Another year, another navel-gazing questionnaire…
1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Take a small child camping. Become a reviewer for an online natural beauty store. Go to a festival with my husband. Crochet a hat. Write an email newsletter. Interview a (semi) famous person.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I said, “as I have for the last few years, I’m taking a word to try and live by. For 2018 it’s ‘present’ — enjoying the here and now, not trying to jump too far ahead and not getting too distracted to appreciate the activity I’m actually doing.” I’m not sure how much I actually succeeded at this, but I was aware of it, such as trying to not check my phone at any spare moment. I’d like to keep this word in mind for 2019, and also introduce the concept of more/less. I would like more podcasts, reading, allotment time, swimming, yoga and playing the piano and ukulele, and less dairy, plastic, over thinking and mindless phone fiddling. I’d also like to start writing on here more regularly. I’m not under any allusions that people are avidly reading my blog, but I enjoy having an online archive of writing that’s done just for me.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two of my closest Bristol friends had girls within six weeks of each other in February and March, my bridesmaid C had her second baby in January, a friend in London had her second baby in November and a local friend had her third baby just before Christmas. I knitted and crocheted a lot of hats this year! I’ve also got friends who are expecting twins in April, and another friend due with her second in June.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My great aunt died on 28th December. She was a truly lovely person. I am very glad I took Mini W to visit her back in February.
5. What countries did you visit?
I didn’t go abroad this year, which is the first time for about 23 years. But we had a lot of UK-based breaks over the summer which were ace – the Isle of Wight in June, Cambridgeshire and Latitude Festival in July, Yorkshire for a mountain biking festival in early August and Devon at the end of August. We then visited my brother in Margate in November, had a few days in the Staffordshire Peak District over Christmas and spent the New Year in the Malvern Hills. I’d never visited most of these places before, so it was great to get to know my own country better.
6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
As with last year, I definitely lacked sleep in the first half of the year (wake ups every 45 minutes to an hour!), but it then got a lot better. I’d like to have post 6.30am wake ups, that would be lovely. And now bedtimes are a bit easier and I have my evenings back, I want to get back into activities such as trapeze, yoga and swimming, and also spend more time on the allotment.
7. What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
4th July, when I woke up and realised that Mini W had slept through the night for the first time!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting Mini W to sleep happily in his own cot for a decent stretch of time, and doing it with methods that didn’t upset him (or me). Feeding him until the age of 18 months — that’s something I’m super proud of. And getting freelance work straightaway when I unexpectedly returned to work in May, including getting an ongoing freelance gig with a really interesting client.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not managing to build our garden office/workshop. Let’s hope we can get our arses in gear this year!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I have a bit of a niggly back and neck from time to time – probably as a result of picking up a heavy child, and I also had three colds in six weeks in the autumn, and possibly a mild case of hand, foot and mouth in July, but nothing serious.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Nakin Active Dew face cream — this stuff is amazing. A toy kitchen for Mini W. A bread maker — well, S bought this really, but I’m reaping the benefits with freshly-baked bread every morning. But what I actually tried to do this year was get more stuff out of the house than bring in. As every year passes I just want fewer things in my house, and I’m actively seeking to have less cluttered surfaces, fewer clothes, fewer toiletries etc. I used to be such a hoarder, but now I really enjoy doing regular purges.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I always use this questionnaire to celebrate my truly wonderful husband. He can now add ‘amazing dad’ to his list of qualities, and he continues to be my favourite person in the whole world.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
World politics doesn’t get any better, does it? The behaviour of the British government, American government, humanity in general continues to be awful. There are positive stories, though, which I need to seek out from less mainstream sources as an antidote to the unrelenting misery I read in newspapers and news sites.
14. Where did most of your money go?
General living expenses, plus all those fun mini breaks. We’ve not had a particularly expense-heavy year – people continue to be super generous with passing on clothes and toys, so our child expenditure is pretty minimal.
15. What did you get really excited about?
Mini W’s first birthday and celebrating it with family and friends. S giving up a job that was giving him horrendous stress and seeing him getting so much from looking after Mini W. Seeing my close friend B and her daughter in the summer. All the lovely mini breaks we took. Going body boarding for the first time in years in August. Getting my milk diamond ring made. Finally finishing the crochet blanket that I started in 2016! MIni W appearing in Simply Knitting and then in Love Knitting for Baby — and as the cover star! On a smaller scale, simply having our evenings back, and my being able to go out without worrying that Mini W needs me. A small thing, but much appreciated.
