Happy birthday to me! And on a Friday the 13th too, allegedly my lucky day, being born on a Friday. I couldn’t have ordered a better day – it’s glorious, with blue skies for miles.
The morning passes in a flurry of birthday wishes from family and friends before Himself rounds me up for lunch. He’s booked Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse and he’s keen to be on time, having a pathological aversion to being late.
He’s chosen well. The restaurant is set on the Thames, the food innovative and thoroughly delicious.
We’re started off with an amuse-bouche of pea and lovage soup, finished with chorizo and creme fraiche
For entree, I have roasted broccoli with frisee lettuce and almonds in a veloute sauce,
whilst Himself has chicken terrine, finished with dehydrated olives, a quenelle of pea mousse and tomato.
For main, we both have a meltingly tender, superb lamb belly with roasted little gems, minted peas, pureed onion and King Edward potatoes.
And because it wouldn’t be a birthday without cake, we both have the pineapple coconut cake with compressed pineapple and sorbet to finish.
The Boathouse team does a faultless job of recommending wines to match each course. I’m particularly taken with the dessert wine, an ice wine from Canada, made with grapes frozen on the vine. It’s a little glass of heaven.
Post lunch we’re both delightfully mellow. I’ve brought along the bread we forgot yesterday, making us immediately popular with the locals, even hopping on the bank to eat straight out of our hands.
We had contemplated going to see Downton Abbey which opens today, but in the end it’s too much effort. Instead we potter around Henley for what’s left of the afternoon: it really is a delightful spot.
Himself busies himself with a haircut, while I take off with his credit card* and have a lovely time, shopping alone. Shopping with Himself is not conducive to relaxation. He does not understand the concept of browsing and likes to hover over my shoulder asking if I’m done yet. Left to my own devices, I accidentally buy a purrfect leopard print trench (meow 🐾) and a rather lovely spotted scarf.
Back at the motorhome, parades of bunnies have come out to play. I’m pretty sure I hear one whisper “happy birthday” as he hops past.
And as far as birthdays go, it doesn’t get much better than that.
* When we first started travelling, some 16 years ago, Himself drove me rather mad with security briefings, about the dangers of carrying a handbag, up to the point where I proclaimed I would not then, carry anything, not even a credit card, leaving him to the responsibility alone. Years on, he’s softened his view, but I have not. It’s quite liberating, not being responsible for anything. Much easier to say “Christopher, please pay for this” and be on one’s way. Today was a rare exception.