The birthday itself though, was lovely.
I hadn’t put much thought into what I wanted to do, probably because I knew I didn’t really want to do anything. Something definitely, just not anything. No party, no drinking, no gang of friends. Thoughts of Nan and last year’s birthday made things not solemn but quiet and so all I really wanted to do was mark the day with my Lovely Boy doing something, well, lovely.
In the end the plan for day came courtesy of LB, who suggested a trip to Brighton. Perfect. My love of Brighton is well documented and I couldn’t think of anything nicer than a day out of London and by the seaside, even if the weather forecast was distinctly lacking in celebration.
One too many gin and tonics the night before having birthday drinks with my fellow Gemini colleagues meant 32 began with a slightly dusty coating but home-cooked lemon curd muffins for breakfast, with requisite birthday candle improved the situation beyond words. That and the steady stream of phone calls and text messages from near and afar. Lovely Boy, in addition to baked goods, also gave me a guidebook to Istanbul…. Dates tbc but we’re off for a long weekend later in the year so that is something most definitely to get excited about. The last time Lovely Boy gave me a holiday for a birthday present it was also to Turkey and that trip was memorable for so many reasons…
Brighton is no Turkish delight but it’s a town very dear to my heart and even with the gale force winds that not so much guided but more rudely shoved us about it was a truly delightful day.
First stop was brunch in the North Laines at this very cute little establishment called Farm. All the produce is locally sourced and the décor is pared-back farm shack chic with beautiful worn wooden tables and iron wrought chairs, the walls covered in vintage posters categorising best-pick vegetables by season. It was a heartening start to the day and from here we spent a couple of hours wandering around the Lanes and North Laines looking for what I call treasure and Lovely Boy would, if it wasn’t my birthday, call junk.
From here we ambled toward the beach, obstinately ignoring the gale force winds as we sat on the “sand” in the sun enjoying peanut butter M&Ms and a big bag of cherries. The seagulls were out in full force and it was incredible actually to watch them appear like a swirling malevolent cloud storm over a couple of punters who were naïve enough to think they could actually eat their fish and vinegar-drenched chips on the beach uninterrupted.
We took an obligatory stroll along the Palace Pier but the wind made it pretty unpleasant. And let’s not talk about what it did to my hair. There was a wedding party having their pictures taken and more than a handful of hens and bucks parties staggering about Brighton generally too. In the course of our 10 hours by the seaside I saw men dressed respectively as Princess Leia, a penis and a frog. There’s a bad joke in there somewhere…
Returning back to the Lanes to pick up a few little things I’d spotted earlier we then headed for a drink before dinner. We chanced upon a bar that had a compelling cocktail list and a décor that would have been fabulous if it hadn’t been so faux. Why have wallpapered bookshelves when you can have book-filled bookshelves, you know? They did have some rather cool bar stools though.
For dinner we had planned to go to this incredible little fish restaurant that we’d both read about. Because they didn’t take bookings we’d gone past at midday to ask what time we should arrive in order to get a table. The very friendly woman at the door said seven would be fine, and if not, it might be a half hour in which case we could have a drink somewhere and come back. Fabulous. Except that when we turned up at 6.50 there was a rude, unapologetic man at the door who said the next available table was at 10pm. He was arrogant, dismissive and a proper git – none of which helps when you can see empty tables behind you.
It was an incredibly disappointing moment and one that put us in a bit of a collective strop. The tension was broken momentarily though when the aforementioned man-dressed-as-penis sauntered up to Lovely Boy and rubbed his impressive balls against LB’s leg.
In the end we found ourselves another fish restaurant, much more in keeping with the nostalgic English seaside theme of the day. Who needs wax-covered candelabras and lovely old wooden tables when you can have red velvet upholstery and a large mural of the Parisian, Toulouse-Lautrec, gaiety at the ball, look at me drinking champagne in my big hat variety. It would have been a bitter alternative pill to swallow if the food hadn’t been good and the prosecco even better.
The rest of the birthday weekend was perfectly uneventful – and spent mostly eating muffins and watching Friday Night Lights. If I don’t write again for a while ya’ll know why.