And so the wonderful season Christmas has come to its reluctant but inevitable end, presents have been gorged/assembled/played with, relatives fed and visited, and card games played. So now I’ve finally had the chance to reflect back on the year that was 2014 (heck, where did that go?!). And what a year it was: one of new opportunities, amazing experiences, new places explored, silly costumes worn and the odd mishap (ehem). I thought this photo I took of the stunning lighthouse in Plymouth to be a fitting image so here it is. It was an incredibly busy, full year, so although these are the highlights its not that short….please ‘bear with’ in good ol’ Miranda fashion!
In 2014 I discovered….
…that it is possible to lose one holiday and find another all in the space of 6 hours and without even unpacking the car!
Yes, this was the less than wonderful moment when I realised my son’s passport had expired, 2 hours before departing for Annecy in France. Before you ask how I could commit such a gargantum midemeanour, I can only put it down to having mis-read the renewal date back in January when I booked the holiday in French Alps (that’ll teach me for booking so early). Oh and having a deadline on a book to complete a few days beforehand. The fact that this was the year when the passport office was in crisis meant we couldn’t get an emergency passport and so we did a quick search to find a British holiday. The silver lining was that we discovered a gem of place to go on holiday in Devon in Plymouth Bay (Bovisands Holiday Park right on the beach) and found the best British outdoor pool I’ve ever had the pleasure to swim in (Plymouth Lido). Thanks to stunning weather we had a wonderful holiday. Despite this being one of the best opportunities for a blog post, I had ‘switched off’ social media for August, and so passed this rather embarrassing event pass in my blog history…
….that I could legitimately call myself a ‘freelance writer’ (inducing small somersaults of joy). In February I was asked to co-write and edit a book for an international aid charity I used to work for about participatory conflict analysis tools for aid workers, a project that I’d started some 13 years before. I couldn’t have asked for a better piece of work, nor had I actively sought the role. And then in September I was invited by the incredibly talented and inspiring Mel from HerMelness, to be parenting editor for the website www.post40bloggers.com, something I did apply for (unpaid as yet). Both have been a real privilege to work on, and have made 2014 a defining year for me. Its also meant that I have now discovered how hard it is to juggle work and child-care when fitting it in around a normal school-day schedule. I was often found to be standing in the playground at the end of the day with a rather far away look in my eye….
….that Barcelona, and its famous artistic genius Gaudi, are as wildly wonderful and inspiring as I’d heard them to be. A child-free weekend with the OH was a wonderful introduction to the place. Want to go back. Oh and that Coniston in the Lakes is breaktaking, that Hunstanton on the Wash, Norfolk has THE best sand dunes, and that the Olympic Park is a brilliant place to visit with kids in the warmer weather.
….the best children’s book we’ve read this year is The Rooftoppers by Katherine Blundell. A sheer delight of a read that will have you pleading with your kids to read to them.
…the funniest ‘loo’ book has to be Very British Problems by Rob Temple, which is actually a collection of tweets by followers of his @soverybritish twitter account. Put this in your loo and you’ll find yourself, or your guests, finding more reasons than normal to ‘spend a penny’.
….that my son had turned into a fully-fledged football freak, causing the OH (my husband) or I to be standing in mud and cold winds most Saturday mornings. He also turned into a fully-fledged Harry Potter fan, reading ALL the books in one year, but not quite all the films (he is only 8!). A visit to the Studios in February to review it on this blog was a big factor in kicking off this passion. And so I discovered the unparalleled joy of both of my kids occasionally reading a book for pleasure at the same time….
….that my daughter continues to be the most incredible artist, a talented musician and the kindest girl I know. I don’t often blow my kids’ trumpets on this blog and I haven’t as yet featured her work on this blog, but I plan to change that in 2015! Her latest artistic endeavour has been to felt these Christmas baubles…..
…. what a powerhouse St Albans mums bloggers are, when we got together to be the St Albans bit of Team Honk, that crazy project to get every parent or lifestyle blogger across the country to do a relay for Sport Relief. The garagantum effort spanned 6 weeks, and in our case involved one outstanding ‘up for it’ Mayor, a giant human chain between two of our primary schools, Captain Infinity on a scooter (aka Helen from Actually Mummy) and George & Zippie from Rainbow making an appearing in our school grounds to generally embarrass their children (guess which I was? No, I wasn’t the one you think! Annie from AnnieQPR had the privilege of that one)
…..even more amazing was to discover that our Mayor, Annie Brewster, thought our blogger effort so impressive as to invite us to her March Ball. Apart from causing an inordinate amount of ‘What the heck will I wear?‘ Facebook communication, and also discovering that BHS do surprisingly stylish shoes for these events, it was fun.
…..that I would sing more than ever this year. I discovered that my lifelong ambition to have a go at singing in a Gospel choir would finally be fulfilled here in St Albans when the London Community Gospel Choir director, Basil Meade, set up an academy here in Roman St Albans, not a place normally associated with Gospel Choirs! In the summer and Christmas I sang my Lady Blah Blah’s group in a garden, in a walled garden outside the Cathedral at the St Albans Christmas market in the rain, and in a house. I sang with with the small ensemble, the Corenno Singers, in 2 churches, and all of this was made so much better by my finally getting singing lessons again after 20 years.
…..that the OH’s passion for off-road biking shows no sign of waning, whilst his propensity to fall off bikes is, thankfully, waning. I’m very happy about both those facts as its giving him such a buzz and manliness (?) and I’m spending less time traversing the countryside collecting him from various scrapes.
…that I am officially embarrassing, not just to my husband (there’s nothing new) but to my 10 year old daughter. At any moment, in any social interaction especially with more than 2 people involved, its a case of “Mum, please don’t do that, it’s embarrassing”. I’m worried I’m prematurely morphing into my grandmother who was well known for her unabashed talking-to-anybody-and-anyone, usually in a booming voice, and punctuated by a loud laugh.
….that the long-awaited opening of the Odyssey cinema, our local art deco, community funded picture house, is even better than we’d imagined it to be, represents a rare victory of community against private real estate development and that its opening would bring back such a flood of nostalgia to those who grew up with it.
….And last but definitely not least, I discovered that when a woman with a Masters degree and a professional career drops it all to raise children, professional suicide is not the inevitable outcome. Ten years after giving it all up, I discovered that the invitation to step back into the world that I used to inhabit, as least on the computer, wasn’t as hard as I’d thought, and that my brain had’t totally given up on me. I hadn’t forgotten everything! Writing this blog has been a huge part of keeping that brain alive and honing my writing skills, leading to the offer of that writing work. If we respect life’s seasons and embrace, not fight, the moment we’re in we will, in time, reap its rewards.
Thank you to all of you who’ve read my blog and encouraged me along the way. I’ve loved the ride, and look forward to what 2015 has in store for me, my family and all the wonderful people I know, whether in the flesh or on the screen.