At the very beginning of the film, Bridget Jones' Baby, the heroine is celebrating her birthday - which made it a most appropriate choice of film for yesterday evening. Bridget was 43 while I was celebrating my 70th birthday
so there was a bit of an age difference between us. However, according to my birthday card from My Boy and his family I am "18 - with 52 years of experience." This is rather more encouraging than the message from my Son in Law which reminded me that, at three
score years and ten, I am - in Biblical terms at least - living on borrowed time. "I knew I should have just added his name to mine, rather than invite him to add his own birthday greeting!" bewailed the Youngest of the Darling Daughters.
Ah, yes, that was the other major difference between Birthday Girl Bridget and me - she was all on her lonesome, poor thing, while I had a Darling Daughter to scoop me up and drive
me to Afternoon Tea at Amberley Castle. Yes, that's right, a castle no less. One, moreover, with a history stretching back 900 years which is presumably long before Afternoon Tea was invented.
I wonder who did invent Afternoon Tea? Lots of establishments offer it but few, I reckon, can provide guests with quite the "wow" factor of sweeping up a long, long drive with the castle there in all its splendid grandeur
before your very eyes. We parked in between two ultra smart Mercedes cars and headed into the Reception where we had rather a long wait while a posh couple debated loudly with a poor, patient receptionist over what they should order for their mid-afternoon
snack and alcoholic tipple. My daughter showed me her mobile phone : "Pretentious!" she had typed. At which point we were rescued by a charming fella who showed us to a comfy sofa underneath a sunny window where we would shortly find ourselves indulging in
a quite magnificent tea.
The menu for Afternoon Tea is much the same wherever you go (or so I am led to believe by those who partake regularly of this Most
Elegant of Meals.) Finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and butter, plus a selection of deliciously decadent cakes. What's not to like? My tea was courtesy of My Foursome who shared the cost between them but the Youngest of the Darling Daughters had
to pay for her own. In return she enjoyed an afternoon in my company - did she draw the short straw or the long one, do you reckon? No, please don't answer that...
daughter and I agreed to pace ourselves. The first rule of Afternoon Tea Etiquette has to be to savour the experience. This rule, I can assure you, we obeyed to the letter. We are not, however, quite sure that we didn't break a few of the rules by (i) dividing
each cake in half before sampling it; and (ii) requesting a "doggy bag" so that we could transport a few Tasty Temptations home to Mr B. In honour of it being my birthday, I was presented with a small white dish on which a trio of sweets were carefully
arranged, together with a chocolate greeting. My daughter confessed that she had rung up in advance to organise this Sweet Touch.
While we were indulging
our Inner Gluttons, the threatened rain poured down outside - but by the time we emerged, satisfyingly full, it had cleared and we were able to walk around the castle grounds. The Darling Daughter captured many photos of me against splendid backgrounds grinning
manically as befits one whose Stomach, of which as you know I Am Always Thinking, has not a single cause for complaint following Afternoon Tea.
On our way home,
a truly magical moment as we found ourselves chasing the most beautiful of rainbows. A rainbow is a promise, don't you know? What better omen on my birthday, looking into the year ahead?
Though, to be honest, I was simply grateful to be living in the moment, there in the company of a beloved daughter, savouring the perfect (rainbow's) end to my Birthday Treat.