Birthdays Away

Joyeux Anniversaire

Sunday Musings: Birthdays Away.

Do you like to get away for your birthday or would you rather spend it at home with all your friends and family around?

This might sound completely antisocial but I love to escape, I want my birthday to be an adventure if at all possible.

I’ve spent my birthdays in New Zealand, Mongolia, France and Belgium, as well as lots of destinations around the UK. When mid November rolls round the restlessness intensifies and I find myself scouring Pinterest, blogs and magazines for travel ideas.

In my late teens my birthday always coincided with the carnival at Glastonbury. We’d pack up Maisy the VW camper and head down to Somerset for some autumn camping, I loved wrapping up warm and watching the colourful illuminated floats parade down the high street.

These birthday trips always included a pilgrimage up Glastonbury Tor to take in the view and the ‘energy’!

When I moved up to Scotland in my 20s I had a couple of birthday escapes to Edinburgh and ones all the way down to England. One was spent in a cosy B&B in Hay on Wye – the bookshop capital on the Welsh/English border – and another in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where we explored with neolithic wonders of Silbury Hill and the nearby famous West Kennet long barrow before driving to Stonehenge. Do what you love!

The first birthday I spent abroad was in New Zealand, and it was my first and only summer birthday! We visited the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata. This was a few years after they had finished filming Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit houses were mere shells.

In a hole in the ground! Hobbiton, NZI even got to feed a little lamb as part of the movie set tour!

As a further treat we went to the nearby Te Aroha Mineral Spas where we soaked in a traditional Edwardian wooden tub bath. The naturally hot mineral water felt so wonderful and was the perfect end to a fabulous birthday.

Crepes in GrenobleOur time in New Zealand was part of a much longer 14 month RTW trip and when we returned to the UK in 2009 we were completely skint!

We did manage to scrape enough money together for a romantic escape to Pitlochry that year though, I so needed to get away, we’d been stationary for seven months!

A year later and I headed over to Grenoble, France for some house sitting.

I had a perfectly French birthday of macarons, crepes and a delicious home cooked meal of champignons, fresh bread and faux gras (yes, there is a vegan alternative to the cruel, cruel pate!) finished with a gorgeous birthday cake.

I did have to wait a day for the macarons as my favourite macaron shop in Grenoble – David et Francois – doesn’t open on Mondays.

I walked eagerly to the shop only to find it closed, gutting!

Joyeux Anniversaire

I spent only one birthday in Juan the Van, camped up at Kielder Water in Northumberland. This man-made reservoir was definitely out of season in Mid-November, the visitor centre was closed and we practically had the place to ourselves. There were some strange mushrooms growing in the forest.

The weather was grim but we had a great weekend with plenty of fresh air.

Kielder Water

My next birthday adventure really lived up to its name. I spent 19 hours of it on the train between Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia to China.

We’d had to creep out of the hostel in UB to catch the early super early departure of the train. I clambered bleary eyed onto my bunk and fell straight back to sleep!

My birthday meal was eggs on toast (the only veggie option), washed down with beer in the restaurant car. The restaurant closed at 16.30 and two hours later so did the toilets as we reached the border scuppering any chances of being able to have a few birthday drinks.

We were able to leave the train just before the border for some fresh air then the rest of my birthday passed in the carriage inside a huge shed while the bogies (wheels) were changed for the wider Chinese track gauge. The novelty of the train being hoisted up was soon lost as the train shunted for what seemed like hours through the night.

What a birthday! If I didn’t love trains as much as I do, that would have been a real test of my capacity to enjoy a birthday!

I did celebrate my birthday the day before though, in UB at a Mongolian restaurant where I had fries (the only veggie option) and said goodbye to amazing friends with a cheeky vodka back at the hostel.

The last birthday I had away was last autumn, and we took the Eurostar to Bruges. I was determined to have a fun birthday after spending it on the train the previous year and Bruges is easy and quick to reach by train from the UK.

