Tuesday, 3 February 2009

On 3rd February 2008 . . .

. . . I posted this revelatory Musing.

So it will not come as any surprise to learn that, today, while the 4 (for the very last time!) remains in place, the 8 has lurched forward to become 9. Eeeek!

For the benefit of my considerably younger readers, let me simply say that, although this might seem an unfeasibly large number of years to have been in existence - and despite the externals daily adopting an ever more, erm, 'lived-in' appearance - on the inside, let me assure you, we Persons of a Certain Age remain as youthful and skittish as ever. As full of uncertainty and wondering what will become of us when we are Grown Up as we were at 19 or 29. And as lacking in wisdom and prey to the whims of our hormones as you are!

So there!

Quite when maturity and wisdom do kick in on this journey through life, I've yet to discover. Maybe the big Five O will do the trick at last? Perhaps those of my readers who are slightly ahead of me along the road will advise.

Suffice to reiterate the strange truth alluded to last year: that despite having been subjected to all the usual grinding wear and tear(s) of life, loves, work and parenthood, I don't feel anything like old enough to be in the final year of my first half-century. Absolutely and categorically not. How can things get so out of kilter? I've no idea.

Since Tuesdays are pretty busy on the family front, with early school buses to be caught and after-school music lessons and masses of homework, etc etc, I decided to wind the clock forward (or was it back?) and celebrate in a very modest way on Sunday afternoon instead.

So Sunday morning was Baking Day for SD#3 and me. SD#3 is my little cake-making soulmate - oh how she loves all the mixing and stirring and tasting and the wondrous oveny alchemy that transforms damp colourless splodge into fragrant, golden-brown (or as she has wittily dubbed it, 'Gordon-Brown') delicious sponginess. That's my girl.

'Do you think we should check whether it's Gordon Brown yet?', she asks, falling off the stool with self-induced laughter (which, as we all know, is the most uncontrollable kind of all). 'Yup, it's nicely Gordon Brown, let's take it out now and make the icing.'

We made a coffee cake to stick the token candle in. Decorations by SD#3.

And some flapjacks, because we are all completely wild about oats here.

And a Sticky Lime and Coconut cake from M's fabulous recipe on Random Distractions. Something went a teensy bit wrong and it sank a bit in the middle (though it wasn't burnt around the edges as this very poor photo might suggest) and was subsequently a little too well drenched in the sticky-making syrupy liquid. And served while still warmish and soft. So nul points for aesthetics (oh, and the ad-libbed lime rind on top was a bad idea too - although it looked quite pretty!) . . . but ooooh, it was supremely delicious and disappeared astonishingly quickly. More of a pudding than a cake, which it isn't supposed to be. But I will have another go soon, and I do urge cake fiends everywhere to try it (quickly, before Lent is upon us!)

Some dear friends came round, and I was presented with some fabulous hand-made cards, masses of flowering plants for indoors and out, some garden tools, a mop (! ahem! thanks!), a beautiful hand-made velvet brooch, some very nice chocs and this optimum-size tea cup.

I am notorious for my ability to down several gallons of tea in a day. And for my urgent need to drink tea post-eating, post-walking, post-sleeping, post-just about everything. So this one was not so very far off the mark. Unfortunately, it has a hole in the bottom, because it's supposed to be employed as an amusing plant-pot holder. But I think it looks much better as fruit bowl.

So, that was Sunday. And that was supposed to be that. (Apart from an evening's entertainment on Monday, which was sadly scuppered by the weather conditions, ho hum.) So today was going to be a normal working day for me. Heaven knows, I had more than enough work to be getting on with. But it didn't turn out quite that way, and there were a number of wonderful surprises. Not least amongst them the lovely friends who whisked me off unexpectedly to lunch at Mersea's excellent Oyster Bar. (Thank you so much xxxxx!)

The Oyster Bar is a relatively recent addition to the select list of eating establishments on the island, but a most welcome one. Its name belies the fact that it serves every kind of seafood, from shellfish to skate to a vastly superior version of yer common or garden fish 'n' chips.

So there's something for everyone. The seafood platter is loaded with every conceivable delight, from smoked salmon and mackerel to several varieties of shellfish, and a dressed crab on top. The scallops are stonkingly huge and delicious and - my standard favourite and not disappointing in any way for the umpteenth time - the crab linguine with mango and lime is simply divine and, spirit of adventure notwithstanding, will be my choice next time as well. And the time after that. And . . . probably every visit from now until I drop. Please accept this as the warmest recommendation and try it for yourself when you visit the Muddy Island. As indeed you must.

