Every time I write or think those words – that I am now 60 – it is difficult to believe. After all 60 is grown-up, right: middle-aged even. But somehow I feel more like I did when I turned 40; 50 sounded older but 60 sounds fun. Perhaps it’s also because I’m happy on my own again, and achieving things which matter to me: at 50 I had a baby, two young children, no career and was in a marriage which was not bitterly unhappy but was not happy either.
Perhaps the lesson is that when I’m doing the things I love – enjoyable work; exercising; music; time with people I love – then I am happy and feel energised. Life feels abundant; but I’m also perhaps more confident than I’ve ever been before.
The week started with a spa day with Anne. The treatments which we’d booked had to be cancelled as they were short-staffed: but we were amply compensated with a glass of champagne each, a free side order with lunch, and another half day, with the missed treatments, at the spa in November.
On my actual birthday I travelled down to Kent via London. I hadn’t been to St Pancras International since it had been redeveloped: it’s now an amazing location to spend time between trains, with far too many tempting shops and wine bars. Getting on the fast train to Kent was amazing: it zooms out of St Pancras between huge concrete walls, arriving at Stratford in about 5 minutes; unfortunately once it gets into Kent it slows down somewhat, and I then had to change at Faversham on to a bog-standard suburban train.
I was staying with Jo and Mike – the pair who came up in the summer – and we went into Whitstable for dinner, picking up Jo’s daughter en route, and walking to a lovely fish restaurant by the sea. My shoes were already hurting so I took them off and walked barefoot: but it was hardly a sandy beach, unfortunately. It didn’t matter though – it was a great evening and to see someone who I had looked after from time to time as a small child and who is now a beautiful adult was great.
There was a two-day work conference at the castles in Dover, Deal and Walmer and my memories – although the content was interesting – are of seeing the white cliffs of France in the sunlight on the other side of the channel; running up on to the white cliffs of Dover and into the National Trust nature reserve; and of the sun being out and walking around the gardens at Walmer and then along the shore to Deal. I am resolved to go back sometime and take the boys, as I think they’d love it.
Having arrived home late on the Thursday night, Friday was then a day of whizzing around and friends arriving before I got up early on Saturday to drive down to Cartmel for the Cartmel trail race (10km challenge). I was really pleased as it was actually 11km and I ran it in an hour and 6 minutes; my 10km time was about 1.01 (I’d love to get it under an hour!). The results were all over the place, but it looks as if I was second in my age group – having just sneaked now into the Female Vet 60 age group.
I got back home to find my lovely friends had prepared some food for the soiree; I got changed and headed down to Lanercost to set up the Dacre Hall and have a final rehearsal. I had an incredible amount of help from my generous friends – generous with their time and support as well as with their donations of food for the party, presents and with their contributions to my chosen charity.
The party/soiree went well and people seemed to enjoy it; I was delighted that my two older children were there and proud to see them being so charming to my friends. Bella in fact enjoyed it so much that she wants me to organise something similar every year. Rather than reproduce the entire programme, I will just upload a handful of photos (I thought, having subscribed, I’d be able to upload a video but it appears I can’t – unless I perhaps do it via YouTube – there are two here now if you click on those two links – one of the others that I wanted to post is sideways for some reason). I do realise that I sound very amateur when compared to other renditions on YouTube – but as I love singing and have no ambitions to be a professional singer, I guess that’s OK. It’s the music that matters.
“Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory“. Percy Bysshe Shelley