Monday, 6 April 2015

Lauren's 29th birthday

Wednesday April 1st was Lauren's 29th birthday! We usually end up spreading out our birthdays over a week, and this one was no exception! I had a conversation recently with a group of friends I met for lunch about birthdays - we were discussing at which age birthdays seem to become non-existent. Like you get a few cards, but still carry on as normal, go to work etc, and that's that. The general consensus is it is around the late twenties / early thirties mark that this shift happens, for a lot of people. Lauren and I are firm believers that birthdays are for celebrating properly, so we both normally have the week / a couple of days off work, and we spend it together, with family and seeing friends, and make it a big deal. Cos it is a big deal - my wonderful wife has been on this planet for exactly 29 years! 
Three days before Lauren's birthday, we set off on a journey to our favourite place in the UK - Brighton. This was our fifth visit to Brighton, having spent another of Lauren's birthdays here, plus our engagement, and mini moon. This time was a little different though, as we had booked a pet friendly hotel! We have taken Willow on a few trips with us - to Devon, Wales twice, and London. Such a well travelled bear! She is used to car journeys, and was very well behaved, except for some curious looks!
After we'd checked into our hotel on the sea front, our first stop was VegFest - an annual vegan fair that has events in other cities across the UK. There are cookery demonstrations, a food court, charity stalls, a comedy festival, speakers, and lots and lots of shopping! We headed straight for the food court as we were starving, with Lauren trying vegan Caribbean food, and me trying a gorgeous pad Thai. We didn't have chance to catch any of the speakers or demo's, but did get to chat to the lovely blogger Fat Gay Vegan, and purchase SO much food! We bought tea, hot chocolate, crisps, sausages, cereal bars, marshmallows, cakes, and ridiculous amounts of chocolate! It was amazing to see so much vegan food, and for a completely vegan event to be so busy - they had 12,000 people through their doors in two days! We are going to attend the next one in London later in the year if we can! It was great at proving there isn't much, if anything, you have to miss out on if you're vegan.
After being completely shopped out,  we returned to the hotel to drop off our bags and collect Willow! We took her to a square popular with dog walkers that we visited on our very first visit to Brighton five years ago. Willow had great fun racing around with her new friends.
With Willow worn out, we were able to return to our hotel room to leave her to sleep off her run, and get ready to go out for dinner. Brighton is awash with amazing and beautiful restaurants, which cater for every single cuisine, diet and preference. Importantly for us, it has some of the best rated vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the UK, which is amazing as it means we can go out for dinner knowing instead of having a choice of maybe two veggie starters and mains, we can have anything off the entire menu. Having been to Food for Friends a few times (always wanting to return because it is just so gorgeous), we opted this time to try Terre a Terre, an equally highly rated restaurant serving only vegetarian food that we were yet to try out. 

As we had had so much food at Veg Fest we went for their tapas, chips and wine deal, which was so gorgeous we ended up getting sides and desserts too! The restaurant and food were beautiful, and the staff were so fantastic - such a wonderful evening. Although we both agree that we prefer Food for Friends, as their food always hits the WOW factor regardless of what you order, Terre a Terre was beautiful, and we had an amazing evening.
The day we arrived had been awful weather - windy and cold. So as we woke up in our cute seafront hotel we were very pleased to see the sun had come to join us! This seems to happen every time we go to Brighton - we arrive to rain and then the sun appears!
We headed out for breakfast at a popular vegan cafe VBites, whose menu we have been impressed by for a while! The breakfasts were huge, and delicious! We loved the cafe and bought a few things from their shop too - our favourite was some vegan donor kebab meat which we had back in Birmingham with salad pittas and chips from our local chip shop!

After such a lovely breakfast date there was only one thing left to do in Brighton before we had to think about heading home later that day - lose a few hours in the Laines! Brighton is so full of quirky, independent and interesting shops, it is very easy to wander round and realise half the day has gone. Hand in hand, in the sunshine, this place never fails to leave us feeling happy, at peace and truly relaxed, it really is our favourite place in the UK.

