I had a birthday recently. Unlike last year, there were no deaths in the family on my birthday this year, so I'm counting that as a positive. Even if I am now technically closer to 40 than to 30. (But, I mean, turning 30 was great, so who's to say the upward trend won't continue when I reach my next big birthday?)
My parents visited the weekend after my birthday. We stuffed our faces with burgers and then went to admire a National Trust property. I love visiting big, old houses; they're so pretty. (Although I'm aware that my ancestors wouldn't have been able to go anywhere near them, except as servants.)
I got some nice cards:
Only two cards contained cats this year. But one was a Dutch cat!
I also got some lovely presents. Here I must give a shout-out to Mariya who sent me a package of gifts all the way from the States, only to have it go missing in the post. I'm so sorry it got lost, but I appreciate the sentiment regardless! (Mariya is always so good to me <3) My own little theory is that the parcel is sitting alone in some post office in the UK (without the post office having notified me about it) and that in a couple of weeks it will be returned to sender. We'll see.
Here's a rundown of the other gifts I was given.
Food and kitchen gifts, including sweets, a vegetable-washing brush (I didn't even know that was a thing, but apparently it's really good for removing the soil from celery), and a meat thermometer. I am particularly excited about the meat thermometer. My current method for checking that chicken is cooked (and you know I cook a lot of chicken) is to poke it with the tip of a knife to see if the juices run clear, then be uncertain as to whether the juices are actually clear or not, and then hack it open further. Meanwhile my current method for checking that beef steaks are cooked is to cook them for far too long. It's not big and it's not clever, and my new thermometer should change all that.
Books: all ones that I am looking forward to reading immensely, and only one of which I asked for specifically! The Queen Victoria book comes from Nick and Eva. Thank you! I had wondered why you were spending so long in Waterstones! The other two books were from my parents. The Medieval Women one sounds right up my street, and the Anne Lister diary is the book I requested. Did you guys watch "Gentleman Jack"? It was so much fun. I wanted to learn more about Anne Lister and her various girlfriends, so I thought her diaries would be a great way to go. It should also have some general information about the period too, which is always interesting.
You might see that there's a bookmark in the Anne Lister diaries. I've already read the introduction, and I'm going to start reading the diary entries proper on Wednesday (14 August) because, get this, the first entry in the diary is Wednesday 14 August 1816. Almost exactly 200 years ago and the days of the week even align too! My plan is to read each diary entry on the day it was written and so follow the romantic intrigues in real-time. Is that idea inspired or stupid? Who knows, but it'll take me about 4 years to get through it. I'm here for the long-haul! (To be honest, it was the only way I was going to allow myself to start reading the book immediately when I've already got so many other books on the go.)
Finally, we have everything else: socks, flamingo wash bags, and the blue bag contains a tiny heart necklace that my Mum got for herself but which didn't fit her. I don't mind a second-hand necklace, especially not if it means I get to think of my Mum each time I wear it.
Not pictured on the present-front are the following:
- Lottery ticket from friend-of-the-family John. He always gets everyone a lottery ticket for their birthday (which is a tradition started by his late-wife, Jackie, who used to work in a shop that sold lottery tickets). Unsurprisingly, I didn't win anything.
- 3 courgettes fresh from my parents' garden. I couldn't photograph them because I'd already fried them up and eaten them with pasta and pancetta. Yum yum.
- Money from my parents. I meant to pay it into my current account so I could spend it on something nice (which something had yet to be determined), but I accidentally paid it into a savings account instead. Whoops. Looks like I'll be saving it then!
Thanks all for the birthday wishes! Here's to a good year to come. (And, if you ask me, a year filled with chocolate and books is bound to be a good one.)
Comment from: Emma Visitor
Happy Extremely Belated Birthday!
Like almost a year late, but I still hope you had a lovely day.
Although I’m aware that my ancestors wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere near them, except as servants.
We all love the big old houses, I think; even though most of us are descended from servants and, uh, slaves even. Somehow it’s almost a form of escapism? The past could be so horribly ugly, but people very literally carved oases of beauty out of that darkness, and built them well enough to survive the ravages of time. That they were at least partially built on our ancestors’ bones almost seems beside the point, when the big old house has become a museum and here we are, the children of the dispossessed, paying a few dollars to march through our ancestor’s oppressors parlors for a fun thing to do on the weekend. So. (That came out a little darker than I imagined it in my head.)
I am particularly excited about the meat thermometer.
And the Best Person on the Internet Award goes to…
I see you have a box of something up there branded “Monty Bojangles,” which made me laugh a lot because it would get its manufacturer perma-cancelled if someone tried to sell it in the US. Is Monty Bojangles a well-dressed fox, sitting in a… tulip carriage? This is making me laugh and laugh and laugh, too much laughing, I’m very sorry.
Did you guys watch “Gentleman Jack"?
No! That’s what we call Jack Daniels, here in the US. Based on all the other weird/excellent things you went on to say about Anne Lister, I clearly need to look this show up right now. Yesterday, even. (And also look up Anne Lister, shortly afterwards.)
All your cards and presents look wonderful. You really seem to be surrounded by so many lovely people. I hope you had a wonderful birthday, and many, many, many more that are just as great in the future. <3
Comment from: Member
You are going to adore “Gentleman Jack"! It’s a great show. Anne Lister isn’t the nicest person in the world (she’s quite a snob when it comes to poor people), but you can’t help cheering her on as she goes in search of a wife. The show itself is well-made and doesn’t take itself too seriously; Anne Lister keeps breaking the fourth wall, which is fun. The episodes do get a bit darker towards the end of the series when mental health plotlines start to become involved, but if you can get through those it’s well worth it.
Anne Lister’s diaries are as fascinating as I thought they would be. There weren’t actually that many entries to read between August and now, but Anne has already had an intrigue with her long-term girlfriend’s sister. The latest entry I read, on Christmas day, involved Anne hinting to her aunt that if she was just given a bit of freedom, she was certain she would be able to make a lot of money. Anne’s aunt, a little scandalised, but knowing Anne well, was like: *gasp* “Do you want to go on stage? Or do you want to get a man’s job?” The actual answer is, no, Anne’s plan didn’t involve those. Instead, Anne’s plan to make money involved going to lots of parties and meeting people to beg money from them and gamble all the time! Thankfully, Anne doesn’t seem to have acted on this plan as yet.
Your paragraph about big old houses is excellent and really quite beautiful. I went to another big old house yesterday and couldn’t stop thinking about your words.
Just recently, I’ve been reading about the mathematics involved in family history. When you go back far enough (say, 600 years) your direct ancestors end up being a significant proportion of the whole country where you family comes from, rich or poor. There’s a theory that almost everyone with English ancestry is directly descended from Edward III, for example. It means that every good thing, every bad thing, every cruelty and every act of suffering in history was probably committed and experienced by your direct ancestors if you go back far enough. It puts things in a new perspective and I’m still not sure what to do with this information. (Of course, given the really long timescales, the chance that we share any DNA with these people is slim, but it still makes me thoughtful.)
re Monty Bojangles: I believe it’s actually a cat in the tulip carriage XD It’s a very silly brand concept, but their chocolate truffles are very tasty.
Comment from: Nick Visitor
Thankz for the shout out bab!
Comment from: Member
Thank you for the lovely gift!