Matthew Munson: Happy birthday Mum

Matthew and his mum

This Saturday just gone was my mum’s birthday, and of course she was born at some point in the mid-eighties – making her younger than me, but that’s by the by.

I enjoy birthdays, far more than any other celebration; I’m not sure why, but it’s a pleasure to help celebrate an annual day all about them – or me, for one day of the year. My ego allows for that if nothing else, but yesterday was all about my mum.

One thing I enjoy doing is finding a present that fits the individual; it’s a bit of detective work that I can use my brain on, and Amazon is my friend sometimes … but so are the high streets, of which we still have three in the main towns that we shouldn’t forget about. We’ve witnessed physical shops undergo a decline in the last decade or longer, and it pains me to see windows boarded up so frequently – so any time I can support local retail, I willingly do it. I was actually able to buy things from each main town for my mum, which was a rather nice little contribution – at least in my mind.

On Saturday, my mum received visits and calls from people who cherish her – and that was lovely to see, as my mum is someone to be cherished – and then she decided that a bit of retail therapy was in order. My dad and I had an oft-experienced man’s response; chills running down our spines. But it was my mum’s day, and we wanted her to do what she wanted.

We visited Dover for a shoe shop she particularly favours, and there was a certain light in her eyes as she went searching for the right pair. My mum seems to enjoy shopping, for some reason, which I don’t understand; it’s not something we have in common, I’m afraid, and she never had a daughter to pass it on to. But I nodded in the right places when we looked, and I gave brief advice on prices before I clammed up and left it to the expert in the room.

We then returned to Thanet and tried to decide where to have lunch. My mum has certain dietary requirements that need to be factored into our thoughts, and we ended up in Verrey’s in Broadstairs – which I’d popped into once before, not to eat but to meet the previous owners for a charity I worked for at the time. So I was intrigued to know if they could accommodate my mum, and they easily could, so we parked ourselves in the corner and enjoyed a very nice hour or so. Verrey’s made us feel very welcome, and I’ll definitely be going back – as a vegetarian, it was nice to go to a cafe where the majority of the food was easily catering for me.

It’s easy to criticise an area for the things that are happening and the controversies that are always going on. It’s also easy to forget all the good stuff that happens, and as we drove through Thanet on Saturday, I saw shops that were still going strong, parks and beaches that are enjoying consistent use … and more than one cafe that gives my mum a good lunch for her birthday. Thanet rules – and I’m proud to be a Thanetian.