Camusdarach Beach

2017 Review Thingo

Happy new year, comrades! Here’s the ninth annual instalment of Review Thingo. Previous episodes: 20162015, 2014, 2013201220112010 and 2009.

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

  • Went to Seattle
  • Spent a night in a yurt
  • Watched Back To The Future

Yurt life

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I tried that old chestnut, choosing a Word of the Year. I cringe a wee bit to say it was courage, as the things I needed to get courageous about were puny in the grand scheme of things. But it ended up being a useful motto when feeling the urge to run from anything new, difficult and/or uncomfortable.

As for 2018, I’m working on some habits, but I’ll spare you that until the next post!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Lots of new arrivals, including twins for my friend Renee! Best news ever.

4. Did anyone close to you pass away?
My Auntie Barbara.

5. What countries did you visit?
Netherlands, USA and Italy.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this one?
Everyday activities that require leaving the house. I’m already on the case – I’ve signed up for a Pilates class along with my pal Allison, which means I’m guaranteed at least one non-cat non-husband interaction per week!

7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory?
It was a mighty year of meet ups (I used the big birthday as licence to run riot) but Seattle in September was the biggie. My high school friend Jane has lived there for seven years and it was so good to finally get my butt over there for a visit. I also met up with my friends Caitlin, Denise, Kerstin and SJ. Ahhhhh it was magic! Gareth and Ziggy aside, I really didn’t want to come home.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finally giving up on the idea of Ziggy ever sleeping on the posh cat bed that’s been sitting on our living room floor for 22 months. I gave it away on Gumtree to a woman whose cat is not an ingrate 🙂

Ziggy in the sun
Favourite Ziggy pic of 2017

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not so much failures here as highly fixable annoyances:

1) Letting work take over everything far too often. With some sharper time management, it need not have been that way.

2) No progress on making our bedroom look less like a student hovel. When we moved in at the end of 2015, I had grand visions of creating a decadent boudoir slash lush retreat from modern life. I got so far as taping up four paint samples on the last day of 2016.

A year later, I’ve gone off the idea of dark, brooding walls, maybe because I don’t feel dark and brooding any more. But the room needs some love. It has a bed, a broken lamp and one dilapidated Ikea bedside table. Time for decorative action!

Paint samples

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just the annual August hayfever-that-turns-into-sinus-infection.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
These green Whisper boots from Hotter, purveyors of sensible footwear. I nicked the photo below from their website – see how the model’s groovy socks peep above the boot, all casual and stylin’? They don’t look like that on me, for I have what my late grandmother would have deemed “thick ankles”. On me, they scream “Santa’s lost ginger elf”. But I don’t bloody care! They are fleece lined and ultra comfy. I can walk for miles and miles and it feels like I’m wearing the cosiest slippers.

Whisper boots

12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel travel travel!

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Travel travel travel!

14. What song will always remind you of this year?
Daydreaming by Radiohead. It was my favourite song to accompany staring out of windows while on public transport. I unsuccessfully tried to learn to play it on the piano, too. Just cannae do those speedy bits!

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?


b) thinner or fatter?
A couple of kilos lighter. But seriously, eff this question. You’re off the team from now on.

c) richer or poorer?
A bit poorer due to all that travel but it was worth it.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Weight training. Bugger, I wrote that last year, too!

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Compulsive checking of work emails outwith sensible work hours. Nothing is ever on fire, so put the bloody phone down.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
The in-laws came over for Christmas lunch. And lo, a Festivus miracle – I finally made the custard runny enough for David’s liking!

19. Did you fall in love this year?
I fell in love with our local library! It re-opened after fancy renovations and I can’t stay away from the place. I love working in the reading room – it’s so peaceful and the wifi is terrible so I get lots done.

reading room

20. What was your favourite TV program?
Twin Peaks: The Return, Motherland, The Americans, and the final series of Detectorists.

Ever since Detectorists first aired I’ve tried to figure out why I loved Mackenzie Crook’s character so much. Then he rescued a hedgehog off a busy road, and I realised it’s because he’s a lot like Gareth*. Quiet and quietly funny, deeply caring about small injustices and small animals; frequently lost for hours in nerdy pastimes.

*ETA: I should clarify, husband Gareth, not Mackenzie’s character in The Office 🙂

Mackenzie Cook

Throughout 2017 I also watched all seven seasons of Australian comedy-drama Offspring. It popped up on Netflix and I remembered it as the one my Aussie pals used to get excited about on Facebook. For those not in the know, here’s the premise: “a Melbourne obstetrician in her thirties struggles with the increasingly chaotic family, romantic and professional aspects of her life”.

I could not bloody stop watching, unsure if I loved or loathed it. Why are they talking so fast? Why won’t that guy stop singing his cheesy songs? Why does every man that steps into the hospital automatically fall in love with Nina? Why don’t any of her blokes have personalities?

