28 March 2006
I'm now the same age Hank Williams was when he died.
Here’s what happened on my birthday a week ago today. We had cake and mimosas and presents, and then we drove through the countryside up to Oxfordshire to a secret location. Which turned out to be a stables where we had a riding lesson and then an exhilarating trek on Cloud and Jester in the freezing cold wind. Incidentally, our riding instructor Caroline turned out to be good friends with Harold from Neighbours!
We then went to a wildlife park, which was lovely in being eerily empty (except for a mysterious black labrador who seemed to be tied up outside of each indoor attraction we visited). We saw strange gigantic snakes, a huge ant metropolis, two newly immigrated sloths, some emus, some tropical birds with blue mohawks, a tiny baby chimp, and, the best part of all, a colony of fruit bats. The bats display was brilliant: their large space was lit with infrared light, so you could watch them flitting around, soaring around and diving down for food, then coming in to land upside down against the window pane and on branches—and somewhat creepily in a large writhing ball of about 50 of the little things hanging from one of the branches. They looked like little winged squirrels. Amazing.
After that it was off to another secret surprise location, which turned out to be the Crazy Bear Hotel, a strange and wonderful place in the middle of nowhere that we’ve been hoping to visit for some time. Reception is in an old double decker bus nestled in some palm trees. We were upgraded to the Lynchian “Jet Black Suite,” where champagne was waiting. Along with a strange Jacuzzi bath complete with changing coloured lights right in the middle of the bed—it was like a bath of homemade Easter egg dye, minus the smell of vinegar. And the water came from the ceiling, which was padded in white silk.
More presents, then a Thai dinner at the oddly-decorated (I can find no fault with the use of mannequins, or their heads, ever) hotel restaurant, then Cointreau (aka orange-medicine G&T) in large funny glasses and dancing to the Fall DVD (look how young Mark E. looks against that textured wallpaper!) that was one of my gifts.
Next day was room service breakfast and a drive back south cause the amazing Mr. M., who was responsible for all this, had to work and I had to present a paper.