I’ve been a bit busy recently, turning 30.
Luckily my birthday came hot on the heels of the double Jubilee bank holiday, so S and I decided to take the rest of that week and the following week off too, and have a fortnight of nice birthday-related and general summery things.
It’s a shame the weather didn’t get the memo about it being June. But hey, two weeks off from work is always nice, even if it was spent being slightly damp around the edges every time we ventured outdoors.
We started off with a trip to the zoo.
As a perk of his current job, S gets free entry and his guests get half price tickets, so with our friend J we went up there on the Jubilee Monday to hang out with some wildlife.
I have mixed feelings about zoos, but Bristol has a strong track record of conservation and breeding programmes, so any misgivings about cage sizes for some of the animals is offset by the work they’re doing to build up numbers of endangered species.
We met red pandas, Asian lions, giant fruitbats and a very cute otter. The zoo also has a “meet the lemurs” area, which is where we saw this sad litte fellow.
We found out later from the keeper that he’s a new male to the troupe, and hasn’t been fully accepted yet. Look at his wistful expression as he gazed on the two grooming lemurs, who completely ignored him.
To make himself feel better, he wrapped his tail around his body, like a furry in-built comfort blanket. This has to be one of the saddest things I’ve seen.
Luckily the other animals seemed happier.
Although the gorilla is clearly lost in thought, a la Rodin.
In the meerkat enclosure there is a place where you can pop up, like an oversized meerkat yourself. It was designed for children, but I managed to squeeze myself in!
I don’t think the meerkat was very impressed though. Maybe he was thinking about car insurance?
We then decamped to Brighton for a couple of days, as my German friend B, who’s a teacher, was there on a school trip, and it was a great opportunity to hang out in the evenings once her responsibilities for her pupils’ linguistic and cultural education had ended. B’s birthday is also the day after mine which meant we could have an early celebration together.
S had rented us an apartment through Air BnB, a yoga studio in the basement of a house, which meant it was one giant room with a tiny kitchen and bathroom off to one side. As well as a bed, we also had lots of floor cushions, yoga mats, incense, more Buddhas than you could shake a stick at and an entire mirror wall.
The kitchen was too small for a cooker but, after initially thinking there wasn’t one, we found a weird electric oven/hob combo on the floor, next to the bed. This did put a temporary dampener on my plans to make moussaka but dammit, I had the ingredients and a craving for Greek food, so I refused to let this stop me. Let’s just say that cooking (an edible) moussaka from the floor, with no counter space and no decent knives, was one of the greatest achievements of my twenties.
While B was shepherding unwilling German teenagers around windy clifftops and historic towns, S and I hung out in the Laines and on the pier.
As I’ve said before, I really like Brighton, and it was great to spend more time there, even if the wind was howling and the rain drizzling for most of the trip.
When we got back, S had organised me a “surprise” barbecue to celebrate the big 3-0. I say “surprise” since I knew it was happening, although I didn’t know who was coming. Every time someone knocked at the door it was a bit This is Your Life! My brother was the biggest surprise – I thought he was still in LA, so to see him in Bristol was lovely.
After consuming a LOT of Pimms, the evening ended with us singing along to (I’ve Had) The Time of my Life. I think that means a good time was had by all!
I was thoroughly spoilt and received an amazing range of cards and gifts, including four bunches of beautiful flowers.
This little cat is a gift from my brother, all the way from Mexico, where he and his girlfriend have spent the last six months.
5 of my friends clubbed together to buy me a seriously thoughtful gift – a signed, first edition of one of my favourite books, Possession.
S bought me a Kindle, which was equally amazing and thoughtful. I love the juxtaposition of the two gifts – both book related, but so different.
So I am now a fully paid up member of the thirty club, and it’s not too bad at all. It’s nice to be in the same decade as S again, and I’m really looking forward to what version 3.0 of my life will bring. And what with our trip and a new job when I get back, the rest of this year is already shaping up as a good ‘un.