I have to confess I’d got myself in a bit of a grump about my 30th birthday earlier in the year because what with the wedding, a stag and a hen do all within 6 weeks of my birthday, the huge celebration I wanted to lay on was simply too much to expect of people.

I should know better by now than to doubt the powers of my wonderful K to provide me with the kind of celebrations and wonderful memories that will last me forever.

Here’s a chronicle of the day, for those who are interested:

Part 1

Birthday cards and pressies in the sitting room. Kati had laid out my cards along with some baby photos we collected recently and other little pieces of prettiness to top off the effect. Simply, beautifully laid out and with such warmth and love in the cards as well it was a slightly overwhelming start to the day.

Once all the cards were opened, laughed at and appreciate, a champagne breakfast of fresh fruits, yoghurt and granola followed. Beautiful stuff.

Then to the train station where I received the first of my small brown-enveloped instruction cards that would govern my day from here on out. We travelled first class down to London St Pancras, chatting happily and trying (on my part) not to speculate too wildly about what I may be doing for the rest of the day.

Part 2

A quick, light lunch at St Pancras. K mysteriously tells me I’ve “chosen well”, which given that I’ve had a very light, very French baguette, either means we’re going to France or the lightness was important. I lean towards the lightness.

I’m instructed to take the Tube to Shepherd’s Bush, which we do, stopping outside the station for a quick but disappointingly tasteless Cafe Nero iced coffee before moving on to our final destination for the afternoon: the K West Hotel and Spa.

Part 3

As soon as we were checked in we headed down to K Spa where we were robed and watered to recover from the heat of walking around London, then lead through to our treatment room.

We had an amazing side-by-side double treatment that had one of us enjoying a back, neck and shoulder massage while the other lay beside in a dry flotation tank.

Dry floatation for the uninitiated (like we were) is essentially a very deep waterbed that gives the illusion of being weightless in water without actually submerging you. It’s a lovely feeling, but if I’m being 100% honest, I got a bit bored. 30mins of nothingness may be a little long for me.

That probably says more about me and my ability to relax than it does about the treatment, mind you.

After the side-by-side treatments, we enjoyed a wonderful 20mins in the “Sun Meadow”, a slightly pretentious name for a room with heat lamps akin to a large solarium but without the harmful skin effects (like, you know, cancer) of UV beds. It was a wonderful, transportive experience that took us both off to the beaches of Hawaii where we’ll be enjoying our honeymoon in less than 2 months time.

Treatments over with, all that remained was for us to spend some chill time in the various rooms and pools of their wet spa area, including the wonderfully refreshing Snow Room that was, quite literally, a small dark room filled with ice and snow to rub on yourself after exiting any of the hot rooms or the pool. Invigorating isn’t the word. Loved it!

Part 4

After filling our boots with wonderful relaxation, we headed back to the room, washed off the sweat, salt and chlorine from the spa and dressed for dinner at the Brompton Quarter Brasserie.

I had a wonderful crab and crayfish salad1 followed by a very tasty ribeye steak with béarnaise sauce, while K opted for some breads to start and a delicious-looking belly of pork for the main.

Predictably, for dessert I opted for the bread and butter pudding, K the range of sorbets. Unpredictably – particularly for me (lard bucket that I am) – I couldn’t actually finish mine.

The restaurant was wonderful – people-watching on the streets of Kensington right outside the Brasserie’s windows should be an Olympic sport – and the food very good, but the service let the place down badly.

The manager – or the man I assume to be the manager because of his differing attire and disinterested air – came to take payment for our not insubstantial bill and did not deign to utter a single word to us, nor offer a glance of recognition or a gesture of thanks. Genuine rudeness on this level is quite hard to find, especially in London’s nicer boroughs.

Part 5

The pièce de résistance was still to come, however, as K ushered us on to a seemingly random pub a short taxi ride from the restaurant, muttering something about it offering “great ales”.

As we walked in the door, I immediately saw my brother and his fiancée stood at the bar and my parents at a table over in the far corner with PC, my old colleague/boss from markthree. I was genuinely surprised – and delighted – to see them all, but even more delighted as Rose from the CF Trust and Kate and Holly of markthree, also arrived as the evening wore on.

Memories to Treasure

On the cab ride back to the hotel after the bar had closed for the evening, I managed to sit back and reflect on a truly wonderful and wonderfully special 30th birthday.

With over 100 messages on Twitter and Facebook, not to mention cards galore, it was impossible to feel anything but deeply loved and very, very humbled by people’s support.

It’s fair to say, without being too mawkish about it, that not many people ever dared think I would reach this grand old age. Now, looking forward, it seems that the sky is the limit.

More than anything, turning 30 has inspired me to push harder, to strive for better and to not let anything stand in my way. After all, if I can come through everything I’ve been through to this point and be surrounded by love, life and happiness, who am I to say that there’s anything in the world I cannot do?

Thank you to each and every one of you – readers, friends, family and random people I’ve met from time to time – for making me who I am and giving me the drive and energy to pursue my dreams.

Getting old is a wonderful thing. I’ve never been happier.

Did you see my last post about the 30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years? It’s been one of my most popular to date and I’d love to know what you think.

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  1. I know, I know, slightly naughty, but I count crab & crayfish as crustaceans not shellfish… []