Hmmmm....still quite a way to go with that one then.
Tuesday (my birthday, in case you hadn't noticed) dawned bright and The Mothership and I decided to go to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. I'd been before once or twice at school, but The Mothership swore blind she'd never been before. Actually, I don't think it matters whether you've been before or not, there's so much to see that I doubt you'd remember everything anyway.
Who knew that's why kirby grips are called kirby grips?!
We had great fun wondering about and looking in all the cabinets - the museum is chock-a-block full of interesting things that have either been collected by the museum or donated by people, and everything is sorted into little collections; weapons, textiles or jewellery for example. I of course made a beeline for the shrunken heads, which are one of the exhibits which make the Pitt Rivers such an enticing place for the little people (and me) to go to. They (and me) find the shrunken heads both gruesome and fascinating in equal measure.
There is so much to see in the museum that I think visits are best kept short and sweet to avoid brain overload. The Mothership and I spent about an hour and a half in there, and didn't even make it off the ground floor. (There are two more levels on balconies which overlook the main floor, a bit like my all time favourite shop Liberty.) I will definitely be back there soon to complete the other two floors.
It being half term this week, the museum was crammed full of children who just wanted to play and their parents who just wanted them to learn something (no rest even in half term, hey kids?!) and how can you fail to learn something when the hall of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History has a honking great dinosaur skeleton in the hallway?! You see, Pitt Rivers can only be entered via the Natural History Museum, so essentially you get two museums for the price of one (they're both free, but you know what I mean) so I had a good old time looking at the many animal skeletons on display, the fossils and the semi-precious stones and minerals.
As soon as you step outside the doors, the museum and the billions of small children seem a whole world away, as stretching out before you is something of a tree graveyard. Ten huge tree stumps lie on their sides in an art installation entitled "Ghost Forest" by the artist Angela Palmer. The stumps were brought to Europe from a commercially logged forest in Western Africa, and are intended to highlight the rate of deforestation and the effect that it is having on the planet. To see these tree stumps, some with enormous tangles of roots still attached, and to imagine how big the entire tree must have been is quite awe-inspiring. Truly thought-provoking.
In the afternoon, the birthday treats continued, and soon it was time for tea and cake. The tradition in the Blackie household is to open cards at breakfast time, and to wait until 4pm to open presents and to eat a delicious cake (usually chocolate) baked by the Mothership. Many people find this act of extreme self-restraint frankly mind-boggling, but I enjoy stretching out the excitement throughout the whole day. Where's the fun in opening all your presents by 8am and having nothing to look forward to for the rest of the day?!
Anyway, I received some amazing presents and thoroughly enjoyed eeking out the opening by taking over an hour to get through them all! Another act of extreme self-restraint. I'm quite good at it. Give me a chocolate bar and I'll not wolf it down all in one go, but eat it slowly, one well-chewed bite at a time, sometimes even saving half for later. I have actually, no word of a lie, just finished half a Snickers bar that I started yesterday morning, carefully re-wrapped and stowed away for an opportune moment. Does anyone else do this? ...Anyone?
The final treat of the day was to put on our gladrags and head out en famille to a restaurant carefully chosen by The Parents. The destination is usually a closely-guarded secret, and this was no exception, although I had an inkling that we'd be going to The Fishes, as it's one of my favourite restaurants. And as usual, the food was delicious (I had a game stew and roasted roots, followed by raspberry jelly, Italian meringue and a chocolate chip cookie) and we all had a jolly good time.
So there we have it. My twenty-ninth birthday. There are now precisely 360 days left until I'm 30. I'd best go and finish my "30 before I'm 30" list!
Thanks for visiting, lovely people. I look forward to your comments on your own birthday traditions and whether you have the same need for restraint as I do....
emmalemonade x x x