Marie Louise McConville: I am so not looking forward to hitting a certain age this month
Ok, so, let's get this out of the way then.
I've never made a secret of the fact that I'm not a fan of birthdays.
It's all well and good when you're a child and your special day is all about the balloons and decorations and presents and cake and sweets but once you hit adulthood, it just becomes that one day every year when we are confronted by the ageing process.
Don't get me wrong. I still get spoilt every birthday and there's always presents and plenty of cards, not to mention the all important hugs and kisses from the kids but personally, I always feel a little bit down.
So you can imagine how I feel now as enter November and I have another birthday on the horizon.
To make matters worse - it's a big one.
Despite it having been THE only topic of discussion amongst my friends these past few months, with potential party plans and possible gift ideas being suggested, I have yet to accept that I am on the brink of being a certain age.
To be honest, I can't even bring myself to say the number, see the number or as you can tell, write the number.
In that respect, I am the polar opposite of my best friend, Louise, who turned a certain age two years ago and was so excited by it that she spent three months celebrating in style with various parties and events.
But that's not me. I just feel sad that I am ageing and the thought of hitting the big `certain number' is just really getting to me.
So, with an aim of improving my mindset and getting me in the mood to celebrate, Louise took it upon herself to get the birthday celebrations underway early last weekend when she whisked me off for a little break.
Under orders to be at her house in Fermanagh for 11.45am last Saturday, I arrived with suitcase in hand and was immediately ushered into her car and off we went.
With no idea where I was going or what I was doing, I simply sat back and let the dreaded birthday celebrations begin and our first stop, I am delighted to say, was at a beauty salon in Omagh where Louise had booked us in for relaxing manicures.
The ladies at Simply Beautiful really made us feel like a million dollars and the craic was great and soon we were floating on air as we left with our newly painted nails.
Next, I was whisked off again, this time for a Prosecco Afternoon Tea at the beautiful Silverbirch Hotel where we enjoyed delicious sandwiches and mouth-watering scones and dainty little pastries. And I have to say, the fizz made the experience all the more luxurious.
Next, on checking into our room, I discovered that Louise had gone all out with the birthday decorations (no numbers of course) with balloons and banners, personalised cupcakes - only one of which displayed said number - and more fizz and treats, as well as a big bag of gifts.
After a bit of shopping, we glammed up for dinner and then enjoyed a night on the town with some yummy cocktails before we collapsed into our beds back at the hotel.
It was so much fun and the next day we enjoyed a hearty breakfast before we hit the road back to Fermanagh.
I can't tell you how touched I was by everything Louise did but of course, I'm not surprised at all because that's the way she is all the time - caring, thoughtful, well-organised and an expert in planning - and I am so thankful to have such a wonderful best friend.
She really went all out for me to help get the forthcoming birthday celebrations off to a fab start.
It has taken me quite a few days to recover from our escapades but I suppose that's my age and it's something I can't do anything about.
That said, Louise has set the standard now but if anyone else wants to make a fuss of me, spoil me, whisk me away for more fun and frolics, I'd be more than happy to oblige.
Well, I might as well take advantage while I can - I hear it's all downhill from this point on.
With the countdown to the festive season already under way, how do you fancy winning a night out in the city for a ‘soulful' meal for two?
Souls Restaurant on the Dublin Road in Belfast is a modern Indian restaurant with an approach and methodology that is new to the city.
Souls specialises in modern Indian cuisine influenced by local preferences, ingredients and healthy cooking.
The team also pride themselves in being the only restaurant in Belfast to offer a five-course vegan menu.
To celebrate World Vegan Day, the team at Souls, who specialise in fusion dishes with an Indian influence and healthy cooking, have given me three vouchers, each for a three-course vegan meal for two people and glass of wine.
Further information about Souls Restaurant is available at www.soulsrestaurant.co.uk
If you fancy winning a voucher, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing date for entries is Tuesday, November 7, 2017
(Q) Where is Souls Restaurant located in Belfast?
Normal Irish News Rules Apply
Congrats - Singer Billy Joel has become a father for the third time at the age of 68. The New York musician and his wife Alexis (35) recently welcomed the couple's second daughter, Remy Anne, who weighed in at 7lbs 3oz.
Family Friendly Action - Transformers director, Michael Bay has been hired to produce a live-action Dora The Explorer movie spawned from the hit Nickelodeon series. While there are few details, it is believed the movie is to be released in 2019. Bit of a change for him.
Festive Fun - Amy, Kiki and Carla are back and this time, it's Christmas. Under-appreciated and overburdened, the mum trio find themselves under pressure from having to create the perfect holiday whilst also having to entertain their own respective mothers when they come to visit. Plenty of laughs guaranteed. Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn star.
Oops - I'm really not impressed at all with Prue Leith for revealing the winner of this year's Great British Bake-Off before the final was aired on Channel 4. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Sophie won but I'm so annoyed at Prue for spoiling the fun.
Diva - Transformers star, Megan Fox has described being fired from the movie franchise in 2011 for `diva behaviour' as `the low point of my career'. The 31-year-old said she was `so self-righteous' and `thought I was Joan of Arc'.
Disappointing - Sex And The City actress Kim Cattrall has said she and her SATC co-stars, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis, were `never friends' but that they have been `colleagues'. SATC fans will find the 61-year-old's comments very disappointing.
The winners of the Paddington 2 competition are Monica McGuinness, from Castlewellan and Mary Palmer, from Kircubbin
Easy Peasy Recipe
This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Chickpea Curry
You will need:
1 cup brown rice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 sliced red onion
2 yellow/red peppers, seeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can of chopped tomatoes and juices
In a medium pot, combine the rice and 3/4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer. Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to eat.
In a large saucepan, heat oil and add the onion and peppers and cook for around eight minutes.
Add curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and turmeric and cook, stirring constantly, for around two minutes.
Add, salt, pepper, chickpeas and tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for around 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
Serve with the rice.
Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?
Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?
If so, then we want to hear from you.
You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:
Easy Peasy Recipes,
Marie Louise McConville,
113-117 Donegall Street,