I’m not really big on receiving presents. The Boy and I have come to a comfortable habit of eschewing gifts in favour of travel and nice meals. So to celebrate our 30th birthdays (which are exactly 2 weeks apart!) we drove down to Margaret River, or as us Perthies call the general South West region of Western Australia, “Down South”. Known for its wineries, beaches and forests and generally more of a warm weather destination, in winter the region feels quiet and relaxed without the hordes of tourists.
With a week off of work up my sleeve we drove down on Wednesday morning, armed with just a small bag each, a bunch of unread Monocole magazines and a loaf of freshly baked banana bread to serve as both birthday cake and breakfast. We splurged just a little on a lovely suite with a kitchenette and a huge bath (a luxury when you have only a shower at home!), reasoning that it would be balanced out by the money saved making our own breakfasts and suppers. I was glad of the nice digs when my sneezing on the drive down escalated into a full on cold, which meant that instead of driving around the countryside tasting wine I had a quiet, relaxing (if somewhat sickly) retreat.
I managed to enjoy an incredible celebratory lunch at Voyager Estate before things got too bad, but the rest of our gastronomic plans were abandoned in favour of makeshift but satisfying meals of banana bread, local cheese, bread and dates.Since my wine tasting plans were foiled we did some touristy things instead, visiting Cape Leeuwin (the most south-westerly point of Australia) and strolling along the 2km length of the Busselton Jetty on the way back to Perth. Most of the time I resigned myself to keeping warm inside, reading my magazines whilst clutching a tissue box and many mugs of camomile tea. Not ideal perhaps, but a break is a break and I was glad to be away from work and wifi.
I keep being asked how it feels to be 30, but the fact is I didn’t suddenly turn a year older or a decade older – the days blend into weeks, into months and years, and then you are where you are. It isn’t a sudden jump as much as a steady climb, an accumulation of routines punctuated by memorable experiences, both good and bad. That’s why I like to mark the passing of another year by sharing meals with friends and family over material presents – those are the experiences that slow down time and will be remembered.