Category Archives: Feeling a bit list-less

In which there is a look back at 2014

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I’ve seen quite a few bloggers do this meme at New Year over the past few years, so I thought it would be a good way to get back into writing blog posts that are longer than two paragraphs. Caution: expect a lot of mentions of the house.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Demolish a wall and install a steel lintel. Do some bonding plastering. Put in a (successful) planning application. Put in two (successful) building regulation notices. Edit a cake magazine and several knitting magazines. Knit a pair of baby booties. Appear in The Sun (not on page 3!) and Perfect Wedding magazine. Dress up in an inflatable horse costume for a friend’s hen do. Commission a Peter Dinklage cross stitch.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t actually make any particular concrete resolutions for 2014, as I usually do. I did want to take exercising more seriously, which I kept – I now climb the eleven flights of stairs to my office daily, which does wonders for the thighs that you wouldn’t believe. I also wanted to continue de-cluttering, which I did when we moved. This year, I’d like to stay on the exercise path, and also cut down on the amount of free sugar I eat, i.e. the insane amounts of cakes and biscuits in my office.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

It wasn’t as busy a year for new babies as 2013 was (eight friends, nine babies) and 2015 is going to be (six friends all due before June so far, with no doubt more to come) but my Canadian friend Steph did give birth to her second child in December. She’ll probably be at school before I get to meet her, though, sadly.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My grandma passed away in January. It was not a good start to the year.

5. What countries did you visit?

Germany, in January, and then Croatia in August. I also went to Scotland in June, but since the referendum voted no, I can’t really count that.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

More time for a social life, both with S and with friends. This year has passed in an insanely quick blur of house renovations.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

16th October, when we finally moved into the house. 5th November, when I was diagnosed with sleep apnoea and finally had a reason for being tired all.of.the.time.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Doing up the house, no question. S and I really pushed ourselves and at times we despaired that it would ever get finished in a timely fashion, but I’m sitting here writing this in my new study, so it turned out pretty well. Being headhunted for my new job and realising that actually, I am doing pretty well at this second career. I also got asked to write stuff for a magazine that’s completely different to anything I’ve done before, which was nice and ego boosting.

9. What was your biggest failure?

This sounds big headed, but I don’t really think I had any failures this year – nothing that I can remember, anyway. Maybe I’ve blocked them out?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Apart from a cold or two, no. As mentioned above, I did get diagnosed with sleep apnoea, but as it’s due to a physiological reason (the shape of my jaw) it doesn’t really classify as illness or injury.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My new kitchen. I love it. Ditto the woodburner. I also love a gold leaf-shaped necklace I bought (from Boots!), a mint green elbow sleeve jacket from New Look and a pair of fox-red suede wedge heeled ankle boots from Clarks.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

S, without a doubt. The man is amazing, and continues to get better and better. The amount of work he put in this year was insane. It’s no surprise he’s spent the last three weeks with a cold as I think the year’s effort is catching up with him. Also, my parents, especially my dad. We couldn’t have done half the stuff on the house without his advice and practical help.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

British politicians, especially members of UKIP. ISIS. Luis Suarez and other ridiculous footballers like him. American police. Boko Haram.

14. Where did most of your money go?

No surprise here – house renovations. B and Q, Screwfix, Wickes, plumbers, plasterers, electricians… the list goes on. Some nice stuff, too, though, such as our Croatian holiday and my trip to Germany to see B and Steph.

15. What did you get really excited about?

Moving into our new house. The three weddings we went to. My best friend Z’s trip to Bristol in March and having so many people I love all in one room.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. Winner of the insanely catchiest song of 2014.

17. Compared with this time last year, are you:

–happier or sadder?
About the same: I like to think of myself as a positive person, mostly. Happier in that we’re no longer living in a house with an apparently insurmountable damp corner. Happier in my job, too. Life is good. I am extremely lucky.

–thinner or fatter?

Probably a wee bit thinner, due to climbing all the stairs. But not much.

–richer or poorer?

Poorer – our savings have been completely annihilated. But all in a good cause.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Socialising with friends and going out and doing fun things, especially in the summer. We had to sacrifice many activities because of the house, and S and I both feel that we missed out on a lot of stuff this year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Can you sense a pattern here? DIY. Also, stressing about issues that then a week later I can barely remember. I need to try and not sweat the small stuff so much.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Just the two of us, and Olivia, with some good food, good books and a roaring fire.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

More so with S than ever before. And Olivia continues to be a source of complete joy and delight. Today, for example, we went for a walk in the allotments that are at the back of the house, as S hadn’t explored them properly. While there, we found out that Olivia was also visiting (they are accessible from our garden, so we had been hoping she was using them for frisking). She was delighted to see us there too, we had an entire conversation, and then she went for a walk with us. Ace!

