Yesterday was my birthday, as I may have already mentioned and I have to say it really was the most perfect day in almost every way.
It began with a walk around the local fields in the morning with my tangly terriers, Toby and Jake. En route to the field we met a lovely lady with her friendly labrador. She was over the moon and still basking the warm glow of her daughter’s wedding this weekend. We were both beaming from ear to ear for our respective reasons, had a quick chat about why that was for each of us, and then went on our own, merry ways.
Once at the field we met a new friend, a dog called Amy, with her owner Emma and stopped to chat for a while about the gorgeous weather (which was especially ordered for my birthday, obviously,) and how lucky we are to live in an area of Hampshire with so many green spaces to walk dogs in.
My good friend and dog walking companion soon arrived and we set off to tire both the hounds and our jaw bones out as we walk around the beautiful, local countryside. We laugh and put the world to rights whilst our terriers frolic with each other and run around in the long grass.
Back home again later, I open all my many birthday cards, text messages, emails and presents, before listening to my birthday ansaphone messages. There is a real corker of a happy birthday message on it, being sung to me as a duet and I am trying to decide if I can capture it on camcorder and attach here for you to listen to, but realize that that action may result in me being disowned by a family member. It fits in so wonderfully with the blog post description that I wrote about yesterday, it is as if they read that post and created me the perfect example. (I asked them, they didn’t.) I don’t think they mentioned their names in the message. I’ll decide whether my wicked sense of humour (which I get from my Dad) and my technology skills will allow me to do this anyway. It is so perfect…..it is probably worth the risk. Tee Hee.
There is a knock at the door and I have a surprise delivery of the most beautiful, hand-tied bouquet of flowers from our wonderful local florists, Moutan. My Mother and Father-in-law have sent them to me. They have excelled themselves this time. Just gorgeous and with my favourite flowers in my favourite autumnal colours too. Bliss. I now have two rooms full of cut flowers, plus birthday cake and champagne to drink later. I have such kind and generous friends. Thank you all.
My friend Debbie arrives and it is time for our trip to the fantastic Four Seasons Hotel in Dogmersfield. We are both wearing dresses and heels, a far cry and a nice change from our normal dog walking clothes. The sun is shining and we walk around the lovely grounds and gardens before settling down to High Tea in the light and airy Library. We are sat next to a beautiful, open sash window and there is a soft, gentle breeze as we sample the delights of their new, autumnal sandwich selection whilst looking out over the extensive grounds. We savour each mouthful and as amateur cooks, we try to distinguish the different ingredients and tastes. We each make our own cakes, jams, preserves and chutneys so we delight in trying to work out the delicious unknown ingredient in the cheese sandwich. Our delightful and attentive server, Candice, informs us that it is made from honey and truffles. That is why it tastes so good and is exceedingly delicious!
After we have finished all the sandwiches, we begin on the scones. These have been served with a choice of three toppings plus a large scoop of clotted cream. Our favourite topping is the most delicious lemon curd that we have ever tasted. (I am afraid it unanimously trumps the local Lemon Curd made by my friend Rachel. who has long been our reigning Lemon Curd winner – sorry Rachel!) Closely followed in second place by the scrumptious blackcurrant preserve. As my Dad would say, “the Chef, he has surpassed himself!”. Or herself, as I forgot to ask which gender they were!
By this stage we have drunk several pots of tea (Cassis for Debbie and Imperial Oolong for me.) and are horrified to discover that we are full. There are still five pastries a piece to eat. We split and share a lovely pumpkin and coffee pastry and then, rather embarrassingly, have to ask for the remainder to be boxed up for us to take away with us. They are far too tempting to leave behind.
On our way out another lovely member of staff, Carole, tours us around the Spa facilities and they look fantastic! We decide then and there to come back another time for a ladies Spa day and I have to say I am looking forward to it already. It is like a hidden oasis in Hampshire. I didn’t realize until now that the Spa was there on our doorstep. Fabulous!
My husband arrives home with more cards and surprise presents for me. (Thanks Honey!) I have to cancel our birthday dinner plans as I am still so full from afternoon tea! The usual routine of people knocking at the door and birthday phone calls begins. We head out later for a quick drink and a couple ask if they can sit down near us. It turns out to be Emma, who I met in the field for the first time that morning and her partner. It is a small world. We have a lovely chat with them both and then head home, tired.
It is now 3am. I have been up since 2am when the nearby puppy barked again. I am a light sleeper. My cough is disturbing Richard so I came downstairs to let him get some sleep. He is up in a few hours for work. I didn’t plan to start writing this early, but is something that I can do quietly whilst he sleeps. I am planning to begin adding some photographs when I get over my disturbed sleep pattern. All this prose will be getting boring without some visuals. I have left my phone upstairs, or I would have uploaded some of the images I took on my birthday here and now. I have a lot of images to post and people keep asking me where all the examples of my work are!