sweet lord! You look lovely as well, but the fooood!
    Sometimes I wish I went to a more 'classic' uni like Exeter, it looks like such a proper real university experience!

    1. Thanks Anne! To be honest, any experience is what you make of it! Just go out and enjoy university while it lasts! xx

  12. What a lovely celebration! I'm now hungry! xx


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