Sunday, October 03, 2010

Do you have access to a panther?

I'm back from being at home in Northern Ireland and have lots of adventures to share with you all. As it was my birthday last week, you're going to be treated to a bumper edition of 'Here's what I've been doing' so of course all of the usual disclaimers for the easily bored apply!
My birthday fell on Saturday last week, but celebrations began on Friday. Nic and I were both up bright and early because he had some errands to do on campus. I went along to keep him company and the jaunt was very pleasant, if not very exciting. We had a few little things to do around the house in the afternoon, packing and cleaning to prepare for our trip home, and getting ready for our night out. It was an uneventful day, but it was just the right way to get ready for my birthday!
I flirted with the idea of getting a new frock to wear on my birthday but decided instead to wear a gorgeous party dress that I've had in my wardrobe for a few years, the Fever Escala dress. I'd only worn it a few times before the zip broke, and I had been too nervous to try replacing it myself. However my confidence as a sewist has increased in the past few months, so I replaced it and put the dress on with my dancing shoes!
Photo taken by the lovely Becky. You can't see it, but I'm wearing my Fever Escala dress and Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragon shoes

All in all, I was very brightly coloured as I paired the dress with my Vivienne Westwood shoes and the beautiful Joules handbag that was my birthday present from Nic. We started the evening with a few cocktails in Wilde's with Becky and Viv. The cocktails were delicious and, with the exception of one very rude waiter, it was a really good way to start the evening. We were a little late for the table that I'd booked at Chico's, but luckily some of my wonderful friends were already there. I was showered with gifts and I am still overwhelmed not only by the generosity of my friends but by their insight and understanding. Every single gift was thoughtfully chosen and perfect for me:

Who's a lucky girl?!
Handbags galore! Of course there's the beautiful Joules Dunscombe bag from Nic. The green and tweed bag came from Becky and the little satchel is vintage Bally, and from my baby sister!
Crafty treats! The beautiful fabric and Simplicity patterns were from Sugar Plum and M. I'm extraordinarily excited by the Colette Chantilly pattern, which came from Lysy and The Scientist and the yarn was a gift from Denise
Pretty things! Perfume from my parents and sister, handmade notebook from Zoe. The gorgeous necklace came from Kate and Rich, and the cute coin purse from Caroline. The pretty rings came from Sugar Plum and M and from Louise as well!
A little bit of culture! The print from To Have and Have Not and the John Wyndham came from darling Tom and the other books from Viv, Sugar Plum and M.
The State Within. It's about spies so I might struggle to follow it, but Tom knows of my love for Sharon Gless! I opened Bang Goes The Knighthood on the morning of my birthday, my surprise present from Nic.
There are a few other lovely things I didn't get pictures of. Lauren surprised me with a beautiful dress, but I'll save that til I wear it. Lysy knitted me a feather-light scarf which I stupidly left in Northen Ireland and which is in the post back to me, and I also received an addition to my collection of Penguin Classics mugs! Seriously though, I was amazed and humbled by the generosity shown to me and I felt incredibly special and loved.
After an enormous meal we took ourselves along to the Somerville to see my birthday in. It was just exactly the way I wanted to spend my birthday - lots of love and laughter with my friends. I want to give a special mention to Lysy, who baked me a delicious birthday cake! In fact, it was the second cake that had been baked for me that week as a few days earlier, Denise had treated me to a beautiful lemon drizzle cake. It was so good that it was something of a shock that I managed to fit into my dress!
We got to bed very late and woke up early on Saturday. I opened my surprise present from Nic and we started my birthday by cuddling in bed while listening to The Divine Comedy. Becky had stayed with us so the three of us took our not-as-hungover-as-we-ought-to-be selves out for a cooked breakfast before heading over to Birmingham to catch our flight. There is nothing at all interesting to say about the airport or the flight, except for that we landed in Dublin in the afternoon and caught the bus into the city centre to meet my parents. Nic and I didn't see much of Dublin this time as we were only there for a few hours, but I did get the chance to pose next to this green post box on O'Connell Bridge:
Strolling through Temple Bar in the evening with Nic and my parents was so much fun. So was the meal we went for in The Alamo. You might think that two Mexican meals in the space of twenty four hours would be a bad idea, but you'd be wrong. It was fantastic, and the ensuing carbohydrate coma meant that I slept for most of the journey home.
We arrived home to be enthusiastically greeted by both dogs, and I found more presents from my parents and sisters. I went to bed feeling exhausted, and a wee bit hungover, and so very happy to be at home. My birthday was just amazing this year. Not just because of all of the beautiful and thoughtful presents, but because of the feeling of being enveloped by love. Once I'd had a few drinks in me I got a bit soppy but it was heartfelt and sincere. I am so grateful for the love and support of my friends. I'm so lucky to know such awesome people!
I also have lots to say about my week at home but I'm going to save that for another post, I think. It's Sunday evening and I have a chocolate bar waiting for me, so I'm away to attend to that.