It was the best of times, and it was… no, that’s all. Just the best!

Having made peace with the idea of turning thirty, I allowed myself to be whisked away for a mystery weekend, my only instructions being to be at the train station with an overnight bag at 9.30am on Saturday.

As it turned out, my friends had planned the most Hails-perfect weekend imaginable to celebrate my 30th. They took me to Busan, where the sun was splitting the skies, and we ate lunch on the beach before going on a ferry cruise around the nearby islands. I fed the gulls who followed our boat in a squawking frenzy, obviously used to tourists throwing fishy snacks to them. They took the food directly from our outstretched hands. :)

This was tremendous fun, after my initial panic when the first one swooped down at me and thought I was going to lose a finger or two.

We watched the rugby semi-final in an Irish bar, cheering frantically for France, singing La Marseillaise, and doing happy dances when they won. Dinner in a Turkish restaurant (delicious lamb… mmmmm…) was followed by an artsy and smoky little underground jazz bar.

To understand how very, very me this is, you need to realise that I have a dreamy notion that one day I will live in Paris, making a living as a writer, and spending my days in bars exactly like that one. I will be drinking wine or coffee, and perhaps smoking a cigarette in a very cool and artistic manner, or nibbling absently on some cheese, while scribbling poetry in my tattered notebook, surrounded by sexy floppy-haired Frenchmen all doing the same. You have to love it when your friends play along with this sort of nonsense. It was fabulous.

And the very best part was that they documented the whole weekend with photos, which they then had printed and put into two beautifully decorated albums, along with handwritten letters from each person, ticket stubs, and so on. They presented these to me as a surprise at my birthday dinner last night, along with a coffee machine (and coffee, mugs, coasters, cookies…), and handmade gifts in the form of painting and writing.

I cried. But they were the best possible kind of tears.

Whatever my issues were with turning thirty, they’re all gone. I might be a bit of a scatterbrain and a dreamer, and I might have no real idea of where I’ll be in 6 months from now, never mind in another ten years, but it doesn’t matter.The reality has now sunk in: I must be doing something right to find myself spending my birthday surrounded by friends like these!

3 thoughts on “It was the best of times, and it was… no, that’s all. Just the best!

  1. Sounds amazing Hails. Surprise trips are always fun and I like that you have a reminder for the rest of your life. Little notes from people are so much more valuable than jewellery or chocolates. It’s my 30th in April. Can you send your crew of friends to Ireland and let them know I like treasure hunts! xxx oh, and HPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

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