Birthday Week – 2011

This year, I extended my birthday to around 4 days.  Essentially because I can, and I enjoy any excuse to eat lots of cake, but also because my birthday fell on a Thursday this year, and some of my lovely Uni friends were able to come visit on the Saturday, so it seemed to make sense just to not stop the celebrations.  I even bought new dresses for the occasion.

PRE-BIRTHDAY fun was had on Wednesday, when I became a Home Tourist again, and indulged in a little white wine..



(Birthday Day 1 – the actual birthday)

For the past 3 years, my friend Smithers and I have met at 10am on our joint birthday and had breakfast in the Fourth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols.  This may sound a little swanky (and yes, we do have Champagne to celebrate…!) but it’s mainly because we used to work there together, so when the tradition began we got staff discount!! hehe.

Today was no exception, and so joined with Pastry Chef Lee, (and eventually Mr Adrian Wickham) we exchanged gifts and had tasty breakfast (I had Eggs Florentine, on Lee’s suggestion).

After this, and some lovely Hazelnut and White Chocolate Brownie Cake (that Emma and I cut as though we were a couple cutting the cake at our wedding..!)

.. I headed back to Armley on the bus for a lift to work.  School was surprisingly fun, given that I don’t think I’ve ever worked on my Birthday – not that I remember anyway.. plus it’s usually in half term!

All the girls remembered my birthday, Soul Band played/sang Happy Birthday to me, and the big jar of sweeties that Smithers gave me went down very well with all my students. 🙂

Then it was back in the car to head home.  Via a couple of pubs.

The first – The Old Bridge – just on the Canal at the Kirkstall Morrisons site, is somewhere I have often passed with wonder.  It’s quite dark, but very friendly in there, and I enjoyed the memorabilia on the walls, and especially the washboard by the fireplace.  It was here that my new year began.  I was born around 4:30 – the perfect time for cake – so we toasted with some mini chocolate muffins, then headed up to the Travellers’ Rest in Armley for a bite to eat.

I’ve also never gigged on my birthday before, until today.  Row, from Yelp, was running an event this evening at the lovely Roots and Fruits cafe in the Grand Arcade.  I have loved this unassuming cafe/restaurant for many years now, it being one of the few fully-vegetarian places in Leeds, and the event itself seemed pretty up-my-street too; wine, cake, live music and poetry!  So I couldn’t really turn it down!

Whilst they were setting up, I popped across to Buns and Roses just to say hello, then caught up with the Yelp event and did my set.  It went down really well!  – the cafe is a small place and I was slightly concerned we were quite loud and I didn’t expect to be much more than background.  However, people really responded to the laid-back set Taz and I played, and I imagine if I’d have offered CDs to buy, I’d have had some sales..

Then I teetered across to Sela bar, who were celebrating their 7th birthday (which made me feel very old!) and was greeted with surprise by an old LCM friend who I’ve not seen since graduation (2007)!   Various people I knew were in Sela, and so I had a lovely time flitting between groups and enjoying the brilliant live music whilst having a bit of a boogie.

In a rather cheeky move by myself, I managed to talk myself into getting a lift home as well (I know, I’m very rude) so I didn’t have to hang around for a taxi or anything.  Brilliant! 🙂



(Birthday day 2)

Today, I decided it was best to relax a little, given that tomorrow is when the fun (re)begins.  I began the day by mourning the loss of the bobbles on my bobble-hat from Prague (Naughty kitten!)


But later on it cheered up a bit, with the help of a large jar full of minieggs and the arrival of my lovely cousins Richard and Tori, the first of which brought me an ‘Aunty Barbara Cake’ – Amazing! – and the latter of which gifted me a beautiful 2-tier cake stand that I will be using tomorrow.  Hurray!

We then heading into town to have some tasty dinner at All Bar One (as I’d not yet tried the food).  My dinner – Goats Cheese and Olive tart – was rather lovely. 🙂


Then, it was Lindy Fridays time!  (And Jenny brought me cupcakes from Sunshine Bakery! Mmmmm)

I don’t think I’ve ever done so much social dancing in one evening!  It was really lovely, and in fact the whole session was aimed at getting people more comfortable with the idea of social dancing, and I definitely think it worked. 🙂

I briefly then showed my face at the ‘Birthday Party For Many’ at the Buns and Roses venue, ate some cheese, drank some juice, and had a cake, then – rather tired, possibly from my advancing years..! – I decided to head home, and chill out with Hendricks, the hat-mauling cat.



