Radio Aire presenter Caroline Verdon plans birthday surprise for husband’s 40th - but things don’t go to plan

editorial image
Have your say

In April it was my husband’s 40th birthday and so for the last year I’ve been squirrelling away money here and there so that I could surprise him and take him to New York for a few days.

I booked it in January, organised my Mum to come and look after our three-year-old and was feeling pretty darn confident I’d be winning the wife of the year award. My husband has never been to New York and has always wanted to, so I knew that a long childfree weekend there was something he would absolutely love.

Plus he is a man who hates fuss when it comes to himself. He doesn’t like being the centre of attention and so was adamant he didn’t want a party or a get together or anything of the sort to mark the occasion and made me promise that I wouldn’t secretly organise one. This way there were no balloons or streamers but we would still get to mark the day. Perfect right?

Wrong. About two weeks after I booked it, we found out we were pregnant which was brilliant news even if it did mean the cocktails would be for one - but then about two weeks before we were due to leave my blood pressure went weird and all out of sync and I was advised not to fly. Holiday cancelled. Big 40th birthday present wrecked. Four months on and we’re still wrangling with the insurance company to try and get our money back.

As well as being disappointing it meant that I had to come up with another idea. I’d suggested a quiet dinner with friends but he hated that idea and was steadfast in his view that he didn’t want to do anything traditionally celebratory. I would have just cooked a dinner at home for family - only his Mum had been waiting for spinal surgery and, as fate would have it, they booked her in on his actual birthday and so that meant everyone would be at the hospital.

Luckily I’d had a present idea that I felt lived up to 40th expectations. In the late 90s and early 00s my husband spent a lot of his summers watching The Levellers at various gigs and festivals. Turns out every year they host their own festival in Devon. It’s called the Beautiful Days festival and it’s on in a couple of weeks time. It’s quite folky, has a spa on site and has a brilliant children’s/family area where you can borrow books, watch children’s theatre, learn circus skills and all sorts. My husband also loves camping so this was utter perfection. That award was coming back into my reach, I could be the wife of the year after all! I quickly booked a family set of tickets as well as one for our caravan Frank Camp Hard. This was going to be brilliant. I mean, what could go wrong?

Preeclampsia. That’s what could go wrong! This week I’ve spent another couple of days at St James’ hospital with their never faltering team of fantastic medics and support workers as I seem to have developed a mild case of preeclampsia. The good news is that it has been picked up so early by the team. Touch wood, it is currently under control but there is no telling if it will stay that way, which means I am now having to annoy the staff at the hospital twice a week as I come in for tests.

It also means that no way is my husband happy for us to spend a week in a field in the middle of Devon. So that’s the second holiday/40th birthday present cancelled! We’ve still got the time off booked and we’ve already promised our three-year-old we’re going camping. We can’t go back on that so instead we’re pitching a tent in the garden for him and Rob, we’re going to take the downloaded Levellers album to Roundhay Park and pretend we’re at a festival and then on the way home pop into TGI Fridays at the White Rose because that’s just like going to New York right?! Happy Birthday!