2014 was for me, a great year, and it started with an unwanted Christmas present from my sister. Unwanted in the respect that she gifted me an online course from Brene Brown to accompany a book she had given me about being “perfectly imperfect.” Surprisingly I didn’t take this as an insult, I felt that I had done so much work on myself in the past that actually now it was the time to learn new things and accept the person that I am so I asked if I could do a Guardian Masterclass in Essential Journalism Skills instead, and being the briliant big sister that she is, she very kindly said yes.
The Masterclass inspired me beyond belief and re-ignited my love of writing. It made me think of the next five years and what I would like to achieve, and a thought that has come to mind is that I would like the freedom to be able to earn a living anywhere in the world from my laptop. I’m not sure yet what this looks like, but I’m thinking that writing in some capacity is the way forward. This obviously means giving up my beloved hairdressing, but in five years time I’ll be 50 and will have been hairdressing for 17 years, it will be time for a change.
I went on to take further Masterclasses in Copywriting, Grammar and how to get the best out of Twitter all of which were just fantastic – I would highly recommend all of them – I wanted to develop my website and blog, I realised the importance of having an “online voice.” I attended the Brighton SEO conference
and I started an online blogging course, Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted. I continued to be inspired listening to the amazing women speaking @300 Seconds and the awesome gathering that was Meaning 2014.
I was learning and I was loving it! I got tickets to see Ruby Wax on her tour “Sane New World” and attended a wonderful meditation weekend at The Bodhisattva Kadampa Meditation Centre (see my previous blog post for the full story) and fortune shone on me again by securing me one of only four places available on a Reiki One course with the awesome Kirsty Norton.
But 2014 certainly wasn’t all work and no play, I manged to see 25 films, in my personal poll, my top three were, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Her” and “Pride,” and the one that I wasted 3 hours of my life and a tenner on? “Noah!” Soooo bad! So very, very bad.
I read over 20 books, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton my favourite stories and Sane New World by Ruby Wax and the Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters, both mind-expanding and thought provoking in so many ways.
One of the best months of the year for me is May, not only is it my birthday – May The 4th Be With You – it is also the Brighton Festival and this years highlights included “Music in the Dark,” a performance by two amazing French acoustic guitarists playing European gypsy music in total darkness in the crypt of a church, it was one of those spur of the moment Festival gems that I won’t easily forget.
In complete contrast “Red Bastard” insulted, offended, inspired and then stripped off to reveal a tiny little Red Bastard! It was jaw dropping and quite hard to comprehend afterwards, but if he comes to Brighton again, go and see him. My Festival climax was a Q&A with a panel of Spy Writers and a chance to hear and see the magnificent Stella Rimington, if only she could have really spilt the beans…..
Summer arrived and myself and some gorgeous friends travelled to the beautiful village of Lubi in the hills of Majorca for a very, very relaxing villa holiday.
So relaxing in fact that I only left the villa three times in ten days, once to buy a handbag, once to buy croissants for breakfast and once to go on a Tinder date. The purchase of handbag’s and croissant’s proved better reasons to extricate myself from my sunbed than the Tinder date.
I also was delighted to get the invite from a friend to spend 10 days travelling around Italy in his camper van. It was great fun and Italy didn’t disappoint. Our trip took us from Genoa down the coast to the Cinque Terre, onto Florence and Sienna and then into Chianti and the Tuscan Hills.
A foodie paradise, I lovingly piled on 3kgs saying “YES” to anything edible…. Gelato, pizza, pasta, endless local delicacies, the genius that is Apperitivo, and the most amazing T-bone steak in the Mercato Centrale in Florence.
For a foodie, not much tops the sheer joy of stopping at a roadside market, buying fresh local produce and cooking it up there and then in a mobile kitchen, it really was a treat of a trip.
The year was rounded off by a trip to Marrakech for a friends “significant” birthday, another wonderful destination. It poured with rain for 4 days, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.
we haggled, we shopped, we walked, we got scrubbed and massaged in the Haman, we made great use of the french we had learnt in school and we chilled out around the log fire in the luxurious Riad Anyssates, yes it was that cold we had a log fire! – a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.
2014 brought a big and very welcome life changing event, my darling Papa having lived in Spain for the past 25 years made the move back to the place he was born London Town.
To have him back in the UK and only an hour up the road is so HUGE I can’t begin to tell you. He’s 82, fit and healthy and now he has his Freedom Pass he is travelling all over London having new adventures. His favourite haunts so far are John Lewis, The Barbican and Borough Market… long may he continue to be fabulous and adventurous.
I was honoured to be a guest at the wedding’s of two very dear girlfriends, both took place at Pangdean Barn in Pyecombe, one in February and one in June. I have now been to Pangdean for four weddings, I was paranoid that they were starting to recognise me….. always the Bridesmaid, never the Bride.
