Category: Family

2012 in review

2012 was a year of travel, a lot of it. It was another busy year, I remember feeling incredibly positive at the beginning of the year, I think because 2011 had been such a tough year in many ways. By mid-autumn admittedly that positivity had dropped, it felt like we were mired in just getting stuff done and dealing with crap.

In short I did the following travel:
2 trips to South Africa
1 to Australia
1 trip to France and the UK
4 trips to the UK
1 trip to Canada
1 to San Francisco
A few nights in New York

All of the above coupled with an incredibly busy work year and no proper holiday meant that by the end of the year I was exhausted, physically and mentally. If nothing else 2012 has taught me how much I really need to look after myself and what a work-life balance is not.

2013 starts with a huge change, we move back to London and have to work out living in somewhere we know so well but which will be different from before. I am hopeful again for next year. I am planning holidays in my head already, we have a friend to visit in Istanbul, we have Italy to explore and we have time to spend together on a beach doing sweet f.a.

I am also looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, keeping new ones and taking the next steps in J and I’s life together. We want to buy a house at some point, we’d like somewhere of our own, who knows maybe that’s what 2013 will hold for us.

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Christmas 2012

We spent Christmas together this year, just the two of us in San Francisco. For the first eight years together we went our separate ways for Christmas, it was the easiest thing to do, I saw my family, he his. Sometimes we might visit the other one after Christmas and before New Year but in the main we kept things as they had always been.

The last two years have been different. Last year we were in DC, sharing Indian takeaway with friends. This year we were on holiday, our first holiday which was longer than 4 days since probably last Christmas. It was a quiet affair, the weather in San Francisco was horrid, truly truly horrid and so we didn’t have much of a desire to get out and about. Instead we made one foray to the restaurant for lunch and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, I even squeezed in a two hour nap.

Lunch was dim sum, a big departure from the more traditional Christmas fare, and certainly no pudding, Brussels sprouts or even Port. In some ways it was good to be doing something so different, it made it less odd to be so far away and just the two of us.

As much as it was lovely to be spending the time together and having a very relaxed time, having done things differently for two years I now feel ready to return to more traditional ways and to sharing it with family as well as friends. At some point J and I will get to build our family traditions for Christmas, thankfully this shouldn’t be too contentious as both families are relatively aligned. In the meantime however, I will look forward to next year knowing that it will again be different from the last two but familiar too.

Happy thanksgiving one and all!

On our last Thanksgiving in the US (until the next one we spend over here…) I am thankful for:

  • My husband, for sharing his life with me and being an absolute rock of support and love
  • My family, for their understanding, patience and support
  • My friends, both those who I have grown to love dearly in Washington, DC and those I am returning to rekindle my friendships with in London
  • All of you who read this blog and who chatter with me on Twitter and Instagram!

There are many more things I am thankful for, however for now I will keep it brief. Being reminded to think about all you have and all that it gives you is very special. I shall certainly try and bring this celebration back to the UK and to make sure I spend that one day thinking extra hard about all I have and how lucky I am to be where I am and surrounded by so many special people.

Sending good wishes your way, eat, drink, be merry and enjoy an afternoon nap if you can! 

August in photos

Work took me to Australia in August, which was wonderful as it meant I got to see my sister and family. I also got to see koalas, wombats, kangaroos and all sorts of cute Australian wildlife.

I’ve always loved wombats, we had a book as children called “The Muddle Headed Wombat” which was one of my favourites growing up.

I started out in Brisbane, for a small city it has excellent shopping and is very picturesque with its river setting.

We managed to sneak away to the beach one day, J enjoyed throwing himself straight into the sea. I enjoyed watching my niece and nephew have fun in the sand and sea.

We also managed to get out into the bush, the sound of being woken by laughing kookaburras is really quite special. They’re also a beautiful bird and watching them, the parakeets and the cockatoos all flying around was fabulous.

I then headed over to Perth for the next part of my work trip. I was actually staying and working in Fremantle so didn’t get to see much of Perth but I did manage a trip along the Swan River to enjoy seeing the city and all the surrounds. Not a city I would rush to return to but I’m glad I went there.

One of the things I love about Australia is seeing all the plants that were in the books I grew up with. My mama is Australian and as Granny was in Australia she used to send us across Australian children’s books. “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” was one of my favourite ever books and I still look at Banksia plants and see the evil Banksia men.

A very quick turn around after Australia and we were off again, this time heading home, to return to my home and see one of my best friends get married. It was a beautiful wedding and they were blessed with glorious weather. N did an amazing job organising it all with all the details carefully thought out and wonderfully bought to fruition.


I still feel very lucky that we were able to fly back for her wedding and were able to share that day with N and her husband. Plus of course it was lovely seeing both sets of parents and actually relaxing a little!

 

Celebrating overseas

It’s my birthday tomorrow, another year passed already! This time last year J and I headed up to NYC for the weekend, for dinner at the Gramercy Tavern, a walk along the highline and general soaking up of NYC, it was really rather lovely.

This year we’re in Australia! Celebrating with my sister and her family. My brother-in-law shares the same birthday so it will be a double celebration tomorrow. I feel incredibly lucky to have spent my last two birthdays celebrating in different places to those I grew up in.

