One of the most exciting things about becoming 40 was that in a fit of self-pity (or possibly ‘ohfuckit you only live once’) a few months ago I booked a dinner and night at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for myself and DH. I’m at the age now where I’ve come across a few people who’ve eaten there, but I hadn’t clocked that luncheon is significantly cheaper than an overnight stay. For any presents from people I asked for money, rather than STUFF (we are still trying very hard to get rid of 40+ years of accumulated rubbish in the house), and that was all very gratefully received. Though I had based the booking predominantly on an estimate as to what Dad might give me (based in turn on what he gave me when I was 30). Unfortunately it seems that retirement/credit crunch has hit the Bank of Dad, along with the rest of the nation, and it’s only just by the skin of our teeth that we’ve managed to cover the whole thing. A lesson there, obviously.
Anyway, it was SOOO exciting to be going, and we had a really gorgeous 24 hours; our first stay away from both children, and just wonderful to have some time together to meander round some beautiful gardens, wallow in a massive bath, and of course have a delicious gastronomic experience. M. Blanc came out to have a chat with everyone, coinciding with my favourite dish (a vegetable risotto). DH discussed the labour of picking peas with him (all the veg in the risotto were from the gardens, except for the peas. They were from Poland). Other highlights include a blue cheesy popcorn over cocktails, and a petit four consisting of liquorice icecream coated in chocolate croquant.
- I was very excited to be able to squeeze into my Jaeger Bella Freud dress (last worn for brother’s wedding about 10 years’ ago); though as my girth increased through the evening it did need a bit of pulling down around the midriff
- We had a lovely waiter who commended us on our crumb management (he had one of those nifty crumb scrapers)
- I had a candle in my pudding.
The only unexpected issue of the weekend (apart from forgetting that we were going up in an open-topped car, somewhat undoing the efforts of the hairdresser that morning) was discovering that, despite having been planning this night away for about two months, I had forgotten any breastpads, and the funnel attachment to my breastpump. By the end of the evening things were pretty full, but trying to use the suction component of the pump without the breast attachment was somewhat painful and likely to end in deformities. So I grinned and bore it and ended up sleeping the whole night flat on my back, unable to turn over, with Le Manoir flannels stuffed down my top. By the morning things had reached a pretty pass and I had to resort to manual expressing in the bath (the buoyancy of the water minimised the pain). This was a pretty demeaning experience. DH advised me that there were some sites on the internet where this was a speciality, but I assure you it scored zero points on the eroticism scale, and served only to give me RSI in my thumb. Finally, having taken the edge off things, I had to spend the rest of the morning with my bosoms bound up, and cotton wool pads and pantyliners in my bra.
I hope that has not set the tone for the decade. Now for a gratuitous picture of some Le Manoir ducks (a relief for the faint-hearted).