So another year has gone by and more so than ever before, it feels like it has flown by. Following last year’s structure, I have broken the year-up by month and called out the top highlights (of varying degrees of interest!) for each. I decided to start this entry with a new section though – some ‘Of the Year’ callouts – it’s the sort of information you quickly forget and I wish I had for the last 4+ years, but better-late-than-never in starting to capture this stuff! As always, this is a long blog post, but it would have made for a dull year if it wasn’t.
‘Of the year’ awards
Song of the year: ‘I Cry’ by Flo Rida (I’m slightly ashamed to admit that but it’s one of my most played tunes of the year and one of the few songs which has encouraged me to train this year! Also, apparently the most bought song in the UK was ‘Blurred Lines‘ by Robin Thicke, which is worse.)
Album of the year: A complete tie between ‘English Rain’ by Gabrielle Aplin and ‘Days Are Gone’ by Haim (reviews are on my 2013 music page)
Film of the year: ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ (but with special callouts for ‘Gravity‘ which was visually amazing and ‘The World’s End‘ which was filmed in Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth Garden City!)
January is always a quiet month after the bright lights and gifts of Christmas in December. It seems to be becoming a tradition that I see out a year and ring in the new by doing some baking and that’s exactly what I did to welcome in 2013!
As the month properly kicked-in, we were hit by our first significant bout of snow. We took the opportunity to get out in the garden with Rob & Jo to build snowmen. Well, Sam did the building for us whilst I wandered around taking photos but it worked. The results were great and have forever been encapsulated in to the famous story ‘The Snow Woman and the Snow Baby‘.
A few other points of note, I tried to read more Spanish again and started a book only to make it to page 18, I blogged on tea because there was an awesome Victoria Coren ‘bit’ on Room 101 and we went to a super nice Italian called L’Olivio in Wheathampstead which served one of the best Italian meals I have had outside of Italy!
A very quiet month it seems as I reflect back (probably due to the weather which was mainly lots of snow and cold!). Everything starts to get on top of me in February I find so I started a ‘Room 101‘ section on my blog after watching the TV show every week. Keeping with the slightly ‘grumpy’ theme, I also started to feel a bit un-enamoured with Facebook.
It was during February that I started to get bit fatigued by rowing too as we started to train to go through the same loop of head races and regattas again. So, I gave myself a break and stepped back from the competing side of the squad for a while. I enjoyed a few Saturday morning lie-ins and Mondays evenings in the warm!
Mid-February, Sam and I went to visit Sophie in her new flat which she had become the proud owner of just before Christmas. We had a mooch round the local area and she cooked us a yummy lunch.
Also, Mum and Dad Cook came down to visit for the day during one February weekend which stopped us from just moping around on our computer the whole time!
The second weekend in March we were awoken early on the Saturday morning by our house fuse tripping. It turned out to be a power cut which lasted for 10 hours! Fortunately I was out for the whole day with Lou and Rosie shopping for bridesmaids dresses in Cambridge but Sam had to endure the worst of it!
At the end of March, I had bought Sam tickets for ‘The Book of Mormon‘, which is excellent! To make a day of it, I booked afternoon Tea at W, the fancy new hotel in Leicester Square and we also went to the London Transport Museum (interesting but too aimed at young children for it to be worth the entrance fee for adults).
A few other things that happened: I decided to build a mobile website and got the first part live; I decided to all but stop using Facebook (now 9 months I can tell you I did not succeed as I had hoped); I bought a Nexus 7 tablet so I didn’t keep pinching Sam’s iPad!
Things started to pick-up weather-wise in April which meant everyone’s mood, including mine, started to improve. We had our first holiday of 2013 and went to Bala in Wales, via Shrewsbury. It was a great week but incredibly windy!
The day after we got back from Bala, it was Sam’s 30th birthday. After my surprise birthday party last year, I had to think of something innovative to do, so I organised a BBQ at our house. The event was captured by ‘Garden Cam’ so Sam made a great time-lapse video of the event which is on my blog of the event!
On top of all of that, Rosie and I were organising Lou’s Hen Do for the last weekend in April. It went off without a hitch in the end and she had a great time in Cambridge (punting, cocktail making, dinner, drinks (after which I had to go home), clubbing and then Sunday off-road Segway).
I also wote my first blog beyond this website when I wrote something for Little Miss Geek. However, after they replatformed their site it went missing and is now just hard to find so I have also put on my site so the effort doesn’t get lost! I haven’t been inclined to blog-away-from-home since!
It was in May than Sam and I decided to put our house on the market. So much of our time in May was spent doing tidy-up work ready for when we had Estate Agents round. That seemed to consume a lot of the month! We did manage to fit in a few other things though, including a 30 mile Evans Cycles Sportif ride.
