A love letter to… 2017

A Love Letter to...

Dear 2017

Well now. You’ve kicked my arse. Seriously, whether it’s because it was a tough year, or simply because I am just getting older, I’ve never felt as tired at the end of a year as I did with you.

Between a broken limb, a number of hospital visits for other family members, work stress, and a phone down a toilet, it really has been quite the twelve months. (I know you may think it silly to put the loss of a phone in such a list, but it really was quite the inconvenience.)

With the rough, however, there has been, of course, plenty of smooth, and I’ve had some really good times. There were no new family members this year, for the first time in five years (I think). But 2018 will see our number grow again, and in the meantime, all the young members of the family continue to be truly amazing.

In other events, I went on holiday to Dorset with Hannah, and finally visited Gold Hill. I visited Cambridge for the first time, and then went back two more times. I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour for the second time, and visited Lavenham, a stunning little village about half an hour from where I live (a wonderfully Instagrammable place). I finally got the chance to go to the Olympic Stadium, and see a night of the Para Athletics championship. I went to two weddings, one was to celebrate with an old school friend, and the other with a work friend. And I went to Disneyland Paris! I had to do it with a broken wrist, but did it I did (?) and I had a lovely time.

Work was tough, probably harder than it’s ever been, with ever more to do and what feels like an ever decreasing amount of time in which to do it. But life would be boring without a challenge, and I’m looking forward to a brand new year to get stuck into. In amongst all the hard work, my job took me back to Manchester and Glasgow, two cities that I like but would like the chance to explore outside of work, and also on a work outing to try some archery. I was terrible at it, of course, but it was good fun. I even went along to a beer festival with my colleagues, despite a) not liking beer, and b) not liking socialising that much. It was good fun!

Once again, I spent much of my year visiting London for various different events, most notably my monthly engagement at the BFI Southbank taking in Mark Kermode’s regular event. It’s been another amazing year of guests, with the likes of Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Toby Jones. Yep, Toby Jones. I was also lucky enough to go along to a different event to see THE TOM HANKS talking about his book, which was amazing and surreal.

So aside from some truly awful moments, both personally and on a global level, there was much to be celebrated in this year of years. I have a feeling that 2018 might be more of the same, but I’m willing to give it the same chance I gave you, 2017. Thanks for the memories…

Love Jane

A Love Letter to… is an ongoing series (that I tend to update once a year.)

A love letter to… 2016


Dear 2016,

It’s been a year since I wrote to your predecessor, and though series on this blog don’t usually last long, I’m pleased that we are here once again, with me writing to you on your last day.

What to say about you as a year? I think everyone agrees that you’ve been eventful at best, disastrous at worst. On a global level, there’s no doubt that you’ve been probably one of the worst of my 34 years on the planet. Right-wing politics has taken a stranglehold on the world, leading to two of the worst decisions (in my opinion) that mankind could have made: Brexit and Trump. The people who support these decisions do not tend to hold views that are in sync with my own, and so I find myself in a position where the things I hold true are not being represented at a political level. But I believe that there are enough good people in the world that hopefully one day we’ll look back on you, 2016, as an anomaly.

But while political storms raged across the world, it’s important to remember the good things that happened on a personal level. I became a great-aunt! I can say in all honesty that my niece’s daughter Peggie is one of my favourite people, and I am so looking forward to watching her grow up. She’s lucky enough to have a middle name that matches my first name (I double checked, it was for me), and while I don’t get to see her quite as much as I would like, any time spent with her is wonderful.

Peggie was (technically) the only new addition to the family, which is odd for a family that grows as quickly as mine. A wedding in October brought the official tally for new additions to two, as Peggie’s mum and dad married in Spain. But Paul has been a part of the family for so long that it was a technicality!

In terms of work, I feel as though you were a good year. I don’t work for a company that has an official structure for promotion. But I like to think that I have been rewarded for my hard work in more ways than one, and I think I’ve finally reached a point where, when someone asks me what I do, I know what to say. I work in marketing!

A love letter to a year on this blog would not be complete without the mentioning of two certain radio presenters. My love for Wittertainment is steadfast, and you, 2016, have brought me some extra friends because of it! Mark Kermode has been in residence, once a month, at the BFI, and I have been to ten of the eleven shows (#superfan). I have been lucky enough to do this with my Wittertainment friend Chloe, who I have known for a while, and Liz and Goldy, two fellow Kermode acolytes. I’m so lucky that I get to spend time with these wonderful women who are helping to set the world alight in different ways.

The other Wittertainer has been a part of my year as well; I met Simon Mayo at YALC in July, where he was promoting his wonderful YA novel Blame. He’s such a gent, it strikes me that this kind of thing isn’t necessarily his favourite way to spend time, but he’s generous and chatty and I love that I have met him in person three years in a row now.

