Club 40

I had a significant birthday last weekend. I say with absolute certainty that, in the past, when I planned how I might celebrate my first four decades on the planet, I never imagined that the celebrations would take place against the background of a global pandemic, with a national lockdown meaning I was only allowed to leave the house for certain prescribed reasons and was banned from seeing anyone outside my own household.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I like to go big with birthdays. For my 30th, for example, I had cocktails and dinner out with at least three different groups of friends, and a weekend with my parents for a big family celebration, and a romantic weekend in Paris with my husband. None of which are legal in February 2021. I must admit that prior to my birthday I was feeling a bit blue about it all. In the overall scheme of what people have been through over the last year, obviously a compromised birthday doesn’t really register, and I knew that, but I still felt a bit…flat.

I needn’t have worried. My wonderful family and friends, particularly my husband and eldest daughter, pulled out all the stops and then some, and ensured that I had the most special and memorable day I could have hoped for.

Homemade (by daughter) cinnamon buns for breakfast, eaten in a beautifully decorated living room with an almost overwhelming pile of presents. Constant knocking on the door as local friends or delivery people dropped off thoughtful gifts. A birthday greetings episode of my favourite podcast, All About Agatha, commissioned especially for me. Afternoon tea on FaceTime with my parents, complete with homemade (by daughter) scones and an epic quadruple layer coffee and chocolate cake, also homemade by daughter. I would say I am now really reaping the rewards of all those kitchen carnage sessions teaching a small sticky-fingered girl to bake! A video in which all my family and friends pondered which fictional character I most reminded them of. (Elizabeth Bennett was the most popular, but there were significant minorities for Jo March, Hermione Granger and Mrs Weasley!). Champagne and party food with an ABBA and 1990s playlist. Presents which included a trip to Greenway in spring 2022, a personalised rose-gold bracelet, a homemade voucher for a spa-at-home day which my daughter created herself (I will get a head massage, my favourite meal cooked and a hot bath with a glass of wine brought to me while I soak!) and an amazing array of books, flowers, chocolate, wine and stationery from people who know that these are a few of my favourite things. Zoom drinks with my besties.

I still can’t wait to see my parents and my brother and my sister-in-law and my friends and have some long over-due hugs, but I honestly couldn’t have had a nicer 40th birthday under any circumstances.

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