The big event of the month though was Lou and Graham’s wedding! Rosie and I managed to ensure Lou arrived on time, without getting wet in the May rain. We had a minor collision when trying to walk through a door frame together but otherwise a wonderful day was had by all!
June was quite a sad month because Sam’s Uncle Rex passed away after being ill for some time. This was a big upset for the whole Watling family.
We also put the house on the market, had an Open House and did some viewings ourselves. We waited for offers after the Open House as the Estate Agent had confidently said we could expect some, but there was nothing so then we had a few weeks of viewings.
To keep us sane during all of this, we went on a few outings including a lovely visit to Hatfield House on a scorcher of a day!
My mobile site also progressed but hit some issues when taking on the most crucial area, my blog.
The summer arrived and temperatures soared! We also found a buyer for our house and had an offer accepted on a property we liked in Letchworth Garden City. It meant we had to start on the legal stuff, so we got on solicitor on the case and started filling in forms!
Meanwhile, Sam went on Photography Master Class course at Whipsnade Zoo which I had got him for his birthday. Some of the pictures he took are stunning and they are now decorating our walls.
Then at the end of the month, we took a day trip to Wimpole Estate and Farm near Cambridge to enjoy the continuing summer sunshine! My favourite shot of the trip was my ‘Portrait of a Sheep’:
The best event in August happened towards the end but absolutely needs mentioning first – I did my Keeper For A Day experience at Whipsnade which was my birthday gift from Sam. It was amazing – one of the best experiences in life to date I would say. You can read about the whole day on my rather lengthy blog post!
It was a welcome distraction from the on-going house stuff which was progressing but very slowly. The weather continued to be scorching though so, apart from the insufferable commutes, we enjoyed a lot of time outside. We also went up to stay with Ma and Pa Cook for the Bank Holiday weekend which was a nice break.
August also saw us celebrated a year of ‘Garden Cam’ for which Sam made a celebratory time lapse video using the 12noon image from every day during the year:
It was a relatively quiet month. Sam and I were due to have a fortnight off but because of the uncertainty with the house, we cut it down to one week and went to the Cotswolds for a few days. We then went to visit Jackie in Kent for a couple of nights, including a day trip to Canterbury (we were going to go to the Cathedral but it was £10 each to get in!!).
We also went to the wedding of my friend from work Fiona to her husband Anselm which was a lovely day and also allowed us to catch-up with friends from our work graduate intake. On the house front, we got increasingly frustrated with our solicitors!
An odd month because it started badly with our house chain collapsing above us. After the initial shock, we considered renting so we could continue with the sale of our house. But after looking at some rental properties we decided that wasn’t something we wanted to pursue so we decided to stay put. Once the decision was made, we were very happy with it.
Later in the month, Sam went on a work conference to Mallorca – alright for some! I obviously stayed at home and had a few nights of peace and quiet, including meeting up with Jen for dinner. Sadly it was a manic time at work so I was shattered on all of the three nights!
Following it’s year anniversary in August, Sam and I agreed it was time for ‘Garden Cam’ to be retired, so we saw the last shot taken on 2 October (the shot below is actually from 12noon that day). Stay tuned for a new alternative in 2014!
We hosted our annual fireworks party, after a break in 2012, both to have some fireworks but also to celebrate ‘Not Moving House’. I took some mediocre videos of them which Sam put on YouTube: round 1, round 2 and round 3 (which is also here):
It was a brilliant holiday and lovely and relaxing, despite getting a cold as soon as we arrived! The only disappointment was the vegetarian meal on the flight home which prompted a rant, of course.
On the first day of December, we finally met my sister’s other-half after far too long; We visited their new pad that they completed on in September – very nice it is too! We also went to Lou and Graham’s house-warming (they also completed in September) / Christmas event / meet Mabel (their new dog) party. Then as the month progressed we made two Sunday trips to London to meet friends (Sam’s Uni mates and then Brad and Carly) for lunch. After I had ‘broken-up’ for Christmas, Carol also came to stay on her way back North from Paris. It was certainly the month of catching-up with people!
My ‘project’ for the month was decorating my Christmas cake. Mum always made icing cakes perfectly look so easy but for me it was slightly harder and it took a bit of time to get it right. However, I got it finished on Sunday 22 December, just in time for Christmas. By New Year’s Eve it has all but been demolished and was enjoyed by all!
We enjoyed Christmas at the Watling Parents and then had a visit from the Cook Parents to our house. It was a relaxing and enjoyable way to bring the year to a close!