Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

The clock ticked swiftly on, meticulously in sync with the movement of the world. The hourglass turned again and, before you knew it, I was approaching another big birthday. All birthdays are truly marvelous, honestly, another trip around the sun, a bonus chance to have more of a wonderful life on earth than you’ve already enjoyed. I don’t struggle with aging; what’s the alternative? I endeavor to embrace all the things I can still do and let go of the things I can’t. It’s a good mantra. My sister Rosie died at the youthful age of 48. I’m so fortunate.

But here I was back in the cottage where I was born 60 years ago with some of my very favorite people, and I do have to say that I felt quite emotional. We had cake and more cake and then some extra cake for good measure to celebrate mine and all our big birthdays. The best champagne was drunk, presents and cards opened. Enormous laughs all around. Some minutes in time you do want to frame, and this was one of them.

We went out boating on a lake that I hadn’t visited since I was perhaps single digits. The lake and the rowing boats were the same. We were all a little older and a bit more cautious about falling into the two feet of water than we were years ago; but it was such a lovely outing. It’s good to do one crazy thing to mark a big birthday and this was mine.

And sometimes you can have too much of a good thing; and I spent the day after my birthday mostly in bed, sleeping. Regardless of the fact it was a beautiful day, and we still had a house full of guests, I spent the day on a time out. I canceled everything for that evening and the next day and immediately felt better. Character is fate. I always want to do so much of everything until I can no more. We did make time to swing by Sutton Hoo, oh my goodness. Put it on your bucket list.

And then we were full speed ahead again and it was time to leave my lovely cottage on the East Coast of England, head back to London and then catch a flight to the Isle of Man where my sister and father live.

Weather on this little island in the Irish Sea can be a little — ahem — subject to change. Just when you think you have a lovely day ahead of you, here comes the rain or the storm or the wind; but I’m always impressed by how the locals just get on with life regardless. My sister and her lot go running, swimming, biking in all weathers. They don’t really seem to notice weather!

A family friend gave me a donkey for my big birthday. I was so excited. I’d always wanted my own donkey! Well, in actuality, it wasn’t my very own to transport home to Solace in Cali, but Bluebell The Donkey was adopted by her for me at the lovely Home for Old Horses and Donkeys on the aforementioned island, where she will live out her lucky days as a very spoiled and beloved donkey. As a rescue person, plus a horse and donkey lover, I was so impressed with the home, the lovely green pastures and health and well-being of the animals at the forefront of everything.

When we arrived, an old tram horse was being delivered to start his retirement on those lush acres. We took along a photo of Bluebell so she could be recognized from amongst her peers and a bag of carrots (not enough). I was so delighted by the adoption of my newest child that I felt quite moved. My sister adopted a lovely grey mare called Lady for a friend’s daughter and we spent some money in their gift shop. Regardless of the rain, that was one of my most favorite days. Rescues the world over are to be saluted. I’ve said that before.

And then it was back to London town. Because of the unpredictability of the weather off the island, I always give myself an extra day before the flight home, just in case. Luckily my flight was on time and uneventful. The flight the following day, however, was canceled. And then I have the delightful prospect of a free day. I contacted my very old school friend Charis to see if we could meet up. We’ve had lovely get-togethers these past few years. She comes from her home in Reading and picks me up from my hotel at London Heathrow and then we travel to Windsor, which I have grown to like a lot.

For those of you not in the know, Windsor is the location of one of the Royal Castles and the burial site of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, just to start off with. If you are a real history buff, you can find many, many more burial sites within those castle walls.

We were gifted with a gorgeously warm and sunny day — flip flop weather even — and coffee at the Ivy was in order before our tour. Truthfully, it was less of a tour and more of a time slot we were allocated to go through the rooms of the Castle and the very famous St. George’s Chapel, most recently the site of Prince Philip and then the Queen’s funerals. Because of the enormous distance her coffin traveled throughout the country before arriving at Windsor Castle, I had forgotten entirely that her burial was there.

Charis and I stood obediently in a long line of people at the Chapel, not really knowing why, but looking around ourselves in awe at this hallowed ground. Once we realized that we would be passing by the family mausoleum and last resting place of the Queen, we became quite emotional. She was the only Queen we had ever known in our lifetime and here she was. The air in the Chapel was thick with somber pomp and majesty and we were both so very glad we had taken the time to pass through and pay our respects.

After the Chapel, we took a long time to go through the Reception Rooms at the Castle, rich with history, art and antiques. Gold-gilted everythings awaited us in those spectacular rooms until we could see no more. We agreed to revisit everything another day.

As we know from Lucy’s birthday extravaganza, you can have too much of a good thing.

What a lovely day we enjoyed, eating lunch outside a super old pub with another friend from our way back childhood. So many things to catch up on and, as usual, it’s as if we were never apart. It’s been a marvelous turn around the sun, I do have to say. Thanks to all who participated in making it so very special.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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