Mmm pain au chocolat for breakfast, a pile of new books and DVDs, a beautiful silver ring, a bottle of homemade perfume that smells of bubble gum and something cake-shaped hidden in the cupboard for later - it must be my birthday!
I'm having a lovely time so far and I'm planning to spend the next couple of hours walking in the woods. I went for a run there yesterday morning with the idea of clearing my head and came back with it full of words. So I'm going back again today and this time I'm taking my notebook and pen.
In the heart of the woods is an old cotton mill, now belonging to the National Trust. It has a fascinating history, first as a working mill, then an 'entertainment emporium' with dining saloons, a dancing hall, a roller skating rink, refreshments kiosks and boating on the mill pond and now as a 'model of sustainable development', with working models of water power and other green technologies.
Standing in the mill yard on a cold damp day when there is nobody else around you can just about here the footsteps: the clogs ringing on the cobbles, the dancing shoes slipping across the wooden floor, the thunder of the wheels on the rink. All the lives that have passed through there, the long hours and hard labour of women and children, the links with the wider world as cotton was brought in and fabric sent out, the courtships and friendships of Sunday and Bank Holiday jollies by the river and the pond, and the stories that must have blossomed on the dance floor and in the tea rooms. In the still and the quiet the place seems noisy and bustling with the past.
A good place to spend a birthday day I think.
My birthday night will be spent firmly in the present. My writing group is having a 'showcase' at a local wine bar as part of a Readers' and Writers' festival. I enjoy reading out loud (I'm a performer at heart) and have chosen two pieces that I'm pretty confident with, so I'm really looking forward to it, although it will mean holding off on the birthday cocktails until I've finished.
And finally (you can tell it's my birthday, I just can't shut up!). Thank you to Tam for this lovely award which added an extra smile to my day.
There are conditions attached to it - ie a questionnaire to complete and blogs to nominate, but this post is long enough - I promise to do it tomorrow.