What else has happened? I went to Iceland; my first time on a plane in many years, and though it was only a short trip, it was amazing, and I’d love to return. I visited Glasgow for the first time (another plane trip), though that was for work and I got to see very little of the city. October saw two weddings; the aforementioned Spanish wedding of my niece and new nephew-in-law (another plane trip!), and my university friends Montanna and Ryan in Surrey. Yet again, I went to my friend’s caravan in Camber Sands for the weekend with my best friends, and had a lovely time.

Oh, and I moved! You were the year for a new beginning, 2016, as my friend Hannah and I had to vacate the chilly flat that we were renting, so we found somewhere new, and it’s lovely. It has a name (as well as a number, we’re not that posh), and it’s warmer, cosier, and just generally lovlier than where we were before. I still struggle with the age-old problem of keeping my bedroom tidy, and I no longer have a bath (woe is me), but I love it here.

All that’s left to wonder is what your successor has in store. All good things, I hope. Though with that inauguration and that exit looming, who knows? Let’s just try and make it a good one.

Smell ya later, 2016

Love Jane

A love letter to… is an ongoing series that hasn’t really been ongoing since this time last year, and only has a paltry four entries. So it’s not really a series at all. 

What to do in 2015

Happy New Year! I hope your festive season was a good one, and that you are excited about the year ahead. I’m not really a fan of New Year’s Eve, but I love the fresh feeling of the new year, the idea that the whole year is ahead of us and the hope of achieving lots. As you may know, if you have read this blog for a while, I don’t make resolutions, but I do have a list of regular goals that I hope to achieve each year, as well as some extras that change year-on-year. I know that not everyone agrees with the idea of making resolutions or setting goals, but for me it’s another excuse to make a list (I do love a list), and they are things that are genuinely ongoing throughout the year.

So without further ado, and with a brief roundup as to how I did with last year’s goals, here is my list.

Go to a music concert/gig: I love seeing and hearing live music, so this is on the list to make sure that I do it at least once. In 2014, I was lucky enough to see a lot of live music, for me at least! I went to the Classical Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall with my dad, I saw The Shires twice, the second time they were co-touring with Ward Thomas, who I had also seen at Radio 2 in Hyde Park! I also went to The Big Gig, a Guiding event, where I saw lots of people, but most excitingly, Little Mix. And I saw The Gaslight Anthem in November at Alexandra Palace. I don’t know if 2015 will be quite so full, but I’m definitely hoping to see Ward Thomas again, at the very least!

Go to the theatre: When I made my list last year, I knew that I was going to see Derren Brown, and I said that as it was taking place in the theatre, I was going to count it. I am counting it as crossed off, but I know really that it’s a bit of a cheat, because although obviously I loved it, when I wrote ‘Go to the theatre’, I meant to see a play or a musical. I would love to cross it off properly next year, because I do so love the theatre. I have a £35 Ticketmaster voucher that I’ve never used, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and book something!

Go to a comedy gig: This has been on my lists for years, and I’ve never actually done it! It shouldn’t be that hard, and maybe I’ll use the aforementioned voucher for this one instead!

Go to a theme park: I think I had been to a theme park every year for about five, right up until I started making these new year’s lists, and since then, I haven’t been to one! I am definitely going to try and do this one next year. All I have to do is get Anna on board, and that’s easy.

Go to a stately home:  Still one that I haven’t managed since I started making the lists. I already know where I want to go (Audley End, which is local, and Chatsworth, which is not), but I won’t be surprised if I don’t end up doing it.

Read 75 books: I haven’t had a chance to round up the results of my 2014 books, but I’m really pleased that I managed it, just! I finished my 75th book on 30th December, so look out for the round up in the next couple of days. I’m sticking with 75 again this year, because I know that I can do it, and I know that I shouldn’t make it such a chore by leaving it until the end of the year to read a fifth of the books!

Watch 52 films: When I first starting setting myself a film goal, I chose 52 because I thought it was easily achievable – one a week. As it turns out, now, it’s a goal that I surpass every year, and in 2014 I went way over, watching 73. The temptation is obviously to up the total, and aim for 75, or 100, but I’m reluctant to do that, because I don’t want to fail. So I’ll stick to 52, and see what happens this year, and then I’ll reassess next year! My 2014 film round up will be coming soon.

So there you have my main seven goals for 2015; these are the goals that stick around every year, because they are the things that I always want to have as part of my year. But every year there are a few that I like to throw in as extras. Last year, I wanted to take more photographs, blog more, spread the blog love, declutter, and keep a diary. I didn’t keep a diary (I never do), I didn’t declutter (but that goal has made it onto my 33 Before 33 list), and I didn’t spread the blog love as much as I could have. I think I probably did blog more, I feel at least that my blogging was more organised and had a better structure to it. I did take more photographs as well, as I completed a Project 365 for the first time ever! (Of course, I’ll be doing a post to round up all my photos from the year, too.)

For 2015, there are just a few more things to add to my list.