I bought a beautiful dress to wear at my moms 60th, Lauren bought a candle, and she also managed to surprised me! Leading me through the Laines until we reached a tiny jewellery store full of gorgeous delicate handmade trinkets, Lauren said she had to collect something, and I was handed a ring box by the store owner! Lauren had designed a ring for me, to say thank you for supporting her through difficulties with her job earlier in the year. I really don't think I did anything more than love her and be her wife, but I love my ring so much I'm not complaining!
The ring was a curved solid silver infinity ring, engraved with the word 'Always'. I love Harry Potter, especially the quote "After all this time? Always" and it feels very fitting as we have been together ten and a half years! Our visit to Brighton was almost four years to the day that we got engaged there too.

Our last stop was at a bakery we visited on our first trip to Brighton, on our engagement, and came here for a baking class to learn how to make our wedding cakes. We were pleased to see they now do vegan cakes, so stopped for a snack and a well earned cup of tea after a busy few hours shopping!

Before we really did have to think about heading home and leaving our favourite place behind, we went back to the hotel and collected Willow, for a beautiful long walk along the beach from one pier to the other. Although the sun had gone in, it wasn't cold, and we were able to walk, talk and show Willow why her mummies love it here so much!

After a wonderful two days, it was time to drive back home- we love you Brighton!

The following day we had a rather lovely chilled out day at home together. Lauren's parents popped round for a while, and then we saw her best friend and 12 week old baby girl. We spent the afternoon making Lauren's birthday cake! We had been told that eggs, butter and milk can be substituted for a can of lemonade in a cake recipe (yeah I know, we didn't believe it either!), thus making the cake entirely vegan! We usually use egg replacer powder, soy milk and dairy free butter but decided to give it a try out of curiosity, and it works! 

The day before Laurens birthday our celebrations continued, with a little more…food! We went out for a casual meal at the Arcadian in Birmingham, visiting the Mexican chain Las Iguanas. We are lovers of Mexican food, and despite us promising to never eat Mexican food ever again after having so much of the stuff on our honeymoon, we are glad to say our appetites for tacos, burritos and gorgeous guacamole has returned! They have a specific veggie and vegan menu, and things like cheese, sour cream and spicy salsa come in little pots, so you can adjust your meal according to diet or taste. It was a very enjoyable night of cocktails and dinner, and allowed us to reflect on Lauren's 28th year, with all its wonderful highs and not so brilliant lows, and talk about what we hope her 29th year may bring.

And then it was Wednesday! Lauren started her birthday with lots of birthday love from our favourite bear.

Then it was time to open her cards. I love reading lovely things people have written about her, she has lots of lovely friends and its so nice to see people appreciating someone who means so much to you. 
And presents! Lauren's main present was a shopping trip, but I surprised her with a new bag and purse from Cath Kidston, some Victoria's Secret goodies, some Starbucks tea and a glass teacup.

After the presents were opened (Willow's favourite part - she loves to "help") we headed out to Solihull for breakfast. Breakfast is Lauren's favourite meal of the day, she'd eat it for lunch and dinner too if she could, and loves to go out to eat, so breakfast out was an obvious choice! We went to Giraffe, which has impressive breakfast menu, and opted for pancakes, and a veggie brunch to share. 

Despite not being her usual first choice activity - she usually chooses to visit a National Trust place, or walk around somewhere with a beautiful landscape - and you are more likely to catch her in a book shop than a clothes shop - Lauren wanted to go shopping for new clothes on her birthday! She has been working hard to make sure she eats well to get her body in shape for our upcoming IVF, and has lost quite a bit of weight, so it seemed only right that she should have some new clothes! We must have visited every shop in Solihull - and then went to Birmingham too! Finishing the day off in Victoria's Secret then getting an iced soy cinammon latte for the drive home, it was almost like being back in LA….we wish!! After a wonderful birthday Lauren wanted to chill out at home, with a pizza, bottle of wine, and season 5 of Pretty Little Liars, which ended a perfect few days in a perfect way.

I hope you had fun beautiful wife of mine! You are such an amazing wife, daughter, sister, auntie, cousin, friend, godmother, midwife, as well as being the funniest, most intelligent, unique, caring person I've ever met. I met you as an eighteen year old and I feel privileged to have been yours the entirety of your twenties! Happy birthday sweetheart, I hope the last year of your twenties is amazing!

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