It’s my birthday today and I have been blessed through my 26.3 million minutes of existence. This existence roughly equates to being allowed to take 420.8 million intakes of breath, 315.6 million blinks of my eyes — and 2.1 billion heartbeats.
I’m 50 today.
The older I get, the more I realise that being allowed to get older is a blessing. My birthday is just one day over the mid-point of the month and yet I have heard so many deaths, of somebody famous like Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II to those whose names and existence don’t even register to most of you.
Earlier this year, I thought whether I should have a big birthday bash – a themed party of some sort, perhaps. However, as I inched closer to the date, that desire wasn’t strong enough for me to act anything on it. So, I just thought maybe I would just have a really nice celebratory meal with Yani, and just enjoy the day when it came.
So last month, making a mental note to book it at somewhere special, I made a decision to book lunch at Hentley Farm in Seppeltsfield, in the Barossa Valley. I heard so many rave reviews and posts about this restaurant. Then I found out that the restaurant was fully booked for weekends until November 2022. Feeling a tad disappointed, I put my name down in the waiting list but picked another restaurant with a similar menu in McLaren Vale. I told Yani about our booking at McLaren Vale – without letting her know that this spot actually wasn’t my first pick.
Then two days ago, in between meetings at work, I received a missed call from an unknown number with a voice mail message. The caller mentioned that there was a spot available at the restaurant and for me to call her back if I was still interested. I presumed that it was the renowned Head Chef, Clare Falzon, who called me — unless there’s another Clare in the restaurant. When I spoke to her, she mentioned that she could seat us at the Chef’s Table. The spot usually would command a higher rate, but she said that she could give us the ‘regular’ price. I then mentioned that the lunch was for my 50th birthday celebration, when she asked about the occasion.
… so that was Coincidence #1.
In terms of work, this week ended up a really busy week. I would’ve liked to have a more leisure week. So, last night I had to deliver a 90-minute debrief webinar to a team in the US until 11pm. Still full of adrenaline afterwards, I browsed around on the Net and being a heavy buyer of fragrances, I thought I’d check whether there are fragrances that are similar to a Penhaligon’s scent that I like. Unfortunately, the scent is above my price range. One of the alternative would be a 50ml bottle of eau de parfum that would cost me $300+ – and I thought, as much as I love fragrances, I can’t bring myself to spend that much money. One of the other suggestions was Chanel’s Egoïste. I made a mental note to perhaps buy this again, as I actually had a bottle years ago.
So this morning, after a lazy morning in bed and getting ready for our lunch, Yani then presented me with a birthday cake and a birthday present. Let’s just say that I’m not the easiest person to buy presents for – haha – however, older age has made me softer and smoother around the edges. When Yani showed me a small Country Road bag as a birthday present, I thought maybe I would get a tie or a pair of socks, which I would of course appreciate and be thankful for. Then I saw a smaller Chanel bag within the outer bag.
I had a suspicion of what was inside the Chanel bag even before I opened the box.
Yani had bought me Chanel’s Egoïste Platinum – not knowing that I considered buying a bottle last night. She wouldn’t’ve known – besides, she said that she bought it days before, even before I browsed about fragrances last night.
… so that was Coincidence #2.
I told Yani that I wanted to check the tire pressure and fill up the petrol before we ventured north. An advice I received from my Mama years ago that is now deeply ingrained in me before we go on a road trip. I was planning to just fill up $20 worth of petrol, knowing that the price was still around $1.89/litre the day before. It was a very pleasant surprise to find out that the nearest BP to our house had dropped the price to $1.49/litre! As we drove up north, I noticed that other servos still had the higher petrol price.
… that was Coincidence #3.
Lunch was really lavish and enjoyable. The service was impeccable — if I compare it to flying, it was like flying in business class. Yani and I met the friendly front-of-house person who gave us complimentary glasses of bubblies and snack while waiting. Somehow, she was already informed that it was my 50th birthday celebration.
Upon courses of ‘snacks’, savoury dishes, and desserts, we had a feast. We were really full by the end of the 3-hour-long lunch. One of the items that were served to us was a glass of house-made mint kombucha, which we both enjoyed a lot. The staff who served it to us mentioned that we could buy it by the glass as well — but not something that we could buy at the cellar door, when we thought we could perhaps buy a bottle to enjoy at home.
At the end of the meal, I received a hand-written happy birthday message on a copy of the menu, along with a take-away bag of two chocolate and macadamia cookies. Just when I thought that was it, the staff who served us came with a wine paper bag. We would’ve appreciated a bottle of wine – of course! However, in it, she said that she thought we’d appreciate a bottle of their house-made mint kombucha rather than a bottle of bubblies. Nominally, it would’ve been better to be given a bottle of wine – but personally, that unexpected level of personal touch made the gift super special.
… that was Coincidence #4.
Oh, and on a day when the forecast was gloomy, grey, and rainy – somehow we were blessed with cloudy blue sky with streaks of warm sunshine on the way to the Barossa Valley, and back home to Adelaide.
… that was Coincidence #5.
Now, to those who know me better, you’d know that I don’t believe in coincidences. It’s a day of subtle messages to let me know that despite my mistakes, weaknesses, and failures within those breath intakes, eye blinks, and heartbeats … I am loved and I am blessed.
“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT).