1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
- made two new friends who live in the next village. Walking distance pals: the holy grail!
- took a beginner’s sewing class (swore a lot)
- consistently attended both Pilates and yoga classes… after years in the exercise wilderness I’ve found some love again!
- had a brilliant trip to Green Mountain in Vermont as a guest blogger to work on my binge eating stuff.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I chose a word for the year, Outside: “I literally want to get more fresh air, but also looking to get outside of my head and outside of my comfort zone”. This turned out to be a handy anchor and it was an adventurous (for me!) 12 months.
I haven’t felt drawn to any words or particular plans for 2019 thus far. I’m happy to just rattle along for now and make sure I keep the twinkle lights twinkling.
3. Did anyone close to you die?
4. What countries did you visit?
USA and Australia.
5. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
A stronger lower back and more blogging.
6. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
- February 8 – Snowshoeing in the dark at Green Mountain with all senses singing and an overwhelming feeling of being in the right place.
- April 28 – Gomez concert. Closure for my 2002 self who accidentally chucked out Sydney tickets! #dumpsterdivingfail
- May 3 – Day of the Missing Ziggy. My heart sinks to my shoes just thinking of that horrible long, empty night she went AWOL, both G and I worried what we’d talk about without that furry grump in our lives. Lucky for us she was only trapped in a garage, four doors down.
7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
On paper, it would have to be my positive progress on the BED recovery stuff. – I’m chuffed with how much has changed for the better. But sewing that bloody zipper bag really felt like a triumph 😉
I’d set a goal to make six crafty projects in 2018 – an attempt to try something new that had nothing to do with work or “self-improvement”. At the time I mentioned on Insta my stages of learning:
- wild enthusiasm
- thinking up excuses to run away (cat emergency? credible?)
- small moments of success
- swearing that you think is only in your head but actually out loud
- grim determination
- starting over.
Despite all that, by December 30 I had six small objects that didn’t exist before, that look alright from a distance!
I’m still working on a scarf that I started knitting over Christmas 2017. Once I’d used all the yarn up it didn’t feel long enough, then it took a few months to track down more. Now it’s too long, but I feel compelled to get through this extra ball so I’m just carrying on! I reckon Lenny Kravitz might like it when it’s done.
8. What was your biggest
Righto, questionnaire whose origins I can’t remember, I’ve changed that word above because language is important 😉 The biggest challenge by far was #9 below.
9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A month after returning from Vermont, buzzing with rediscovered exercise joy, I injured my lower back on a hike that was in retrospect too lengthy for my fitness level. For the next six months, I couldn’t walk, sit, or stand for longer than five minutes at a time without unleashing a world of teary agony. So I rotated between the three like the world’s most BLOODY BORING triathlon.
I’ll spare you the details but it made things, especially work, quite difficult at times and my mental health got wobbly. But after much trial, error and super strong painkillers, I got in with an awesome NHS physiotherapist and we’re now on a good plan for healing!
It’s been an exercise in patience and acceptance and prioritising, I tell ya. I’m in the midst of Project Strengthen Back, Butt and Hips – and unlike with my dodgy knee ten years ago, I’m actually doing the physio exercises religiously! I’m now back up to walking a good 20 minutes without pain and feeling much more chirpy.
10. What was the best thing you bought?
- Cabin Zero carry-on backpack – I got this in 2017 and after a year of regular use, I still love it. On short trips, I find a small wheelie suitcase can be more trouble than it’s worth. The best example, when in London, it’s easier to squish this bag onto my lap on a busy bus than wrestling a suitcase. It fits heaps inside it, has a laptop bit, is comfortable on your back when walking around, and tucks easily into the overhead locker on the plane.
- Fleece leggings – my Canadian pal Jilanna got me onto these – like trackydacks/sweatpants, but leggings so it’s like getting the warmest, cosiest hug for your pins on a super cold day.
- Leuchtturm B5 dotted notebook – bigger than a pocket notebook but smaller than A5, this is a brilliant size notebook for random lists. The soft cover makes it light to tote around (every gram counts with a dodgy back, mwahaha.)
- Lisa Eldridge Velvet Morning lipstick – my favourite orange-red since Lady Danger
- 3 metre USB cable – so I could charge the phone and use it at the same time without acrobatics. Genius!
