Sunday, 3 January 2016

HNY from QB | A Sort-of-Special Sunday Summary

This week, I have mostly been ...



Kinky Boots

the last episode of And Then There Were None

Animal Attraction (Someone Like You in the US)

While You Were Sleeping

Bridget Jones's Diary

and as is Ma QB's and my annual pre-New Year tradition:

{Especially for you, Ma QB!}
Strictly Ballroom

{There are No. New. Steps.}

Celebrating Christmas Mark II

... this time with lil' Sis, Sis' man Ceri, and a flying visit from family friend Cassie from Oz and her man Tom. Ma QB cooked the familial-traditional beef, and we had handbells in our crackers, because, well, Christmas. OK so two pairs weren't quite tuned properly but hey. It was fun!

{Wot no goldfish-bowl wine glasses still?!}
{Ahhh, youth ...}
And the kazoo orchestra at friend Jan's the next evening was a musical triumph, I tell you. A triumph!

But all too soon it was quiet again.

Visiting ...

... Ightham Mote. On Tuesday, after the full-on shenans of Christmas were almost well and truly O.V.E.R., <insert sadface> Ma QB and I drove to nearby Ightham Mote for a look around the mediaeval house (bottom 'alf only) and gardens.

And jolly lovely it was too.

The rain stopped long enough for us to enjoy the full tour round the ground floor, across the courtyard, and inside the two specially Christmas-themed rooms and the billiards room (the original man-cave) and then around the gardens (again, not all of them -- some were blocked off because of poor weather conditions).

Ightham has been gradually built up from the original moated plot since the 14th century, and the varying influences were evident everywhere, right up to the 20th century and the influence of the house's last, American, owner, Charles Henry Robinson.

Celebrating and Contemplating the New Year

I'm not into Facebook Review of the Year videos these days (and I deleted my 2014 Photo a Day for the Year video from YouTube after I realised that a) it was probably contravening some sort of music copyright law ... and also b) nobody really cares ...).

Instead, I'm going to leave this 'ere pin here as a flag or marker of sorts, with the underpinning message that actually, 2015 was ... controversial. And, I'm afraid, it was not the improvement on 2014 that it promised to be:

Parts of it shone.

And parts of it were just downright awful, quite frankly. Some events of 2015 can never be reconciled; some damages cannot be repaired.

Very few of the Bad Times made it onto this blog because it just didn't feel right to write about them here for an assortment of reasons. Maybe I will at some point, but not now. (And yes, this feels like a 'Facebook Fish for Sympathy'/U OK Hun-solicitation but it really isn't; I'm just mentioning the facts in passing.)

All I can do in 2016 is try to make things better.

On Wednesday I had lunch in Tunbridge Wells (Royal Tunbridge Wells, rah) with my bayootiful bestest, Natalie, and her gorgeous, cheeky children:

{Random shot of tastefully festive Tunny Wells shop}
{A Natalie in a Hat-alie | Photobomb by River}
{Mum with her monkeys}
{Auntie B with her favourite mini people}
We met in ASK and had a long, leisurely and entertaining lunch (and much-needed catch-up). I say entertaining because who wouldn't crack a smile at being asked by a very earnest six-year-old, "Auntie B, are you a grown-up?" Me: "Sometimes."

I happened to bring with me the list of resolutions that I wrote with Nats around the same time in 2014:

So here comes the inevitable Resolution Review in lieu of a video montage:

A bad habit ... : This is a work in progress. In my personal life I've been more able to step back and talk myself out of feeling like I'm missing out; but this is not something I've so easily been able to apply to my working life. I need to address this.

A new skill ... : Y'know what, this one, I did accomplish. I taught myself. I'm still learning and I could really do with proper lessons or a regular jamming session, but I taught myself.

A person ... : Again with the 'Y'know what' precursory statement ... 

{Jos, Charlie and QB on NYE}

Some of my best nights of 2015 were spent in the company of these beautiful ladies, Jos and Charlie (among other Lovelies). 

And some of the most eye-opening (maybe slightly drunkenly-candid) conversations I had in 2015 were with these ladies. 

I can certainly say that the most uplifting Pinterest pins came from these girls, too.

When things were at their most awful last year, my friendships, with J & C, and with Natalie, and Georgina, and many other of my Lovelies, were what buoyed me.

So I've decided it's OK not to be like these ladies, because actually, there is no one like them. They are unique, and they are fabulous, and I'm happy just to be friends with them without needing to morph into them. 

(And there is only one QB, let us not forget!)

A good deed ... | 100k from London to Brighton? Done and done: I'm definitely giving myself a tick and a pat on the back for this. Yes I ruddy did it. Yes the toenail is growing back but slowly. I also raised well over £1,600 for the MS Society, which I am thrilled to bits with, quite frankly.

