Happy New Year!

I hope that 2011 is a wonderful year for you all, full of every good thing you could wish for!

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2010: The Review

This review is becoming something of a yearly tradition....you can find the reviews for 2007, 2008, and 2009 by clicking through! It's always nice to take stock at the end of a year and see what's happened over the last 12 months. As always I've mixed in a healthy few photos (huge thanks to Kaz, MattW, Debbie, Garry, Jason, Ems, Steph and Rah whose snaps I have borrowed - any problems please let me know and I will take them down!).

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
I turned thirty. Does that make me a grown up now? Oooh, and I also helped to break a Guinness World Record. I have a certificate and everything!

With Naomi and Steph at Naomi's hen night, October 2010

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I kep some of them. I didn't keep some of them. I sort-of-kept others. I'd give myself a C for success on these this year.

With lovely Kaz, off to break a world record.... Aug 2010

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yep - Maria welcomed Sophia and Nicole welcomed Eric and Cheryl welcomed Evey and Fiona welcomed Oliver and Anna welcomed Alice and Crystal welcomed Isaiah and many other acquaintances from school and college had babies too. Poor Matthew lives in fear of all the babies lurking around!

Giggling as I have my makeup done ahead of Laura's wedding, June 2010

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Luckily, all the people I love have remained healthy. Long may it continue (please).

5. What countries did you visit?
England, Scotland, Ireland.

With Katie Boo at Loverpool, May 2010

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I’ve been so very blessed this year. I would hope to keep on this trajectory, in all its messy, fulfilling, silly, awesome wonder, if at all possible. Oh, and a *little* more time for naps is never a bad thing...

(I'm going to keep this answer from the last two years, and just say "ditto"!)

'Just Married', literally! In the church after signing the wedding certificate with team wedding, June 2010

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Oh, hard to say. Possibly 10/12/10....because turning 30 sounded like a pretty big deal!

With Anna, Phil and Zena at the BBS football in Nottingham, April 2010

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I don't think I can think of one! It feels like 2010 has been a year of little victories and achievements, to be honest.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Putting on far too much weight, making me the heaviest I've ever been.

Clubbing at GGF with Katie Boo and Tigger, April 2010

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A few twinges and sniffles, but nothing major, thank heavens.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Any gift which made someone smile.

Oooh, and goooood steaks from M&S. ;)

The K8 gang, by the Christmas tree in St Paul's, Dec 2010

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My friends, family, and my badger. I have such blessings in my life.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
I felt disappointed by several politicians.

At Laura's hen weekend, getting ready for the "Party Bus!!11!!" with June, Laura and Gillian, May 2010

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and bills!

With Steph at Naomi's hen night, Oct 2010

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Weddings, babies and engagements. Lots of happy times for friends and family! I was also very proud of Matthew for completing his CFA and Laura for becoming a GP!

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Anything by Lady Gaga!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
I'm about the same level of happy, quite a bit fatter, and a little richer.

Striking a pose with Laura, May 2010

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Napping, cuddling, reading, writing.

In Edinburgh with Debbie, Laura and June, June 2010

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

GGF Duck Race, April 2010

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With Matthew here at home, with presents, bad TV and good food and wine. :)

At Christmas II with Katie Boo, October 2010

21. Did you meet/date anyone special in 2009?
I continued to fall ever deeper in love with my badger :)

23. How many one-night stands?
Not a one.

Manning the lucky dip at K8 with the lovely Siobhán, December 2010

24. What was your favourite TV program?
Mad Men, Gilmore Girls, Toddlers and Tiaras, How I Met Your Mother, The Office

With Katie Boo and Eileen, October 2010

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don’t believe in hate.

With Debbie and June, June 2010

26. What was the best book you read?
'Nothing to Envy' was brilliant. 'The Happiness Project' inspired me. 'One Day' I found invigorating. 'Inside The Kingdom' was a masterpiece. 'The Return' moved me. 'Thank You For The Days' was excellent.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Lady Gaga (I came late to the party!).

Silly? Me? October 2010

28. What did you want and get?
A life full of happiness.

Lightsabers with Lou, May 2010

29. What did you want and not get?
Feet that don't fall apart at the slightest provocation!

Cocktails with Johnd at Boo's birthday bash, November 2010

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Toy Story 3.

Good heavens, I wept.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was thirty, and spent the weekend with many of my favourite people, doing many of my favourite things - drinks and dinner and panto and ballet and musical comedy.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not having a major inspection.

But hey, it's all done now! :D

With Matthew in Nottingham, April 2010

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Whatever fits :(

34. What kept you sane?
Matthew and my friends.

Singing carols (and cracking up) with the Joinees, December 2010

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
George Clooney, David Tennant, and Dave Grohl.

(no change!)

At Loverpool, May 2010

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election, and the coalition which was formed directly after it.

37. I have only just noticed that there is no 37....hmmmm....

Love, sunshine and champagne, June 2010

38. Who was the best new person you met?
As ever, probably my new class. Endlessly diverting!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Be happy. Choose to be happy.

(I get this right 80-90% of the time, I think. Am aiming for 95% next year :)).