  • Have a meat-free day a week: I work with a lot of vegetarians and vegans, and while I am under no pressure to change my diet, I thought I would give it a go. I don’t want to be a vegetarian, but I do like the idea of experimenting with my meals, and changing up what I eat. It can only be healthier too, because I’m much more likely to cook something yummy than shove something in the oven. We’ll see how it goes!
  • Keep a diary/journal: I know what I said up there, it never happens. But I do so love the idea of diaries, and I love reading back on ones that I have managed to write in the past, so I’m going to give it another go. I’m also planning on resurrecting my journal, which is where I keep photos, articles, tickets and the suchlike. I love reading back on old journals too, so it’s definitely worth my while doing it.
  • Organise my photographs: This extends to sorting out (and backing up) digital files, and getting some photos printed and into albums. I know it’s a cliché to say it, but I do hate that there is a dearth of printed photographs from recent years in my family collection, especially when there are so, so many from years gone by.
  • Explore Essex: I know that if you aren’t from Essex, you might be scoffing right now, thinking that there’s no more to this county than Brentwood high street and the Sugar Hut, but that’s just not true. There’s some beautiful villages in Essex, and I’d love to see more of them. I’m going to spend some time looking around and taking some photographs of them.

In lieu of resolutions, these are the things I want to do throughout the year, things that bring me joy and fun and just make my life a little more fun! Do you make resolutions?

What to do in 2014

Happy New Year

~ image from WeHeartIt ~

For the last week or so, I’ve been reading the blogs and tweets and Facebook statuses of people talking about New Year’s resolutions. For every one person that is making them, there seem to be five who are berating them for it and saying that they are a waste of time.

Each to their own, of course, but I like my list of things I want to do in the New Year. I don’t really look on them as New Year’s resolutions, as such, but I guess they are. They are things I resolve to do as the year progresses, so I think it’s probably inaccurate to say I don’t make New Year’s resolutions!

If you’re a relatively new reader of Is That You Darling, you may wonder why I choose to make a yearly list of things to achieve from November to November (my 32 Before 32 list), and a list of things to achieve from January to December (this list). It’s mostly because I’m a compulsive list-maker, but also because I like to keep the two things separate. I don’t want to pack my birthday list with these things, as they are mostly things that I try to do every year. So without further ado, here they are (again):

  • Go to a music concert/gig: Last year I went to see two big live gigs (Status Quo and Bon Jovi), as well as some live music at my local pub, so I ticked this one off for the second year in a row. I’m pretty confident it’ll be crossed off again in 2014
  • Go to the theatre: No theatre for me last year, sadly. In 2014 I am going to see Derren Brown, and it’s in a theatre, so it’s totally going to count.
  • Go to a comedy gig: No comedy for me last year either. I keep it on the list every year, but I don’t have much confidence that it will actually happen!
  • Go to a theme park: I didn’t get to a theme park in 2013, mainly due to lack of funds. I would like to say that this will hopefully change in 2014, but we’ll see
  • Go to a stately home: This is one that I am determined to achieve this year. I am going to wait for one of those National Trust weekends, and hopefully go somewhere for free!
  • Read 75 Books: I recently posted about the 75 books I read in 2013 (you can read the post here), and I confirmed that my target will remain at 75 for 2014. It’s totally doable, as long as I don’t go for long periods where I dip into five or six different books without actually finishing any of them. I just got a Kindle Fire too, so I’m looking forward to loading it up with some books!
  • See 52 New Films: A film a week is easily done, especially as I have my 32 Before 32 challenge of watching twelve comedies running alongside it.

These are my seven main goals that remain the same year-on-year. They make up the things that I want to try and make sure I do each and every year, because they are all things that I love. But there are a few additional things that I want to add to my list this year, in the hope that I will be spurred on to achieve them.

  • Take more photographs: This is an on-going life goal, and one I make in lieu of pressurising myself with a photo-a-day project. I would love to take a photo a day, but if I set out with that in mind, I’ll fail! This year I’m going to try and do as many of Fat Mum Slim’s photo challenges as I can; she launches a new list of prompts each month, and I join in sporadically on Instagram. I’m taking it one month at a time, but I’m hopeful!
  • Blog more: I already blog a lot, but I definitely want to get more organised in terms of when I blog. I need to schedule more posts, and I want to go back to having specific days for certain posts. I have a few irons in the fire in terms of new series, and I’m excited to get writing!
  • Spread the blog love: I am starting the year with the best of intentions; to comment on as many blog posts as I can. It’s not always the easiest thing in the world to do, as I read most blog posts on my phone, and I can’t always comment. But when I can’t comment, I’m going to try and tweet the blogger with my thoughts.
  • Declutter: I need to have a massive sort out of all my belongings. I own too much stuff, and most of it is unnecessary.
  • Keep a diary: This is another on-going life goal; I have so many diaries that I have written in throughout the years and I never keep up with them. I’ll be trying again in 2014.

So there you have it, my goals for 2014. I’m so pleased it is 2014, fourteen is a much nicer number than thirteen.

What To Do in 2014