Yesterday was my birthday. And, as usual, I took myself off for the morning and visited Hebden Bridge. It was a bit of a pain getting there: sheep in the road (there are always sheep in the road), slow-moving tractors and so on. But get there I did.
I didn't take my camera though. And I should have. So many things to photograph, so many missed opportunities... beds full of purple alliums, trees heavy with blossom, rows of terraces with names like 'Thistle Bottom', 'Groudle Glen' and 'Woodland Dell'.
So instead you have some pictures of our activities these past few weeks, and the May loveliness that's blooming away and perfuming our woodland walks.
Yes, so - Hebden Bridge. We visited a fortnight or so ago. Joe was being a nuisance so I decided to return alone on my birthday for a mooch around in peace, and perhaps to spend some birthday money. But when it came to it, I didn't really feel in the mood. I did, of course, buy Joe something (three books, to be exact). But after an hour and a bit of wandering around, admiring the lovely shops and topping up my vitamin D levels, I headed back home.
I did, however, meet up with two of my best friends in the village cafe for lunch. Turned out to be a bit of a panic as I suddenly decided to call in at Ramsbottom beforehand and look in the clothes shop there. And yes, I spent my birthday money. Just like that. On a Seasalt raincoat.
I already have one like this, purchased two (or was it three?) birthdays ago. But there's always room for more outdoor clothing in my wardrobe. And I tend to buy the one expensive thing which I wouldn't normally treat myself to at any other time of the year. I go for quality and know it'll last. This particular coat has a lifetime guarantee which is reassuring.
Birthday money gone (it never hangs around), I ate lunch with my lovely friends who had kindly clubbed together and treated me to a voucher for an aromatherapy massage - I can't wait for that - before going to collect Joe from school.
We ate chocolate and biscuits together in the kitchen and I decided that my birthday had been very nice indeed, if a bit hectic. I suspect a lie-in, a daytime bath and the chance to lounge around with a book all afternoon will happen on a future 18th of May.
I have been spoilt though. Another lunch last Saturday, lovely gifts, cards and well wishes. It's hard when I think of spending these special times with my mum so I like to imagine she's around somewhere, keeping an eye on proceedings and perhaps guiding me over that sheep-bothered moor road.
So I'm now 42. It looks older on paper (or screen) than I feel inside. I'm still the same person as I was twenty (twenty five?) years ago. Older, a little bit wiser, definitely more tired, but still as confused and silly. In a good way.
I did go out for a very brisk walk this morning though. In the spirit of taking care of myself and all that. I felt so virtuous that after lunch I finished my birthday chocolate off. Like I said, only a little bit wiser.