So it begins – I’m officially in my thirties! Last Sunday was my 31st birthday. The “flirty thirties” some might say. Tim informed me of recent research showing that women are at their most beautiful at 31. I’m reminded of the line in that famous Jack Nicholson movie: “What if this is as good as it gets?” That’s not really my style of thinking, nor is flirtation. As I see it, it’s just another reason to make the most of the present, whether I’m 31 or 41.
As the present has me living so close to the Cotswolds, I decided to spend some of my birthday in the hills. Sunday morning, Tim and I headed to Bibury, a nearby Cotswold village that William Morris called “the most beautiful village in England”. This means that there’s loads of tourists around taking pictures and saying the word “quaint” a lot. We didn’t stay in Bibury for long – this was merely our starting point for a six-mile walk in the surrounding area.
On our way out of the village, we walked by Arlington Row, one of the most photographed places in the Cotswolds. The cottages were built in 1380 as a monastic woold store, then converted into a row of weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. I wonder how the people who live there now feel about their homes being the constant focus of people’s cameras – like my own.
The weather was nothing special, but it was dry and warm and we had a very relaxing walk along fields, woods and the River Coln. Walks like these make me realise how much humans run the planet. It seems like every square inch is devoted to making stuff for our own consumption, be it broad beans, wool, milk or meat. Some of the scenes reminded me of the midwest United States, only instead of corn, we saw rapeseed and wheat fields. Which reminds me, Tim took a couple cool shots of the wheat fields with my camera. It’s amazing how different they look depending on the direction of the wind.
We attempted to toast the day with a glass of our homemade elderflower champagne. Unfortunately, the beverage was a bit of a fail – where did all the bubbles go? Either we let the stuff ferment too long before bottling, or if my grolsch-style bottle wasn’t completely air tight. We have lots more of the stuff in 2L plastic bottles, but I’m going to wait until I have a few more people around to try those (2L of homemade bubbly sounds like a bad idea for one person to take on alone).
For lack of champagne I treated myself to my favourite beer of the moment: St. Peter’s Organic Best Bitter. I also made burger buns and black bean and beetroot veggie burgers. I was too busy eating to take a picture of the burgers, but here’s a pic of the bun in action with Monday evening’s portobello burger:
I was also treated to an excellent birthday surprise from Tim: a “garden trug” basket by Ted Bruce, a basket weaver in Shropshire who also also did our waste paper bin. I’ve already put it to use collecting potatoes from the garden:
Walking. Gardening. Veggie burgers. A pretty low key birthday, but with an undercurrent of celebration and tribute. See, it was about a year ago exactly that we moved from London to the countryside. And in case you can’t tell, I have no regrets whatsoever. I can think of no better place to spend a birthday than here in (and around) the cottage I’ve called “home” for the last year and a bit. After all, this place is pimp, and it just keeps getting pimper. Somehow I find it hard to believe that this is as good as it gets.
More photos from last Sunday are on Flickr.