Posts Tagged ‘Birthday’

Getting Old

Monday, September 7th, 2015

After running 42 kilometres I then had a birthday party. I wasn’t sure about whether or not my local bar, The Nic, would be an appropriate venue or if it would even be open, but it turned out to be perfect. From 3.30pm until around 6pm, my friends and I essentially had the place to ourselves!

Every time I leave a country I am reminded of how lucky I am to have such awesome friends and family. I had an unexpectedly large turn out to my party and despite it being a very random selection of people, everyone seemed to get along. There were no bar fights so I count that as a successful birthday party.

The post-marathon tiredness hit me at around 6pm as I lay down on a bench seat next to my friend Ellice who proceeded to stroke my hair as I nodded off. Good times! Wild party. Any shindig that ends in me having a head massage is a winner in my books.

My actual birthday was on Tuesday and it crept up on me quite suddenly. I didn’t find the ‘turning 30’ thing as scary as I could have, mostly because I have declared that 30 is the new 20. The fact that I am heading off on yet another adventure and starting a new life direction means I don’t have much choice than accept that I’m not being a typical 30 year old. No mortgages, white picket fences or weddings are on my radar. Instead I am going to become a student again.

birthday card

My brother knows how to choose a birthday card.

*Small aside* The flight attendants have just handed out bags of sweetened popcorn to everyone on the plane and it sounds like the start of a film. Packets are rustling and there’s the crunch and chomp of popped corn between teeth. Pity it is coated in caramel and a bit soggy. Mmm… plane food.

Anyway, good birthday times were had – I started my day with a massage in the hope to alleviate some of the pain from the marathon. It wasn’t quite the ‘dolphin sounds’ relaxation session that I was hoping for and more of an intense pummelling but my muscles thanked me for it afterwards. I then had coffee and cake with Dad and Eva before meeting my friends for lunch in the park.

Dinner was at the Beaufort Street Merchant where we were served by a charming waiter who sounded like Jamie Oliver. The food was excellent – cauliflower and lentils followed by a delightfully rich chocolate mousse with peanut butter ice cream. Somewhat unfortunately all of the desserts were covered with exceptionally teeth-sticking toffee. We all ended the meal trying to discretely remove chunks of sugar from our teeth with our fingers. Classy!

In this soft candle light, the wrinkles are far less defined.

In this soft candle light, the wrinkles are far less defined.

A Parcel in the Post

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

This morning a mixture of disrupted sleep, general grumpiness, a touch of homesickness, and an extreme lack of desire to go to work meant that I was sitting on my couch at 10.45am hoping coffee and a dark chocolate digestive would bring me out of my funk. It wasn’t working. Then out of nowhere, completely unexpectedly, catching me off guard and unaware, came the piercing shriek of the door buzzer and the postman announcing he had a package for me that was too big to fit in my letter box. But my recent stingy spending habits have meant that I haven’t ordered anything online for months. This could only mean one thing – SURPRISE PARCEL ALERT!

I ran downstairs, made small chat with the friendly postman (he didn’t look anything like Postman Pat weirdly) and then dashed back to my apartment and coffee. The handwriting was clearly that of my best friend, Gill, and her request for my address around the time of my birthday meant only one thing – SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PRESENT!

Birthday present

It’s a present!

And wow. What a present. Inside was a card with tear-inducing words and two pieces of Dinosaur Designs brilliance. Not only were they beautiful and from my favourite Australian jewellery designers, they fit my hand and wrist perfectly and they complimented the jewellery and outfit that I was already wearing that day. Gillian is a GENIUS. Or she just knows me well.

Dinosaur design jewellery

Oh it’s lovely.

Perhaps it is bad that I need to receive amazing gifts in the mail to be reminded of this, but every now and then I become aware of how lucky I am to have friends and family members all over the world who continue to think and care about me despite my nomadic lifestyle. Sometimes the distances seem immeasurably far and I dream of the day when teleporters become available and I can simply transport myself to the other side of the world for a hug. But that’s not how life works and they are still working on that technology. But it has reminded me of how important it is to make small gestures to tell people that you love them and are thinking about them. So on that soppy note – thank you, Gill, for knowing me so well, and for bringing me out of today’s funk. I am wearing my new bangle and ring with the necklace my mum surprised me with when I was living in Paris. Three items of “I am thinking about you.” I’m smiling now.

