Birthday Club

Having done a couple of Secret Santas this year, I came up with the idea that it might be nice to do a similar sort of thing for birthdays. I know people’s birthdays are a little more spread throughout the year, but I think it could still work!

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I think the easiest way to make this work is to ask people to sign up, and to partner them with another person. You buy a small selection of gifts for that person (based on some information they give you about themselves), and post them off, ready to open on their birthday. I would say that a reasonable amount to spend is £10-£12, before postage.

So, if you would like to join in, please email me with the following information:

  • Full name and address
  • Birthday (including year if you are happy to disclose your age!)
  • Likes and dislikes (including allergies)
  • If you’re willing to post outside of the UK (we may not have any international participants, but it’s open to anyone who wants to join in!)

I will then pair people up and let you know who you are buying for! I’m going to put a closing date on this of 30th December, in the hope that nobody who signs up has a birthday in the first couple of days of January. If you do, but you’d still like to play, you may have to accept a slightly belated present!

I will also endeavour to send a little reminder a couple of weeks before the birthday of the person you are buying for, just in case anyone is as disorganised as I usually am!

34 Before 34 ~ The Results

Yesterday I turned 34, and as such, the deadline for my birthday challenge has now come and gone. It’s most unlike me to be rounding things up so soon after my birthday, but in all honesty, it’s not going to take too long – I did very badly!

In all the time I’ve been doing birthday lists (34 Before 34 is my eighth list!), I’ve always done badly, never ever ticking off even as many as half. It gets harder every year, because obviously I have to add another item, and I’ve gone from 28 when I started, to 35 on my next list. But making the list and trying to tick things off is almost as much fun as actually doing them (I say this every year), so despite my failure each year, as long as I blog, I’ll be making a birthday list!

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There are a couple of ticked off items that haven’t had their own blog post, as I just didn’t get around to it! One is Knit a Blanket; something I actually ticked off months and months ago, in March. Back then my niece was expecting the little baby that we now know and love as Peggie, and I decided to knit her a blanket for her nursery. I was really pleased with how it turned out – the chevron pattern is lovely and I loved the colours that I chose!

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Another one I haven’t written about yet is Make my bedroom walls look pretty – and I am not sure that I have quite achieved it to my own satisfaction, but it’s so close that I’m ticking it off! I have a poster that I bought from one of those photo apps (I can’t remember which one) of some Instagram photos – until Peggie was born it had a photo of just about every member of my family, plus most friends and their offspring. I’ve also got a mirror in my bedroom that is adorned by various bits and pieces, photos, patches, and other things I love. And then, of course, I have a signed Movie Doctors posters taking pride of place on the wall – it’s genuinely one of my most prized possessions! I also have a Harry Potter print that I received from Janet in last year’s Thrifty Swap and although it’s perched on a stack of records, it’s not on the wall yet. It will be soon though – my walls are a work in progress!

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I ticked off Go to Liverpool in August, when I headed up there for a weekend. I really loved the city, and I’m so glad that this was one of the few that I did tick off from my list, because it’s a fairly big one. I have also ticked off Try yoga, even though it was pretty much just a couple of days before I let it slip again.

Start a scrapbook/journal/diary is only really something that I’ve been able to tick off recently, and it’s my favourite thing currently – it’s exactly what I want it to be and it’s not often I can say that about something creative in my life! Get another tattoo was another thing that could so easily have slipped past without being ticked off – it took me years to get the first one and then no time at all to get the second one. My Mary Poppins tattoo has faded somewhat since this photo was taken, but I still love it!

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Another one that I ticked off some time ago but only blogged about last week was Go to a theme park – I went to Thorpe Park in June with my friends and had a lovely time!

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Finally, I did Have a driving lesson, in fact I had several, but I’m on a break from learning at the moment, due to issues with my instructor. This break has gone on for too long, I need to pull my finger out! And as I mentioned, I ticked off Have afternoon tea earlier in the year when my sisters and I went out with my niece tea and cake in lieu of a baby shower, when she was expecting the beautiful Peggie.

So that’s that – I managed a paltry nine! My best achievement is 12, back during the heady days of 31 Before 31 – I wonder if I’ll ever beat it! My plans for 35 Before 35 are already taking shape, and I’m hoping to have the full list up by the end of next week, so I can get started on them straight away. Thinking of 35 things is a challenge, so if you have any ideas, let me know!

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Birthday Number 33

I had a birthday last week. I’m still a little sad that it’s over, because I just love my birthday so much. It’s not about the presents, or the fuss, it’s just about the feeling that you get on your birthday that you get on no other day of the year. I have dubbed it the special birthday feeling, because I have a way with words.

I dubbed the week surrounding last Thursday my birthday week. I’m not usually so precious, but the truth was that I got up to a lot of fun things between 7th and 15th November! A few of them are 33 Before 33 things that I wanted to get ticked off before the deadline, and as such they will have separate posts shortly. But here are just a few of the things I got up to.

