I’ve thought so many times over the last year about this particular blog post. About what I’d say and how I’d feel. I didn’t realise it would be quite this emotional.

For once in my life, it seems that words aren’t quite adequate. I have so much I want to communicate, and yet I’ve rewritten these first couple of sentences a dozen times already.

I should start by looking at that list I wrote back when I was just 29, to see how many things I’ve managed to tick off. After all, that was kind of the point of this blog.

But you’ll remember, dear Reader, that I take exception to the word ‘should’. And besides, even though I’ve achieved almost all of my original goals, somehow that doesn’t seem quite as important any more.

I’d much rather tell you about the incredible weekend away I’ve just had with my friends and family in Devon.

I’ll always be grateful to the genius who directed me to the Helpful Holidays website (thanks Jax!) where I found the gem that is Sheafhayne Manor.

The old shooting estate of Sir Francis Drake, it was like something out of an Agatha Christie film or a game of Cluedo, with twisty staircases and interconnecting rooms and the most incredible grounds.

There we played board games in front of a roaring log fire, explored the gardens and surrounding fields with our cameras and wellies, took full advantage of the billiards room and generally reveled in the luxury of it all.

We scoffed a ridiculous amount of food in the vast kitchen and dining room thanks to the expert catering skills of my mum and her glamorous assistants, and enjoyed a bar that included everything from wine, beer and champagne to port, mead and quince liqueur.

The pinnacle of the festivities was the 1920s themed cocktail party on Saturday night, and I am still in awe at how amazing everyone looked in their fancy dress – pictures to come on Facebook soon!

As I think about my birthday weekend, I realise that my feelings about the last few days echo my feelings about the last year in general, and indeed my life so far.

The manor was amazing. The food and drink, the games (including the hilarious “how much do you know about Rin” quiz), the presents, the luxury – all were wonderful beyond expectation.

But what made it truly special were the people who shared it with me.

Looking back over the three decades I’ve spent on this earth, there have been a lot of achievements that I’m proud of. I would say that I’ve lived my life to the full, and have no regrets that start with “I wish I had…”

And yet the most important element of my life is the people who I’ve known and loved and been loved by.

So thank you to all of you who have got me to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you – I wouldn’t want to have done it without you – and I am so excited about all the years we have to share together in the future.

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