Last weekend we went up to the tiny village of Cambon, and beyond, into the green fields of the Parc naturel régional du Haut Languedoc to celebrate the joint 40th birthdays of my belle-soeur, Anne, and my beau-frère, Pascal. Green. It was all so green. In the sun, in the rain - there was plenty of both. Everything was green and beautiful. It felt like England. Slightly parochial that that should be my ultimate reference for beauty but there you go.
|La cabane (ou 'tente en bois de princesse' - Owen)|
It was a party very much in Anne and Pascal's image. Down-to-earth and generous. Many good things to eat and drink, live music (provided by Pascal's band) and, as the rain battered down on us, increasingly muddy. We arrived on the Saturday in glorious sunny weather but by Sunday, the day of the party, those cats and dogs were running amok. There was a brief moment of light and calm, in which Steph and I set off for a walk through the forest and, much to everyone's great surprise, including our own, managed not to get lost.
I'm all for 40th birthday parties. This is my second, and whereas my experience with weddings (be it good or bad) only ever confirms by horror at the very idea, I think 40ths are rather splendid . All the fun, none of the outrageous fuss. You are still young enough to enjoy yourself but old enough to know that all the flim flam of weddings is unnecessary. You can invite who you want, you can do it whenever and wherever you want, there are no ridiculous expectations, but you still get presents. The older you get the harder it is to gather friends together, at 40 you are both nostalgic and mobile, people seem only too willing to reconnect after the fug of the baby years.
|Both my lovely belles-soeurs|
So watch this space, maybe in two years' time Fanf and I will be inviting you to a muddy green field in honour of our own aging process...