It’s my birthday next week. I have a love/hate relationship with birthdays but they’re becoming more enjoyable as S gets older. Except for last year, obviously – she was so ill with chicken pox our planned weekend away was replaced with a mad dash to the GP for antibiotics! 

This year people have been asking me what I would like for my birthday, and as usual I am short on ideas. My lifestyle means that I don’t really need a lot of things – actually what I probably need is a good clear out of this cluttered old house! 

Looking back over previous birthdays, I realise now that I don’t remember gifts so much as experiences. I remember going to Glastonbury (the town, not the festival) on my 18th birthday; I remember having a Science GCSE on my 16th. I remember one year going camping at a beautiful campsite on my birthday. The one exception to this would be last year’s gift from S; she gave me four brightly coloured plastic cups, the kind with a straw wrapped around the outside. Though to be honest, I think I probably remember this so clearly because it was the first gift S had ever given me which I’d not paid for myself, and was a genuine surprise for me – so an experience, again!

On my 16th birthday my mum gave me a copy of JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey – I have no idea why I remember this so clearly, but it’s a book I still have on my shelf today (The Catcher In The Rye has long since disappeared) That birthday was spent at my local cinema with a friend – I think it was 100 years since cinemas were invented or some such, and it was £1 each to watch a film, so we stayed all day and watched several movies. It was great.

One year for my birthday, I went on a trip to Cornwall with a boyfriend. We stopped at Dawlish for a night on the way and had a picnic on a bench on top of the tunnel Brunel carved out of the rocks. It was beautiful… the picnic, I seem to remember, was mostly just dry baguettes and lumps of cheese – but I did enjoy watching the trains on the track below! (If you’ve never seen the Dawlish sea wall, you really should) I do not remember whether my boyfriend even gave me a gift for that birthday – I should imagine he probably did. All I really remember is the amazing cooked breakfasts in the B&B where we stayed, and wandering around Newquay in the sunshine.

When I realise that I have little recollection of birthday gifts over the years, it makes me wonder whether I really want any gifts this year at all! 

Traditional “birthday gifts for women” are somewhat lost on me. I would like to be the sort of person who received fancy ladies items for her birthday, and knew what to do with them! I go through stages of buying fancy products but for the most part, I barely manage to put on deodorant in the mornings, much less anything more ladylike! I marvel at friends of mine who always look so beautifully put together – the kinds of people who never have dodgy tan lines from their sunglasses or forget they’re wearing mascara and rub their eyes for a tired five minutes before realising it’s now everywhere! And it doesn’t matter who does my nails with what sort of new invention, I am able to chip or smudge the varnish within minutes.

Thanks to this site, I am lucky enough to be sent items for review from time to time – though I must admit most of the things I’m sent for review are for S! I’ve been blogging now for eighteen years – this blog is six years old. I think that classes us as fairly “established” and we are lucky to receive all sorts of things for review. Again though – as you will see from the reviews I publish on this site, the things we receive are mostly for the small person. And weirdly, when I think about things I might like, they ususally involve S. Perhaps a book of interesting facts that I could sit and read with her, or maybe a day trip we could take together somewhere. 

Ten years ago if you’d asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I could have given you a list as long as your arm of things I really wanted… but now, I’m not so sure! This year a friend has offered to take S and I out for the day with her and her son, and I’m really looking forward to just having a nice picnic and spending time with lovely friends. How times have changed!

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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