Today is a momentous today, not for me, but for my better half, who turns the big four-zero. It seems not so long ago that I regarded it as necrophilia, dating a lady beyond 20-years.
So it has to be a special day. Tomoko opens her birthday cards over breakfast, Lily and Daisy sing an angelic if out of tune rendition of “Happy Birthday” and then after dropping them off at their respective schools, I drive into Guildford so that my wife can finally buy her Mulberry handbag that she has been lusting over since time immemorial. As usual, one shop assistent is helpful, the other could not give a toss that we are spending a wad of cash. After a successful procurement of said bag, Tomoko has a makeover at the “Creme de la Mer” counter, which is a few hundred quid cheaper than actually buying their outrageously priced cosmetics that are made in outer space or somewhere. Still, after 20 minutes, Tomoko does look about 18-years old and claims that she can feel her skin re-energizing.
After a lovely cup of tea and Victoria Sponge at the rooftop cafe at House of Fraser with a panaromic vista over the South Downs, we head back home to collect Daisy from nurseryand then I work in the afternoon.
In the evening: Tomoko’s celebratory dinner at what I assume is now the best restaurant in the world since El Bulli is allegedly closing: The Fat Duck in Bray. My wife wears her very vogue-ish “Issa” dress that I bought her for Xmas and she looks pretty damn hot, which makes every astronomical penny spent completely worthwhile.
We catch a train from Guildford to Maidenhead via Reading, during which I almost get into a fight with an obnoxious member of Southwest trains staff. All I want to know is when the next train departs to our destination and instead I get a rant about how he is safeguarding the entire rail network with his torch, how dare I disturb him etc…etc… I just walk away when he starts on his “I’m a sensitive soul, how dare you ask me for help” routine that he probably uses twice a week.
Anyway, we finally reach the village of Bray without blood being spilt. I will not go into detail about the meal, suffice to say that whilst it was not as experimental as El Bulli, I enjoyed The Fat Duck even more, particularly the theatre of the dinner and the brilliant staff who could teach Southwest trains one or two things about customer service. Some of the dishes are extraordinary, most memorably the nitrogen deep fried something or other that implodes in your mouth, the surreal mock turtle soup where we have to melt a gold coin in an teacup, a weird thingy dish accompanied by dry ice emanating from a patch of moss placed on the table, a hot and cold thingy, the famous i-pod in a conch seafood thingy and probably the most delicious foie gras (with konbu seaweed and crab thingy) that I have ever eaten. I won’t tell you about the wines (although I will write them up for eRP), but needless to say, we virtually fall out of the restaurant into a waiting taxi and my wife collapses semi-conscious into bed, having I hope, enjoyed a memorable birthday.