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  • I got a piercing (post to follow)
  • I went to the fireworks display at Alexandra Palace with Hannah; at only £6 I think it was a bit of a bargain, and it was a really long display, and totally worth the journey into London.
  • I went to my niece’s 6th birthday party; she’s currently undergoing an incredible Spongebob Squarepants obsession, and the whole party was themed as such! She dressed as Spongebob himself, encouraged her friends to wear yellow, and had crab patty cakes. All rather fun.
  • I went to the Lord Mayor’s Show in London on Saturday morning with my sister and her family. We’ve been going for years and it was the 800th anniversary this year – amazing to think something has been going for that long!
  • No big deal, but I met Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo at their Movie Doctors event. There’s a blog post to follow here too.
  • I had a birthday! This is a photo of me that I really, really like, wearing a present that my friend Laura bought me – it’s a necklace that says ‘Practically Perfect in Every Way’ in case you can’t see it.
  • On the evening of my birthday, I went for something to eat with some lovely ladies from work. I’m really grateful to this little lot for making my birthday special and full of laughter.
  • On the day that we went to London to see the Movie Doctors, Hannah and I also went on a little boat trip on the Thames. It was freezing cold, but good fun, and I took quite a lot of photos, including this one of Tower Bridge.

In all the excitement, I sort of forgot that I had turned a year older. My age means relatively little to me; I keep waiting for the year when I’m going to freak out about getting another year older, but it hasn’t come yet. I’m 33 now, and the only thing that bothers me about it is that it’s an odd number, and I much prefer even numbers!

32 Before 32 ~ Do something awesome for my birthday

For the last couple of years, I have bemoaned the fact that I have been in bed early, watching a film, on my birthday. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this; I certainly harbour no desire to be ‘out out’, drinking, dancing or anything like that. But the last couple of years have left me feeling sad, and I didn’t want to feel that way this year. As it was, I was fully planning on counting the Ward Thomas/The Shires gig as my ‘do something awesome for my birthday’, because it was the night before, and it really was awesome. But that wouldn’t have solved the problem of having something fun to do on the night of my birthday; luckily my sister invited me to dinner with her and her wife, and my dad, and we went out for food and drinks and had a lovely time.

The only photographic evidence I have of our evening is a dodgy selfie that I managed to cut most of my sister out of!

Luckily I am now the proud owner of a Selfie Stick (or a derivative thereof), courtesy of Hannah, so bad selfies are a thing of the past. Although, it took some setting up – because I didn’t notice the switch on the bottom, I had a little trouble.

I don’t care that I look like a total idiot in most of these (though my hair looks great in that last shot!), it makes me laugh! Fourteen photos that show that while I can name an awful lot of capital cities, I can be slightly lacking in the common sense department from time to time. I got it working in the end though.

Christmas selfies are going to be amazing.

I was at work for my birthday, which is not something that has happened for a few years. I have no problem with being at work on my birthday – it’s nice to spend the day with people, and I got a card (with the best message evs in it), and a bottle of wine, and I went to the pub for lunch with my work faves. I also made some vegan, gluten-free cakes. It was my first foray into the world of specialty-dietary-requirement baking, and it seemed to go OK. I can’t say that I don’t notice a difference with gluten-free flour (in the taste, rather than the baking itself), because I do, but they weren’t bad.

So all in all, with some lovely presents, lovely company, and tasty food, I had a good birthday. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with me!

32. Do something awesome for my birthday

Parlour Cafe – Creeksea

For months now, I’ve been hearing all about the Parlour Cafe in Creeksea, a tiny village near to where I live. It has been all over my Facebook feed from friends who have visited and said how delightful it is. I’ve been meaning to go, to check out what all the fuss was about, and then my cousin invited me to her birthday lunch, being held there, so I thought I’d write a quick post about how fabulous it is, even though I didn’t take as many photographs as I should have for a blog post!

Creeksea is located really near to Burnham-on-Crouch (it’s practically indistinguishable on the map), and the Parlour Cafe itself is located at Creeksea Place Barns. It’s in really pretty surroundings, tucked away in the countryside, and going on a really sunny day really helped to highlight how lovely it is.

 

The grounds are vast, so there is plenty of space for children to play, with plenty for them to do, including a table tennis table! Inside, the decor is lovely, with everything done in a distressed, vintage kind of way, and it just feels really homely and warm. As nice as it was to spend a sunny summer afternoon in there, I’m looking forward to going back when it’s cold and having a hot chocolate!

This time around, I had a chocolate milkshake, and very tasty it was too!

I love the map on the wall; if you are from somewhere a bit less local than me, you can take a flag and stick it in the map, and if you are from a country without a flag in it, you get a free coffee! As you can see, people have already visited from some far-flung places, including Iraq and Thailand!

A photo of the birthday girl and me – she’s also called Jane! She has certainly had a very exciting birthday week, she went for dinner at La Gavroche and met Michel Roux Jr himself!

In short, the Parlour Cafe is my new favourite haunt. I have plans to take all my friends there! They have a lovely food menu for breakfast, lunch and snacks (I can confirm that the chilli is delicious, and the wide selection of cakes that I sampled are divine!), and obviously a wide range of drinks to choose from. If you’re ever in east Essex, or find yourself on the banks of the River Crouch, you should definitely pay a visit to the Parlour Cafe!