I have been very neglectful on the blogging front over the last few weeks, mainly due to birthday activities but also due to a few other things. I hadn’t felt like writing much due to a mishap I had with my car – no one was hurt but I felt very grumpy with myself for it. Then the Manchester bombing happened, and I really didn’t think anyone would be at all interested in my witterings.
However, I have decided to do a little round up of the last couple of weeks, not least because I have some nice photos. It’s going to be a long one …
Firstly I will tackle the car incident. I drive a Mini Cooper Sport and I love it; I liken it to a small Batmobile. I bought it for my birthday last year and had managed to keep it in near pristine condition. A couple of weeks ago, I needed to go into Birmingham to get my mum’s birthday present. I would normally get the bus so I don’t have to deal with astronomical car parking prices or the many lunatic city centre drivers. However, it was raining torrentially and so I decided at the last minute to drive in – how I lived to regret that decision.
I nipped in, did my shopping and all was well until I managed to reverse out of my parking space and pin the side of my car up against a pillar. I then had to decide if I wanted to damage the front or the side of the car in order to manoeuvre out of my predicament. This was the end result:
I was gutted and now my car has been in the Mini body shop for a week, hopefully being restored to her former glory. It did amuse me to find that everyone at the bodyshop, plus most people I know and even the man I spoke to at my insurance company have all had similar altercations with pillars in car parks.
Anyway, onwards and upwards. Following my Mini ‘adventure’ I had a lovely week as it was my 40th birthday. It’s also my mum’s birthday two days before mine, so we always have a lot of festivities. From a nice family lunch to an afternoon matinee of ‘The Wedding Singer’ at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre on my Mum’s birthday (though, in all honesty, we didn’t think it was very good) we had a great few days.
On my actual birthday I had chosen to have a really quiet day at home. It was boiling hot so I spent the day in shorts and a t-shirt, opening beautiful gifts, eating lovely food – cake for breakfast, seafood antipasti and Champagne for lunch! – and doing loads of sorting and beauty preparation for the following day when I was having a party.
Halfway through the afternoon I took delivery of a surprise present from a friend; it turned out to be a life-size cardboard cutout of my idol, Joan Collins. She now lives in the lounge and we are getting on very well.
Then on Saturday it was time to party. I’d thought long and hard about what I wanted to do to celebrate my 40th. I had a big party with a ‘disco’ (really showing my age there) for my 35th and I felt like I wanted something more intimate to mark my entry into a new decade. As I’ve mentioned before, my thirties were full of loss, grief, pain and the towers of admin that seem to follow in the wake of the loss of a loved one. It’s taken time but I have rebuilt myself and created a life I love, I feel very lucky to have that privilege. One of the things that has been key in that stage of moving on has been friendships, both old and new, with an amazing group of women. I decided I wanted to hold a beautiful dinner party for all of those friends in a private dining room, with great music, gorgeous food, classy decorations, Champagne and lots of laughter.
I picked The Highfield Gastropub in Edgbaston for the party venue, and opted to stay overnight next door at the stunning Highfield Townhouse boutique hotel – both owned and run by the same people. I was delighted with both venues and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others.
I arrived at the hotel after dropping off decorations at the pub. There was definitely a bit of a wow moment as I opened the door to my room:
I then spent a few lovely hours getting ready, starting with what really did feel like a swim in the roll top bath in the bedroom. I watched Mission Impossible on the swivelable TV from my lagoon of Chanel No5 scented bubbles, whilst sipping on a can of Pimm’s. I think that paints quite a classy picture of me, n’est-ce pas?
A few of my friends were also staying overnight, so I was looking forward to getting over to The Highfield with them and the free welcome drink voucher that had been left in my room.
I then inflated some balloons to decorate the dining room (see pic at top of post). I’d bought a disposable cannister of Helium and, once I’d work out how to manipulate the nozzle to inflate, I spent a joyous 20 mins on that task. I am now going to be finding any excuse I can to inflate helium balloons, as I’d forgotten just how happy a large, metallic, floating balloon can make a person.
I will do a separate post on my party make-up, because I was really, really impressed with a new foundation I’d bought for the occasion and this post is already epic. I forgot to take any selfies early on but, obviously, once I’d had a couple of drinks I was going for it like a Kardashian. This is me in a drunken and dishevelled state, but my foundation is magic. I would normally look like a tomato with heatstroke at this stage of the game, but I merely look ‘glowing’:
Anyway, once I’d primped and preened and faffed about with false eyelashes, it was suddenly time to make the short walk over to The Highfield in time to greet everyone. The pub has two private dining rooms which can be hired separately or as one giant space. I had hired the larger of the two rooms and the staff had done a great job of putting out the decorations and making it look lovely.
Once people started to arrive there was much drinking and chatting and laughing and general merriment, it was wonderful. The food was amazing, the Highfield staff couldn’t do enough for us and everything went smoothly. I had the most wonderful time with almost all of my favourite people in one room together. I feel incredibly lucky to have these people in my life. We even managed a small disco up the corner after the food and present opening. My 80s, 90s and Motown-heavy Spotify playlist is here.
Five hours later I was amazed I was still standing as I managed to put away an array of cocktails, gin, Champagne and an Espresso Martini to top it all off. I am normally a three drink maximum person, so it must have been some sort of birthday superpower.
After all the food came the birthday cake. My lovely friend Bec had arranged it all as a surprise and she couldn’t have got it more right:
As the night drew to an end, those of us staying overnight tipsily made our way back to the hotel and spent another hour chatting and availing ourselves of the very welcome Honesty Bar for the Highfield Townhouse guests. At 1am I staggered off to bed, only to have to call the pub as the keycode to my room wouldn’t work. This was swiftly and smilingly sorted out and I happily dove into the ginormous bed, replaying the night in my head and smiling to myself before zonking out.
Breakfast, back over at the pub, is included in your room price and so we reconvened the next morning to refuel with coffee and full Englishes all round. We sat outside and it was a very gentle way to ease any hangovers (not least mine).
Then it was all over and I drove home in my tiny hire car, crammed to the roof with helium balloons, sequins, presents and hair styling tools. The whole birthday weekend had been exactly what I’d wanted and even more wonderful than I’d hoped. Nothing beats spending time with great friends (though that Mission Impossible bubble bath was outstanding).
Sorry it’s such a long post. Thank you if you’ve read to the end!
I’ll be back soon to tell you about the party make-up and the foundation of dreams. I think I will also do a post on finding nice party decorations, as I put many hours into the search and it might be helpful to share my reserach.