Tuesday Evening, 8th June
This turned out to be as nice as I hoped it would. We were joined by our four best friends up here, and everyone had taken the trouble to dress really smartly, which added to the sense of occasion. We sat and talked in the low lit, comfortable lounge (it not being warm and fine enough to sit outside as we normally would), sipping champagne, perusing all the deliciously tempting menu options and making lively conversation. The evening continued in the same vein - and as we were quite late we were the only ones in the restaurant, but it made no difference. We made more than enough atmosphere all by ourselves. We came away from it replete, happy, and filled with a tremedous sense of wellbeing. What more could you ask for on your birthday?
Wednesday 9th June
There was an inevitable flatness to today after the joys of yesterday. The weather was still unseasonally cool and I had to contend with yoga after a late night and lots of alcohol. It was a bit of a struggle. I really had no desire to hang upside down on ropes or exhaust myself in demanding, body-aligning, body-strenghening positions. But I knew I had to go through with it to get me in the mood for the evening when I was due to teach some yoga to the Combs Brownie Pack. I had been knobbled by Brown Owl a few weeks earlier who had fixed me with her beadly little eyes and given me no option but to smile and agree. I spent the afternoon back at home trying to devise a routine suitable for a bunch of Brownies. I realisesd this whole little exercise was stressing me somewhat - largely because I had no notion of how successful it would be, given I've never taught yoga in my life before. Would I be up to it? As ever, I take these sort of things far too seriously and worry too much about doing a good job. So, when the time came, determined not to be late for once, I slipped into my yoga kit, grabbed my mat (unwrapping it for the first time since I bought it three years ago - I'm not good at practising at home!) and headed down for the village hall, nicely on time. And as is always the way with me, when I'm on time, everyone and everything else is late and when I'm late everyone and everything is on time. So there they were, in a certain amount of chaos finishing one activity (the theme of the evening was 'pyjama party' and they had been allowed to invite a friend each so there were twice the amount of Brownies there than usual - a key fact I had been unaware of) and were about to be given marshmallows dipped in a chocolate fountain. I could not help thinking that this was not an ideal yoga situation: an overcrowded room full of hyperactive kids with blood sugar count about to go through the roof...
So, with now only 20 minutes to go before parents came to collect the little cherubs, I attempted to create some order (difficult with Brown Owl, Tawny Owl and three helpers all clattering around clearing up the chocolate mess and talking to eachother) and give a little intro talk about yoga before launching into the set of positions I had selected during the afternoon. All things considered, it went reasonably well, if not exactly textbook, but it was all a bit of a rush and I was darned glad it was over. I had done my bit.
Thursday 10th June
The notation in my diary today was '9.10 Dentist - fillings'. This is not a good start to anyone's day. If you're late they strike you off the list and as this is the only National Health dentist for miles around and a bloody good won at that, I bust a gut to be on time but still find myself hurtling along the lanes at an unsuitable pace. Not helped this morning by the fact that the answerphone message I'd received from the dental receptionist the day before (they always remind you of your appointment in an attempt to save you from getting yourself struck off) told me the appointment time was 9.30am. It was only by chance that I looked at my diary just before 9am and saw that I'd written 9.10am - and I wasn't even washed or dressed. So I threw myself into the shower, hastily brushed and flossed my teeth to save too much embarrassment and admonition, and flung myself into the car. I arrived, panting, at 9.15. The receptionist looked up calmly and told me my appointment was 9.30am. Still, it's the first time I've ever been early, so I resisted the temptation to go off and squeeze another job in rather than hang around the (slightly smelly) reception for a quarter of an hour more than I needed to, I resigned myself to the pile of slightly dog-eared magazines. Most worryingly, instead of the glossy interiors mag, I found my hand reaching out for the Saga mag. Now, for those of you who don't know, this is for pensioners (i.e the over-60s). What is becoming of me? Have I lived too long in the High Peak to be bothered any more about style and glamour?? This is a worrying development and one I shall have to ponder on more deeply. Meanwhile, I was happily flicking through the Saga pages finding plenty to interest and entertain me. Not least of all a rather wizened and world-worn John Humphrys (oh so famous news journalist and long-term presenter of the probing 'Today' programme on BBC Radio 4) who's tale of buying land in Greece and building a holiday home thereon, with all the usual beaurocratic and territorial complications (which clearly nearly killed him), made for a reasonably compelling read. He rents the house out when he or his son's family are not there and gives the income to charity. I even found myself opening my notebook and scribbling down the contact details (email him at email@example.com or visit The Kitchen Table Charities Trust for anyone else who's interested).
