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A love letter to… 2015

EST. 2015

Dear 2015,

Well, what a funny old year it has been. I dropped a line to your predecessor this time last year, and I thought it would be a nice tradition to continue.

You’ve not been a great year for blogging. I’ve always had an up and down relationship with this strange hobby, but this is the first year it has taken a real back seat to real life. This is mainly due to the fact that I just haven’t had the time, but also because for a while, I fell out of love with blogging a bit. We’ll see how things develop, but I finally feel excited again about things at Is That You Darling.

Personally, you were something of a milestone year, as I officially moved out of home. I went to university as a mature student, and when that was over I wasn’t in a position to move out, but finally, at the grand old age of 32, I managed it! I now live with my friend Hannah in a tiny little flat near Colchester, and aside from the fact that it’s almost unbearably cold in the winter, I love it, and I’m happy to have finally ticked off a major box in the adult column.

I’ve had a lot of fun with you, 2015. As with last year, though I might have spent too much money on clothes, I’ve been trying to concentrate on making memories, and I have some special ones to cherish. I saw Ward Thomas (again), and visited a town called Ugley. I went to Scotland for the first time, visiting Edinburgh to see Radio 2 broadcast live (a dream come true). I went on yet another caravan holiday with my best friends, and had the usual amazing time. I went to my first book launch, and was in the same esteemed company as Stanley Tucci for a couple of hours. I went to see The Proclaimers (!), I went back to Hyde Park for Radio 2’s Festival in a Day and saw, amongst other people, Bryan Adams, The Corrs and, yes, of course, Ward Thomas and The Shires once more.

I’ve gained a couple of new members of the family too, in the form of a new niece and nephew. I’ve seen my family much less than I used to when I lived at home, which has taken some getting used to, but I guess it just makes the times I do see them all the more special. It would help if I could drive, as my new home isn’t *that* far away from most of them, but I can’t. Hopefully that will change in the coming year, however!

And, even though this letter is already too long, I can’t finish it without a mention of my continuing interest in the work of Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode. You were the first year in many that saw a live broadcast of Wittertainment, but as I was working, I was spared the disappointment of applying for tickets and inevitably failing to get them! I did, however, see Simon Mayo during my aforementioned Edinburgh trip, and I finally managed to see a Dodge Brothers gig, in Camden, with my Wittertainment friend Chloe. And miraculously, you were a year in which the good doctors released a book, which I was lucky enough to review, and when I headed along to the accompanying tour date in London, Mark and Simon were very kind to know who I was based on my review. When I headed along to the second London date, I ended up on stage, which was amazing and surreal, and resulted in my receiving a t-shirt that says ‘I’ve been seen by the Movie Doctors.’ All in all, quite an amazing turn of events!

All in all, 2015, I’d say you’ve been an up-and-down kind of a year. Some very exciting things have happened alongside some real contemplative moments, and while I know I’m lucky in many ways, I won’t look back on you as the best year of my life. So thanks for the memories, and I hope 2016 is even better!

Love Jane

A Love Letter to… is an ongoing series (that admittedly could do with a few more entries!)

The Week That Was

Spreading the blog love

♥ A slightly older link, but the best news evs for Louisa at Duck in a Dress. Congratulations!

♥ Terri-Jane is telling ‘should’ to do one, and I’m on board.

♥ Elise took a tour of Glasgow Central Station, and it’s left me wanting to do something similar.

♥ Elizabeth from Margot and Barbara is one of my favourite bloggers, and her post about her allotment supper is one of the reasons why.

The rest of the web

♥ I love this mash-up – the music of Inception over the trailer for Inside Out, creating Incept Out.

Five summer looks in films.

♥ $129 for a mystery flight in 1950.

Tweets I’ve liked this week

Three worders

Monday ~Excited for Imelda

Tuesday ~ Lunchtime squats – ouch!

Wednesday ~ Anticipating a downpour

Thursday ~Foraging course booked

Tuesdaying

Right now, I am mostly…

Trying : I’m trying to get away with the fact that I should have written this yesterday, but didn’t get around to it. I’m almost trying to get back into the swing of blogging. Sometimes my blogging well dries up because of a major life event, and sometimes it’s just because I can’t find any words to write. This time it was the latter – I have posts I want to write, I just haven’t had any motivation to write them. I think that’s OK though; no big announcements about coming and going, just a gentle re-entry. I’m going to try and be a better blogger in July.

