Following that Saturday of presents and bubbly and terrible dancing to amazing old music there were still things I had to look forward to in the last couple of weeks on my Birthmonth.
The Wednesday of the next week I returned home from a dental appointment to find my friend Nithya waiting for me at the front of my flat! Having had lunch with her the day of my flight to the UK she was one of the last friends I saw in Melbourne, and one I was very excited to see again. Only having met in August last year at a TEDx event, we met up a month later and Nithya had told me her story. Listening to her talk I remember thinking: “This woman is incredible!” She is passionate, intelligent, courageous, creative, funny, loving and humble and there are so many other amazing adjectives I could use to describe her but I’ll stick to those for now. Feeling very close to her after this first coffee date, we met up more regularly in the couple of months following before I flew over to the UK. Nithya is one of those friends you can talk to about anything, who doesn’t judge you, who actually listens – without just thinking about when she can jump in and have her two pence worth. We both have shared so much of ourselves, our pasts, our presents our hopes and dreams with one another in such a short space of time that I feel like I have known her a lot longer than I have.
She was in the UK to attend a symposium in Lincoln where she presented a paper, “Women, Nature and Bharatanatyam: Ecofeminism and the performance of Indian classical Dance” and then spent some time catching up with old friends from when she studied here, and, luckily, found a couple of days to spend time with me!
We spent the time enjoying cream tea in one of my favourite vintage tea rooms, strolling through the lanes, enjoying the pavilion gardens and the Brighton Museum and Gallery and generally enjoying catching up and having the same wonderful conversations we always enjoyed in Melbourne. Although sad to say goodbye on the Friday, it was only goodbye for another 6 months when we can pick up where we left off, back in Melbourne town.
That day that she left I was being whisked away with Marcus on a surprise birthday adventure my Dad and Step-mum (who I believe was mostly responsible) had organised for us. Boarding the train I found out we were headed to Rye, although it wasn’t until we actually got off the train an hour and a half later that I realised exactly where we were… we were in one of England’s most preserved, old towns… and I’m talking cobble stone streets, no chain coffee stores or supermarkets in sight, and beautiful, beautiful buildings dating back to the early centuries of the last millennium! Goggling at the surroundings and half expecting a horse and cart to come trotting towards us, we made our way to our home for the night… England’s oldest inn… the Mermaid, rebuilt – 1420.
Entering the front door we were greeted by a porter who took us to our room and proceeded to show us our fire exit… an original secret passageway in the form of a fake bookcase! We were not supposed to use it except in case of emergency… but we couldn’t help ourselves from opening it up and taking a squizz behind into the narrow stairwell with a lantern hanging from the ceiling; I was in love with this town, this inn, and maybe a little too much with the bookcase. We spent the afternoon strolling the town, looking at antiques and enjoying a pint (no half pints for this young lady) before heading back to the room to play some good old-fashioned backgammon and chess before Dinner.
Dinner deserves a paragraph for itself; Being only served by footmen (obviously no maids are to be seen in the dining hall) we enjoyed AA Rosette awarded cuisine. I myself selected March Beef Carpaccio, followed by a trio of lamb (I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the liver… but I’ll try anything once!), followed by a delectably sweet Rhubarb soufflé. All went down splendidly with a bottle of red and good conversation followed by retuning to our huge, heavenly bed. The next morning I was devastated to leave. I truly felt I had been transported back in time, and was quite content with the change in lifestyle, but Alas! Like Cinderella and her magic spell, we had a check-out time and no fairy godmother was going to extend our stay for us.
We had a few hours before our train back to the present so we took a countryside stroll through the sheep paddocks to the nearest Town, Camber, and walked barefoot along a lovely beach. Returning to Rye we went for tea before luncheon at a lovely seafood restaurant where I ordered some (delicious) oysters and we had ourselves some fish before hurrying to catch the train.
Arriving back in Brighton was like arriving in an alternate universe. It had been amazing to escape the city life, even if it was for just a night.
Almost at the end of my Birthmonth I still had a visit from Cate, a Melbourne Uni friend to look forward to, and her arrival on Friday was lovely. I showed her the sights in Brighton, we enjoyed cream tea, had fun playing the amusements on the pier and wandering the lanes before a necessary dinner of some good bangers and mash at our local and then heading out for Stonelove rock and roll at one of the clubs by the sea.
It was amazing to have seen some Melbourne friends again, and all of September had been an incredible reminder of how many amazing people I have in my life and what they mean to me, and me to them. We had some great adventures, and I can honestly say that although the Birthmonth is behind me, I’m going to carry the happiness, excitement and fun into all the months ahead.