Now, I do love a surprise don’t I?
I love organising them. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I am pretty awesome at coming up with ideas for birthday presents and even better at organising SURPRISES. I always do such meaningful things and put so much thought into presents. I spent weeks making a movie with pictures and clips of all our best times together for my cousins wedding complete with 90s Bollywood tracks and cheesy songs galore once. The issue I always have with surprises arises once I have to involve other people. The more people that know, the bigger risk there is of it all going pear shaped. So, this time I thought I would tell minimum number of people to minimise chances of my great surprise going belly up.
The surprise I planned was for my husband’s 25th birthday. Because this was a big birthday, marking his presence on planet earth for a quarter of a century, I felt I should do something special to celebrate the occasion. His birthday was on the 7th of February which was a long holiday weekend for me where I had the Monday and Tuesday off from work and this inspired me to plan a surprise trip. With him living outside of London and me outside of Glasgow it can be really difficult to make time to see one another but of course I couldn’t not see him on such a big birthday. I was mulling over some ideas and thought about a few things such as buying him a new watch or a nice pair of shoes. But then I thought, HE bought me a pair of shoes on my birthday and he already has a watch. Men are just so difficult to buy for? He has every gadget under the sun and doesn’t have a shortage of clothes either. I thought about taking him away on a trip but that wasn’t feasible either because we haven’t had our wedding reception yet. So I thought and I thought. I got nowhere.
But then…AHA! That light bulb moment came to me one day when I was writing out our couples bucket list out into my diary in fancy writing. Yes, I am a sad individual who likes writing things in diaries with metallic gold and silver pens. After our Nikah ceremony (Islamic wedding ceremony), Atteeq and I spent hours one night on Skype creating a joint bucket list. I would recommend all couples do this. It was a task and a half and made us realise so many things about one another. Of course we both have our own personal bucket lists but we thought it would be nice to make one together so we had lots of things to look forward to after we moved in together. It took ages to make because we are both so different and there were things that one wanted to do that the other was too scared to do. This was all me basically. For example, Atteeq wanted to do things like HOLD A TIGER and I can’t even be anywhere near our pet cat, Gus – never mind a tiger. I’m so scared of him I take palpitations if he is anywhere near me so poor Augustus has to be quarantined into my brother Armaan’s room during the hours when I am at home.
How and ever, we made a very realistic bucket list filled with things we both wanted to do together, things that were feasible for both and didn’t involve us having to face fears such as making contact with the cat family members. Amongst this list was one wish that gave me the perfect idea for Atteeq’s 25th birthday.
“Visit Paris together,put a padlock on the Lovelock Bridge and throw away the key in the river together”.
This one was suggested by Atteeq because he had never been to Paris. I have been lots of times because my sister lived there for a year. It is one of my most favourite cities so of course it was a good one to put on the bucket list. I was SO surprised at him adding the Lovelock bridge on to that one because a) I thought he would think that was pathetic and b) I thought he would think that was pathetic. Atteeq is not one for cheesy/romantic gestures such as putting padlocks on bridges. I see things on TV or reading something in books and say “isn’t that so romantic?!” and usually get an expressionless look back with a grunted “yeah”. That’s the majority of guys though right?! They are hardly going to be all singing all dancing about things like LURVVVEEEE are they? Anyway, where was I? So yeah, he suggested it when we put the list together and I was quite surprised because it was totally different to the other things he had put on it but I just thought I wouldn’t push my luck. Part of me still thinks he put it on there because he knew I would love to do that. He’s sweet like that. So as I was writing out this list that was typed on my phone into my diary with a metallic gold pen, I saw the Paris one and thought BINGO!
Yes, you guessed it! I thought to myself, what better present could there be for Atteeq than to start ticking off our bucket list together on his 25th birthday? From then on I started planning. The trip to Paris was approved by mother and father since it was only a day trip and we would be back in the evening. I planned to surprise him by turning up at his house on Friday the 6th of February after work (as this was the night before his birthday), take him to Paris on the Saturday, spend the day together on the Sunday and come home on Monday morning. I made sure that he wasn’t doing anything on his birthday by working away secretly with his sister and also one of my closest friend’s, Ash. I had told him that I was having a night out with best friend Camilla on the Friday night just so he wouldn’t grow suspicious of me not replying to messages etc while I was catching the flight down!
So, on the Friday night he hadn’t a clue about what was going on and was told by his family they were getting a take away in. He went to the gym (he even goes on a Friday night – meanwhile I eat anything calorific I can get my hands on during Friday nights) and came back lazing around. Whilst I was sitting in Starbucks at the airport (he thought I was doing my make up, getting ready for Edinburgh) I asked him what he was up to the next day for his birthday and he said “nothing much, just going to get my beard trimmed in the morning”. Oh flip. I wanted to shout; YOU CAN’T GET YOUR BEARD TRIMMED IN THE MORNING BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO PARIS YOU NUMPTY. But of course, I couldn’t. Instead I replied with a “Oh, really? Why don’t you go just now, saves you going in the morning?”. I got a swift no, I can’t be bothered in reply. Now, of course he could have just gone to Paris with a fuzzy beard but he’s so particular about it that I didn’t want all the moaning and groaning of “wish I had known to get my beard sorted” the following day. So, quick thinking me messaged his brothers and asked them to somehow get him in a barber’s chair without revealing what was going on. My eldest brother in law, God love him is not the best at keeping secrets but he assured me that Atteeq was getting his ‘shape up’ and hadn’t a clue about what was going on. He told him that he was taking him somewhere early morning the following day for his birthday but he wasn’t allowed to tell me or Ash. Subtle.
