2014 has, without a doubt, been a very difficult year for personal reasons as mentioned in my previous post. Whilst my blog has been quiet since the summer (I have struggled to find the enthusiasm and material to post) things have been going on, so I still want to capture a summary of the year. Sometimes life throws unexpected and horrible things in your path but you just have try to deal with them and carry on…
‘Of the year’ awards
Song of the year: A difficult one to answer this year, but with the exception of a song I shortly call out on my ‘Album of the year’, there are a couple of more recent songs I like because they are ‘pop-py’ and always perk me up: ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift (who I normally find quite annoying) and ‘Wrapped Up’ by Olly Murs Fe. Travie McCoy.
Album of the year: ‘Perfect Contradiction’ by Paloma Faith. I haven’t really picked-up many new albums this year, but this latest Paloma from April is still a great listen. I’d particularly like to call out the live version of ‘Can’t Reply On You’ which I always enjoy.
Film of the year: Another difficult one this year, in part because I can’t remember many of the things I have seen. There are probably two films I would call out: ‘Gone Girl’ because it is a really strong adaptation of the book and ‘Paddington’ because it is a wonderful big-screen version of the classic tale of the bear from deepest-darkest-Peru; A a real feel-good film which is exactly as it should be.
Quite a quiet month, as is usual. We got back in to the routine of work after our Christmas break and that allowed me to break in my new Fitbit.
I used some of my remaining holiday for the year to spend a couple of days at home making new curtains for our bedroom, which gave it a new lease of life.
We also got a new sideboard for the lounge which gave us a lot more storage space!
We also had a week off at the end of January, so we went to spend a few nights in a chilly Paris with Carol. We did quite a lot of eating and drinking, including baking some macarons as featured in my January baking round-up. We also went to the Botanical Gardens in Paris which even Carol had never been to – an enjoyable visit on a freezing January day.
February was a month for catching-up with people. We started February on our visit to Paris. We then went to visit one of Sam’s old work friends the following weekend. We also used the quiet time to have dinner with Lou & Graham and Rob & Jo respectively, brightening up a couple of ‘school nights’.
At the end of February we also got the doors in to our conservatory replaced. They were previously old draughty wooden ones, but we had them replaced with decent double-glazed doors which has made a massive difference to the temperature in our lounge!
Carrying on the baking / cooking theme, I invented a super-yummy veggie lasagne. I have made it several times since.
However, March saw the return of some milder weather so I was able to get back in to the garden again, as covered in these blog posts: First good weekend of 2014 = lots of garden time!, A quick garden update.
The biggest garden change is a brilliant new fence which Sam installed with the help of his parents. It has made the garden look a lot smarter than with the horrible mesh fence we used to have.
Spring finally arrived in April, although we went to Newmarket on the first weekend in April to do the Wiggle Spring Saddle only to be greeted with rain for a large proportion of the course! I don’t have massively fond memories of the cycle to be honest – 40 miles is a long way to undertake when you’ve not done any real training. Lesson learnt there.
The garden really started to thrive though which I always love to see. My post from late April shows a number of developments on both the plant and veg fronts. The borders I re-shaped back in March started to look really stunning though.
On the last weekend in April, I got to spend 3 days with my best friends from school, Carol, Helen and Jenny. There is a post about the weekend, but Helen had rented a beautiful house in the Cotswolds which was a delightful place for us to relax and catch-up (oh and recover from the relatively stressful activity of bridesmaid dress shopping for Helen’s wedding in November!).
The second weekend in May saw the third stage of the first ever British Women’s Road Race come to Welwyn Garden City. The finish line was right in the town centre so we went down to watch in the drizzle, accompanied by Sam’s parents. It was a great vibe and really exciting to see some of the top names in Women’s Road cycling. See my full blog post here.
We also got some of our first crops from the garden, whilst the rest continued to grow well: Gardens – they’re no small commitment.
The last weekend in May was spent up at Mum & Dad’s because the Saturday was Mum’s birthday. It would actually turn out to be the last time I ever saw Mum sadly. Although, despite the fact she was already a bit poorly that weekend, it was a really nice visit and we enjoyed our time together.
