The 13th of December this year marked my 30th Birthday. Some people get gooey eyed about milestone birthdays… I didn’t, but I did do a bit of research… apparently the life expectancy of a human being in 2011 is 67 years… so I’m still under half way, which means that my ‘youth’ has been extended to 33 as far as I’m concerned!!
To celebrate the event, I headed to Northern Ireland for the weekend, flying in to Belfast on the Thursday evening. There was a slight degree of doubt about the flight as the UK was experiencing some severe winds – particularly in Scotland where the airports were closed. However no issues materialised for the Gatwick to Belfast flight so I actually landed at Aldergrove on time.
Friday was a quiet enough day, working as I was from Dina’s flat in the city, but on Saturday we headed down into town to meet up with Alex, Ralph & Richard, who I managed to tempt into a weekend trip to the Emerald Isle with the carrot of watching Portadown’s visit to Glentoran. We met up with them at Maggie May’s Cafe on Botanic Avenue for a traditional Ulster Fry up, which was really rather good.
We then headed down to the Oval for the game… Portadown were sitting third in the table, with Glentoran 4th, three points behind the ‘Ports’, so it was a big enough game without adding in the animosity between the two clubs, which was highlighted at the most recent fixtures between the two clubs, where there was trouble at both Shamrock Park & the Oval.
As for the game, Portadown completely dominated the first 20 minutes, hitting the post & the bar, as well as making the ‘Glens’ keeper work… the rest of the first half turned into a scrappy affair with Glentoran making the best of the chances. The second half started in a similar vein, but mid way through Portadown broke the deadlock with a Tumelty header and in the dying moments a break away goal from Braniff sealed the deal for the ‘Ports’.
After the game and a quick clean up at home, Dina & I met up with the lads and we headed to the Hill Street Brasserie, for dinner… and it was really rather good. The Steaks (and yes, we all had steak!) were cooked to perfection. The only moment of madness was when the five of us arrived at the restaurant to discover a table for five set up with balloons for someone’s 30th birthday!! Thankfully for me, it wasn’t our table and I could enjoy dinner in anonymity…
On the Sunday, Dina & I headed down the road to Clabby to see the family & all where there. After a lovely dinner (thanks mum!) we sat around in the living room, in front of a lovely open fire and caught up, which letting my niece Bethany do the entertainment. It was obviously lovely to catch up with all the family and I’m looking forward to heading back home for the Christmas holidays in just over a week.
Unfortunately, as these things go, all good things come to an end and Monday was pretty much spent travelling back to London. As chance would have it, it was actually this flight that was impacted by the wind. It took off on time and no one mentioned winds, yet on the descent into Gatwick, the plane was clearly rocking… and (according to the pilot) at 300 feet up, a significant gust took us and we ended up not landing, but powering up & heading back to the sky!! The plane was landed on the second attempt… and it was the first time I’d ever seen EasyJet passengers clap a landing!!
So back in England I headed to work on my birthday, and given that the majority of my birthdays have fallen on a weekday, it’s not that big a deal. I know someone people like the idea of being off, but I’m not that bothered. In fact, it was a good move as my team, delightfully for me, got me some gifts!! I’ve never been given a birthday present by my team before, so I was thoroughly thrilled.
And so I’m now in my thirties…
I have to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my life to date… I’ve been very fortunate in many regards, but I also have made a conscious effort to do as much as I can with my time. Looking back I’ve travelled extensively, I’ve lived abroad, I’ve got a good job, I’ve got a degree, I’ve seen some of the best sporting moments of the past decade and the New Year fireworks in Sydney (twice!) and of course I’ve found my own faith. As well as all of this, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and made some amazing friends… including finding my best friend in Dina, who’s amazingly agreed to marry me!! Which of course means, that Lord willing, the next 30 years promise to be much, much more amazing than those already passed.