(Birthday day 3 – the reunion)

Today, I tried to have a bit of a lie in, but between Hendricks being mental and the tweets of ominous-sounding snow, it didn’t quite work…

Then (eventually, after attacking my jar of minieggs with vengeance!) I battled through the now slush, and got on the bus to head to see my sister in Epernay as she was down in Leeds for a Hen-night, and they were doing a cocktail masterclass (on my suggestion. 🙂  )

It was nice to see them all having a lovely time and sipping on champagne when I arrived.  I’m afraid I distracted Amanda a little as we caught up on recent events, but she did get to go behind the bar and help make a rum punch, so it was all fine.

A glass of champagne, an elderbubble cocktail and some munched-garnish later, and with a slight Geordie accent acquired, I headed back home again to await the arrival of some friends from university – very excited!

Having all arrived, and opened many cards and presents (with a common theme of chocolate and wine..!) my lovely friends and I sat around the fire in my living room, drinking tea (not me and the boys – we were on champagne!) and eating cake and catching up.

Then it was time for the ladies to leave and get ready for hitting the town, as the boys and I stayed and as I got ready they found my Ukulele and had an impromptu jam in my living room! (Gotta love musicians!)

We went to Brio in the light for dinner, which I fully recommend if you fancy a great and informal Italian meal, where Tony and friends really took care of us as we reminisced, caught up and generally got a bit silly as we drank wine and ate pizza!

Then it went as followed – Cocktail in Epernay, shot in Santiago, drink in Sela, tequila and cocktails and boogie-ing all night long in Smokestack.  I had an AMAZING time and smiled, danced and laughed all night (and secretly drank a lot of water and not anything else after Santiago.. hehe – old/professional/lightweight – take your choice!).  I’d like to thank George too – a young student in Smokestack who said he thought I was 20.  I question his motives, but it did make me smile to hear! 🙂

Mitt, Crazy Dave and I headed home around 2:30 I think, and one of us (I won’t incriminate who, but it wasn’t the one who had been drinking water since Santiago..!) fell asleep fully clothed and snored all night.  Teehee.



(Birthday day 4 – Lounge gig)

So, as previous stated, I tried to stay a little professional-minded on Saturday night and keep my Lounge gig in mind.  I was a little hazy this morning, but all considered it could have been a lot worse!

After a very slow morning, including watching amusing videos on YouTube rather than getting out of bed (night time DAY TIME) and eating cake for breakfast (standard birthday antic!) we got ourselves to Lounge and Mr Jon Chamberlain and I set up for the gig as Crazy Dave enjoyed his throne!

Whilst my friends sat and ate lovely roast dinners, I thoroughly enjoyed making music with Jon.  I was singing rather well (though I do say so myself..!) and Jon was just wonderful!  At the end of the 2nd set, and with my friends ‘champing at the bit’ with my cake on the table and plates and forks distributed, I got to the table ready to cut the cake and the place erupted with a rendition of Happy Birthday.  I felt very special!

Later, Chris popped in to say hello and very kindly bought me a glass of wine.  And so, as the gig had finished, professional musician Tessa was packed away with my AER!

Quick trip home to drop off my gear and I was back in town with Mitt as he said goodbye to all and hit the road.  Then (via Hoagy’s) we settled into our old LCM haunt The Wardrobe and the cocktails once again started flowing.  FYI – there is a pretty barman in there who is now fully adept at making a Mai Tai. You’re all welcome! 🙂

The jam session began, and so the music was exciting and kind to the ears and we sat and laughed and chatted and laughed some more until we were ushered out the door some time after midnight..


I have had such a fantastic week,  and I am so thankful to everyone that made this birthday so special for me.  I couldn’t have asked for a better week of celebrations.  I love my friends very much, and I hope hope *hope* it won’t be long until we see each other again!

It looks like there’s a possibility I may be going to York this evening to watch Beardyman with my friend Lizzie, so who knows – Birthday day 5?!


Tessa x


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