The 29th Year That Was

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

My birthday has been and gone and I realised I haven’t had time to ‘think and reflect’ on the year that was. And we all know I love a good reflection! So let’s do it – in some sort of random point form!

  • This time last year I was in Croatia with my best friend, Gill. Good times were had, great food was eaten. I am now Personally-Elected-Faux-Aunty-Jess to her beautiful daughter, Stephanie. Apparently babies can happen in a year.
  • I worked at the Co-Operative as an IT Analyst, helping people with their IT issues. Then I was laid off due to slight economic issues at the Co-Op.
  • I had a rather gross case of conjunctivitis. That was less of a highlight.
  • I went to Wales a few times.
  • I went to Scotland and saw the Edinburgh Festival and Loch Ness.
  • Christmas happened. Ate lots. That’s about it.
  • Spent New Year’s dancing in my brother’s lounge room and playing Celebrity Heads.
  • Climbed a big(ish) hill in the Lake District.
  • Went to London once or twice.
  • Explored lots of really cool places within a 2 hour drive of Manchester.
  • Saw gravy wrestling, worm charming and chicken racing.
  • Moved apartment and started sharing a house for the first time in my life. My housemate is AWESOME.
  • Am currently dating a man who once sold burritos. He hasn’t made me a burrito yet so the verdict is still out.
  • Started writing for Yelp and have since received lots of AMAZING FREE FOOD AND DRINK. Best writing decision ever.
  • Started working full-time in The Classroom and now Zaum is a fully-fledged and somewhat profitable copywriting business (contact me for all of your wordy needs.)
  • Went to a conference in York. I felt very professional about that.
  • Attended a couple of weddings.
  • Met lots of cool people and made lots of great new friends.
  • Grew cos lettuce.
  • Didn’t poison myself, fall off any high places or break any bones. That’s a successful year, right there!
  • Oh yeh, I ran a marathon and a half marathon.
  • Went to Paris. That was fun.
  • Learnt that networking is good for you.
  • Ate a seriously large amount of food and managed to not get fat.
  • Had multiple picnics next to things on top of hills.
  • Generally survived another year without doing anything that wrong.

It has been a year of less travel than my previous years, mostly due to travel requiring money and me not having much of that. But as a result, I have managed to settle more into life in Manchester and have built myself a very cosy nest with friends, family, work, food and fun. And as the time on my visa slowly ticks away, I become less and less inclined to pack up my stuff and move yet again. So if anyone wishes to donate £200,000 to the “Keep Jess in England” fund and/or marry me, that would be GREAT! Until then, stay tuned for more exciting adventures in the World of Jess.

Super Mega Fun Birthday Crazy Times!

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

I am now officially closer to being old. Luckily my inner 12-year old lives on and she was particularly disappointed this morning that my birthday has been and gone. Why does time speed up on birthdays? The injustice.

Yesterday was my 29th birthday and my lovely boss, Myself, gave me the day off work to pursue the pleasures of being the Birthday Girl. I am particularly good at being a Birthday Girl and greatly annoy everyone around me by constantly reminding them of my elitism. Luckily it is only for 24 hours (if you don’t include the count down period and the week-long extended celebrations I like to undertake.).

Sir Pubert Gladstone was my elected chaperone and slave for the day and what a day it was! I slept in! Amazing. Breakfast and present opening involved delicious homemade muesli from Dad, stewed damsons from my friend Hannah, and opening a little white box containing one of the best looking black resin and pyrite rings that I have ever seen in my life. Pubert had clearly picked up on my previous blog-inserted hints and had sourced a ring from one of my favourite local jewellery designers, Jade Mellor. It is a truly beautiful object and it is sitting proudly on my hand as I type this. Fabulous work, Jade, and thank you, Pubert.

Designed and made by Jade Mellor

Designed and made by Jade Mellor

After completing a few errands, Sir Pubert took me for a weirdly timed meal (at 11.30 it was neither morning tea nor lunch) at Teacup where I had my first piece of cake for the day. Slightly dry but still quite tasty, this pear and almond cake sat nicely in my birthday belly.