Walking : We’ve recently moved offices, and where we used to work was perfect was a lunchtime walk. We were concerned that the new environs wouldn’t afford the same lunchtime pleasures, but the surroundings are lovely, and weirdly, lunchtimes seem to last longer! Last week we took three dogs out with us, none of which belonged to anyone walking, and had a lovely ramble!

Ticking : I ticked off a 33 Before 33 item at the weekend, and anyone who follows me on Instagram or Twitter will know which one it was, but there will be a post to follow for those who don’t!

Visiting : I went to Bournemouth on Sunday, completing the tri-fecta of British cities beginning with B that I’ve visited in the last few months for work, without seeing much of the city at all! I got to see a bit of the beach, and the inside of the Pavilion, but it was nice, and I’d like to go back. The journey there was blissful, taking just over three hours; the jouney back was hellish, taking over five. Gah!

Watching : Again, I need to seriously pull my finger out and do some blogging about the films I have watched recently, but needless to say, I have long since passed my 52 goal, and I’m hoping to hit 100 by the end of the year!

Celebrating : I went out on Saturday night to celebrate my lovely friend Lucy’s birthday, and I had a lovely time. This was down to a) spending time with my lovely work friends, and b) feeling as though I looked good when I left the house. This is such an unusual feeling for me that I feel it needs celebrating. I actually said the words “I look fierce” which is such a ridiculous thing for me to say, but I felt great!

Accepting : I recently accepted a request to be a bridesmaid (not the greatest syntax in that sentence, but I had to work it round an -ing word!), for the seventh time. I know, right. Seven times a bridesmaid, you have to be joking if you think you’re ever getting married. I’m pretty sure that’s how that saying goes. I’m excited though; it’s for my niece (I know), and it’s happening in warmer climes!

Reading : A reading round-up is well overdue, as I missed my May roundup. Again, a blog post will follow, but I’ve been really enjoying the books I’ve been reading lately. I am almost certainly not going to reach the 75 goal that I set myself every year, but I’m pretty zen about that at the moment (ask me again in December!).

Receiving : I bought my first ever Lucky Dip Club box last month, and I was very excited when it arrived on Friday. Anything advertised as having a Dinosaur Disco theme was always going to get my vote, and I wasn’t disappointed. I love my T-Rex necklace the most, though I’m very taken with the dinosaur tape too!

Writing : I’m not much of a poet, but I do enjoy using words to throw together a poem every now and again. To go along with my Twitter Poetry (using my @ replies to make a poem), I’ve just started writing Predictive Poetry – using predictive text to throw together a poem. See above for my first one!

Enjoying : I wondered along to an exhibition at the London Museum Docklands last week when I was in London; Soldiers and Suffragettes. It displays the photography of Christina Bloom, generally considered to be the UK’s first female press photographer. It’s really interesting – she photographed mainly soldiers and suffragettes (obviously), as well as high society and royalty. Definitely worth a look if you get a chance!

Day 1 ~ Blog Every Day in May

Well here we are again. It’s time for another ‘Blog Every Day…’ challenge, and I’ve been foolish enough to sign up again. I say foolish, because even though I love these challenges, I put myself under far too much pressure to complete them.

The sensible part of my brain thought, “May is a busy month for you, and you’ll never do it.” At the same time, the idealistic part of my brain thought, “But it’s so much fun, and if I try to avoid that self-imposed pressure, I’ll be fine.” As such, at 11.30pm on 1st May, I signed up and gave myself half an hour to write post number one!

If you’re interested in finding out more about BEDM, it’s the brainchild of the excellent Elizabeth from Rosalilium. All is explained in her post here

The prompt for today is ‘Introduce Yourself’. I love reading ‘x facts about me posts’, and presuming I can think of enough things, here are five facts about me. 

  • I work for an events and publishing company, primarily for yoga and vegan titles and events. My job is pretty varied, but officially, I’m in press and promotions. 
  • I’ve only recently moved out of home, at the ripe age of 32. I now live in a flat with my friend Hannah, who I also work with. 
  • I like stories. Primarily, this means I’m a voracious reader, but anything with a story – film, television, drama – makes my heart happy. 
  • Not to overstate things, but my best day ever was 20th September 2015. As someone without a children or a partner of their own, I feel comfortable saying that seeing one of the best films of my adult life on the same day that my celebrity hero picked me out the crowd is my best day ever. 
  • I’m a sister to five people, and I like that I am. I like being a daughter, an auntie, a friend, but I think I like being a sister best of all. 

