Dreading birthdays isn’t that unusual, is it? After all, who really wants to get old, wrinkly, saggy and creaky? Following a couple of recent poignant events and having recently reached a rather big milestone myself, I really do feel that getting older and birthdays are a privilege and not something to worry or get sad about.
With age comes experience and along with that, hopefully, wisdom. As you get older the lessons that life teaches you enable you to be more confident about who you are in the world and where you are in life. We tend not to care as much about what other people think of us and are less judgemental ourselves. I think we worry less about how we look – or how society thinks we should look. All those anti-ageing cream advertisements have lost their appeal, I just don’t believe the marketing hype anymore, and anyway, wrinkles mean that you laughed!
I hit the big 4-0 a few weeks ago and, whilst I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t contemplated and thought about where I am at this mid-point in life, I’m eager to see what hopefully the next decade has in store for me. I didn’t want to be feeling sad about reaching this milestone – 40 years young I say!
For my 40th, my hubby pulled out all the stops and made such an incredible effort in making sure my birthday went off with a bang and was one to remember. He had been reeling with excitement for weeks and absolutely bursting at the seams trying not to let on what surprises he had in store for me. I knew we were going away for a holiday so I was excited, but as I like to be prepared and organised for things I also had slight trepidation in not knowing what we were doing!
On the morning of the day that we were due to go away, Pats presented me with a beautiful box, which upon opening had an envelope inside (and various other little presents). Opening the envelope with anticipation, I pulled out a picture of the most beautiful camper van. “Mallard”, a 1966 VW split screen – this was to be our new home for the next week!!! Wow. For anyone who doesn’t know me well, I absolutely love VW splitty camper vans. Inside the envelope was a carefully crafted piece of paper detailing a fun itinerary of what we would be doing that week. How exciting!
We would be spending the first couple of nights with a group of friends at a campsite near Lymington. We would then travel onto Bournemouth and stay overnight in a hotel and go to a ‘cheese and wine’ bar. Mmmmm my favourite! From there we would truck on down Lyme Regis to a jazz festival and then I was free to pick the places we could go to after that. On a scale of 1-10 of sheer coolness, this rated about 100!
Pats had organised so many thoughtful little surprises for my birthday – he’d bought bunting and heart-shaped lights to decorate the camper van with (I have a huge obsession with hanging hearts). He had bought bubbly for us all to drink for a birthday toast – out of proper glass flutes too. This man does NOT do drinking out of plastic – even when you’re camping in a field! He’d also wrapped up other little presents to be opened at specific times throughout the holiday.
My lovely friend, Debs, had bought some delicious birthday cakes and had had some gorgeous camper van bunting made which we decorated our van with. The weather was kind to us too and we enjoyed lots of laughs in the sunshine during the day finished off by cosy evenings around the campfire.
We had planned to go camping last year, but as I’d just had my lumpectomy surgery, unfortunately, we had to cancel our trip. Our fab friends Debbie and Graham had some hilarious masks made up that had pictures of our faces printed on and had spent the weekend larking about with them on and posing for pictures with various people (even the campsite wardens!). They’d had us in absolute stitches as they’d send through random photos which made us still feel part of their weekend. They’d brought along the masks for this camping trip so we had great fun re-enacting Darren and Allie poses!
It took us a fair while to travel to the campsite in Lyme Regis from Bournemouth. We learned from this trip that driving a campervan is a rather unique experience. You don’t go very far quickly and you have to prepare for roundabouts and road turnings as well as anticipate what other drivers are doing as the brakes on the van take about a week to apply. This all added to the fun of the van (although it has put us off wanting to buy an old one!).
As we rocked up at the campsite that Pats had booked for us, we parked the van up and went inside to the office to pay for our pitch. As we were chatting away to the chap behind the counter, I glanced over at the window and out the corner of my eye saw the camper van rolling away! Oh my lordy, we legged it outside so fast and thankfully Pats managed to get inside it and apply the brakes. I foolishly stepped out in front of it to try and stop it (mmmm, not the most intelligent idea!).
As we returned to the office to finish paying, I looked at Pats and he was completely white as a sheet, sweating and trembling in shock! That was a seriously lucky escape. Apparently, ours wasn’t the first older camper van to have a poor hand break and the others had come off in a really bad way.
We had such an amazing time away and Pats made me feel like a million dollars (as always). I was so chuffed to have had the opportunity to go away in a VW campervan as this had been on my bucket list for a long time. I will certainly cherish the memories of my birthday spent with family and friends.
Some people leave this life far too young and don’t get to experience the joy and happiness of their future birthdays and getting old. I say embrace each and every year with love and gratitude as birthdays are not written in stone and are a privilege.