Pear and almond cake from Teacup

Pear and almond cake from Teacup

Then there was Skype and present opening time with the family back home. I am becoming very experienced at not having my family at my birthdays, however no matter how frequently it happens or how old I get, it is still hard to not get a hug from my Mum, Dad and bro on the Most Important Day of the Year.

My family in electronic form.

My family in electronic form.

So to cheer me up, Sir Pubert and I decided to expand our minds by visiting the Museum of Science and Industry for the Hadron Collider exhibition. I had won two tickets to see the exhibit so was looking forward to learning about particles and Higgs Bosons and what exactly happens in that giant doughnut. To be honest, it was a little disappointing. We entered not really understanding much about what goes on in the collider and we left with just as much confusion. At no point do they really explain what the Higgs Boson is, despite it being a fairly significant finding within the whole collider-building-thing. I learnt a lot about how the collider works but I did spend most of the visit with an “I don’t understand…” frown on my face. Any additional wrinkles on my forehead are due to this confusion and not old age. So if anyone would like to explain Higgs Boson particles to me, please do.

Whoa, technology.

Whoa, technology.

With our tired brains we headed to the twenty-third floor of Manchester’s tallest (and essentially only) skyscraper to the Hilton hotel’s Cloud 23 bar. This swanky, overpriced and poorly decorated bar offers some great views over Manchester and the surrounding countryside and I had been wanting to come since moving to Manchester. The scattered cloud yet relatively clear sky produced some excellent views and Sir Pubert and I slowly drank our expensive (yet tasty) cocktails while staring out the window. It was Monday night and the bar was practically empty, so my Cloud 23 experience was better than what I had been told by some friends who had been before. Definitely a great place to watch the sun set on my birthday.

Goodbye, sun.

Goodbye, sun.

But the day didn’t finish there; MORE FOOD was needed so Pubert and I went to one of the reasons I moved to Manchester – Australasia. I love this restaurant. The decor is stylish but not trashy, the staff are friendly and know what they’re doing, and the food is just damn good. We shared salmon and black rice sushi, yellowfin tuna, goats cheese with beetroot, and seared teriyaki beef. Oh and the boy wanted chips.

Seriously tasty yellow fin tuna with sushi rice and just enough chilli

Seriously tasty yellow fin tuna with sushi rice and just enough chilli

Salmon wrapped in black rice

Salmon wrapped in black rice

Beef.

Beef.

Cheese of goat.

Cheese of goat.

But even the chips were the best deep-fried pieces of potato that I had ever had. It was well crafted, beautiful and delicious food and it made me very happy. What made me ecstatic was the chocolate soufflé with chocolate sauce and raspberry sorbet that I had for dessert. It was sadly a little undercooked and therefore a bit eggy, but it was rich, gooey and choc-tastic. The raspberry sorbet added the perfect amount of tang, while the tiny pile of vanilla salt added absolutely nothing.

Hello chocolate soufflé

Hello chocolate soufflé

It was a seriously good day and I really was sad when it all came to an end. Now I have to wait another 364 days until I can do it all again. I wonder where in the world I will be next year and who will be coming to my 30th birthday party…

Surprise Birthday Wrap

Friday, August 29th, 2014

My birthday Two-Or-So-Weeks have begun in the form of delicious food. My friend and fellow Classroomer, Alam, surprised me with a halloumi and falafel wrap and a piece of carrot cake from the Veggie Kitchen at the Manchester Markets. Alam is always teasing me with his delicious cheesy wraps and so, to celebrate my birth, he went and bought me one. It may not be his Audi R8, but in my world a cheesy, chickpea filled wrap with a slab of cake is WAY better. Thanks, Alam!

Mmmm… birthday wrap...

Mmmm… birthday wrap…

Mmm… birthday carrot cake...

Mmm… birthday carrot cake…

 

Count Down #29

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

I appear to have forgotten to mention that the most important day of the year is fast approaching. There are only four sleeps until my birthday! WOO! As per usual, my inner child is feeling excited; about as excited as my outer adult was about this free beer at the latest Yelp event.

