It’s my birthday next week. I have a love/hate relationship with birthdays but they’re becoming more enjoyable as S gets older. Except for last year, obviously – she was so ill with chicken pox our planned weekend away was replaced with a mad dash to the GP for antibiotics!

This year people have been asking me what I would like for my birthday, and as usual I am short on ideas. My lifestyle means that I don’t really need a lot of things – actually what I probably need is a good clear out of this cluttered old house!

Looking back over previous birthdays, I realise now that I don’t remember gifts so much as experiences. I remember going to Glastonbury (the town, not the festival) on my 18th birthday; I remember having a Science GCSE on my 16th. I remember one year going camping at a beautiful campsite on my birthday. The one exception to this would be last year’s gift from S; she gave me four brightly coloured plastic cups, the kind with a straw wrapped around the outside. Though to be honest, I think I probably remember this so clearly because it was the first gift S had ever given me which I’d not paid for myself, and was a genuine surprise for me – so an experience, again!

On my 16th birthday my mum gave me a copy of JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey – I have no idea why I remember this so clearly, but it’s a book I still have on my shelf today (The Catcher In The Rye has long since disappeared) That birthday was spent at my local cinema with a friend – I think it was 100 years since cinemas were invented or some such, and it was £1 each to watch a film, so we stayed all day and watched several movies. It was great.

One year for my birthday, I went on a trip to Cornwall with a boyfriend. We stopped at Dawlish for…

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