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Happy Birthday Dani!


Celebrating Dani's 40th on Lord Howe Island.

The hospitality business can be hard on families. Weekends, school holidays, public holidays and nights are our busiest times at work. Imagine growing up in a family where your parents went to work all of the time. Some kids just get by, others thrive on the independence and some just forget about what’s ‘normal’ and make up their own rules. The last is Dani. She grew up at Pinetrees and never had a birthday party because her birthday is on New Year’s Eve – our busiest night of the year. Her friends used to celebrate her birthday in March, and in some ways that was good, because it was better than nothing.

Before you feel too bad about a child, then teenager, then adult, never having a birthday party, you should know that every year since about 1985 (at about 9pm on New Year’s Eve) at least 100 people would sing Dani ‘Happy Birthday’. Yes she was in uniform, waiting tables or washing dishes, but hey, some of the people singing were movie stars and politicians. Little wonder she’s still a bit confused.

Fast forward to yesterday, Dani’s 40th birthday, and something very special happened – she had a party. Thanks to a bunch of great island girls, Dani celebrated her 40th with a surprise mid-afternoon garden party complete with champagne, tea and a delicious assortment of chicken sandwiches, quiches, cakes, biscuits, tarts and chocolate. The ‘ladies only’ event could have been mistaken for Melbourne Cup day – they were all absolutely gorgeous. There were presents, stories, hugs, kisses and giggles (and perhaps some book reviews, child behavioural analyses, recipe swaps, dress comparisons and a bit of island gossip). No matter how hard I tried, she wouldn’t tell me any stories about the party, so it seems that what happens at ‘ladies only’ garden parties, stays at ‘ladies only’ garden parties. 

The girls at Kowsie Cottage on Lord Howe Island.Fancy some cakes and tea - Lord Howe Island.

After having the “best birthday ever” – turning 40 (?) – Dani went to work again last night to host our traditional New Year’s Eve Feast for 120 guests and staff. The sunset at the boatshed was stunning and our own girls, Elsie and Pixie, played on the beach in their ballerina dresses. Many of our guests have had New Year’s Eve at Pinetrees more than 10 times and some said it was the best ever. It may have been the Sydney rock oysters, amazing sushi, Lord Howe Island kingfish, perfect spit roasted pig, or the new setting (post renovations), but most likely, it was the champagne and huge spread of desserts. Some things never change. 

Elsie and pixie on New Years Eve on Lord Howe Island.Elsie on lagoon Beach at Lord Howe Island.The sunset at the boatshed on Lord Howe Island.Dessert is always a winner at Pinetrees on Lord Howe Island.

After dinner, our guests and staff walked up the road to the New Year’s bonfire – a dangerous place for those not willing to kiss strangers (and if you’ve got really bad timing, strangers of the same sex) – and then ended up at the Lord Howe Bowlo for a few last drinks on the way home. The stayers went on to Neds Beach to play to bongo drums and watch the sunrise.

Dani, well, she was in bed by 11.15pm – you see, when it’s your birthday, the New Year’s Eve rules don’t apply.

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