11. Where did most of your money go?
12. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Americans final season. What a masterclass in TENSION! The brilliant series finale was so stressful my teeth were actually chattering. As handsome as Mr Bodyguard was, I think Matthew Rhys was ripped off for the Golden Globe for Best Actor the other day!
I love character-driven shows where people grow and change over a stretch of years – the kind of shows that invite deep obsession. I love the routine of watching each episode, poring over online recaps and discussions and podcasts afterwards, dreaming about the characters, and of course, worrying about them years after the show has ended, as though they were real. This show gave me six years of quality obsession and it’ll be hard to ever find that kind of love again. 😉
13. What song will always remind you of this year?
Fitness by Lizzo. She would have been my most-played artist on Spotify in 2018, if not for Gareth’s prog and 80s metal cluttering up the mix. We have started the new year with separate accounts, as painful as that was for his thrifty sensibilities!
14. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) richer or poorer?
About the same.
15. What do you wish you’d done more of?
16. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Staying up too late on a school night.
17. How did you spend Christmas?
Quietly, in London with the nearest and dearests. Festive dining while watching Home Alone and Jaws on the telly. We did venture out for a walk at one point, then came back for trifle and Home Alone 2!
18. Did you fall in love this year?
Oh aye… with these Ottolenghi oven chips with Greek oregano and feta! I first saw these on Nigella’s Instagram a few years ago (they hark from Australian chef George Calombaris) but it wasn’t until I borrowed Simple from the library that I made them. SO GOOD. Crispy in a way I’d never known oven chips to be before.
19. What was your favourite TV programme?
- Halt and Catch Fire – I watched the first season a couple of years ago after Jason Kottke wrote about his love for it and how he got to be an extra. The first season didn’t grab me so much, but then I saw a few articles that urged one to stick with it, for it gets goooood. And it did! It zoomed right into deep obsession and my top 5 series of all time. You may start watching HAFC and think, this is just about two geeky dudes building a computer. But it blossoms into soooo much more. If you grew up alongside the internet it’s cool to watch a show that covers that evolution, but really it’s the characters that got me laughing and crying and utterly hooked.
- The Americans – as per joyous ramblings above.
- Salt Acid Fat Heat – Unbridled enthusiasm is by far my favourite quality in a person and I could watch the luminous Samin Nosrat talk about food all day. I really hope she makes more programmes soon. If she made one episode per every good thing to eat in the world, I’d tune in. We could start with Cake Laksa Chocolate Bagels!
- Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – this was such a funny wee series in which comedian Bob Mortimer (who I crush madly on) is introduced to fishing by comedian Paul Whitehouse. Both of them had recently experienced heart conditions. Each episode has them go for a fishing lesson where they muse on both life’s big questions and minutiae. It’s addictive and touching. My favourite moment was when they cooked dinner for a cardiologist and asked him, “Which one of us do you think is going to die first?”
- Billy Connolly: Made In Scotland – in this brilliant two-part documentary Billy talks about his early life in Glasgow, his career, growing older, and his Parkinson’s. It’s hilarious and poignant without ever being sentimental.
- Also enjoyed: Sharp Objects, Spiral, Press, Killing Eve, Queer Eye, Feud and Mozart in the Jungle. The latter is one of those shows that I forget about between seasons but always enjoy when it pops up. Classical music, New York City, and Gael García Bernal – you cannae go wrong!
20. What was the best book you read?
The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser. It follows the lives of five Australians, their lives entwining or briefly brushing past over time. I cackled and/or squirmed at the savage observations about writers and expat Australians. Cheers Kim of Reading Matters for the rec!
21. What was your favourite film?
I watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on a plane and loved it. I probably should watch it again though as I’ve found when I rewatch films I saw on planes they’re often not as good on the ground, because I’m always a bucket of feelings on a plane. Does anyone else get like that!?
Catching up on older films: I enjoyed Arrival and Grand Budapest Hotel.
22. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 41 and it was a quiet and unremarkable day. But the following weekend I went out for tapas with two dear pals and that was spectacular.
23. What kept you sane?
Ziggy pats and funny friends.
24. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
- Lee Pace in Halt And Catch Fire. Even in the 1995 episodes with his terrible hair and glasses that reminded me so much of dot com folks from back in the day.
25. Who did you miss?
In June I had an all-too-brief trip to Australia. It had been over five years since the last one, and that was too long! I want to prioritise getting back more often because it’s so bittersweet seeing people after such a long gap and realising so much has happened since the last catch-up.