A very very belated happy new year to you all!
Here’s the thirteenth annual instalment of Review Thingo. It’s a set of end-of-year questions that first did the rounds back in the olden days of blogging.
All previous episodes are here.
1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?
Wrote over 50,000 words for my clients. It was exciting to remember I do have the ability to slap words down on a page. There is hope!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
No and no. We’re taking it one day at a time, baby!
3. What countries did you visit?
Does England count? In October, my pal Julia Jones came over for the London Marathon so I nipped down over the border on the train for a happy reunion.
4. Did anyone close to you give birth?
5. Did anyone close to you pass away?
6. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?
7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don’t know about you, but specific dates are fuzzy from the blobby megayear that was 2020-21! But here are some gems:
- A peaceful late arvo swim in November. Orangey soft Autumn light, a rainbow, and a sweet chat with my swim buds.
- A particularly deep yet hilarious conversation with The Mothership.
- A superb surprise care package from an absolute legend of a friend.
- An excellently-timed joke in a Burger King parking lot that made a dear friend speechless and wheezy with laughter, then I couldn’t stop laughing too, practically gargling a mouthful of fries. I can’t remember the joke, but I remember the wave of purest happiness.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finally solving my clothing storage issue! I have a built-in wardrobe that is an awkward, sloping shape and has no shelving. When we moved in 6+ years ago I put a dilapidated chest of drawers inside it to host my clothes. The drawer fronts kept falling off, and it was super dark so I could never find anything without a torch.
Every six months I’d have a meltdown and vow to sort it out Once And For All. I’d draw plans to build shelves, approach a handyperson to do it, or look for ready-made solutions. But I’d lose steam and go back to throwing things into the void and closing the door in a hurry. YES, this could very well be a metaphor!
In December 2021 I decided I could not let this drag into yet another new year. I found some mesh drawer units from IKEA that fit perfectly. G added a motion-sensor light, and my well-being has improved by approximately 675%!
9. What was your biggest challenge?
Remember a few years ago I wrote about the time I left the house for school and nearly stepped right onto a snake on the doormat?
“That’s what the start of a New Year feels like – that mild anxiety as you open the door and stretch your foot out into another set of 365, wondering if there’ll be the proverbial snake on the doormat.”
There were multiple snakes in 2021, each with their unique bitey challenges. But it’s already
half past January bloody April and I don’t want to dwell. It was a difficult year, but it was also chock full of hilarity and love. So I will toddle on into the glittering future, make some new memories, and write about them instead!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Pre-cut baking parchment sheets. No more wrestling with the stupid roll of paper that never tears off neatly and doesn’t quite fit in the kitchen drawer. No more paper that never quite sits flat on the baking tray. No more petty raging at inanimate objects!
12. Where did most of your money go?
As with 2020, repairs on our elderly Renault Clio. It is held together purely with sticky tape and stubbornness at this point.
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The day when there was a woodpecker in the back garden.
Also, the new season of Succession. It took a wee while to get going then, pow!
14. What song will always remind you of this year?
In March, I had That Was Yesterday by Foreigner stuck in my head for three weeks straight. I’d wake up every morning and it would pop back up in my brain in all its epic 80s goodness. Then in December, it was this Stevie Wonder cover of We Can Work It Out. It is very catchy, I am just warning you now!
15. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Taken more walks and more photos.
16. What do you wish you’d done less of?
17. How did you spend Christmas?
I cooked Christmas lunch – I told Gareth I would take full responsibility for the cooking if he assembled my aforementioned IKEA drawers. I really do hate assembling IKEA. After his folks went home we watched North By Northwest and ate cheese. Top day!
18. Did you fall in love this year?
Extra grateful for Gareth… after 18 years he still cracks me up every day. Many times in 2021 I’d say “Can I get a hug?” and he’d reply, “£10.”
19. What was your favourite TV programme?
- The Killing popped up on BBC iPlayer, ten years after it first aired in the UK. Long enough for us to forget it was twenty one-hour episodes, and for Gareth to forget who the killer was! It was fun going back to where the Scandi crime drama obsession began, marvelling at Sarah Lund’s jumpers and her eating dinner out of a saucepan, plus all the ye olde mobile phones. And thinking all over again that Troels Hartmann would be an excellent name for a cat.
- Not wanting to leave Denmark, next I watched Ride Upon The Storm. I didn’t think a show about a family of priests would grab me but it stars Troels Hartmann (Lars Mikkelsen) and Nanna Birk Larsen’s mum (Ann Eleonora Jørgensen) who are always compelling. Family drama and shenanigans + much soul-searching and meaning-of-life pondering + frilly Danish priest collars = very entertaining.
- Also enjoyed: the final series of Call My Agent 🇫🇷 , Bump 🇦🇺, Mare of Easttown 🇺🇸 and When The Dust Settles 🇩🇰.
20. What was the best book you read?
I really admire my Goodreads friends who write smart, insightful book reviews because when I like a book all I struggle to articulate why I liked it beyond, “It gave me feelings!”.
- Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason got me in the guts.
- Seven Days in June by Tia Williams was my favourite romance.
- Huma Qureshi’s memoir How We Met was so quietly elegant (plus wonderful cover illo by Parul Arora)
- I also read Cathy Rentzenbrink’s A Manual for Heartache after Christmas and it was the most reassuring hug of a book ever.
Basically, sign me up for any book containing: loneliness, longing, sadness, regret, second chances and/or healing.
21. What was your favourite film?
I keep thinking about Mads Mikkelsen (Troels Hartmann’s brother) in Another Round. He can just sit there and let his cheekbones communicate complex emotions!
22. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 44 and had a very quiet Monday with G. We went for a walk on the beach and I rued leaving my swimming gear at home. Then we went to the garden centre to buy a bird feeder, my requested gift. It’s placed so I can see the wood pigeons, blackbirds, blue tits, robins, spuggies etc. dropping by from my office window.
23. What kept you sane?
Friends. How good are friends?! Seamlessly passing the “Shitty Day stick” back and forth, sharing and listening, laughing and crying; being real and being there for each other. Whether it’s in person or in the DM’s, occasional contact or a daily flurry of messages, it’s all precious stuff and hell yes I am grateful.
24. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
During the Euro 2020 tournament both Gareth and I were utterly obsessed with Italy’s dapper assistant coach Alberico Evani. We were far from alone.
25. Who did you miss?
Everyone during the lockdown times! But especially the folks in Oz.
26. What were the best things you ate?
- This pumpkin bread with maple glaze from Yossy Arefi’s Snacking Cakes (the book I raved about last year). I baked it just to use a can of pumpkin puree that had been haunting the back of the cupboard for years, but the cake was so tasty it’s an autumn regular now.
- The veggie breakfast below at Contini in Edinburgh – who knew a grilled zucchini could rock one’s world? All the better coz it was also a reunion with my dear pal Ravideep. It’s good to have witnesses for these tasty moments.
- This festive spiced shortbread with sour cherries and pistachio from Bre Graham’s newsletter. I added clementine zest for extra fest.
Sending you all excellent humans good wishes for the not-at-all-new year!