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

The latest series of Game of Thrones was excellent, as always. We saved it til winter and finished it off over Christmas. I really enjoyed The Returned, the French drama on Channel 4, and got hooked on The Fall, after not seeing the first series when it was originally aired.

23. What was the best book you read?

I read around 53 books this year (I totted them up earlier although I think I’ve missed off a few), and my favourite two were The Goldfinch and The Signature of All Things. The latter was an especial surprise as I saw part of the film version of Eat Pray Love and thought it was rubbish, which put me off Elizabeth Gilbert. S bought me two books for Christmas, Cat out of Hell by Lynne Truss which was silly but fun, and the Val McDermid version of Northanger Abbey, which was very clever. I’ve also enjoyed reading more non-fiction this year, such as a book on the Hinault-LeMond rivalry called Slaying the Badger and the memoir of neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, Do No Harm.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I didn’t make any, although I did discover the delights of a month’s free subscription to Google Play.

25. What did you want and get?

A fully refurbished house that’s warm, stylish and fits our needs. A new job when my contract ran out in June. A proper summer of sunny weather.

26. What did you want and not get?

A balcony. But with luck and a following wind, it will be installed in a few weeks.

27. What did you not want and not get?

Redundancy. Hurrah!

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I can’t actually think of anything that memorable that I saw this year. I enjoyed Mockingjay Part One, but I didn’t see anything amazingly stand-out. We did watch Labyrinth last night (our NYE pub plans with friends were cancelled as S was ill) which I hadn’t seen for years but which is still awesome.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 32 and had multiple celebrations, as is my wont. We went down to my parents to go to a wedding a few days before my birthday, and they took us out for dinner at a very delicious restaurant in Portsmouth. I had Friday night cocktails, plus my traditional outdoor drinks on the Saturday in Bristol with friends, by the Arnolfini and then at the Apple, a lush cider bar. Not even the World Cup could dampen the evening.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having to devote so much time to DIY. The end result, however, is immeasurably satisfying.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

A lot of the year was spent in a paint spattered t-shirt and trousers. In more normal looks, I continued to get rid of stuff that didn’t suit me and spent a lot of time in striped tops, skinny jeans, dresses and boots. I wore my mint green jacket to death, and loved the two pairs of sunnies S bought me for my birthday, a matching mint green pair and an oversized black pair. I also bought a playsuit for a first time, despite thinking I was a little bit too old. It’s navy blue with lacy cross straps, and although it’s a pain in the arse to unbutton, I absolutely love it.

32. What kept you sane?

S, without a doubt. Good books and a DVR. Red wine. Trapeze.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

No celebrity crushes for me this year. I still think Alan Rickman is the bee’s knees.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

So many got me angry this year. The bedroom tax, the trolling response to feminist/women’s issues, such as Jane Austen being on the banknotes, the threat of privatisation of the NHS. I’m going to stop there as I’ll become Charlie Brooker-esque if I dwell on this, as it’s easy to forget there’s a lot of good events and good people in the world.

35. Who did you miss?

Those friends of mine who are too far away to see as often as I’d like. Thank goodness for Skype, as it means you can imagine your favourite people are in the room with you. Although B is now leaving Nigeria and moving to Bosnia Herzegovina, which will make visits a lot easier.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people at work I now sit with, all of whom are absolutely lovely.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Hang on in there – it will get finished. Also, be nice to building inspectors.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Not a song lyric, but “nothing worth having comes easy” describes my year pretty well! Although on Googling it to try and find out who actually said it (jury’s out on that), turns out it’s also an album by Little Man Tate, so there you go.

In which there are some numbers

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11: the hour at which there has been a reprieve and I still have a job, albeit a different role. It’s quite complicated (and boring) to go into but basically the wolf is away from the door, for now at least.

695: number of organisations successful in gaining National Portfolio Organisation funding by Arts Council England versus the 638 who were unsuccessful. Of these, 206 who previously had this funding have now lost it, and 110 new organisations have gained it. As someone who has worked for 4 ACE-supported organisations in my career, and had dealings with many others, it’s been interesting to see who got funding and who didn’t, and who, after years of support, have been cut completely. One company I used to work for was cut 100%. Another I still work for in a freelance capacity got its funding, plus an uplift. So it’s a mixed bag of emotions at the moment. The Twittersphere (is that even a word?) is going crazy right now.

22: articles and features I sub edited for the wedding magazine yesterday. If you want to know about summer 2011 wedding trends, I am your woman.

