This week I turned 29. On Monday morning I woke up at 5.30am. I had a shower, waved at my parents on Skype and went for a 6.30am hot yoga class. Listening to Podcasts, I made these pancakes – the recipe doesn't list the amount of servings, but I used half the quantities and didn't quite finish them all.
At around 10am, I turned off my social media alerts and went into town. At the National Gallery I visited one of my favourite paintings, Susannah at her Bath by Francesco Hayez. The painting has been moved since the last time I saw her – her back is now turned to the room, heightening the sense of intrusion even further. I sat perched on the corner of a bench that stood just a bit too far away, trying to hold her gaze and not quite succeeding. This is a painting that, after so many years of being looked at, seems only to want to be left alone.
This birthday was the first in a long time that I spent completely by myself. The past few years have never been great, and at a time of the year when everyone is tired, broke or still out of town, it often seems pointless to try and celebrate with others. Early January birthday parties are hard to organise, so I've given myself a break this year. And it worked: by the end of the day I was content, well fed and ready for the final year of my twenties. On Saturday I caught up with a good friend; we had coffee, wandered the streets, took photos and shared plans and ideas. It was better than any party.