weeks since I reached the milestone that was my fortieth birthday, and there's not been a moment free to post anything about it until now. The summary is: I had a fantastic birthday. More specifically...
1. The day itself: freezing cold trip with my parents to see Tyntesfield House, cos that's what ageing forty-year-olds do - go to see National Trust properties, and eat sandwiches in the pouring rain. Seriously, it was an amazing place and I'd recommend it to any similarly ageing friends out there. I was particularly fascinated by their driving principle of keeping everything that the Gibbs family had accumulated over the years, with the upshot that every last not-so-antique jam jar - complete with Hellman's mayonnaise label, or whatever - had to be catalogued. Also pleased to hear that the Gibbs' wealth came from importing bird guano. Insert your own joke here.
2. Excellent prezzies, despite telling people not to spend money. Best surprise: Richard bought me my very own Burgess, a pen drawing of a reclining figure. I'm trying to ignore the fact that my father can only see a monkey's head when he looks at it.
3. Night out with work folk, joint do with a 30-year-old and two leavers, to Byzantium which remains one of my favourite Bristol restaurants.
4. Party at home, for which the weather miraculously improved enabling a relaxed vibe mainly in the garden. The pic shows the morning after the night before...be grateful it isn't one of me at the same time.
After all that - which was stretched out over a week - I hotfooted it to Birmingham's ICC for the week-long annual dermatology conference. Amazing building, it seemed to be comfortably accommodating a jazz festival, a schools music event, and two simultaneous dermatology conferences (one for nurses, one for medics - often we get split into separate venues cos there's so many of us). Birmingham, too, was a bit of a revelation - last time I visited it properly was around 1985, so it's improved a bit! Thursday afternoon was particularly good, I skived from the last couple of lectures to meet up with my Auntie and go shopping. We strolled through a pleasantly warm and sunny city, with 2 beaches, open-air jazz, fountains, shopping-trolley-free canals (still can't believe the 'Birmingham has more canals than Venice' claim, though) and more bars & restaurants than you could shake a stick at.
Finally made it home on Friday in time to prepare for Cafe Church yesterday, on the theme of language and God. My main role was to make bucket loads of cake. Why does so much of my life seem to revolve around cake?
Back to normal life tomorrow, two more weeks of regular work before holidays. We're hoping to hear about a moving date soon, hopefully on our return from sunny (I hope) France. Now, what sort of cakes do they do in France...?