What’s the most surprising birthday gift you’ve received?

by Anna Buckley

IMG_7146[1]This year I had a brilliant birthday and thought I’d share with you some of the treats I received. My friends and family know I love things that are small, practical, can be shared, consumed or are an experience that cannot be wrapped…

I woke up Saturday morning and my husband handed me a little white box. Inside were a pair of gorgeous black teardrop pearl earrings.

Something small.

He’d chosen well, he knows my taste… he knows me better than anybody.

IMG_7163[1]After a coffee in bed I eventually went downstairs where my bleary eyed son (it was early for him) handed me a larger box. I unwrapped a mandolin.

Something practical.

I’d been hinting about wanting a new one and obviously someone was paying attention!

The old one had been a good workhorse but after ten years, and pretty much constant use, it was time for a replacement. The retiring mandoline wasn’t thrown out but handed on to my daughter…I would need to remind her that although slightly worn, the blades were still lethal* and she should always use the guard. No potato is worth a trip to the emergency room!

*NOTE TO SELF-New machine is deadlier…buy bandaids.

IMG_7184[1]My daughter and I share a love of minimalist classical music. She bought me Dustin O’Hallorin’s latest album on i-tunes. She couldn’t find the CD in our local music store, so knowing I’m a complete technophobe, she converted it to a disc and now I can happily play it on all my archaic devices! I love Opus 55 and can imagine it as a sound track for the next book.

She also knows how much I love tinned Spanish anchovies. This year she couldn’t find my favourite Ortiz and thought I might like to try something new.

“Tinned fish for a birthday present?” I hear you ask. I’m not alone in this weird little fetish, there are whole sites dedicated to anchovies.

Sourdough, french butter and Ortiz anchovies are one of the most sublime pleasures…along with a glass of aged, late picked Riesling!

IMG_7188[1]Although I’d only just been with them, Mum and Dad insisted on something to unwrap on the day. A magazine subscription is a great present, something new to inspire me in the kitchen every month. When I’m done I hand the magazines to a friend who then gives them to her daughter…a gift that really does keep on giving!

Something shared.

And, as I’d mentioned before, this late picked 2005 Riesling, found on our trip to the Clare Valley, will be a perfect accompaniment with the new anchovies.

IMG_7177[1]When I went to the kitchen I found a selection of goodies from my sisters housemate, Ekrem. He’d called in last night and we’d stayed up late sampling the range of delicious products he sells. What a lovely gift and one that will most definitely be put to good use.

Something to be consumed.

IMG_7180[1] As I’d mentioned my sister and I had visited Mum and Dad in South Australia. She came back to Melbourne  with me to catch up with her nieces, nephews and cousins  before returning to her home in Sydney. Her birthday gift to me was cooking a splendid dinner* that we shared with our extended family. T and L brought gifts of Prosecco and Riesling…they also know me very well!

*Thanks E, a gorgeous dinner, the Adobo was sensational…but far too much wine was consumed and I forgot to take pictures…x

Something that couldn’t be wrapped.

IMG_7135[1]On Monday night my husband took us to our local Italian restaurant, Pinotta, for a family dinner.

This isn’t your standard pizza joint but a stunning place that uses the best local ingredients and turns them into something sublime. On Monday nights you can choose from a 3 course set menu that changes each week. Astonishingly good value at $40 per head and great for cooks like me who would not only like a night off but are pleased to leave the choosing of the menu to someone else. I love seeing what the chef comes up with in this type of dining.

That night we shared three starters (buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad, faro, pumpkin and coriander seed salad, pork terrine, cornichons and crusty bread) then a choice of two pastas (gnocchi with a Gorgonzola sauce or  ricotta and Parmesan ravioli) followed by two mains (rolled pork shoulder with prosciutto or veal ragout). The whole meal was delicious and the fresh mozzarella was the best I’d ever had. We couldn’t resist ordering the chocolate fondant and were delighted when it arrived at our table with a candle on top! The wine list had some of my favourites…a crisp white Garganega and a Babo, Nero D’Avola.

Great food, great wine, great company…no cooking, no mess, no dishes! What a perfect birthday dinner.

Something to experience.

IMG_7143[1]We woke late on Tuesday morning, a little worse for wear but not too hungover for one last meal. My sister and I met up with Simon (who was also having a birthday) at Naked for Satan on Brunswick Street. We chose not to sit on the roof as it was just a bit too cold, but instead opted to share Tapas in the downstairs bar. The lunch time Tapas menu is ridiculously cheap…each generous portion, chosen from a massive selection at the bar, costs $1 a piece. We were absolutely full and spent only $16 in total.

By three o’clock it was time to head to the airport, my sister was going back to Sydney and after 2 weeks together we finally saying our goodbyes.

I drove home feeling a little sad that our extended family rarely gets to spend time together and began to think about the possibility of a family reunion next year for Mums 80th birthday.

IMG_7191[1]I returned to find a parcel jammed into the letter box. I flipped the package over and saw it was from Sarah Glossop, my friend from Western Australia. You may remember the post I did about her a few months back. Knowing what Sarah did for a living, and curious about what she might send, I quickly ripped open the black wrapped gift.

“HELLO FIFTY SHADES OF GREY MEETS FITZROY”…a book on Self Pleasure and a charming set of nipple clamps!

I giggled like a naughty school girl as I inspected the intriguing objects… had Sarah read the brief? The gifts fitted the description I’d given at the beginning of this post… small, practical, could be shared, consumed or was an experience that couldn’t be wrapped.

The card read…“Happy Birthday Anna, thought this little gift may assist in keeping the creative juices flowing, with lust, Sarah G. x”

Thanks Sarah, what a cheeky gift, and something I might have to research a little more thoroughly at a later date…?

What a brilliant birthday, full of surprises, wonderful people, and the most curious of gifts?!

What have been your most memorable birthdays and what were some of the more unusual gifts you’ve received? Love you to share your stories.

Thanks for reading!

Much love, Anna x

Anna Buckley Books

Love you to read my books

The Lost Woman series follows the sexy adventures of Christina as she makes her way through a world of new media, design, fashion,  travel, and … men.
The complete series is available now at Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, Barnes & Noble and iBooks, both as eBooks and print books. They can also be ordered from any book store, or by mail order on the BOOKS page.