Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Big Four Oh... By Kate

So, I've hit forty. Actually, I would like to think I got there in a more decorous fashion, but it probably wouldn't be true. I could say I have started my fifth decade, but that's a bit scary, so I won't.

What a good job I have a thoughtful, loving husband who appointed himself in charge of celebrating the end of decade number four in such a way that I would at times forget the age aspect of the whole affair. The very fact that he is eleven years my junior is helpful in itself - I can now spend one year and one month bragging about having a husband in his twenties while I'm in my forties. I fully intend to do so at every opportunity.

Anyway, back to the birthday weekend. I wasn't very good at suggesting special fortieth-type birthday presents (a hair-brush and a new baby-carrier were the best I could come up with) so Theo decided his main present would consist of persuading my sister to transplant herself temporarily from the far west of Cornwall, her husband and four children and come and stay. What a winner! I would have been knocked sideways if it had been a surprise, but the fact that I discovered the plan ahead of time meant I could enjoy my birthday present even more by luxuriating in some pleasurable anticipation too.

So Bex duly arrived on the Friday evening and I stayed up beyond my customary nine o'clock bed-time (made necessary by my beloved multiple-waking baby daughter) to greet her and clink glasses of Cava.

The next morning I had a surprise extra birthday present from Rosie in the form of a lie-in until 08.00. Seeing as her customary getting up time is between 06.00 and 07.00, it was a princely gift. OK, she still woke up a few times along the way, but I wasn't about to look a gift-horse in the mouth.
More of the Cava was duly consumed in the form of Buck's Fizz with freshly squeezed orange and after a birthday present opening session (thank you cards now being written to the kind donors...) the four of us set off to the small town of Chinchon, about 50km outside Madrid.
There we met up with our friends Bianca, Stephane and Ollie; Kirsty, Juanmi and Emily Grace and Anne. After a stroll around the picturesque streets of Chinchon (famous for its anise spirit, garlic, local wine and buns in the shapes of breasts and testicles...) we settled down on the terraza of a restaurant in the Plaza Mayor and enjoyed a long and leisurely - and rather tasty - lunch. Even the babies were inclined to remain mellow, either napping in their prams, grinning and allowing themselves to be passed around for cuddles or a bit of high jinx in the town's bull-ring.The next day we took Bex on a fast-paced Sunday tour of Madrid, including a second breakfast of churros; the rastro; Picasso's Guernica; cafe-con-leche in Plaza Mayor and finally lunch at a vegetarian restauran in La Latina, along with our pals Jon, David and Nataly.Not surprisingly, we were all exhausted when we got back. Bex was delivered to the airport by Theo (and then had to put up with a delayed flight and an overnight drive home...I can only appreciate her logistical sacrifices to make the journey...) and I collapsed into bed, feeling every second of my forty-plus years.They say it's when life begins. In that case, I'm going to need more energy. But my forties have been pretty good so far, let's hope they carry on this way.

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