June of 2014 will only ever be remembered for one thing – the fact we lost Mum. Other things happened that month before that ill-fated day, but they are either forgotten or are not worthy of being mentioned. I said what I was going to say about this in a post I wrote in October.
July, for the most part, was spent dealing with everything that happened in June, either the practical aspects or the early emotional void that is left. About mid-July I went back to work and that was an important but exhausting step back to ‘normality’, or whatever normal now was.
On slightly cheerier notes, we had our first scan and got to see a very small baby Watling for the first time. I shan’t be sharing the photo here though!
Sam also did his 60 mile sponsored bike ride with work. Because his boss was part of the organising committee, Sam got encouraged to help with the set-up, so we had the dubious honour of signing 25 miles of the route. It took over 3 hours on the Saturday morning the day before. Sam used his action cam to captured a video of the ‘event’ (it’s very high speed – 3 hours condensed to 3 mins!).
We went on a day trip to Bletchley Park to get out-and-about again. It was a nice sunny day (almost too hot) which was ideal for wandering around the grounds and the huts. It’s been about 7 years since we originally went to Bletchley and the recent investment work has paid off – it’s an excellent and educational attraction now.
Our main event in August was our mini-break to the Peak District. We were supposed to have been on a week long cruise in June for our summer break, but obviously that didn’t go as planned. August felt like the right time for us to take a few days to get away from everything and try to recharge after all we’d been through. On our drive up there on the Friday, we stopped at Tropical Birdland near Leicester which had some amazing birds.
We stayed at a small inn in a village called Wirksworth, which was a pretty good base for us to explore from. There is more info about where we stayed and where we visited in my travel blog post on the Peak District. Highlight of the trip though was going to visit Lyme Park which was Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’!
In September we had two whole weeks off! It couldn’t have come sooner because the past few months had really taken it out of me, despite the mini-break in August. For the first week we went to stay on Brownsea Island which I always find really relaxing because it’s so wonderfully quiet. As usual we saw red squirrels galore but because went later in the year than our previous visits, we also saw baby peacocks – funny looking things! Our pics are on revado as always.
We then went on our second visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour with Jenny and Johnny. It was nice to look round again but without feeling the need to photograph everything! Our original photos from 2012 are here.
We also had scan number 2 for mini-Watling. Everything looked healthy and it was looking a lot more ‘human’ than the first scan; It was quite an exciting but surreal experience. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture to take away because it refused to pose!
In October we went to visit Carol again since it will be a lot harder to do the quick trip to Paris once we have a youngling to take with us. We happened to go on an unseasonably warm weekend so it was like summer time! We mainly ate in during the evenings due to my new dietary ‘considerations’ but we enjoyed a couple of nice lunches out whilst strolling around the Paris streets.
Later in the month we also went to watch the Revolution Cycling event at the Olympic velodrome! It was amazing to watch track cycling live – fast, hot and noisy!
November was busy month, but with more ‘day-to-day’ stuff than previous months. We had a couple of weekends with family visits from the Cooks and Watlings respectively. We then spent two full Saturdays at our NCT classes learning about all the things we need to know for the impending arrival of mini-Watling. The main event of November though was Helen’s wedding at which I was a bridesmaid with Carol and Jenny. Pregnancy was physically hitting me quite hard at this point so it was even nicer being able to see them all again!
December was a busy month but more with work than anything else. I started my handover on 1 December in preparation for my maternity leave. That coupled with some pregnancy related hip ‘issues’ meant that days in the office were exhausting and I had to work at home a bit more than I would have liked for 2 of my final 3 weeks in the office. But slowly I got everything handed over and before I knew it, my last day (18 Dec) had arrived! I rolled straight in to Christmas holidays so the reality of maternity leave hasn’t quite hit home yet. But it has been nice so far to be able to focus properly on the events that will happen in January without any work issues needing attention.
For Christmas, Sam and I stayed at home on our own. I didn’t want to travel to my Dad’s, but being with anyone else other than he and my sister would have been strange. We saw my Dad and Sam’s family before and after Christmas respectively. It was unusual spending Christmas alone, but quite relaxing for us both! That really started a trend for the rest of December which has seen us arrive at New Year’s Eve. Another year has gone and I hope 2015 will be an exciting one with only happy unexpected events!