Birthdays are the best. This year I went back to my roots and celebrated with a classic garage party in my hometown, topped off with some of Mum’s homemade raspberry and caramel cake and a trip to see Fantastic Beasts. I wrapped it all up on my actual birthday with a candlelit dinner with my ‘magnifique’ boyfriend and a zombie cocktail, of course.
My Dad’s recycled bar and record-decked music room were at full capacity this weekend as all my family and close friends huddled inside to escape from the bitterly cold November night. The drinks were flowing, Mum’s party food was on point, and things were seriously heating up around the foosball table. Alas, my brother Kevin remains unbeaten.
One of my favourite things about celebrating a birthday is the cake. My Mum bakes cakes for me and my brothers every year, but her creations for my birthdays are the most experimental! Paul always gets his favourite chocolate cake (malteaser, to be exact), and Kevin, whose birthday is in the midst of winter, has always had an ice-cream cake (a nightmare to fit in the freezer around Christmas time!). Mine are always thrillingly different and my Mum’s best-kept secret every single year. I’ve had red velvet, passionfruit, coconut and parsnip, tres leche, mojito, vanilla, chocolate, spun sugar and this year, a truly delicious raspberry and caramel ombre cake!
The decision to have my party back home this year was an easy one. After a somewhat chaotic 25th birthday in 2017 (I didn’t even write a diary post about my ‘stormy-weather’ inspired flat party in Edinburgh…) that knocked me off my feet a little, I knew I didn’t want the pressure of hosting a party again so soon. It just so happens my parents are the best hosts I know and, after an epic garage party this summer and last autumn, I knew months ago that I’d be celebrating my 26th in our family pub in the garden.
I made a sangria-style punch to go with Mum’s pasta supper and threw on my favourite pink velvet dress before everyone arrived. It rained, but we all stayed warm and dry under the garage roof. Woodruff the labradoodle made a new best pal wherever the food went, and my nephews had the rooms of the house all to themselves to play with lightsabers and gadgets.
We finished in the wee hours after a nightcap in the garage and I slept soundly until breakfast the next morning. Breakfast, you should know, is an occasion in the Smith household. The further I reach into my twenties, the earlier I seem to rise, so I helped my Mum make a stellar fry-up for the friends who crashed overnight. It was a treat, and the perfect way to ease into a lazy Sunday.
Sometime around eight o’clock the night before my actual birthday I made an impulsive decision to book myself into a salon and get a makeover. My makeup is always pretty minimal, which I like, but for once I really wanted to turn it up. I’ve never had my makeup done for a dinner date before. There’s a first time for everything.
I drove back to Edinburgh and later found myself in Anon Beauty Bar on Dundas Street where I was handed a prosecco and a gold tray of sweets as soon as I sat down. The whole experience was top class and I loved how my makeup looked – golden and a little fiery!
A favourite bar of mine, The Devil’s Advocate, is hidden on a staircase in one of Edinburgh’s many closes spilling off the Royal Mile. We had wine with tasty food, lamb rump for me, which was such a perfect way to end my birthday. There were just a few more things on the agenda for the night: a bramble at Bramble, and a zombie cocktail as per tradition!
It’s raining and I’m feeling sleepy after a bath in my old Edinburgh tenement. I can’t stop thinking about how good this birthday has been and how in just a few days 26 has been fun, adventurous and full of surprises! I wonder what this year will have in store?