Saturday, September 09, 2006

Let the celebrations begin!

I cannot tell you how blissfully happy I am to be back on home soil. It is so wonderful to be surrounded by such history; stripey ploughed fields edged with thick hedgerows; little chocolate box cottages; acres of creamy woolly sheep; small eco-friendly cars in Smartie colours interspersed with sleek speed demons in black and silver; leisurely lunches washed down with jugs of Pimms; Turner sunsets over a Dorset countryside. I love coming back to England at this time of year. This September is a perfect Indian summer with crisp mornings and balmy evenings that turn chilly as the sky explodes in violent orange and vivid purple. The midday sun has been hot enough that on Friday Zara (Bunny), Jay and I had one of those leisurely lunches and as we sprawled on our checked blanket in Victoria Park overlooking the Solent and watched the sailing boats and cargo ships, I drank my champagne and looked up at the washed out blue sky and revelled in the fact that I was firmly on England’s green and pleasant land.

The first week here has been lovely. As I said the weather has been fantastic and my 30th birthday celebration has well and truly begun. I am on my second birthday cake, having had my first birthday celebration with family. Wednesday my second cousin/first cousin once removed (?) Miriam had her graduation from Sparsholt College in Winchester Cathedral and then on Thursday we all congregated at my grandparents in Sixpenny Handley. It was a beautiful day and as is typical of such family gatherings we ate far too much and drank rather too many bottles of wine. It was lovely to see my cousins Miriam and Peter and to meet Peter’s girlfriend Ingrid. Miriam is about to embark on a six month trip to Australia and seeing her excitement made me feel very old as I remembered when I finished college and the thrill of knowing that one has the whole world to explore. Peter is a sous-chef at a posh restaurant in Edinburgh. Ingrid is a lovely French girl and has a wonderfully sexy voice like Edith Piaff. It’s a pleasure hearing her speak! I hadn’t seen Peter since before I left for America as he has been in Amsterdam cooking there and so it was great to catch up with him. In the afternoon Bunny and I took Jay down to my mum’s cottage for his afternoon sleep; we then sat in the garden under the apple tree lapping up the sun and putting the world to rights as we looked out over Richard’s extensive vegetable garden edged by the mortuary at the bottom and then smoky brown harvested fields beyond. Teatime saw us back at my grandparents for birthday cake number 1. My uncle and other cousin turned up soon after with champagne which ended the day rather nicely.

On Friday we enjoyed our picnic and then drove over to Lymington where we caught a boat to the Isle of Wight. Jay absolutely loved this and got a real kick out of all the different types of boats. He particularly liked the ferry boats and the concept that the cars could go over the water via the ferry. Later in the evening we met Kwong and Bunny took us out for super at Café Uno in Lymington where I was thoroughly embarrassed and enjoyed birthday cake number 2. And where apparently I also had some cute biker guy crashing into a plant as he walked passed me and I smiled at him. Whilst smiling back he apparently walked straight into a plant! This I sadly missed but got great pleasure when B told me, at knowing that even as I am freaking out at turning 30 I can still dazzle them with a smile!

I have been tearing up and down the country in my mum’s 1990 VW Beetle convertible, imported from Brazil and brought over from Deutschland by my mum. It’s a bit scary driving it on the motorway as once you hit 70 mph it feels like things are going to start dropping off but the car is incredibly fun around country lanes, with the roof down and wind tangling your hair. Jay adores it as he thinks that we have a real live Herbie. The day we were at my grandparents he thought it was great as Peter and Ingrid were driving an old Mini and then my uncle has my mum’s old Audi TT. These are Jay’s three favourite cars in the world. He was in his ultimate heaven.

Today I picked up Keith from Gatwick airport and then drove the looong drive up to my dad’s in Shropshire. Keith and I are off to Paris on Tuesday and I am very excited. Figured it was the only way to spend my 30th birthday.

And because no entry would be complete without mention of it…Italian Grand Prix at Monza domani. Here’s your chance, Fisi and Alonso to give me a really good birthday present. First and second place would be lovely please.

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