For his 6th birthday I took my Godson Harry, aka Luke Skywalker, for a pasta cookery lesson and dodged the Nerf Gun bullets at his party in Hove Park and I got my groove on dressing up as Queen Elsa and serving ice-cream for his sister Isabella’s “Frozen” extravaganza.
On a cold and windy, summers afternoon on Brighton Beach, there was tears and laughter reminiscing over my teenage sweetheart, Patrick Swayze whilst watching Dirty Dancing on the big screen. What fun! Singing along and shouting out all the famous lines, I really did have “the time of my life.”
Thanks to a couple of freebie tickets, I took another step back in time to 1989 when I met one of my musical heroes Jazzy B at the Love Supreme festival. I couldn’t resist grabbing him for a selfie as he walked past me whilst I was waiting for a portaloo. I’m so “Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
And talking of Festivals, I helped a friend out on her delicious “Masala Monkey” food cart at the Elderflower Fields Festival.
A lovely little festival and great fun, luckily for us the weather was appalling and everyone wanted hot Halloumi curry, we sold out, got the car stuck in the mud, but eventually made it home.
Whilst I’m on the topic of food, I ate lots of it and tried many new things, the food in Italy being a highlight, but also the fantastic food served up at local supper club Snr Buddha and Brighton restaurants 64degrees and Silo both amazing individually,
and even better when they collaborated for an evening. Every morsel was a taste sensation and the evening a sellout and rightly so, It’s definitely one to try if you haven’t already.
Eating in London with Papa is proving a worthwhile venture. The Grain Store in the recently renovated Granary Square at Kings Cross, one of the best we have tried so far, and Inamo in Wardour Street proved great fun with its interactive menu built into the table, luckily our lovely waiter picked up on the fact that we probably didn’t need three Crispy Ducks, it was just Papa getting excited about the technology. Sadly Marcus Wareing’s new venture Tredwells, proved a massive disappointment.
Many a wonderful summer’s day were spent horizontal on Hove beach with friends, but on one of the rare occasions beach got swapped for the countryside, I had a magical day out at Lordington Lavender Fields a little piece of Provence in West Sussex.
With the discovery of a cake tent run by the WI, the day really couldn’t have got any better. Lavender infused Victoria sponge and a pot of Earl Grey, in a Lavender field…. hard to beat really #English #Summer
It has been incredibly cathartic writing this blog article, it’s the first time in 44 years that I have ever reviewed a year so fully and looking back, it was awesome! I did so much and had so much fun, I think it could be the best year to date so far and I got to thinking why and I put it down to knocking booze on the head and being sober. It’s a way of being that has brought me nothing but positives.
I wasn’t an alcoholic, I was restrained during the week, but at the weekends I would binge and spend Saturday, Sunday and most Monday’s feeling pretty awful and not getting much done. I had a real wake-up call on my 44th birthday, it involved a man, a pair of boots and an avocado and it resulted in me not wanting to be that person who woke up with that horrible sense of dread and self-loathing about her behavior, and so that was it, my “Damascan moment.” I haven’t been drunk since and I haven’t had a hangover for 18 months, and the result? I’ve learned to like myself, and actually, I’m Ok! I have a lot more fun and with a constant clear head, I get so much more done and so much more out of my life.
My biggest personal achievement of 2014 was standing, terrified on stage in front of a live, paying audience performing in the graduation show which was the finale of a ten-week beginners Comedy Improv course I took with The Maydays.
The last time I stood up in front of an audience was at a friends wedding 10 years ago, when I was asked to do a reading. I was hungover and practically crying and could barely read my words, this was luckily interpreted by the other guests as an emotional response to the joining of these two lovely people, it wasn’t, it was pure, 100% fear enhanced by alcohol. So it was a huge breakthrough to stand up in front of people and not cry. It was also immense fun and a great buzz making an audience laugh. The Intermediate course starts in mid-January, “run fear, run fast, I’m coming to get you….”
I would never have contemplated performing in a live comedy show if I was living in a paranoid fugg of alcohol and I would never have afforded three wonderful holidays if I was still spending a huge chunk of my hard earned cash on booze. So, in hindsight, a BIG thank you to that Man – who shall remain forever anonymous – those boots and that avocado, you changed my life.
So here’s to 2015 and all that it brings, more challenges, more comedy, more food, more travel, more writing, more mindfulness, more new experiences, more fabulous new friends, and maybe, just maybe a little lovin’…..?
I think Patsy sums it up for me beautifully, sans vodka of course!
Please feel free to share, leave any comments or ask any questions, I’d love to hear from you.