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A BIRTHDAY FESTIVAL

They say that growing old is a privilege, and every birthday should be celebrated in full recognition of scraping through another year of being alive. Never mind the wrinkles and general march south of your most celebrated assets – hurrah for life! But there ain’t no doubt about it – they pass faster and faster and one birthday becomes the next well before you’re totally ok with being as old as you were last year. So what should you do to combat this?

Have a proper rip-roarer of a party is what! Now this is especially true, as we all know, for the milestone birthdays. Your 18th, your 21st, your 30th, and every decade after that. And every half-decade. And every numerically alliterative one too, because why not, since life is famously so short (22, 33, 44).

I was lucky enough to be invited to a stupendously fabulous 30th party recently, with all the ingredients for a suitably momentous affirmation of the ageing process. Here’s what you need:

  • A long, sunny weekend
  • A grassy field filled with dandelions and daisies
  • A motley collection of individuals, all of whom you love dearly
  • A well-stocked bar
  • A selection of Portobello Tents’ finest Lotus Belles
  • (Outrageously oversized bonfire optional)

Now if all these things are within your reach, you can be assured of a birthday weekend to trump all birthday weekends. Also known as: a BIRTHDAY FESTIVAL.

Picture it :

Somewhere deep in bucolic idyll, a vast swathe of lush green grass is dotted with the creamy curves of luxury Lotus Belles, laid out in perfect formation. A big jaunty dining tent holds within it trestle tables laden with mouth-watering treats, a dance floor and alarmingly big speakers. The bar is ready for action, condensation glistening on rows and rows of well-chilled wine and beers in troughs full of ice.

Gradually, the bottom of the field fills with the cars of people who’ve been sweating the length of the M5 to come and see you. They stiffly traipse up to the bar, dragging suitcases stuffed with fancy dress and paracetamol, sun cream and (with any luck) birthday presents. As the sun sets, and the champagne flows, there’s the unmistakable spark of revelry afoot. Fast forward through the dancing, carousing and deep and meangingfuls by the fire to wake in the fresh, sunny air of the British countryside under canvas.

Though your head might be a little blurry, you’re somehow perfectly fine, sunk as you are deep beneath comfortingly large duvets into blissful memory foam mattresses. An eye mask keeps your sensitive little eyes from the glare of a bright summer morn, and there’s the reassurance of a hot shower just metres away. Plus there’s that mild boost of knowing everyone else is feeling as ropey as you are.

This is, perhaps, the best thing about a birthday festival. It’s the camaraderie and adventure of camping combined with the knowledge that the whole weekend lies stretching ahead of you. There’s time to catch up properly with your friends, time for the mundane hilarity of long afternoons and shared hangovers. If you’re mad enough, throw in some personal torture, sorry, training, for the whole gang, and maybe see if you can’t find a pool somewhere to splash about it. Pimms, endless Pimms, and coronation chicken go very well with a day like this.

Then – do it all over again for night number two! Because that’s what a festival is all about. If you can’t be excessive when commemorating yet another trip round the sun, when can you be?

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