Couple of hours later and I was standing in Ash’s room with the lights off in my 120mm Louboutin heels unable to breathe in a figure hugging dress waiting for my cue to surprise him. By this point I was starving because all I had eaten that day was SOUP due to the ridiculously tight dress I was wearing. I had raced home after work, quick shower and change later I was on my way to the airport! All I wanted to do was go out and shout SURPRISEEEEEE but alas I had to wait for the right moment. Now just as I was about to head downstairs I heard Atteeq running up the stairs followed by an “I’M HAVING A SHOWER” followed by a slamming of the bathroom door.
By this point I was ready to slice my limbs off because I was tired, hungry and struggling to stand in my daft, high shoes. After his 15 minute shower I was ready to head down when he tried to ENTER Ash’s room to see what was going on. He had obviously cottoned on to the fact that everyone was acting fishy including my dearest brother in law who randomly decided to whip his phone out to film his reaction an hour before the surprise even took place. I’m giggling to myself thinking about the lot of us. What a bunch? Me hiding for about an hour upstairs unable to come down because we couldn’t find matches to light the candles for the cake/Atteeq deciding to take an impromptu shower for no reason/brother in law about to self-combust because he couldn’t keep the secret in any longer. It makes me laugh so much that whenever we try and organise surprises everything goes belly up but that’s what makes it fun eh? We will look back at these things in years to come and laugh. I’m laughing now and it was just a week ago. Atteeq had grown suspicious on the account of the fact that his brother had said there was a surprise involved but when I finally got downstairs, it was clear to see that he hadn’t a clue that I was going to be there on his birthday.
He looked as though he had seen a ghost and after a few seconds said “I thought you were in Edinburgh”. No, you lucky human being. I’m here! Okay I didn’t say that. It honestly was such a relief to just get the first part of the surprise out of the way but we were all on edge just waiting for Adeel (Atteeq’s elder brother) to blurt out that he was going to Paris. After the surprise element had worn down we sat down to eat. Finally, I could consume solid foods again now that he had seen me in my jazzy dress with a flat stomach. At this point I realised that I was extremely overdressed and everyone else was in their loungewear or pyjamas. Who cares, I’m always overdressed! A bit too much on this occasion but oh well, YOLO and all that. After eating, Atteeq cut his cake and we took some pictures. Obviously.
Youngest brother in law Sohail looking like the newest member of One Direction! Husband looking like he's off to the North Pole.
With my eldest brother in law Adeel who drives us all insane but we love him just as much!
DAT BEARD DOE.
Me acting cute for no reason.
Well done to the boys for being good sports and taking pictures in their jammies. The girls weren’t so obliging of course but I love them too! Promise.
I literally look like I’m off to the Oscars whilst the boys looked like they were off to the local gym. Despite all the drama and the surprise nearly being ruined so many times, I still enjoyed myself so much and appreciated everyone doing their wee bit to try and ensure everything ran smoothly!
Finally, it was time for presents! I had spent weeks thinking this through and it all paid off. I wanted to make the present special and didn’t want to just say we were off to Paris so I decided to give Atteeq a series of clues that would eventually lead to the fact that his birthday present was the trip.
I presented him with a red box with a huge bow which sadly I didn’t get any pictures of because I was so busy trying to stay alive in my tight dress upstairs.
Inside the box there were four items that he had to open. Each one would take him one step closer to his actual present!
Item number one was a padlock engraved with our names and the date of his birthday.
He took one look at it and looked confused as though to say “Wow, a padlock – just what I’ve always wanted. Not”. After a few seconds though, the bucket list must have registered in his mind and he said “Ohhhh, I get it! This one’s for the future!” Men eh?
Item number two was my favourite!
I had this card commissioned by illustrator Yaz Raja who I met via Instagram. I had thought up of the idea for the card and Yaz brought it to life through her beautiful art work. I was blown away by her work and Atteeq was too. I will bring you more details about the card and the commission in a future post. On the inside there was the message;
“On your 25th birthday it’s time to start ticking off our bucket list”.
At this point you would obviously think I pretty much gave it away right? Nope, he still didn’t get it.
Item number three came in beautiful packaging!
I knew he had needed a wallet and Aspinal of London do such lovely wallets that it was the perfect gift! Plus, you know I’m a sucker for good packaging. I had put 100 Euros inside the wallet for him to spend in Paris and to give him another clue about the trip. He absolutely loved the wallet and when I asked him to look inside, he saw the Euros and looked very confused. Still, he had no clue about Paris. I mean, I had only given him a padlock with our names engraved on it, a card with us standing in front of the Eiffel Tower painted at the front and a wallet with Euros inside. Why on earth would you get it eh?
Item number four was an envelope with our boarding cards inside. Yeeeeehaaaaaaa.
And so that was my present to my husband for his 25th birthday. It took weeks of planning but it was so worth it seeing the look on his face and how happy he was. The trip was absolutely amazing and we had the best time. But, I will save that for my next post. I wasn’t expecting this one to be so long.
I guess I’ve got my mojo back?
We spent the Sunday with the family and it was so nice getting to spend time with everyone. Atteeq’s eldest sister did my make up, Ash did mehndi on me and we cooked together. Check out her work on Instagram (@mspositivity1) because her mehndi is lovely! Sometimes it’s just nice to have a day in right?
Thank you lovely Sadaf for doing my make up!
Ash's work on youngest sister Husna.
Keep your eyes peeled for my next post where I will be telling you about how to do Paris in a day, the best places to see and of course bringing you my Paris lookbook!
Selfie central in front of the Louvre.
Sorry this one wasn’t really about the fashion. Sometimes, just sometimes I just want to write more about the family so that in years to come my grandchildren can read these posts and think their grandmother was so cool. I’m kinda cool okay?
Love, as always,