Turning forty

A few months ago I was feeling a little glum about turning forty. But my life and my perspective has changed so much and I have started this year in a very different place. I am exactly where I want to be and I have a lot to be thankful for. There’s not much I’d change about my life really. And I have a lot of exciting things starting to appear on the horizon and I just have to be patient wait for them to come closer. And of course having a birthday in February means that half of my most longstanding friends have turned forty already so I’ve had a while to acclimatise to it vicariously. And anyway, nothing really changes does it? I didn’t wake up covered in scales or anything.

We have had no television since we moved into our flat and are currently working our way through the Sex & the City box set for the third time (*love*) and are almost at the end. It occurred to me that I’ve been watched Carrie and the girls since I was 25 years old and through the years it has served as some kind of touchstone for me. At first I looked up to them, hoping for some of their glamour when I reached my thirties. Having no thoughts  or children or marriage, they were important role models for me and I think it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking that series was. And watching the final episodes this week felt like I was wrapping up my thirties at the same time as them. It’s so nice to let go of all the uncertainty and doubts. Entering into my forties (I still feel a little sick when I write that) I have a pretty clear idea of what I want from life and steps are in place to achieve it all. And that’s a pretty good place to be on a big birthday I think.


(first image appropriated from Tina)

So this was, acccording to Richard, my ‘austerity birthday’, what with the house purchase and the looming wedding. But actually it turned out to be anything but and I had an blast. It started off on Monday night with a complementary blow dry and manicure at Aveda in High Holborn (thank you Aveda!), followed by dinner and drinks at the Wolseley with my family. That was fun and oh so achingly elegant, I’ve wanted to go there for forever. They gave me birthday macaroons.

On Tuesday I awoke to a roaring gas fire (if that’s not an impossibility) and pancakes with sugar and lemon. The table was laid with presents from all of my favourite shops and a jug of jaunty daffodils. We played some clandestine Mario Kart WII which felt naughty and fun to do that during a weekday daytime without the kids.

We went to meet our wedding photographer in the lovely but shambolic Greenberry Cafe in Regents Park Road. We had a chat, planned our wedding day, and then took a walk around Primrose Hill and had some photos taken which was hugely fun and I can’t wait to see them. We got to know our area a little better. It snowed a bit, and we were frozen to the bone by the time we got home.

Then, to my surprise, we stayed the night at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park. I had a two hour massage. Two hours! That was fun. But painful. I returned to my room to another cake and some flowers from my soon-to-be-family.

And then we dined at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The menu is pulled together from historical cookery books and it’s kinda hard work as you can’t really just eat your food, you have to study it and try to understand it as all the tastes are so unfamiliar. I had Rice and Flesh, which was basically lambs tail and saffron risotto. This recipe is from 1390 if you can believe that. Then I had A Made Dish of Parmesan which was basically a posh scotch egg, dating from the restoration, 1660. For pudding we both had Tipsy Cake (1810), which is probably the best name for a cake ever. It was a baked brioche with spit roasted pineapple and was delicoussssssss. The best pudding I’ve had since the dutch baby at Spuntino. The kitchen is in view and there’s a whole wall of spit roasting pineapples lazily turning where lesser restaurants would have chickens.

So if this is what being forty is about, it’s not so bad. Tuesday was rather wonderful.

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  1. What a birthday, gosh you had so much to enjoy, you must have been on cloud 9 all day!
    Now, do show us, what’s in the Annina Vogel box ?
    Happy 40th Birthday lovely x

  2. Hi Annie,

    I turn 40 next week also and so highly empathise! Thankfully I’m mostly resigned to the reality of the impending milestone at this stage – I’m very much aware of making the most of a period in my life that marks the end of youth and consequently the beginning of a greater clarity & maturity. And on the plus side, I have already used this as a brilliant excuse to buy myself a number of birthday presents..

    Your birthday sounds absolutely perfect – I hope I achieve something similarly delightful!

    -Selina xx
    Selina recently posted..Venetian mirror shopping madness!My Profile

  3. Happy birthday again, lovely!! Sounds like you had a truly wonderful day, and how convenient that it was your day off, too. You got deservedly spoiled rotten (The Mandarin Oriental! flowers! fancy meals! massage!) that I’m going to be taking notes and hoping for something even a third as wonderful for my 40th. I can’t believe your 40, I’d honestly had you pegged at 30 when we first met. 40 is going to be a good year for you, what with your impending nuptials, forrays into your interior design business, and generally being fabulous! I officially challenge you to a game of Mario Kart whenever we meet up, even though you’ll surely beat me. Here’s to the next 40! xoxox

    OH, and just because it was your birthday doesn’t mean I can let you off the hook: there’s only one ‘o’ in macaron. ;)
    Erin recently posted..Happy Valentine’s Day!My Profile

    • I’d be careful of challenging me to Mario Kart, I’m extremely good and well practiced at it!
      Thank you sweetie. 40 is a very long way away for you! s

  4. I’m glad you had a wonderful day. Birthdays always give me pause. Especially this last one. Ugh! I like to control things and unfortunately this growing older thing I can’t control. I like the getting wiser bit but that’s about it!
    You have a lot of great things happening and sounds like you’re right where you’re supposed to be! xo Teri
    Teri recently posted..Weekend Memo-FridayMy Profile

    • Hey Teri. I’m not entirely thrilled about looking older I must admit :(
      Onwards and upwards though, there’s nothing we can do about it I suppose!

