Wednesday, 29 December 2010

2010 debrief

It's time for the blogging wrap up of the year. A few moments for reflection before moving onto bigger and better things. Same questions as last year. Hopefully different answers.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?

Kissed a stingray; built a snowman; voted in a British General Election

2. What countries did you visit?

New Zealand, USA, Cayman Islands, Turkey, France and Wales

3. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

More vegetables in my garden; time and head space to dedicate to my studies; another marathon medal

4. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

When I heard that the 29 trapped NZ miners had no chance of survival.

5. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Writing a 5,500 word essay and thereby completing the first year of my masters. In your face full time job.

6. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope (touches wood). I seem to be disgustingly healthy despite all of the man-flu I'm constantly surrounded by.

7. What was the best thing you bought?

Well, it was bought for me, but it would have to be my beautiful bright red Kenwood mixer. I love it almost more than life itself.

Oh, and my fabulous little iPhone.

8. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My beautiful housemates; Anika and Richard who upped sticks and moved to The Gambia to volunteer a year of their lives; all those involved in my wonderful 30th birthday dinner celebration; my parents - for just being fabulous; my sisters with their endless quantities of energy to raise wonderful children and animals, create gardens, run half-marathons, all the while holding down jobs and relationships; and all of my friends who are out there doing great things, locally or globally

9. Where did most of your money go?

My becoming ever-more expensive university fees; paying off chunks of my student loan; a trip to the Caymans and a week in Turkey

10. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Standing on a seven mile white sand beach in the Caribbean, and not be dreaming; watching two sets of fabulous friends get married, one in a teepee, one in a golf club

11. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Writing (as per usual); keeping in touch with long-distance loved ones

12. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Sitting in the office until all hours of the night; being anxious various aspects of work and play

13. What did you want and get?

A Le Creuset casserole dish; a trip to see my wonderful friend Belinda in the Caymans

14. What did you want and not get?

Just those things that I know are unrealistic right now, like: a pet dog and cat, a pet squirrel which eats seeds from my hand, more trips to see my family, a PhD, a living room with a built-in bookcase...

15. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and did you make any for 2011?

2010's resolutions = more studying, more crafting, more cooking, more saving, less spending.

I think I did ok with these, although I was probably working from a pretty low base.

2011's resolutions = even more studying, learn Spanish, write more letters, improve my tennis serve, pay off more student loan (maybe even all), and save some. Oh, and be with my family for Christmas.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

How to build a snowman

1. Start with a very small ball of snow. And roll it.....

2. Keep rolling it......

3. When you get bored, take a break to make snow angels while someone with more stamina keeps rolling....

4. Then realise that you'll be here all night (or you'll end up with a deformed snowman) if you don't start rolling your own ball...

5. Send some of the team off to find eyes, a nose, arms, buttons etc..

6. Assemble snowman very carefully. Add accessories.

7. Take picture of snowman.

8. Then, in order to protect snowman from any possible danger, dismantle him, carry him 300m, through the house, and re-assemble him on the garden table out of harm's way.

Wonderful weather

Mother nature must have known that I needed a pick-me-up this week. Because yesterday morning she let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

And over the period of about two hours on a Saturday morning, London went from it's normal slightly grey colour, to a wonderful powdery bright white.

Snow turns the mundane to the magical. Today the sun rose at 8.04am and set at 3.53pm. This could get very depressing. But walking home from Christmas shopping at 4.30pm in the dark is transformed into a wonderful wintry journey as the moon shines down on the still-thick layer of snow blanketing Clapham Common.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Indoor activities

While the outdoors look like this:

There's nothing like getting back to craft. Dusting off the needle book and digging out the bag filled with fabric in all shapes and sizes.

Ever so slowly, my patchwork is getting bigger. I almost have the length, now I need to work on the width. That's what the four days over Christmas is for.

And how nice it was, last night, to sit on the sofa with a fellow crafter, talking quilting, backing and how untidy we each think our work is. And then we sat and looked at the different fabrics that make up my patchwork family. "What's this one from?" she'd ask. "Oh, that's one of my Dad's favourite shirts". Or, "that's my bridesmaid's dress from Belinda's wedding".

Today I'm planning to sew some more of my sister Chris into the family.

Friday, 17 December 2010

London - I love you but....

I just can't love your limescale.

Mostly I can avoid it, but it's when I'm making a cup of tea at work and something vaguely resembling a small lime-esque brain falls out of the kettle, that I'm reminded.

In how many places do your kettles end up rattling with all the limescale that attaches itself to the inside, and then flakes off just in time to end up in your morning beverage?

It's London's notoriously hard water which is to blame. The water which blatantly refuses to remove anything from your hair when 'washing' it. This means that anytime you shower in a soft water location, you end up looking like a five year old who was left alone with the bubble bath.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

'Tis the season...

.... to fly to New Zealand.

Everyone's doing it. Back to brilliant sunshine (or so it seems at the moment), flat whites, friends, unexpected sunburn, Monteiths Summer Ale, and family.

Whether it's for weddings, babies or visas, a lot of people decide to make the trip back to NZ over the English winter. And not surprising why.

But this time around I'm going straight through. Head down, scarf on, with eyes watering from the piercing cold, I'm charging straight through this winter with no Southern Hemisphere reprieve.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

In the thick of it

It's easy to forget that here in London we really are right in amongst it. However, a short taxi ride midday yesterday proved a nice reminder.

We jumped in the cab at Victoria and our taxi driver (after shooing away the man he'd just paid a quid not to get in his cab) informed us we'd have to take the slightly longer route because of the student protests at Westminster. Just down the road the House of Lords was voting on tripling university fees, and crowds of students (and others) were shouting their loudest to voice their disgust.

Just as soon as we had driven around the protests did we find ourselves travelling through the midst of another protest and an absolute media circus. Our cabbie just had to say "Wiki leaks", as we cruised past the court where Julian Assange, who has spent his last little while at a prison not so far from my house, was having his bail hearing.

It's funny, you're constantly reading about all these various events but only occasionally remember that so much of it is right here (outside the cab window).

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Two worlds collide

A few weeks ago, I think I went to the Cayman Islands. It was lovely and warm. We swam, and ate, read, and drank cocktails....

And then I came back to London. It was cold...

But quite pretty.