Photo credit: Lucas Smith and his Yelp camera

Photo credit: Lucas Smith and his Yelp camera

32 Days of Summer Fun

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Today is 1 August. A culmination of there being exactly one month until my birthday; it being a rainy, drizzle and depressing day despite being summer; and the fact that I don’t have any writing work on at the moment and am therefore looking for things to keep my mind occupied, has resulted in me having the greatest brain wave since my 108 Challenges in 108 Days. For the month of August I will celebrate all things that are good with daily hits of Summer Fun. This fun can transpire in many forms, be it food based, activity based, friend based or other (I’m keeping it open to interpretation.). This month of fun will finish with the funnest of fun days EVER – aka My Birthday. YES.

And so it begins.

Day One.

It’s raining today. My two weeks worth of writing work have dried up. It is quiet in the office and I have to walk home in Manchester Drizzle. Woo. So to keep myself and my co-workers in cheerful dispositions, I bought us Kinder Happy Hippos. You can’t beat a bit of cheap kiddies’ chocolate.

Happy Hippo!

Happy Hippo!

I shall call him Harry.

I shall call him Harry.

To be honest, Harry doesn’t look that happy. I would say he’s more ‘anxious’ or ‘concerned’. But he sure brought joy to our worlds! Cheers, Harry.

Walking Up High in Wales

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

I have said this before, but I love the fact that I can get in a car, drive west-ish for about an hour and find myself in Wales. I can cross a border and be in another country where the people speak a different language, have funny accents and are generally more relaxed than the English. I take any opportunity to pop over the Welsh border and so when Sir Pubert Gladstone’s birthday arrived I decided to organise a Magical Mystery Birthday Tour of Secrets and Surprises. This involved Sir Pubert, his car, my excellent GPS navigation skills and Thomas Telford’s magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (if you can pronounce that, you win ten points and a thumbs up from me.). The day before the mystery tour, I frantically searched Google maps for an interesting ‘thing’ for us to visit. It had to be worth driving to, preferably free, and within a short drive of a good pub with a ploughman’s lunch. As soon as I discovered Tom’s water bridge, read that it is the highest aqueduct in Britain and that people who are scared of heights (aka Sir Pubert) may not enjoy it, I decided I had found a winner. Everyone needs a challenge on their birthday.

Thankfully the weather was on our side with sunshine, blue skies and a few big fluffy clouds. I don’t think walking across a raised water source in the rain and wind would have been very pleasant. The aqueduct was very impressive – a long raised canal crossing over a river valley. Built between 1785 and 1805, it is remarkable that it continues to function today. I do wonder why it seemed like a good idea to suspend a canal 126 feet in the air, but it has made for a very impressive structure.

It's a canal. In the air. Amazing.

It’s a canal. In the air. Amazing.

Amazing views from the aqueduct

Amazing views from the aqueduct

A fantastic structure.

A fantastic structure.

After we had crossed the aqueduct we headed to Llangollen, a beautiful little town that is clearly a popular spot for visitors on a Saturday afternoon. After spending 30 minutes trying to find parking, we made it to The Corn Mill – a lovely river side pub where we managed to score an outdoor table in the sunshine.

Riverside views at The Corn Mill

Riverside views at The Corn Mill

Sir Pubert had been wanting a ploughman’s platter for sometime so my pub search had involved scouring menus in search of a plate with cheese and bread. Sadly it wasn’t the greatest ploughman’s as it could have done with five times more cheese so we are now on the hunt for the WORLD’S GREATEST PLOUGHMAN’S. If you know where it is, please let me know. 

Ploughman's platter

Ploughman’s platter

A wander back through the town, supposedly Welsh ice-cream and then into the car and home again in time for me to catch a train to Sheffield. I went from Manchester to Wales to Manchester to Sheffield in 8 hours. I saw plenty of green rolling hills and sheep that day and it was the best Magical Mystery Birthday Tour of Secrets and Surprises that I have ever been on. Ever.

 

Birthday Pie

Friday, August 30th, 2013

I wish to officially announce that I am one of the luckiest people in the world and that I am friends with some of the greatest, coolest, best-looking and down right bonza people EVER. Last night I was reminded of this fact when my friend, Pooja, invited me to her house for dinner. Pooja had spent the day saving lives, performing surgery and puncturing people with scalpels and needles and yet still managed to get home and whip me up a SUPER SPECIAL SURPRISE-FILLED BIRTHDAY DINNER!