We walked off our fishy excesses with a stroll on TBTA (with a rugby ball for those whose school remained closed owing to 'bad weather'). Here, only the faintest evidence of the previous day's snow remained in evidence.

The sky was blue, the sunlight warm and golden, the early morning black ice thankfully evaporated. Hard to believe that a 'major snow event' had occurred only 24 hours previously.

I've been at my desk most of the evening, catching up with work, but I don't regret that one little bit. Thanks to everyone who's helped to make 3.2.09 an unexpectedly memorable day.


60 Going On 16 said...

You kept that very quiet, J. Many, many belated birthday wishes and look out for the post . . .

I'm sure you'll make the most of your last year starting with a 4. I now have my own theories as to the purpose of one's fifties- at the time, I couldn't see any point at all! But be reassured, there are many wonderful and delightful experiences waiting to be had. What's more, I had no idea that my sixties would evolve into something as exciting and fulfilling as they have; it hasn't been downhill all the way, quite the reverse, in fact.

One of the keys, I think, is to adopt that Buddhist precept of living fully in the moment. Not always easy, especially when life gets in the way - as it does, so frequently - but definitely worth the effort. This is an attitude that shines out from your blog in words, images, and in what you notice about the world around you. So, really, you're more than half way there.

lyn said...

Happy Birthday! I love the blog, especially the beach photos & all aspects of life on the island. Enjoy the rest of your birthday.

Sarah said...

Happy Birthday. I'm glad you enjoyed your day.

Your daughter's Gordon Brown joke made me laugh, and the cakes don't look too bad either!

monix said...

My standard advice to everyone who worries about getting older is to get rid of the mirrors and live up to your inner image. Mine is about 35. I wouldn't want to be any younger than that, anyway I wouldn't have the energy! So, J, pick your ideal moment and stick with it.

I'm glad you had such a lovely day. Mxxx

Anonymous said...

Hey Juliet, Lovely to see you up and about and blogging again. Sorry, I probably was the cause of some of that work - hope it didn't need too radical an overhaul! Wish my daughters would make cakes for me, but they'd only do chocolate and I rather fancy coffee.
Happy belated birthday - and I'm coming up fast a year behind you.

Jane Badger said...

Well Happy Birthday to you! I am only a couple of years behind you, and I'm wondering how I'm going to react to 50, because it does seem an awful lot older than 40, somehow. The cakes look utterly gorgeous (my daughter is another soulmate baker - we made an excellent 3 chocolate brownie at the weekend but we ate it all so no photos) and I think the coconut one looks gorgeous as is. I like cakes sunken, because you can always add something to the middle bit - cream, syrup, whatever.

Juxtabook said...

A belated happy birthday1 If it is any consolation, from your pics over the last year, I am astounded you're are nearly 50. I guessed you were a few years older than me (I'm 37) but not nearly 50. Must be all that sea air, and healthy walks, and cake!

Anonymous said...

Juliet, many happy returns. As someone who had some misgivings on the approach to 50, I can assure you it has been positive in nearly every respect. In fact, the first word to spring to mind is 'liberating'! There are all kinds of things I do now without a qualm that I would have baulked at before(and I'm not talking extreme sports!) Enjoy your 49th year. I'm not saying the best is necessarily still to come - but new things certainly are - and who knows what they might be? (And thanks to 60 going on 16 for reminding me of this).

KSV Woolfoot said...

Happy birthday to you. Another year just overtook me as well and set me blogging. Maybe, I hope, that means the year is off to a good start for both of us. Love the cup/fruit bowl.

Martin Edwards said...

Many happy returns! My mum, who is 92, reckons that these feelings of not-being-old never change, and I don't think it's easy to improve on 60 going on 16's admirable philosophy. Have a wonderful year.

Juliet said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. That is indeed an admirable philosophy, D. And Catherine, I do so love the idea that eating cake might be the secret to eternal youth: I'm definitely going to give that one a whirl this coming year!

Anonymous said...

Well a belated Happy Birthday - celebrate all your birthdays no matter what age you are. I tried to hide the fact that I had reached 'half a century' and felt positively ancient. Needless to say my lovely Island girlfriends didn't forget and brought round a perfect Summer's afternoon cream tea served on the lawn - kids and hubbies in tow, they didn't care a hoot how old I was, and I will be there this year as they turn 50 with my bottle of bubbly to open and celebrate with them. It is after all only another number....like friday 13th!! What is there to worry about...