We’re now one-sixth into 2020, so what better time for a review of 2019? Here’s the eleventh annual instalment of the Review Thingo*. Previous episodes are here.
1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
Tried my hand at pottery. Form an orderly queue at the Etsy store please…
- Made a quilt
- Went to a Fleetwood Mac concert
- And a Bjork concert
- Took a dip in the chilly North Sea!
- Went to Birmingham
- And Wales! Just over the border, to see my pal Claire, but it’s a start!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I didn’t make any in 2019. This year I have chosen a word: ACTION!
It’s not a stick to beat oneself up with, rather a wee thing to whisper when dithering, to encourage some imperfect effort on things that matter (more on that in #9).
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My high school comrade Renee.
4. Did anyone close to you pass away?
Our lovely Uncle Pat.
5. What countries did you visit?
Austria, Italy and USA.
6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
A consistent skin care routine.
7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
- May 26 – Lizzo concert in Manchester – never has a gig been so full of joy.
- June 22 – Aforementioned dip in the North Sea. Cold water = crazy magic!
- June 27 – Discovering our cat on Google Maps
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing that bloody scarf from Christmas 2017 – it ended being three metres long! Well, I still haven’t woven in the ends. I don’t think I’m a knitter.
The other achievement was surviving my sixth year of freelancing. There were the usual buttock-clenching moments but overall it was lively and challenging in the good way!
There were interesting projects with long term clients, plus lovely new stuff. I helped the super smart and sparkling Ravideep Kaur launch her anti-racism course. My enthusiastic review of the Eule Planner led to Kerstin hiring me for some content writing! Stationery fiend’s dream. I also randomly had some folks ask for mentoring, for book proposals and content marketing strategy. That turned out to be bloody amazing. I really loved that sense of collaborating over a period of time, helping bring their projects to life, so busting to do more of that in 2020.
Subtle plug: If you need help with your words, check out how we can work together!
9. What was your biggest challenge?
Some tedious personal stuff that I muddled through. Giddyup! Also, I often neglected my priorities, e.g. writing here. I ran around in self-censoring circles most of the time. So that’s where the 2020 word of the year ACTION comes in. Sure, it’s taken me two months to finish this bloody post but one has to warm up.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
In the scheme of things, with loved ones dealing with actual scary health stuff, I had a healthy year. Minor incidents:
- Injury – Despite a very large sign saying MIND THE STEP, I failed to mind a very deep step in a crowded cafe. I strode out into thin air then slammed my foot down, jarring my knee and ankle. I was mortified, so tried to turn a stagger into a casual stroll like nothing had happened. But I badly sprained the knee and ankle, and nine months on it’s still not right.
- Illness – September brought the looooong dark night known as The Sicily Spewnami. The poor Mothership was the first victim. Then a couple of days later I looked in the mirror and thought, Wow I’ve got a nice glow, this must be what those Instagrammers talk about. Wrong! It’s not natural highlights, it’s the virus of doom!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
- Baby Pyrex jug – just £2 and the little Pyrex family was complete!
- Bedside tables – scored for a song on eBay, most triumphant. We’re now on Year 5 of Operation Decorate That Bedroom, so maybe in 2020 I’ll go wild and get a bedside lamp.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Concert tickets. Edit: Actually that’s not true, it went on everyday household expenditure! Three cheers for groceries.
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
That first cold water swim. Brace yourself for an upcoming post of joy and shivering delirium!
14. What song will always remind you of this year?
Living On The Ceiling by Blancmange. This 80s classic contains the line I’m up the bloody tree. Gareth started singing “She’s up the bloody tree” whenever Ziggy hopped into her ridiculous tower.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
A wee bit sparklier!
b) richer or poorer?
About the same.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Getting to bed earlier. I think I said that last year too, dagnabbit.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
18. How did you spend Christmas?
The in-laws invited us over for a low key Christmas lunch. It was strange after a good few years of hosting to just rock up with a Sainsbury’s Christmas pud and a tub of custard. But once I surrendered to the lack of menu control it was ace!
19. Did you fall in love this year?
Yes, with that sassy cat meme! Could not get enough for two months solid.
The other big love was ginger. After a lifetime of indifference, I fell hard. It started with a slice of a vegan ginger cake at Cafe Wynd in Dunfermline. KAPOW! Could not get enough spicy goodness after that. I started with edibles – ginger jam, ginger tea, ginger and apple juice etc. Then branched out to ginger hand soap, ginger lip balm, ginger washing up liquid.
The greatest love of all: Borders Dark Chocolate Ginger biscuits.
If anyone has any favourite ginger things please tell me, I’m always looking for the next hit.
20. What was your favourite TV programme?
- Fleabag – an obvious choice but it felt good to have a proper obsession, after worrying post-Americans I’d never love again.
- Call My Agent! – lunch break show of the year. Addictive French comedy about a Paris talent agency, with lots of glamour and swearing and famous French actors guest starring as themselves.
- Succession – it took a couple of attempts to go from “why should I care about these mega rich bastards” to dreaming about it. It’s savagely funny and impossible to pick a favourite cast member, though I do love seeing Matthew Macfadyen in a role that’s a galaxy away from Mr Darcy. Also, one of the best telly theme tunes ever?
21. What was the best book you read?
The Mother In Law by Sally Hepworth – proper page turner!
I also liked Big Sky by Kate Atkinson. Not my favourite Jackson Brodie mystery, but the audiobook read by Jason Isaacs was delicious for the ears.
22. What was your favourite film(s)?
Little Women and If Beale Street Could Talk. Older films: Blade Runner 2049 and First Man. #accidentalgoslingfest
23. What were your favourite podcasts? (new addition!)
- Billy Connolly on The Adam Buxton Podcast – this episode is hilarious and moving. Billy’s story about Robin Williams made me blub.
- 13 Minutes To The Moon – this series from the BBC World Service tells the story of the Apollo 11 mission by those who made it happen, from the astronauts to engineers to the boffins behind the scenes. It’s riveting and dramatic with moving music from Hans Zimmer. And good news for moon nerds everywhere: Season 2 on the Apollo 13 mission launches on March 9.
- Samin Nosrat and Phoebe-Waller Bridge were both ace on How To Fail
- I never skip Fortunately… with Fi and Jane and the Nigel Slater episode was particularly funny.
24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 42! I had lunch with my pal Nicole, then G and I went for a walk in Perthshire the next day.
25. What kept you sane?
The Bon Appétit YouTube channel.
26. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No new entries on the Fancy List that I can recall. But platonically, a rotating crush on everyone on the Bon Appétit YouTube channel.
27. Who did you miss?
I’m going to retire this question! It’s always the same answer… the folks back home in Oz <3
28. What were the best things you ate? (new question!)
- Aforementioned vegan ginger cake from Cafe Wynd.
- Soft serve ice cream with amarena cherries from Paesano Pizza, Glasgow. Thanks Sue for introducing us to that one!
- The full Scottish breakfast at Kelvingrove Cafe, Glasgow. Still dreaming of that sausage.
- A melon gelato in Ragusa, Sicily. The scent, the smoothness! And it was way before the Spewnami Day so the memory is unsullied.
*If you’re new around here, the Review Thingo is a set of end of year questions that first did the rounds back in the olden days of blogging. I found it via my pal Trish and kept on doing it, albeit delivering further and further from the actual end of the year as each one passes. This year shall be different, this is my vow!