Skopje and a birthday celebration

Friday 15 to Monday 18 February

We flew in from Doha and found the taxi we had arranged through We had rented and AirBnB in Skopje, Macedonia which would accommodate the family.

The first evening Bruce and I found dinner at an Eastern European restaurant called Skopski Merak. We both enjoyed the dinner and decided it would be a good place to go with the family on our last night together.

Hayden and Andrea arrived around lunchtime the next day. We had been so impressed with our driver that we had asked him to collect the rest of the family from their flights.

This was the first time we’d seen Andrea since we got the news that she was pregnant. It is so exciting, but unfortunately, she is suffering morning sickness.

We wandered into Plostad Makedonija (Macedonia Square) and the famous Stone Bridge, a delightful sculpture of swimmers in the Vardar River. Skopje is known for the large number of statues that are around the city. The sun was shining and it was much nicer than yesterday when it was grey and colder. We found a café for lunch and returned so that Hayden and Andrea could rest up.

Finally, Evan and Steph arrived from a long haul via Istanbul. Now all the family were together, the last time was for Alex and Sarah’s wedding in December 2017 – a long time ago.

We organised takeaway chicken and salad and baked potatoes in our apartment. An opportunity for lots of chatter. How quickly we pick up again.

Finally it was my birthday – the reason for us all coming together in this corner of the world.

The criteria for meeting up is that it must be in a place we haven’t been before. Now it is true that Bruce and I had both travelled through what is now Macedonia on our way to Greece in the 1970s, but we had both passed through, rather than making it a destination, so we figured it qualified.

We had planned a long lunch on Sunday at the Kamnik Hunters Lodge, just outside the city. Everyone we spoke to said it was an excellent place for a celebration.

Our new friend Gligor has been a great asset picking us all up from the airport, so we asked him to organise two cars to take us to lunch.

I didn’t know that Evan had tracked down a photographer to treat me to a family photo shoot. What a surprise. Nata knew the lodge very well. She and Evan had allowed more than an hour to take a series of family portraits. The time seemed to go very quickly.

We started at the fireplace with family shots and a lot of trophy animals behind us. Some more in the foyer and then outside in the cold.

Did I mention cold? We were here in winter. When we arrived on Friday it was grey but the sun shone on Saturday and for most of our time in Macedonia. But the temperature hovered around -5C to 10C with real feel typically a few degrees cooler.

There were some more shots at the lunch table as we celebrated with champagne, then Nata left us.

It was a big lunch – a selection of starters and champagne.

I had a game stew in a cute ceramic pot. There was birthday cake to finish. We drove back in dusk. What a magical day to celebrate my birthday. I’m looking forward to the pics.