"Rocking" the Singstar with Katie Boo, November 2010. This picture cracks me up because (amongst other things) of the teeshirts. Completely independent of one another, we both made shirts saying Katie (Boo) says RELAX. Heh. 80s tastic!

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery
Besides maybe this time is different
I mean I really think you like me"

With Jude at K8, December 2010

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A Merry Christmas To All!

I hope you all have the most wonderful of Christmasses. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I really hope this is a season of peace, love and joy for you!

To help get you in the mood, please feel free to enjoy ten of my favourite Christmas tracks - a real feast of cheese :) I hope this provide some entertainment as you trim trees, wrap gifts, stuff turkeys, or just sit with a glass of sherry, eating as much candy as you can find!

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues & Kirsty Maccoll

Just Like Christmas - Low

O Holy Night - Nat 'King' Cole

Silent Night - Josh Groban (brilliantly, this version also includes 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear', another favourite of mine)

It Feels Like Christmas - from The Muppet Christmas Carol

Last Christmas - Wham!

What's This? - from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano

Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Christmas busy-ness

The week before Christmas is always full of bits and bobs - dropping off gifts, planning menus, shopping for food, sending the last few cards, catching up with friends. I'm also trying to shake the chesty cough I've had since the weekend - the cold has gone (praise heaven), but the eleven hour journey home on Sunday combined with some waiting around in the cold has meant that I'm still feeling a little wheezy here and there. Nothing major, but it's slowing me up a little.

Yesternight we had a few friends over for Christmas drinks and it was great fun. I really like to have people over, and we had a happy handful join us for mulled wine and snacks and chat (and really, really awful Christmas music). It was so lovely to see Ben, Cheryl, Kate, Jason, Elliot, Dan and Brigitte, and little Miss Evey, who will be enjoying her first Christmas this weekend! Evey is *such* a poppet - I had a lovely snuggle with her. Yay for babies!

Today is a day of tidying and internetting and reading. I'm halfway through Andre Agassi's 'Open' and it's really compelling stuff. I love my new Kindle and am sure I'll spend far too much on new books for it in the months to come. I also had a few regular books on my Christmas list, so January is shaping up to be a month of walking (as Moonwalk training begins in earnest!) and reading (soup, blanket, book = bliss).

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve Eve, all!

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PS Thank you for the sweet messages after the last post. Sam was an awesome kitteh and will be much missed.

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Bye-bye, buddy

When I called my mum last night it was business as usual, until she had to pass on some sad news. Sam, our beloved family cat, had to be put down on Friday...I wanted to write a quick post to let people know because quite a few of you have met him over the many long and happy years of his kitteh life. I also wanted to give a shout out to a friend - because any cat who is convinced he's human is definitely worthy of that title, in my opinion.

Sam was an absolute legend, and I so glad mum found him when he was abandoned all those years and that my parents were cool enough to let him become part of the family. Home will feel quite different when I visit next month and there's no purrful, bossy, silly cat agitating for extra food and fusses, I think. I hope the rest of my family are doing okay with this - we all loved that old cat. :)

Love you, Samwell - I hope kitteh heaven is full of birds that fly low, sunbeams to sleep in and food bowls that never run out. Thanks for being such an awesome pet.

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Happy Blogoversary!

I've been writing here for five years now. Five years of good times, bad times, silly times. Times spent with friends and family, times of change. So much has happened, and this blog has been a part of it. Happy 5 Years, Country Mouse! :)

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Christmas decorations

I love love love decorating for the holidays! I try not to go too nuts but I love rolling out the tree and the figurines late November / early December :) I'm linking up with the home tours run by The Nester and the lovely Kelly - there are some *awesome* displays to browse. If and when I'ma proper grown up I'd like to add even more finesse....but the inspection and the business of end of term prevented me going as overboard as I might like.

(That noise you just heard was probably Matthew breathing a sigh of relief!)

Please forgive the iPhone quality photos....

Every year I buy a few new ornaments. This little glass one of the holy family I picked up in Selfridges in August, when Vixie and I went to their Christmas store opening.
And this Guinness bauble Matthew found when we were in Dublin last February.

Our whole tree (a.k.a. "Dave") in all his glory.
The wintry view out of our window.
Bobbity, our house mascot, is in the Christmassy mood!
Mr Reindeer guards the sofa.
Musical Santa guards the remote.
Even Matthew's entertainment centre gets a few Christmassy touches. I love buying special candles for this time of year. The Lily-flame ones we have are delicious!
Hula dancing santa, surrounded by a wreath (which was too heavy for our flat door, so Matthew improvised!). If and when we can afford a house, this will go on the front door!
Tealight Santa - I love cranberry spiced candles.
Our giant cracker of joy! Miss Vixie is joining us for Boxing Day dinner, so I bought this enormo cracker for the three of us to share.
I love greenery in the midwinter - this was one of my end of term gifts from my very generous students!
My 'Dayspring' nativity. I like to remember the reason for the season.
...which are part of the awesome advent calendar which Vixie bought for me....I'm going to build it on Monday. I've set out a whole hour to play with it!

Presents! I love giving gifts, and seeing them all nestled under the tree makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Dave, shining brightly.

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