June 3rd – Gail’s Birthday

Another hurdle, a big one; Gail’s birthday. There’s no getting round this, it’s hard. You can’t celebrate – there’s nothing to celebrate or anyone to celebrate it with – but you can’t ignore it either. The day was made more difficult by the fact that we always went away for both our birthdays. For Gail’s this was a trip to her favourite place, Marmaris in Turkey. There she would we stock up on designer goods for her impending Ascot Day later in the month and, often, even get Christmas presents in. In between, we’d visit restaurants, go to bars, chat and laugh. We loved it, it was always one of our favourite weeks of the year.

One thing I couldn’t do is go to Marmaris. It would have been like cheating on her. In fact, I can’t even return to Turkey let alone Marmaris. But I had to do something to mark the day; something that just involved me and somehow being with her. I decided eventually that I had to do something I wanted to do that she would understand, so I decided to go the restaurant of a top chef in London I’d always liked, have a meal there and then see where the day took me.

My posts for the day reflected on my memories of the last birthday she was to have.

For the first time in a good many years there’s no holiday in the first week of June. So what to do with the day? On what should be a happy occasion, it’s now sadly a day I will probably dread for the rest of my life.

Last year, on this day, we took the cliff walk from Marmaris – where we went every year at this time – to Ichmeler, to dine in the gorgeous Karem Restaurant. I hadn’t realised how lovely Ichmeler was. It was a beautiful day and we were chatting and laughing like we usually did, I took the photo below from the table (I have one of Gail but it’s too painful to post) and I said we needed to return and stay in Ichmeler next year and Gail agreed. I’m still not sure if either of us thought we would be coming back, but we made our plans and I’m glad we did.

Ichmeler 2017

I’ve just checked out the window and this isn’t Ichmeler though and it never will be. I can never go back in this life. I’ve planned to return one last time however. When I go, the kids have instructions to mix our ashes and take us both to Marmaris, take the walk to Ichmeler and scatter us along the shoreline.

Until then, I have to find us something else to do, Pet.

I started off at Phil Howard’s Elystan Street restaurant, having three delicious courses and leaving before suddenly realising I’d had – completely out of character – lamb’s LIVER. The dark humour cloud was hovering over me that day. Trying to work off a bit off excess, I took some back-doubles around the Chelsea / Kensington area before surprisingly finding myself outside of Gail’s favourite hotel.

See, I love it when stuff like this happens. I came out of the restaurant and decided to walk off a bit of dinner – you know how fat I am 🤣 – and I walked with just a vague idea of the direction I was going in, I cut down back streets, double backed a bit and suddenly I found myself outside of Gail’s favourite hotel. Eh? We came here for some memorable teas over the years and she bought her friends here as well. So.. go in? I don’t think I’ve been led here for no reason so why not! A glass of Laurent Perrier? Be rude not to.

The Blue Bar at the Berkeley

A walk from the Berkeley along Piccadilly bought me to my favourite church. St James’s Piccadilly. I go there every Christmas and try to drop in any time I pass. I was there for a purpose as I knew Gail always liked to light a candle if she was in a church so I wanted to light one for her. It became apparent though that I’d stumbled into something being assembled and I discovered I’m wandered into an evening concert of sacred chants, mantras and songs by a duo known as Illumina.

Seeing my difficulty, I was kindly asked to stay – admittance free – and, though I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle more than a few minutes of it, I took up the kind offer. I was so glad I did. I ended up staying for all bar the last few minutes, finding the whole thing relaxing and rewarding in a way I wouldn’t have been able to envisage if it had been suggested beforehand.

Then it was on to Covent Garden. Our first ‘date’ as such was in Rumours, London’s first cocktail bar (yep it was THAT long ago). It’s sadly long gone and isn’t even anything now – all boarded up – but ‘Be At One’, a smaller cocktail bar, is next door to where Rumours used to be and it’s cocktails till close now.

And that was it. At the end of the day I realised I’d walked from Chelsea to Covent Garden. Once again a day I’d been dreading had opened up into something else. By the time I got home it was five minutes past midnight and Gail’s first birthday ‘elsewhere’ had passed. Another day I’d rather not have had, but one that had its surprising aspects.

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