16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
White Denim’s It Might Get Dark, Carly Rae Jepson’s Run Away With Me and John Mayer’s Still Feel Like Your Man.
17. Compared with this time last year, are you:
–happier or sadder?
Happier, mostly because I’m not in despair over a lack of sleep.
–thinner or fatter?
Fatter, because I’m no longer feeding, but still thinner than I used to be. I know lots of mums struggle to get baby weight off, and would probably hate me for complaining about being too thin, but I really was too light when I was feeding so much and it had a negative impact on my health. I’m not yet up to pre-baby weight but I’m only a couple of kilos off, and I feel much more robust and happy.
–richer or poorer?
Poorer, as S has given up work and we only have my freelancer’s salary. But only in monetary terms – we are so much richer in time and happiness, which is amazing.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Yoga, gardening, reading and sleeping.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Over thinking and worrying about Mini W’s naps and other daytime activities affecting his sleep.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
With S’s family on a farm in the Staffordshire Peak District. It was lovely — the cousins had a lot of fun together, we ate lots of delicious food, played board games, made some inroads into the huge amount of alcohol my parents in law brought with them, had some walks in the fresh air and got to see a new part of the country.
21. Did you fall in love in 2018?
Even more so with my delightful son.
22. What was your favourite TV programme?
The second series of The Handmaid’s Tale was excellent, although I had to steel myself to watch it as the storylines really affected me – it was definitely not an uplifting programme. Channel 5 started showing Friends, so I’ve been enjoying a nostalgia trip by rewatching them – although a lot of the humour hasn’t dated well. This Is Us was my guilty pleasure.
23. What was the best book you read?
I just checked how many books I read this year and was a bit appalled at the low number of 39. But then I realised that for the first bit of 2019, I was either too sleep deprived to concentrate on a book, or when I did go to bed (my usual time to read), all I wanted to do was maximise my shut eye time. Also, my free time is somewhat limited these days too! So with that justification duly noted, I absolutely loved The City and The City by China Mieville, as the concept was so original and clever. It tailed off a bit towards the end but I still really enjoyed it. I also liked I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak (bonkers but great), The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, Truly Madly Guilty by Lianne Moriarty (I couldn’t put it down), Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (read in about two days straight), and in non fiction, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather, which was all about the campaigning to end feathers on millinery and the birth of the RSPB.
24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
White Denim — I really enjoyed their latest album.
25. What did you want and get?
More sleep. In material things, all I wanted for Christmas was a good book, a scented candle and some handcream — and I actually got all of these!
26. What did you want and not get?
A functioning garden office/workshop. Now I’m back at work I could really do with an office for when I need to do things at home — my old office is now Mini W’s bedroom!
27. What did you not want and not get?
Periods of freelance unemployment. Hurrah!
28. What was your favourite film of this year?
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. It was definitely not what I was expecting – I thought it was a ‘fight for justice’ type film – but I really enjoyed its black humour.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36, and it was on the final day of our trip to the Isle of Wight, so we were actually staying with my mom and dad, which was nice. My mom made me a chocolate Guinness cake, which was delicious, and we had a tasty brunch before we drove home.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Solid eight hours of sleep every night. Here’s hoping for 2019!
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
I was still feeding frequently for the first half of the year, so anything with easy boob access was key. But after decreasing in June and then finally weaning in November, I got super excited to bring out my old clothes and old bras. It was like a whole new wardrobe!
32. What kept you sane?
S, as always. He really is my rock. And friends. When I had a bit of a rubbish time with sleep deprivation at the start of the year, I had so much support from my ladies, from sending me surprise gifts in the post to messages of advice and love. I am truly lucky.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I must be getting old as I can’t really think of one!
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Unfortunately, as with the last few years, there have been many — and they continue to be the same as in previous year. The ongoing ridiculousness of Brexit, fake news, Trump, Brexit again… Actually, I think Brexit is the thing that’s made me the angriest, as other issues such as fake news feed into this (ie the lies the Leave campaign spouted that voters believed in). I honestly don’t know how we’re going to get out of this mess with any dignity.
35. Who did you miss?
I didn’t get to see my Bristol friends as much as normal this year, due to new babies/other life events, so I’m hoping we get more nights out/lunches/crafternoons in 2019.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
I started a new ongoing freelance role and have met some really nice people through that.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
Something is only a problem if it’s a problem for you.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Call it magic, call it true/ I call it magic when I’m with you/ And I just got broken, broken into two/ Still I call it magic, when I’m next to you.” I used to sing this to Mini W at bedtime, and it always reminds me that even when things were hard, he was — and is — absolutely magic.