By now it was 9.45am so I'd been in this smelly place for half an hour. Suddenly, though, my name was called and in I went, with a certain amount of trepidation. The last time I had a crown done, it was agony (she'd attempted to do it without anaesthetic, till I could take the torture no more). This time I was having an old grey filling taken out, a small amount of decay removed and a shiny new white filling put back in. I lay back in the chair (not before she'd put a pair of outsized green plastic joke glasses on my nose - she likes a laugh, this one) and watched an equally outsized needle, with (she told me) a particularly outsized dose of extra-strong anaesthetic ('just to make sure') in it, head inexorably towards my mouth ('open wide') and into my back right cheek/gum area. She held it there for what seemed an eternity - then the next thing I know I'm told to go back to the waiting room. I hadn't reckoned on this. Apparently I had to wait 20 minutes for the anaesthetic to do its job. Well, already as I was getting down from chair I felt rather peculiar. My heart was racing and I could barely walk in a straight line. I was told this was the adrenaline in the anaesthetic. Great, I thought, as my heartbeat hit new heights, now I'm going to die. And all for a filling. So I staggered back out to the waiting room, no doubt alarming some onlookers, and went outside to make a phonecall to one of the friends I was meant to be meeting for a (belated) birthday lunch. I warned her I might not make it. Or at least to bring a bib for me as I was likely to be dribbling a lot. I then teetered back in, feeling decidedly queasy by now too, and continued flicking through the Saga mag. This time I read all about its glamourous and very posh ex-editor, Emma Soames (Churchill's granddaughter), who had surprised everyone when she quit her job as editor of the Telegraph magazine (having previously been editor of Tatler) to go for this seemingly rather downgrade job. Still, she made a great success of it - which was probably why I found myself choosing that over the other mags in the pile. She turned it into an interesting read rather than just a repository for cruising and Stanner stair-lift ads.
By now I'd been in the waiting room for well over an hour. I can think of better ways to spend a Thursday morning. Eventually my name was called again and I found myself back in the chair, this time with more sensible glasses on. She asked me if my lip was feeling fat. 'Not particularly' I replied, which was true. 'Oh', she said. 'Are you sure?'. I thought about it for a wee moment (she's scottish) and decided that no, my lip definitely did not feel particularly fat. It was tingling a bit though. 'Oh well', she concluded, 'let's give it a go.' Out came the drill. Out came the scream. 'Ok' let's give you another shot. So another needle was produced and, mercifully, did the trick. I could be operated on in blissful ignorance apart from a slight aching of wide open jaw.
It was completed in a jiffy and I departed, glad to be alive, for my rendez-vous with the girls at The Highwayman, a newly re-opened pub on the way to Macclesfield, with its magnificent hilltop view of the Cheshire plain beyond. In the 20 minutes it took to drive there, I'm pleased to report that the numbness subsided so that when I sat down at the table I was restored to full working order and went on to enjoy a fabulous meal (the new owner-chef trained in Michelin restaurant and his food certainly reflected that). Not a bad end to an otherwise slightly grisly morning. Equilibrium had been restored.
Friday 11th June
I was pleased to note, when I looked in my diary, that I had a free day today - though I had a Ball to go to in the evening. As you do. Just call me Cinderella. This was the day when I was finally going to get round to making up my photographic cards for the local florist-cum-deli-cum-greengrocers. He'd asked me for a 100 cards weeks ago and it had been preying on my conscience. I'd got the photos chosen and printed out, but had rather stalled on putting it all together as sailing holidays and numerous other things kept getting in the way. I had called him the day before we left for Turkey to ask if it was ok to get them to him the week I got back. He said that was fine. But now it was the end of that week and I really had to deliver. So I determined not to get side-tracked by dishwasher or washing machine, garden or phone calls until the job was done. I set my stuff out on the kitchen table, turned on the telly to watch the tennis at Queen's as I worked, and had a happy time making up the cards. It was great to finally get that one ticked off my list.
Having done duties with children I then ran upstairs to change into my 'ball gown' (less glamourous than it sounds - but I was pleased to be able to give one of the dresses I bought in Manchester on my birthday its first outing) before being whisked away in a taxi to Stockport Rugby Club (which, curiously, is actually in Bramhall. So I would have thought it would be called Bramhall Rugby Club. But it isn't. All rather confusing.). It was called 'The Crystal Ball', so everyone was suitably attired in something glittery and you could wear a tiara if you wished. I stuck to crystal necklace and earrings, being short on tiaras, but there were a spattering of men sporting black tie and the required head gear. It as a charity evening to raise money for the NSPCC. We'd gone last year for the first time and the theme was 'tropical' - on one of the coldest wettest windiest nights I can remember. The rain was flooding in under the sides of the marquee. We were there with Italian friends who were living locally at the time. Funnily enough they left the north-west and went back to Italy soon after that.
By the end of the evening England had performed dismally in their first World Cup match, and I had swollen sore feet and a bloated aching belly from consuming a large slice of chocolate tart which was curiously sprinkled, in an experimental sort of way, with sea salt and exploding sugar. Still, it was all in a good cause.
So that, folks, was where my week went and by the end of it my sailing holiday seemed far, far away - but that's a story for another time.