Fact of the Week

Forced rhubarb in season now. Don't miss out!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Autumn bliss

Autumn has been an unexpected delight. Even November, which is usually the bearer of driving rain, biting wind and the gloomy descent to Christmas, has given way to gloriously fine, mild, sunny days. It has stopped me in my tracks. And made it impossible to leave the house without my camera, yet imperative to leave the house and breathe in great gulps of autumn, knowing that these warm, sunny days cannot last.

London has looked its best in the brilliant November sunshine. I have jumped at the opportunity provided by a few quieter weekends to cycle between Brockley and Brockwell, Nunhead and Westminster, Peckham and Pall Mall. Liberated from November's typically cold grasp, I have pedalled, the breeze whistling around my ears, bags jangling from my handlebars, enjoying the time to stop, to photograph, to have a coffee, enjoying London.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Coming of age

On Wednesday I was thirty.

I am not usually a birthday person. I do not know why. Maybe it is something to do with it being 9 November and always raining. Maybe it is because I am invariably at work (if my birthday would have otherwise been on a Saturday it is unfailingly a leap year). Maybe the variety of calamities which have befallen me on my birthday over the years have knocked the shine of the whole birthday concept.

This one I was dreading more than most. Why is it that birthdays with a 0 on the end induce a state of introspection, a checking of one's achievements (or not) against the rose tinted vision of one's life dreamt up as a little girl (I too was going to be married with babies, a dog and living in a wisteria clad cottage by the time I reached the grand old age of thirty) (writing it in full helpfully avoids the need for the nought).

The anticipation was worse than the reality. I actually had a really good day thanks to some wonderful friends, a naughty little sister who excelled herself, and things happening, both related and unrelated to my birthday, which made my day.

1. I came in to work to an email from a client thanking me for some work I had done. A grateful client? That almost never happens (but it is oh so nice when it does).

2. A colleague (different department, different floor) complimented me, out of the blue, on the dress I was wearing. Her exact words were 'you rock that dress'. If I needed an antidote to worrying about looking old, that was it.

3. My naughty little sister sent me flowers at work. Isn't receiving flowers just the most amazing thing? They made my eyes open wide and my heart soar. And these weren't any old flowers: they were pink ranunculus with ornamental cabbages - green with purple hearts and purple veining - antique roses the most delicate and elegant shade of lilac you have ever seen, giant pale green hydrangeas and sprigs of rosemary and eucalyptus that filled my office with the most amazing smell. It made everyone who walked past my office, stop and come in and bury their noses in the flowers. The thoughtfulness of sending the flowers and of choosing such exquisitely apt flowers to send completely overwhelmed me.

4. After work I went for tapas with four of the most wonderful friends a girl could wish for. We sipped on tall glasses of cava and shared plates of smoked beef, pork belly stuffed with butternut squash, prawns with chilli and garlic, padron peppers, jamon, tomato bread and razor clams with chorizo and mint. We laughed a lot.

It made me think that birthdays are not so bad, even thirtieth birthdays.