Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Bit About Birthdays

My goodness me, but it's birthday season with a vengeance.

Cousin Dave is celebrating his 3rd birthday today, Dong will be 6 on Thursday next, Mrs The Millbrooker will also be 6 (but in a different decade) in only one day over a week's time. On and on it goes until the glorious 12th when The Depitty finally finishes the expensive part of summertime off. But he'll be in Mexico learning how to sex jellyfish or something, so the sponsored birthday dinner will have to wait a while.

But just for now, here's a little bit about what I did on my birthday. If you read the posting a few days ago, you'll know that the first part of the day entailed getting ourselves by iron horse to Westbury. Here's yours truly and The Wizzers of Soz (in her "blogstar" tee-shirt) luxuriating in first class (it was my birthday) shortly after leaving Plymouth. Note the ultra-smart new shirtings obligingly covering up my torso; 95p from Millbrook's own charity shop - last of the big spenders, me.The trip to Westbury was to attend Barbara's funeral. Barbara was an old and very dear friend of Milly's, so naturally Mrs The Millbrooker had known Barbara for aeons as well. We met up with Milly and Trickers in plenty of time and headed into Westbury's historic town centre (the rest of the place is an utter pit - but the very middle is rather attractive) for coffee and then the church service.

After the committal (great way to spend a birthday, huh?) we went to a grand feast-in-memory-of at The Lopes Arms which had been arranged by Barbara's nearest and dearest relatives, Jenny and Jenny's daughter Barbie. Here's one of Milly with Jenny and Barbie. I should add that the funereal mood had lifted somewhat by the point the camera was taken out - we're not that insensitive! A word or two about The Lopes Arms. Should you find yourself in Westbury I can recommend the place. Welcoming landlord, decent looking menu and more importantly well kept and scrummy ale. Room rates for an over-nighter don't seem too silly, either. We're not in Westbury very often (even though Anal and Sandybum live there), but next time we are - The Lopes Arms can expect a visit.

Back at Milly Mansions I got to do a bit of birthday-ing; opening a pressie and card from the in-laws (great book about Robert Lenkiewicz).I also got to try a new head attachment in the shape of a standard lamp.A wee bit later, after watching a spot of 20twenty nonsense on the telly with Trickers, it was time to head off to the promised slap-up. Not, however, at The Boatman as I posted just before the trip.

We went to The Bathwick Boatman, an entirely different kettle of fish altogether (and much nicer, as it happens). Just an admin error on my part, there was never any intention of going to The Boatman. Are you keeping up?

We last went to The Bathwick Boatman over two years ago (when they used to do a 20oz rump); it's changed hands since and the menu has got even better. The chef and monsieur le patron, Ben Hall, quite obviously takes great pride in his work and has a considerable and enviable skill in bringing lovely full flavours to the plate. He and his staff have a easy going, ready-to-smile attitude as well which makes the place even more special. Well done them.I began with slices of rolled and stuffed saddle of rabbit, roasted in lard and served on a bed of spicy butter beans. Sound good, or what? And it was good. Mains for three out of the four of us was local delicacy Bath Chaps (pig's cheek) slow roasted and served with chard and mustard mash. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

The Bathwick Boatman keeps a pretty decent cellar, too. The Rioja that we washed our plateloads down with was very good indeed without costing silly money.

Very unusually for me (Trickers reckoned he'd never known such a thing before), I declined pudding on the grounds that I was too full. My only excuse is that I'd stuffed myself at The Lopes Arms earlier and even someone of such gargantuan appetite as me has some limits.

Thumbs up to The Bathwick Boatman - you're probably more likely to find yourself in Bath than in Westbury; no one goes to Westbury as a tourist. So - if and when you're in Bath and you fancy something a tiny bit off the beaten track, look up Ben's place by the riverside in Bathwick. You won't be disappointed.

All that remained of the day was to glug a bottle of pink bubbly back at Milly Mansions and to ready ourselves for the trip back on Thursday. We completely forgot to take an "official birthday portrait" on the day itself, so here's me at age 1 and 1 day waiting for a train.Back at home I was dead chuffed to be presented with a card and voucher from Mrs The Millbrooker, Dozybean, The Depitty and The Wizzers of Soz for a day's falconry on Dartmoor as my big present. Now that's going to be an adventure and a half. Thank you, all!

Naturally, huge thank yous also go to Milly and Trickers for putting us up and for buying that lovely meal and terrific book. Also to everyone who either sang Happy Birthday down the phone (that'll be my Sis, then) or pushed a card through Millbrooker Tower's letter box, or left a bag of edible goodies in the 'fridge (Shazzerooneypoos and Dong). I truly appreciate the wishes.

It's very nearly time to pass on the mantle of Birthday Week to the next people - that's Dong and Mrs The Millbrooker, but I might just keep the King-For-A-Week crown for tonight as well.

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