  5. glad you had such a lovely day annie! like you i grew up with those ladies & have watched that box set a lot (though i always skip the first one or two seasons as i hated the whole speak-to-camera thing they had going on)… & you’re right, having characters on a series you could relate to (especially ones that didn’t have the prospect of marriage or children to define them) was perhaps more liberating than we give them credit for… it seemed to validate the whole prospect of navigating relatively unchartered territory for some of us gals! & now here’s to redefining what it means to be in our 40s & starting yet another chapter which is already filled with such promise!
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  6. Sounds like a fabulous birthday treat. Did anyone try the meat fruit at Dinner? I had it when I went for there once and it was delicious, though I wasn’t too impressed with the main course. I had the same dessert and it was great. A night in Mandarin Oriental sounds amazing. Great way to turn 40. Happy birthday :) x
    geraldine recently posted..Valentine’s day tour of Keat’s houseMy Profile

    • No I didn’t have that but I nearly did, I’ve just googled that and I wish I had now!
      Thank you Geraldine x

  7. It is rather funny and weird to me that a lot of you still watch SATC…. I haven’t watched it since the last episode aired on our TVs. I suppose I was nearing my 40’s then. It was definitely groundbreaking and I did love it!

    Turning 40 was a highlight for me. I really embraced the notion that women come into their own and this has definitely been my best decade so far. Youth is much overrated (IMHO). I’m glad you are more content, more hopefull and no doubt your life will be far more enriched from now on. Keep chipping away at it. It only gets better:-)

    Happy to hear you’ve been to The Wolseley (always a favourite of mine) and Richard pulled out another corker with the MO &.Heston’s…

    Welcome to the 40’s club….enjoy the ride, it’s truly fascinating if you allow it to show you!!! xx
    tina recently posted..cooper & wolfMy Profile

  8. Hello Bird. I read this yesterday and didn’t have a moment to write a thoughtful comment. I have some things to say! First off, good on you for having such a celebratory day. Really, really good on you. What a wonderful year you have ahead of you, nothing but blue skies ahead. I’ll be 43 this year, so I’m just a couple ahead of you. Oddly, I found turning 35 much harder. I really looked forward to 40. I think for our parents’ generation, 40 was a less fun milestone. I wanted to celebrate it, not fear it, so I spent some time thinking about exactly what I wanted. My birthday was on a Friday, so we ended up with a backyard party (champagne fountain!) with finger sandwiches and a fondant cake. Neel had to leave town the next day for a conference, but I felt so celebrated that night with the torches lit and all my friends around me. It was just how I wanted to kick off this part of my life.

    And you’re kicking off a new part of your life too, I think, with such wonderful things ahead. A marriage and a new career. All good stuff. So exciting. Like I said, nothing but blue skies ahead. XOXO

  9. I think you rang in your 40’s in the very best way – Surrounded by people who love you and know exactly how to bring a smile to your face. I can’t think of a better way to start a new decade of life. I turned 40 in much the same way, in Oahu. On that trip, a friend asked me, “If you could do anything for your 40th birthday, what would you do?” I replied, “It doesn’t get much better than this.” It sounds as though you can say much the same about your day. Your outlook on entering this new decade and future plans (getting married and new career, eee!) are infectious. Excited for you, Annie. Truly. xo
    Theresa recently posted..{happy heart day}My Profile

    • Thank you honey. Wow Oahu is pretty special place to have spent it. I would love to go there it must be amazing. x

  10. Great to hear how the special day went -it sounds awesome! Sorry we weren’t there to send lots of messages and love but I was sending it from Oz and thinking about you. I love your blog and I am thrilled you have managed to get your Tuesdays to do your own stuff.

  11. Your birthday sounds absolutely magical! I too turned 40 just a few weeks ago and while I feel like I spent all of Age 39 fretting and worrying about it, now that it’s here, I’ve realised it’s not actually so bad! lol I hate getting older, I hate seeing lines where I had none just a few years before but I’m proud of where I am in my life and what the next decade might bring. I actually have no desire to be 25 again ;) Sounds like you have a fantastic year ahead of you! All the very best xxx
    Redlilocks {Swoon Worthy} recently posted..Pin It to Win It!: Velvet Love Tub CompetitionMy Profile

  12. Belated Happy Birthday sweetie. I’m glad you had such a wonderful time! Anything up to 45 is just great -enjoy. Ashamed to say I’m a bit mid-life crisisey now-too near to 50 for my liking, but hey ho…..
    Hope its a wonderful year for you with many wonderful projects- you deserve it xxx
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  13. Hey Annie. I reach that milestone later this year and I am dreading it so much. It feels like a noose getting ready to tighten around my neck. It’s wonderful to hear about your day and what a day indeed! Even better, to hear you are content and happy having passed that milestone is fantastic.

    I’m reconnecting with your blog having read Richard Huntington’s blog over on colourliving. And this was a lovely blog piece to read.

    So a belated happy birthday to you :-)

    Gerard x

    • Thanks Gerard, you have nothing to fear, it’s not so bad.
      Funnily enough I was reconnecting with your blog earlier today too :)

  14. Happy birthday, Annie!! I didn’t realize we’re the same age. For some reason, I kept thinking you’re at least 5 years younger than I. Perhaps it was the lack of fine lines judging from the photos of you :) *sigh* I know what you mean. My friends, bless them, are far more excited about my birthday (not till summer, thank goodness) and have been egging me to do something rather grand. Yours just sounds so incredible. What a way to start off your 40s!
    p.s. I kept telling myself that I’ll have to catch up with you over coffee one day but months flew past. You must be so hectic right now organizing the wedding etc. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to meet up sometime this year. Arghhhh…… 40!!!!!
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  15. Wow, it sounds like you were thoroughly spoilt and surrounded by loved ones, what a fabulous way to spend your birthday.

    I have a feeling this year will be very special for you and I can’t wait to hear all about it :) xx

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