This three-course menu consisted of home-made beef and mushroom BIRTHDAY PIES served with sweet potato chips and salad.

Birthday pie!

Birthday pie!

This was then followed by TWO dessert courses! I know a friend is a real friend when they feed me two desserts. The first round – a banana BIRTHDAY CAKE adorned with a significant number and cats in candle form.

Birthday cake!

Birthday cake!

The second, two flavours of ice cream, strawberries and meringue. Pooja also bought a bottle of something pink, fizzy and containing indistinguishable ingredients that when combined had created a potentially dangerous drink that just tasted like cordial.

We sat by her window and had views out over the Manchester ship canal while discussing the highs and lows of getting old. We’ve now decided that 38 is the new 28 which was the new 18. So we still have another ten years to go before we have to become serious adults. It was a great night. On top of all of this, Pooja bought me a vintage red Parker Pen from 1964 – the perfect instrument for a writer who is slightly obsessed with red. A major thank you to Pooja for looking after me and being my surrogate sister. I still think we could be identical twins, if only we looked more alike.

The older you get, the more impressive the fire you can create on top of your birthday cake.

The older you get, the more impressive the fire you can create on top of your birthday cake.

Delayed Count Down

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The last few weeks have been full of self reflection as my six months in Manchester came along and my 28th birthday looms. Since moving to Manchester nothing has been happening quite as planned and my life appears to have exploded into a million pieces of “Huh?” Most of these have been exciting and fun and I have found myself doing something that I have never been able to do before – I, Jessica Davies, have gone with the flow. It’s a MIRACLE. Lots of good things have come from this flow taking and many, many odd moments where reflections with wine, ice cream and my friend Pooja have been required. However, usually the final outcomes have been furrowed brows, shrugs of shoulders and, “Well… the world is a strange, strange place.” Let’s see what happens next.

A result of all of these oddities has been my lack of focus on the passage of time. Usually I am very aware of the date and how many days, hours and minutes there are until my favourite day of the year – My Birthday. This year it has snuck up on me, camouflaged behind work, life and fun. On Sunday it will be my 28th birthday and it is finally a year that I share my day with my Dad. I was born on Fathers’ Day and this year my birthday falls on the Australian celebration of the men who gave us their genetics (large thighs and a bulbous nose.) I have been looking forward to this year for many years – the last time it happened was 2002 and stupid leap years and Olympic Games have made me have to wait ten years.

The past month I have slipped into that oh-woe-I’m-getting-old-mode that many people experience as they question how they are possibly turning that age – what happened to the previous years? Where did they go? Do I have wrinkles? Why are my knees hurting so much? I think this has been fuelled by my current job working with young and innocent 19 year olds and my customers asking me why a 27 year old is still travelling and working as a waitress instead of developing a career, getting married and popping out kids. I just smile and bring them a burger with cheese in response.

However, a good friend of mine gave me a virtual slap via email the other day, suggesting that perhaps my late-20s and all of my 30s will be some of the most exciting, most challenging, most creative, and most rewarding years of my life and they will result in the biggest changes and developments for me. As I read her words and felt her “Snap out of it!” slap in the face, I realised she was correct. Considering the last ten years of my life have moved me from being a shy, homebound, unadventurous 18 year old who thought going to bed at 10.30pm was rebellious to a free, single young woman living in foreign countries, learning new languages and talking to random strangers because they might turn into friends (don’t worry Mum), who knows what will happen in the next ten. I am far, far away from a career, a husband and 2.5 children but that was largely through choice and my personal belief that I want more than a mortgage in my life. Sure some sort of understanding of what I want to do with my life would be really, really helpful and would result in a few less panic-fuelled crying sessions, but generally speaking I wouldn’t change anything that I have done in the last ten years.

On Saturday I am getting on a plane and flying to Split where I am going to meet up with my best friend who I haven’t seen in one and a half years. I am going to spend my birthday in 30+ degrees eating good food, swimming in the ocean and enjoying the good things in life. And I’ll celebrate with my Dad via the wonders of Skype.

A good year.

A good year.