Last week I turned twenty-nine, and I can’t quite believe that I have only one year left of my twenties! I have inevitably felt the big ‘Three-Oh’ looming but, as I try to practice presence and mindfulness, I am making the most of this time of life. I feel old enough yet young enough to take on the world, and I have plenty of exciting adventures planned which you will hear about over the coming year.
I was fortunate to celebrate my birthday with friends and family, and had a whole weekend of fun. First up was a mini road trip to Ross on Wye in Herefordshire. Although Ross is only a small market town, we managed to find some treats!
Ross Old Books & Print Shop is a lovely second hand and antiquarian bookshop where my friends and I managed to score some good books. I adore these independent, second hand bookshops: the musty smells, the faded spines… They are full of history and hidden treasures, and each book has a secret story of who owned it before. We also found the most wonderful organic store, Field Fayre, which made me wish I could shop there all the time. It was full of organic foods and wine, displayed in a beautiful fashion with wicker baskets, rustic brick and fairy lights. For lunch, I ate the most delectable tomato, apple and basil soup at The Globetrotter Coffee House where you can wash down homemade food with fair trade coffee or speciality teas. And there is a huge world map on the wall for those of you (like me) who are thinking about where you are going next. I recommend checking out all of these places if you are in Ross on Wye.
After lunch, we decided to hell with it! Let’s go to Hay on Wye. For those of you who are somehow unaware, Hay on Wye is the famous ‘town of books’. So, in short, my Mecca. This is the third time I have visited Hay in the last 2 years, and I just love it. It is full of independent shops, most of them vintage book shops. You could spend days perusing all the shelves.
On the way, we spotted a sign that said ‘Arthur’s Stone’. Of course, I had to go and have a look (Arthurian nutter, right here!). But, could we find the stone? No. The signage mysteriously vanished and after negotiating very narrow and steep roads in a somewhat dicey-fashion, and traipsing over a field in my sandals, we had to admit defeat. According to the English Heritage site Arthur’s Stone is a Neolithic burial chamber, and I had a hankering to see it, but alas! that must be saved for a future adventure. After a lovely, but brief, afternoon in Hay we headed home through some beautiful, sunny country. And a delicious and hearty dinner at Basil’s in Kinver topped it off.
The next day, it was party time! I’d set my heart on a hobbit-style tea party: not glitzy or showy, but down to earth with good, wholesome food and good company. I wanted to eat plenty of healthy food, and make my own birthday cake – all of which was a success. I experimented with a gluten and dairy free Victoria sponge with a strawberry-chia jam and fresh fruit. It looked wonderful, and was a hit with everyone. There was nary a crumb left at the end of it! And I really enjoyed adding a few ‘hobbity’ accent decorations, such as this old copper kettle that has been in my family for decades.
The sun was shining, and I had a truly great time. Friends and family really are everything. Being able to say that my family and friendships are brimming with true, kind and good-hearted people makes me very lucky indeed. And this might sound corny, but never was a truer word spoken:
“The love of a family makes life beautiful.”
Whatever shape or form your family takes, be grateful for them. And be grateful for each and every birthday, for they mark another year of your magnificent existence!