The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

54 Today

Most years I've blogged on my birthday. But with the exception of the large party I had for my 50th, for the most part it's a quiet family affair that follows a relatively predictable, although very enjoyable, sequence.

This year I realised was going to be different though. With Covid-19 and social distancing in place, I would not be going to In House Chocolates for a hot chocolate or mocha. Nor would we be going to Cream o' Galloway for an ice cream after a walk on the beach. And apart from Meg, none of the children or grandchildren would be joining us for dinner.

And while there might officially be some leeway for certain, limited, households to mingle, we cannot include ourselves in it. 

We've always suspected that Meg might be in a higher risk category because of all sorts of associated conditions she has with her Down's Syndrome, even though she was never included in the official lists.

However, the other day I read a scientifically backed report which had discovered that the death rate for people with DS who contract Covid-19 is 10 times higher than the normal population.

We cannot take any risks. 

Like many, part of our way of dealing with the situation on a mental health level is to pretty much pretend it isn't happening most of the time. While we're in the house, life isn't much different from before.

But as soon as you start planning any kind of birthday celebrations, it's inevitable a reality-attack will happen. So of course, there's a tinge of sadness about it.

However, within the constraints, we've had a lovely day.

Our morning trip to the Shed Café was enhanced by a home made mocha and a successful Megalicious choc-chip cookie experiment.

After lunch we went for a walk on a beach. It felt incredibly crowded, although in reality there were probably no more than 20 people there. 

Still trying to get the hang of selfies...

We enjoyed it, although felt the need to cut it short as a couple of people had dogs off the lead that looked like they would charge over to, and leap up on, anyone they thought looked interesting.

We had to take the long way back to the car to avoid them.

Maggie didn't disappoint (she never does) when it came to my birthday cake though.

We've managed to keep a really good healthy eating regime going this year. Experience over the decades has taught us that it's fine to have the occasional blow-out, but it has to be contained to one day.

The problem with cake, especially when there are only 3 of us, is there will be leftovers for another day or two - and that can make it difficult to get back on track.

So this time, as part of another Megalicious experiment, she and Meg created chocolate brownies made with ground hazelnuts, meaning not only are they gluten-free, but had a praline-type flavour. It also meant any leftovers could be easily frozen for another occasion and not be left out for temptation.

Of course I ate too much - but then what would you expect?

Some years, around this time, I do a self portrait. I find I have a curiosity about how my face is changing with age.

I recently stumbled across a photo I took 7½ years back, and decided to recreate it:

Early 2013 - back when I used to think I looked old

Late 2020 - the eyebrows are definitely getting more unruly 

Since Lockdown began 7 months back, I've lost around 16lbs. And I'm probably about 30lbs lighter than I was in that younger version of me.

I've been quite surprised to discover I have cheekbones (look at that angular bit just in front of my ear!).

Never seen them before. Even when I was a teenager I had a rounder, fleshier face.

The world at the moment is both incredibly familiar, as at times it feels more like some kind of Groundhog Day scenario where nearly every day is identical to the last - and also incredibly strange, as there are aspects to it where I have no framework or prior experience to make sense of it all.

At this point it feels difficult to have any idea what I, or the world, will look like by the time my 55th birthday rolls around...


Viji said...

Happy to read your note. That's a beautiful cake 😊

A great selfie, you haven't changed much and happy family photograph as well.

Wishing you happiness for great many years to come and this cannot end with out birthday wish. Happy Birthday, Kim 😊

Kim Ayres said...

Many thanks Viji - very much appreciated :)

Eryl said...

Glad you had a fun day (I'm very envious of your Shed Café!), and I'd say that seven year spell has been kind to you.

I've made brownies with ground almonds and loved the results, must now try them with the hazelnut equivalent which sounds even better. I often make them with coconut oil instead of butter, too, which is wonderful, and I'm now thinking about ground peanuts and lime zest to make a kind of satay inspired version.

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - the brownies have usually been made with ground almonds (and often with coconut oil too). Peanuts & lime sounds good - do let us know how they turn out :)

maurcheen said...

Those brownies sound delicious! It sounds like you had a lovely Birthday under our current circumstances. Since the first lockdown I have been exercising daily, usually walking 5km to 10km. And I have also been doing resistance training. I was 14st when I started in March and today I am still 14st! Same weight but less fat and more muscle!😄🏋️‍♀️
Love to you all and continue to stay safe my friend. ❤

Kim Ayres said...

Maurcheen - Fitness! Now there's a thing I've never been any good at.
I tried it back before I'd been diagnosed with the ME/CFS, thinking my tiredness and lethargy was probably just down to being unfit. Unfortunately the more I tried the worse I got - something I discovered is a major problem for people who have the condition. It can make things a lot worse when you think you are supposed to "push through the barriers". Instead of making you fitter, it accelerates the illness.
Delighted for you though. I might be over 3 stone lighter than you, but you'll have a much better fat/muscle ratio than me!

savannah said...

A day late on the blog, but fortunately I was on time yesterday on the other social media site! I am beginning to think that I've picked up all the weight y'all have lost during this blasted lockdown! *wink* The cupcakes look divine and all y'all look absolutely gorgeous! xoxo

Kim Ayres said...

Savannah - finders keepers - don't feel you have to return any excess weight ;)

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Your birthday sounds perfect to me, Kim. I've spent so many alone, I know for sure that the best ones are with the people I love. Going to the beach for a walk is my idea of a wonderful time.

And cake. Mmmm. Joy. Cake. I can't remember the last time I had cake. I don't have a sweet tooth, but once in a while, a piece of cake...mmmm...

I sometimes think about how the people in the future will analyse us, and these covid times.

I hope covid goes away for good, and Meg gets to launch Megalicious.

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - a birthday alone, and with no cake, is just too horrifying to contemplate!
Let me know when your book is available in physical form - I need to buy a copy x

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