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.