This is a, now annual, list based on reflecting upon the past twelve months and thinking about all the good and wonderful, joyous things you did manage to do…. It replaces the less fun, “oh god, I still haven’t managed that” list-posturing-as-resolution that is so common in January. Frankly this is far better and more satisfying to write than any I will… list for the year.
Before I started thinking about this list, my overall impression for the year was largely that it had been a struggle – work worries, stress, family concerns, the dire state of the world… But as I started to really think, I found that actually it has been a wonderful, if challenging, year and that made me glad. (Dear god, I hope I am not turning into Pollyanna.)
Below are two “best nines”. The first are my favourites of the year including (clockwise from top left): a landscape from our Christmas house; my favourite gate on the lunchtime walk I take at work; my newest niecelet; Lumb Falls near Hebden Bridge – a swim taken with Jen after a long and lost walk; daffodils on a windowsill in Cornwall, inspired by the paintings I saw at an exhibition at Tate St Ives; a surfer on Fistral Beach in Newquay, one of my favourite places; Eeylops Owl Emporium in Diagon Alley; cassata made in Sicily; and some of the produce my allotment produced over the extraordinarily hot and sunny summer!
This second “best nine” comes from Instagram. Clockwise from top left are: my book in all its published glory; the birthday cake I made for Andrés (same cake for the last four years, different iterations); swimming beneath an aqueduct in France (excellent downward current that you could just float down); view from my room in Sicily; that same surfer on Fistral Beach; a windswept and wintery field seen from the inside of a cosy shepherd’s hut in St Ives; the green tomatoes from the garden (turned into excellent green tomato chutney); fruit cake, made for the first time after years without; and lastly, smudge sticks made from my own herbs.
So things I am proud of this year:
1) Published a book. YAY. Super proud of the work I did on this, on how it turned out, and I get a ridiculous thrill whenever anyone (like three whole people), mention that they have read it or have ordered it to read, or read a review or whatever… It is out there, that is what is important.
2) Took myself off to Sicily for a food writing course (you should too, MAGICAL). This was the first time I had been on holiday by myself for a long time. I had forgotten what guts it takes to travel alone. And how empowering it is. I fell totally in love with Sicily – the place, people, food, culture were all extraordinary and reminded me of how important it is to travel to places new.
3) Bought a car, like an actual grown-up. The bank even gave me money to finance it. Quite extraordinary.
4) Spent a lot of time traveling with friends. These ranged from short day or weekend trips, to longer weeks together. I looked back through my photos this morning and realised I had forgotten half the things we did, and it really made me appreciate the time I’ve spent with others this year. Just last week we had a friends and family Christmas and it was just wonderful to be together again.
5) Continued to swim in cold water and deepened my yoga practice. A lot of this was done with friends which makes it all the more enjoyable but I continued to go on my own too. Just this morning I went down to the beach for an ice-cold, feels-like-knives-on-my-skin, couldn’t-catch-my-breath swim to wash off the old year. It was glorious. This winter I have been taking a 60-hour yoga foundation course to deepen my understanding, develop my own practice, and learn the philosophies, of yoga. I leave these sessions feeling calm but energised. They form time set aside specifically for me to spend with myself, and I am grateful for that.
6) Rediscovered and relived my youth at Harry Potter world for my birthday in February. I went with fellow Potter fans, and we spent a fantastic afternoon immersed in magic and make believe.
That is all for this year. I wish you happiness and peace on this last day of 2018!