At the time of my last post I was 48 years old. I am now 49.
Yesterday a friend of mine gave me a lift to the garage to collect the Big Car from having its MOT. In the back seat was her delightful youngest daughter, 12 year old Jamie. Mum and I were chatting and she was telling me how her other teenage kids were astonished/horrified/sceptical of the fact that both her and their father quite often forgot how old they were. I said that happened to me too and I frequently have to work out it from the year I was born. Jamie piped up from the back to express her disbelief that anyone could forget how old they were - inconceivable!
I explained that once you get to about 21, the only birthdays that really matter from then on are the ones with a '0' at the end of them - 30, 40 and so on - and all the others just sort of blend into one really. She was really surprised by that and stated that it was important to celebrate your birthday because 'you're one year older!' Bless. I told her that, when you get to my age, you don't actually want to be one year older. I love her, she's such a poppet. And I'm horrified to realise that in checking how old she actually is (I have a birthday calendar on which I've put the years people were born so I know exactly how old they are), I realised that I completely missed her birthday on 10 April! I know why I missed it, it was slap-bang in the middle of my week of menopausal misery when I was barely capable of getting out of bed, never mind anything else. I have just sent her a very apologetic text - I don't like missing peoples' birthdays.
So, how was mine? It's always a tricky question for me to answer. I always, always feel disheartened as it starts looming into view. I've learnt over the now-49 years I've been alive that birthdays very rarely ever live up to expectations. And I've had one or two truly horrible ones over the years. This one wasn't too bad at all. TLH, through no fault of his own, didn't manage to get me anything so I told him that he could pay for my drawing and painting course, and materials; his relief was palpable. He also managed to get out of work at a reasonable time for once and took me to the refurbished The Percy Arms pub in nearby Chilworth (it was gutted by fire a couple of years ago and has just reopened) which does the best steak this side of the Atlantic. And, yes, I had steak. Yum yum. He also brought home an extremely chocolatey birthday cake - hooray!
I didn't get many gifts but what I did get was fab. My lovely mum gave me a huge box of chocolates and a most unusual orchid (I have a small collection of orchids) that is totally upright with flowers growing on each side of the stem (sorry pics are a bit murky):
And the very wonderful indeed Ms Katyboo gave me two glorious 1970s original one-disc Wedgwood Sheringham glass candlesticks in the most luscious Amethyst colour (yes, there are a pair but for some reason I only photographed one):
Beautiful, non? A few cards were received from relatives and lots of well-wishes on Facebook, and with that I entered my 50th year on the planet.
So what else has happened since I was last here? The appalling weather has conspired to keep me indoors and out of my running shoes for over a week. It really has been that rainy here. Constant, bloody rain, and not just drizzle but proper heavy rain. As a friend of mine said, 'Drought, my arse'. Indeed.
The result of this was that I failed to do the Clandon Park Run on 21 April that I signed up for back in March. The course is mostly cross country, across fields and through woodland. I was envisaging Somme-like conditions and really, really didn't fancy running knee-deep through mud that had been churned up by 100+ runners in front of me, so I decided I'd give this one a miss and look for something else in the summer to do, perhaps a 5k run. I felt incredibly guilty about not going and cross, as well. I'd been really looking forward to doing it and had geared my training (such as it is) towards doing it, so it felt like a huge let-down to not go in the end. But I honestly don't think I would have enjoyed it very much so hopefully it'll be to the good.
And still the rain has fallen this week - I finally managed to get to go out yesterday as, amazingly, it remained dry and even *gasp* sunny. I decided to just go out for 2.5miles/4km but, as I've been sitting on my expanding butt all week, figured I'd push myself a bit to see if I can up my speed. And, astonishingly, it worked! Last week I was running at an average pace of 15:08 and 15:04 minutes per mile but yesterday managed to turn in an average pace of 14:25 minutes per mile! And it felt like I was doing 'proper' running for the first time too, not just a shuffly-jog type thing, so there's definite improvement.
The other thing is that I've started my Drawing and Painting for Beginners adult education course. It's always a bit daunting walking into a room of people who already know each other, but everyone seemed pretty friendly and I'm quite good at bluffing bonhomie to folks I don't know so it was fine. The room was stinking hot, though, due to the fact that there had been a life drawing class in there in the morning and the model - who is, of course, nude - has to be warm! I'd walked up a hill and then several flights of stairs to get to the class so was, rather attractively, sweating as if I was in a sauna, and continued to drip until about halfway through the class! My next class is tomorrow and I'm going to have to dress appropriately, I think - t-shirt and sandals, no less!
Anyway, this first class involved looking at tonal shades - basically shading and shadows. The teacher gave us all a plastic ball and got us to look at where the light was falling on it and where it was darkest, and how the shadows fell, etc. She got us to have a go at drawing it first without any instruction from her, then she would talk us through the tips that a 'proper' artist uses and guide us through a second, more directed, go at drawing it, to show us the difference.
This was my first go (again, apologies for the darkness of the images, they were taken with my phone, but I think you get the idea):
And this was my second go:
I think that's all the news from my little corner of Jones Towers for now, so I'll bid you adieu and will check in again when I have something even vaguely interesting to share with you all!
PS. Every year I keep an eye out for the first sighting of Swifts and they're late this year. 2011 they arrived on 21 April, in 2010 it was 22 April. Mind you, with this shitty weather, perhaps they've decided to stay in Africa a bit longer!