But there were so many genuine cackle out loud moments and the Aussie-ness made me happy. Even the questionable last season (where half the actors mustn’t have been arsed with it, as their characters were either “dead”, “working in the Outback” or “gone to London”) got me in the end. No spoilers, but that woman and the baby!!! I bawled my eyes out.

It was the perfect lunch break show, like Days of Our Lives with sunshine.


21. What was the best book you read?
Hunger by Roxanne Gay was painful and powerful. Marian Keyes really nailed the mid-life married feels in The Break. But my favourite was The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. I’d picked it up in May to get in the mood for a trip to Orkney. While I loved her descriptions of the islands and wildlife, it was the rawness of her recovery story that hooked me and wised me up to some destructive behaviours of my own. Plus, how beautiful is that cover?

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

22. What was your favourite film?
Gareth’s Classic Movie School continued, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and the aforementioned Back to the Future. So many Simpsons jokes now make sense!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 40 in Bologna, with Gareth and Rhi. We’d done a lot of sightseeing in the preceding days so were a wee bit tired and perhaps bordering on tired of each other ;). We took the train to Modena to visit the Ferrari Museum, then headed back to the pad, intending to have wine and nibbles then hit the town. But what happened is that we kinda overdid it on the cheese and ended snoozing and/or reading books all afternoon. PARTY!

We were still too full for dinner or birthday cake, so we stayed in. I blew out candles on a fruit platter which Rhi and G conjured up. The photo below makes me so bloody happy. The whole day was hilarious and perfect, and those two legends made it great.

Birthday cake

24. What kept you sane?

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I know there was a crush somewhere mid-year, but I’ve forgotten! Richard Ayoade and Jon Hamm on the Christmas episode of Travel Man were my favourite double act of 2017.

26. Who did you miss?
I really missed The Mothership. I’m also missing Australia badly, hence the Offspring-ing and staying up late for all the Ashes cricket test matches, even the mediocre days. It’ll be five years in April since the last visit, so I need to get that sorted.

All the best for 2018, you excellent people!

2017 best nine
Top 9 Instagram pics of 2017

(Pic at the top of the post is Camusdarach Beach on the west coast of Scotland. It’s the beach from the film Local Hero!)

40 birthday

Allegedly Foxy at 40

During the summer my friend Helen got one of those DNA test things. After she gleefully told me what percentage Neanderthal she was (while pretending to drag her knuckles down the street), I decided to mail off my own test tube o’ saliva.

The results revealed that I’m likely to have red hair, dark eyes, pale skin and loads of freckles. Indeed!

Upon reading the following nugget of information, Gareth and Rhiannon cackled almost as loudly as that time I fell down the stairs:

Power lifter genes

See also:

Fat genes
(All the other percentages are feelings and thoroughly buttered toast)

In other news I’m now 40, so I’d best wrap up Operation Foxy By 40. Here’s what I was aiming for, way back in November 2015:

Super Shauny

And above all:

I just don’t want to wake up on 1 November 2017 feeling irritated or somewhat disappointed, like after an episode of Outlander without an Adult Scene.

I woke up feeling flippin’ great on 1 November 2017, because I was in Italy! How good are my planning skillz? There’s no way one could feel anything but tip top, waking up in Bologna knowing there were a dozen gelato outlets within walking distance.

A week early I’d had a moment of panic upon I receiving a birthday card that had a 40 on the front. I think there’s been a mix-up. This is some old lady’s card. My mum only turned 40 the other day!?

But the minute it actually happened it felt pretty marvellous. 40 sounded like the start of something, whereas the last dregs of 39 had felt like an ending. A fizzling out. A slight mouldering, even!

So in conclusion: I do feel mighty foxy compared to the olive-in-the-bra moment of two years ago. Where my definition of foxy = quite happy to be me, less hide-y, rather sparkly.

The first 18 months of the Operation were more surface-y changes, with the makeup lessons and exercise and socialising, but the second half of 2017 has been unexpectedly intense. As I mentioned in the Beyond Dietgirl post, I’ve been tackling some very old binge eating issues after hitting a mega low point early summer. What felt like the end of days has morphed into the most positive thing, and life has been shaken up for the better. I’m starting to feel alive and hopeful like I’ve never quite felt before. Maybe not Super Shauny, but definitely more like the “slightly more competent, consistent and cared-for Shauny” I’d wished for.

I fancy waffling on about the changes here, over the coming months, if you’re up for that. I need to rebuild some Elite Power Athlete Writing Muscles 😉

Soooo… 40, eh? When mere tweezers can no longer keep up with the chin hairs and a sort of combine harvester for the face is required. When in some ways life is very different than you had imagined it would be at this point, yet so much better in others. Thanks indulging me as I indulged in this project in the midst of a crazy world. Let’s see what the 40’s bring!