Barbara van Blomestein celebrated her 21st and 80th Birthday at Meikles Hotel

Thank you for being part of my special day at Meikles Hotel in Harare. It was a great privilege to have my 80th birthday celebration at such a prestigious place and especially just after her 100th anniversary. Meikles is a five star hotel and deserves every star. The whole occasion was a wonderful surprise arranged by my dear Lynda and her cohorts sworn to secrecy. They suffered the stresses that go with arranging such a party. My thanks to all involved for making my day so memorable. I was very excited to see that the sculptured lions which graced the front entrance of the original hotel have been preserved as part of the new Meikles

My 21st birthday was as memorable; my dear parents arranged a fancy dinner for family and my friends at the original Meikles Hotel. This building was sadly demolished in the 1970’s. After dinner the party moved on to the nearby Grand Hotel to dance the night away. The Grand was another well-known old colonial hotel, also since been demolished.

Now for my big day in 2016, the first surprise was the arrival of Susan from Cape Town the day before. Lynda set off for an “appointment” “and left me behind at home, she was actually going to the airport.
We skyped Aileen and Crae in Canada that evening, the nearest we could get to having them with us on the day.
The next morning whilst on a walk on the Borrowdale Brooke Golf Estate, the girls casually mentioned taking me to lunch at Meikles Hotel because of the 21st birthday connection. I was under the impression that the main celebration would take place that evening, a performance of “Queen” by a visiting overseas company (another ruse). Meanwhile guests were gathering early that afternoon in a private function room at Meikles Hotel for a special high tea. Much texting was going on behind my back as we drove to town; the girls were making sure everyone was in position. We arrived at the hotel and I was led upstairs along a corridor to a closed door. I heard voices from behind the door and opened it to a sea of faces!

There was much catching up to do. Such a gathering of old friends from my past life; my school days in Harare, my Grahamstown Teacher Training College days, friends from Mutare, my UNISA days, friends of my brother and my daughters. Sadly none of my Canadian family and new friends could be us with us on the great day. No doubt I will make up for it when I get home.
The table was set amongst vases of white and mauve roses and a feast awaited all twenty of us; a lovely array of dainty sandwiches, cream scones, fruit tarts, chocolate mousse and little strawberry cakes had been arranged on three tiered stands. Charming attendants were ready to fill our cups with tea of all sorts.

Speeches followed to the sound of church bells from the Anglican Cathedral of St Mary and All Saints across the square. Not for my benefit but part of a practice run for an organ concert the next day. Susan had some complimentary things to say about me, followed by my short unprepared answer. I wish I had had to time to think about it and would have had more to say about the people present and absent; my beloved parents, Rowland and his family, my dear husband Barry and our amazing and generous children, their spouses and daughters and the many friends who have touched or have been part of my long, eventful and fun filled life here in this wonderful country Zimbabwe and in many other parts of the world. A special thanks to those who gave up their Saturday afternoon to be with the girls and I, to Susan for coming all the way from Cape Town to join me at this wonderful venue. Such an honour to share my day with you. Many thanks again to Lynda and all her helpers for making this happen. I love surprises and the fact I had no Idea of what had been planned for me made it more special. Those there on the day were spared stories I could have told about them had I been more prepared!
Meikles Hotel is very much a part of our heritage. Thanks to Stan Higgins for his informative talk about its, history followed by a tour. Many famous people have stayed here as seen in a gallery of photos. We enjoyed a peak into rooms, special suites and places of interest, herded up and down stairs and elevators like the “Spring Chickens” we think we are! The afternoon ended back in the Balmoral Room for champagne toasts.