A place ... | {where nobody dared to go | a love that we came to know | they call it Xanaduuuu} Ahem. 

I didn't make it to Berlin or Dublin.

But I did make it to Bristol:

and Hope Cove:

and oop near Wellington:

Notice how I've found photos of bodies of water to represent all three trips? 

That's not a coincidence. #waterbaby 

I think Dublin may need to happen this year. Does Dublin have a river/lake/sea/puddle I can photograph? 

Oh! So it does. This definitely needs to happen.

A book | ... This one.

I read it. It was peculiar. I liked it; it works as a standalone as well as preceding Jane Eyre

Incidentally, although I set myself -- off-list -- the same Book Challenge target as 2014, I didn't read 50 books in 2015. 

I didn't even read 40 books, after I'd adjusted my targets.

I read 35. 

But that still equals almost three books a month.

I'm OK with that.

In 2016 I resolve not to set a target for the amount of books I read, but to enjoy the ones I do read more fully, rather than speeding through to make up a quota. Books are too precious to be tallied up. That's my wisdom of the week. Quality not quantity and all that malarkey.

A letter ... | I'm still awaiting my Natalie missive (hint hint!) ... and I wasn't brave enough to send off a letter with my NaNoWriMo submission attached but I did send off some other important correspondence last year (cancelling worthless insurance payments and such), and also rattled off over 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo itself so ... I'm calling that an almost-done. And let's face it, these are all just pressures I've put on myself. 

A new food ... | Y'know what (she says, again) I probably did manage one of those salads:

but I honest-to-chocolate can't remember. 

I do need to up the ante in the new year as regards cooking properly for myself but that's not a pressure, that's a basic human need, no?

I'm going to do better at ... | Well, this one needs work but it's such a mundane/worthy/obvious resolution that I can barely be faffed to address it. Instead, here is a gif of a camel because, well, camel.

As for 2016, well, aside from not keeping count of the books I read, and expressing the desire to rock on over to Dublin's fair city, I'm making no resolutions for the year. None. Nil. Zero.

Oh except for one.

This year I resolve to be happy.

I don't think it's unachievable, or selfish; in fact I think it's necessary.

And I promise -- with considerably more sincerity this year than ever before -- that I won't put any more pressure on myself. It gets me nowhere.

Anyway, speaking of happy ... I spent NYE in the midst of a cosy handful of my favourite people in the world ever amen. It was the first time in a really really really long time that I'd ventured out of the house on NYE, and it was utterlybutterlyrutterly worth it.

There was karaoke!

There were Kenny's sausage rolls!

And there was a lorralorra bubbly-and-Chambord.

Which may have instructed some peculiar song choices later in the evening (ladies, I believe we may have established that we are not Destiny's Child -- more like Destiny's Distant and Disowned Fourth Cousin Six Times Removed, no matter how bootylicious we believe we are).

{#Question ...#}
Still. Excellent fun, and it was a joy to see the new year in with the people who contributed greatly to making the old year bearable. Much much love.

NYE's Cast of Glorious Skulking Loafers:
Jos, Ken, Amber, Finn, Fern, Charlie, Al, Leonie, Jamie << look! You've warranted a mention!, Steve, Paul, Glenda, Mike and Felix.

Kindly witness the shenanigans through the medium of photography:

{The hostess with the mostest, kickstarting
{I've put this up once before but it bears repeating | to paraphrase Joss Stone}
{Some very earnest duetting going on here}
{I think that single eyebrow lift alone warrants a mention ... :)}

{Happy QB}
{Westlife reform for one last performance | Mike just out of shot 'cos
he moved at an inopportune moment}
{Family pile | That wasn't my pun: think it may have been Jos' or Ken's ...}
{Barbra and Neil | Someone buy the lady some flowers already!}
{QB and my little Fernalicious}
{Not sure Charlie's really feeling our rendition of Let it Go ...}
{With Da Boss}
{Letting off the confetti cannons | in case you wondered what
was going on here}
The morning after the night before ...

{Sorry, Steve, there's no escaping the lure of the flamingo slippers ...}

Incidentally, please let's all send healing thoughts to our Gorgeous Glenda, who managed to break both elbows in the process of doing the conga at midnight. I think we feel a little bit bad that we didn't realise that you were actually a broken woman ...

Much love and accelerated Vampire Slayer healing powers to you.

Pinterest Pin of the Week

Weekly Web Finds

Well, that's all for now, the first post of 2016.

May your days be merry and bright (oh, wait, no, that's Christmas, that's old news, sorry). I leave you with this delicious little ABBA classic that I decided not to butcher on Thursday night because, well, I think Let it Go was probably a step beyond as it was; and alas, I am certainly no Agnetha. Besides, this is a very hard song to sing.

qb xx

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