So time marches on, and I won’t feel as though I’ve started this challenge properly if I have to hit publish after midnight (remember what I said about self-imposed pressure?). Thus, with total awareness that this isn’t the prettiest looking post, or the most fantastically written, I’m starting BEDM. 

January 2015 Books

My photoshop skills have got no better since last year, but I’m trying, and I thought I’d mix things up slightly with my monthly collage! January was a four-book month, and while really it’s a couple less than I should be reading if I want to spread my 75 out evenly across the year, I’m not too concerned. The start of the year isn’t the time to be worrying that I am running behind with my target!

The Absolutist by John Boyne

The Absolutist is one of two John Boyne novels I read in January, albeit by accident. I grabbed this one off the shelf at the library at the end of last year, because the premise interested me: a young man called Tristan, a veteran of the First World War, is travelling to Norwich to meet with Marian, the sister of his friend, and fellow soldier, Will. He’s returning the letters she wrote to her brother, and in doing so, he wants to tell her his secret, something he hasn’t been able to tell anyone. In the end, the story ending up feeling quite different to how I imagined it, but I did enjoy it very much. Will and Tristan are thrown together in the trenches, and develop a strong bond, but each of them struggle with their ability to be brave, whether that’s physical bravery or an ethical or moral bravery. Will is unable to continue fighting after he witnesses the brutality of one of his fellow soldiers, demonstrating a courage that many other soldiers had to deny themselves. Tristan doesn’t see this decision as brave, yet knows that he himself failed to demonstrate any bravery in his own actions. It’s a thought-provoking read, and one that has made me want to seek out more of John Boyne’s books.

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne

As I mentioned, it wasn’t my intention to read two John Boyne books in a row, but I had reserved this one at the library after I read a small extract in Only Remembered, and it came in at the beginning of the year. It tells the story of a young boy named Alfie, whose father joins up at the very start of World War I. Years pass, and Alfie is sure that his father has died; he no longer writes, and his mother doesn’t have a very convincing story as to why. Having set himself up as a shoeshine boy to help with the household finances, Alfie spots his father’s name on a doctor’s files, and sets about finding him and bringing him home. John Boyne obviously feels very comfortable writing about this period of history, and using a child’s perspective to write about the First World War is really effective.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’ve been reading about The Girl on the Train for months, and I knew that I would eventually end up reading it, but when it was announced as the latest Radio 2 Book Club choice, I decided to go for it and download it. I am pleased that I did; it’s a good read, and a very entertaining thriller. Rachel is the girl on the train, and as she goes past a particular row of houses, she picks out a couple, and gradually becomes a little obsessed with them. When the woman goes missing, Rachel is sure she holds vital information, and goes to the police, only to be dismissed. The story centres on Rachel trying to learn the truth. There will be a review of this later this week.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I’m constantly wondering where I got the recommendation to read Station Eleven, and I’m still none the wiser, but I’m really pleased I did! Set almost entirely in a world where civilisation has been brought to its knees by a flu pandemic, it centres on the story of Kirsten, a young woman who was a child at the time of the collapse, and has very little memory of the world as it was before. All of the characters, Kirsten included, are connected to one man, an actor called Arthur Leander, who died playing King Lear on stage the night before the world began to change. It’s a truly fascinating story, and it’s honestly the best book I’ve read in some months. I’m planning a full review, but all I can do is thoroughly recommend it to everyone who reads this!

I’m really pleased with the books I read in January. While I don’t like to put too much stock in star ratings, all of these books were four or five stars for me, and that amounts to a really good month, all told. I’d love to continue this trend, but I know that’s not possible!

As well as keeping a count of the books I read, I’ve also started keeping a note of the pages in each book, to see how I do by the end of the year. I know that Goodreads keeps a count, but I’m not sure it’s always the most reliable, so I’m keeping my own notes. So far, I’m up to 1391 pages.

4 books down, 71 to go in my aim to read 75 books by the end of 2015. Follow me on Goodreads to keep up with all my reading habits.

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