0: the number of teachers who remembered me when I went back to my old school on Saturday for a fundraising event (although 2 did remember my brother). To put this into context, though, I left this school when I was 13 after only 3 years, and teachers don’t tend to remember pupils in the lower years.

3: people at the event who, rather bizarrely and completely unexpectedly, said that they’d seen me in the wedding magazine. Fame at last! (At least in the West Country.)

2: bottles of wine (one pink fizz, one red) drunk by me and the lovely Miss W after the event whilst catching up and reminiscing in her mum’s house.

3: cups of tea and coffee I drank to try and combat my vicious wine-induced hangover the next day.

2.5: hours it took me to read our latest book club novel, Rupture by Simon Lelic, as I could.not.put.it.down.

27: approximately the number of  daffodils out in the garden, which are making everything much more spring-like and lovely. Roll on the sunshine!

 

Reverb 10, day 15 – five minutes

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December 155 Minutes

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010

As completely brainstormed in five minutes…

– The look on my husband’s face when he saw me coming down the aisle.

– The excitement in the days leading up to the wedding when friends and family were all coming to Bristol.

– The taste of Italian gelato and buffalo mozzarella.

– The fun of wearing a birdcage veil.

– The feel of the cold water on my hot skin as I swam in the Mediterranean.

– The feel of the warm water on my hot skin as I swam in the Gulf of Thailand.

– Being able to be a part of my friend’s wedding day in Australia through the magic of Skype.

– The amazing two weeks with my friends in Hong Kong and Thailand.

– The thrill of seeing my name in print in a magazine for the first time.

– The wonderful sense of freedom when I got my braces off and could eat corn on the cob again.

– Eating chocolate pretzels in Salzburg.

– Riding a bike through Munich in the Spring sunshine.

– Seeing my engagement ring for the first time and loving how it changes colours.

– Meeting my brother for a delicious Vietnamese lunch in London the other day.

– Hanging out with my friend, drinking hazelnut lattes in our local café.

– Learning how to dance the rumba for our first dance for the wedding.

– Doing a handstand in trapeze for the first time.

– Doing a birdsnest in the ropes in trapeze for the first time.

– Hearing that my best friend is going to have a baby.

– Discovering the delicious vegetable romanesco.

– Dancing with my friends on a beach in Thailand, drinking Chang beer and paddling in the sea.

Wow, 2010 has been a great year.

Reverb 10, day 11 – 11 things

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December 1111 things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1. Being indecisive.  S and I are both guilty of deferring to each other/other people at times, and so we’re making a conscious effort to stop this.

2. Clutter.  We’ve been paring down our possessions over the last year – well, to be fair, it’s mostly me as I am a complete pack rat – but there’s still some way to go.  I really don’t want to accumulate any more unnecessary stuff, so I’m trying to encourage friends & family to give us disposable (i.e. food and drink) or “experience” gifts, rather than tangible objects, and making sure that anything I do buy is necessary.  I always feel calmer when everything is tidy and organised, and there isn’t just  an ocean of things everywhere.

3. Regret.  Life really is too short, and I need to stop beating myself up over little things that I couldn’t control in the first place.

4. Unemployment!  My 3 day a week role is due to end in March so I need to take steps to ensure that I get something lined up asap: there is nothing more disheartening than being unemployed.

5. Reticence.  If I’m going to make a go of the freelance stuff, I need to start pushing myself forward more.

6. Boring clothes.  I’ve got some items that I continue to wear out of sheer habit, and not because I actually like them. I want to make my wardrobe more reflective of me, and try new things.

7. Worrying that time is slipping away.  I need to concentrate more on appreciating the here and now, and how good it is, rather than focussing on what could be happening.

8. Fear.  Not in every day decisions, but in things like trapeze.  I want to stop being scared of new moves and just do them.  I tend to doubt my ability but most of the time, when I do screw up my courage to the sticking point, I’m pleasantly surprised.

9. Not playing the piano enough.  I am lucky to have a piano in my dining room so I need to start using it more.  So what if I’m not as good as I used to be?

10. Not flossing.  I didn’t put up with adult braces for my teeth to then fall out due to decay.  (Actually, I am regularly praised by my dentist for my brushing skills, but I really could do with flossing as well just to make sure.)

11. Bicycles in my house.  Never going to happen though.

 

In which there are things that are making me happy right now

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  • Glee
  • My Burts Bees lip shimmer
  • The return of Skins and Being Human
  • Balm Balm rose geranium cream
  • The prospect of various friends’ visits which are coming up soon
  • Harvey’s Bristol Cream
  • Planning for my Thailand holiday in March
  • Being able to gorge on wedding websites
  • Oatcakes
  • Longjohns

Update:

  • My newly arrived engagement ring!