It rained – a lot – but Belgium has some fine beer and we dodged the showers between bars. Bruges looked really pretty despite the weather and the B&B we’d treated ourselves to was wonderful and friendly.

I had a delicious Egyptian meal that evening and grazed on waffles throughout the day!

So that brings everything up to date. I’ve just celebrated my birthday over the weekend but I didn’t go anywhere. I’m in Scotland, we are parked up on our friend’s drive.

We had planned to head up into the Cairngorms for a few days but with the threat of storm Abigail we decided to stay put.

Plus the horrific events of Friday in Paris didn’t leave me feeling particularly celebratory either.

Sometimes it’s good to be with friends, to take a long walk along the waterfront with my favourite pooch, to have my wee god-daughter sing happy birthday to me and to curl up on the sofa watching cheesy films.

Next year will be an adventurous birthday!

Pin it for later:

Birthdays Away

Try these posts:

Sunday Musings: Speaking French Realising all that High School French was worth it!

Sunday Musings: That Time I Saw The Northern Lights in Yorkshire Yes, really! And I have photos to prove it!

I Left a Bit of My Heart in Grenoble This French city is pretty spectacular!

Goodbye Mongolia, Nihao China! Ulaanbaatar to Beijing by train, on my birthday!

Around New Zealand With A Sparrow Raising a baby bird while travelling around NZ in a camper van.

Bruges in the Rain To Belgium by the Eurostar for a birthday treat.

Do you escape for your birthday, or do you spend it at home?

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

6 Responses

  1. Wow, you definitely know how to celebrate in style Rachel! The French birthday sounds perfect, although the one on the train does sound like it required a little patience 😉 I spent one lovely birthday in Costa Rica, zip-wiring over the rainforest; but I must admit, I do also love to be at home celebrating with my sister, whose birthday is two days before mine 🙂
    thegrownupgapyear recently posted…How to travel when you don’t have much timeMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      I certainly do! Aw, sisters together birthday sounds nice, my brother’s birthday is so far away from mine! Now, looking back the train journey birthday feels like an adventure, as I hoped it would. In the planning I thought it would be a fun way to spend it but I may have underestimated the actual logistics! Oh well!
      Costa Rica sounds like an amazing place to celebrate a birthday, I’d love – we both would – to go, although I’m not sure I\d be up for zip lining! Hahaha!

  2. Meghan says:

    Awesome. I can’t compete with some of those birthdays but I always try and do something adventurous or at the very least, out of the ordinary. Looks like you know how to celebrate! Happy belated birthday!
    Meghan recently posted…A Hike up Snowy Mountain and Camping with my Stepfather in The AdirondacksMy Profile

  3. mimi says:

    what a great post. I hope you’re writing a book on all of your travels – a cookbook and travelogue! it’s funny that you asked this question. I’ve always been home, waiting to feel special. At least my daughters remember when it’s my birthday, but it’s never been special. I’m always asked “what do you want to do on your birthday?” and I want to scream – “I don’t care – why don’t you surprise me!” I would seriously be happy with a frozen pizza and bad cake, but it’s never happened. I usually end up cooking. So my husband says that next April I must plan a trip over my birthday, which I’m working on. I wanted to go later in the year because it’s cool everywhere, but he was adamant. He told me that if I was here, I’d be pissed that no one did anything for me. Which is funny, because he’s the one I live with! But I’ll be 60, so I’m taking him up on it! So I’m ready for an adventurous adventure – just not Mongolia or anywhere north!!!
    mimi recently posted…French MarketsMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      You should definitely plan something amazing for that milestone birthday! When people ask what I want for my birthday I am at a bit of a loss because I don’t want anything, I don’t want ‘things’ because – living on the road – I have nowhere to put them and no need for them! I feel bad asking for boring useful things 😉

      I’m sure you’ll be able to find the perfect exotic adventure, it’s warm somewhere in the world in April!

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