My brother is officially 18! I flew down to London to surprise him for his birthday. Unbeknownst to him, my mum and I had been concocting a plan since early March to get me down from Stirling. I was on the fence about it because it was so close to the exam period, but once the timetable was released and I saw I’d still have enough time to prepare for my Animal Behaviour exam, I was in.

Once it was all confirmed, it was the hardest thing to keep quiet. I couldn’t help but tease him by asking what the plans were for his birthday (which I obviously knew) and telling him that his present would arrive the day before his 18th (me!).

By the time I was due to make my way back to my hometown, I was giddy. My excitement thankfully made the long trip from campus to Stirling, from Stirling to Glasgow, from Glasgow to the airport, from the airport to Heathrow, and from Heathrow to home a lot more bearable!

This is the part where I wax lyrical about the benefits of airline loyalty programmes. Thanks to all my travel last year, I had an extremely healthy number of air miles saved up with British Airways. I managed to get a return flight to Heathrow from Glasgow for just £35! The alternative of getting to London via train would have cost me over £100 and taken over 6 hours. No thank you.

Jamie was (thankfully!) pleased to see me! I definitely distracted him from important revision but I think he thought I was worth it, especially since he said he had given up hope that I would be around for his 18th because I didn’t come down for the Easter break.

The plans for the big day involved my uncle (left in picture) coming down from Sunderland to surprise him (which in turn was a surprise for me too!) and us all heading into central to the Hawksmoor Seven Dials for a fancy steak dinner (after running up the stairs in Covent Garden station – huge mistake). I’m not a huge fan of red meat, and much less steaks, but oh my god. It’s just as well that restaurant is pricey or I’d have coronary heart disease and be the size of a house.

My parents gave him a lovely watch and we also presented him with a booklet full of pictures and papers from each year of his life, right back to when he was born. My decidedly less sophisticated and sentimental presents were saved for when we got home. At the very least, the Hawksmoor didn’t seem like the place that would truly appreciate a Portal-themed cake mix.

I had one day after that to frantically study in the morning and slip out to see friends in the late afternoon before I was packing my bags to get back to Scotland for exams. The journey back takes a lot longer when you aren’t hyped up on adrenaline and longer still when you realise the trains and buses aren’t running as often because it’s Sunday. Ugh.

But of course it was all worth enduring to celebrate this little cutie patootie coming of age! Happy birthday, Jamie!

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