J and I were commenting only yesterday how lucky we are to travel so much, and we seem to have been given an extra dose of luckiness this year. A chance to see my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece now, opportunities to return to celebrate with bestest of friends in May and July and visiting a new country, South Africa, in June.

So tomorrow we shall be celebrating making it to the other side of the world, being with family and the passing of another year. I do wonder what the next year will hold but I feel hopeful for it. Hopeful that with J, my family and my friends at my side it’ll be a good year. Onwards dear friends, onwards.

News (or lack thereof)

When you don’t see or speak to friends or family that regularly you are often asked if you have any news. Much as I appreciate the question I also find it hard, whenever I am asked it all I can think of is the mundane day to day goings on.

Perhaps because I think of news as a big piece item, and I’ve kind of done all of those for a while… But also because when you don’t speak to people that regularly you forget what you’ve been doing. We were recently speaking to J’s parents and forgot that since we last spoke we’d been up in NYC for the weekend and gone to the opera!

What it has made me think about is how I can plan ‘newsworthy’ things. That perhaps this feeling of mundanity and a dearth of excitement is something I need to address rather than bemoan. So I shall get my thinking cap on and see if I can find some fun things for us do, like planning another party 🙂 And in the meantime perhaps it is time to let my imagination run wild when I catch up with friends and family and see what stories I can tell…

Firsts and presents

This year is the first year J and I will spend Christmas together. It is also the first year for me to not spend Christmas in the UK with my family. So it’s a year of firsts, a year where we can forge new traditions which are ours and we can be just the two of us and think about the future and where we want to go.

It is also a year where since we are not spending it with others we are avoiding a lot of present buying. For example this year we’re not buying each other Christmas presents. I have bought gifts for the nieces and nephew but my sisters, parents, in-laws, etc no gifts.

It’s rather wonderful. Not only do we save money but so do others and we also save giving and getting stuff which is nice but not needed and thus fills up either ours or someone elses house.

Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts, well chosen, thought out ones, but I like having time to do this. Hence why I enjoy buying birthday presents, they are thankfully a little more spread out throughout the year. But presents for presents sake is something I’m a lot less on board with.

Partly perhaps it’s an age thing, I have most stuff I really need and I don’t have kids so I don’t have people to really get excited about the gift giving bit of Christmas. Partly it’s also that I have been trying a little this year to limit my spending so much, to avoid so much general consumerism and to be a little more environmentally friendly. Still no way near enough I’m sure but every little helps.

I’m sure this will change so this year I shall enjoy a Christmas focused on spending time with my loved one, contacting other loved ones round the world and stuffing myself silly.

Bibury

When I was back in the UK in September my big sister was also visiting. She also lives overseas. So I got to see both my nieces and my nephew and of course my sister and borther-in-law. Not only was it wonderful to see them but it also gave us an excuse to explore the area we grew up in afresh. Near where I grew up is a picture perfect town called Bibury. It is the epitome of a classic Cotswolds village and it was so lovely to stroll around it in the autumnal sunshine.

 It has a beautiful river flowing through it, plenty of chances to watch the swans glide by and observe the ducks quacking for food.

 And then there’s the trout farm, where you get to feed the fish and watch them go crazy and leap out of the water to be fed. I never imagined that could entertain me for quite so long but it can…

If you’re ever in the Cotswolds I would highly recommend a visit to Bibury and if you’ve never been to the Cotswolds then go, it’s beautiful, even if I am slightly biased 😉

Growing up

It was my birthday a week and a half ago. Normally I am like a small child, telling everyone, organising a party and generally being excitable. This year it was a much quieter affair. Just J and I, no big celebration, which was rather lovely.

It gave me time to reflect, time to think about how I really do feel more grown-up, that the last year has changed me. Changed us. Moving to America has been wonderful in many ways, the experience of doing something tough together has bought us closer. We have met many kind and lovely new people and had some great opportunities which we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

We are also another year on, having to make big decisions about things in the future. We have spent many an hour trying to plan for uncertainty, which is of course nigh on impossible.

All of this has moved me towards feeling more ready to do some of the big things. Investing in our joint venture has never made more sense and each being more willing to make compromises to enable good things to come in the future.

I hope this next year will be good. If nothing else it will be together with J and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt is that that very fact is so important to me.

Home…

We went back home a short while ago. It was the first time for six months and I was ready. Ready to see my family, my friends and my city. The wonderful London. I miss it, I miss them, I miss lots of things.

The visit was jam packed and brief. We didn’t get to see everyone we wanted but we did our best. J fitted in two weddings, we managed families and friends and plenty of catching up. I guess the one thing it really wasn’t was restful but then again that wasn’t why we were going 😉

I used to walk past Horse Guards Parade every day on the way to work, I still love seeing it, even when the weather isn’t quite so good.

The Algerian Coffee Stores is one of my favourite shops in London. They have the most amazing selection of tea, coffee and sweets. Plus it looks so cute.

Then we walked through St James park and I couldn’t resist photographing these gorgeous flowers.

I also used to walk past this sign every day and it always made me smile, kind of out of place but also very fitting.

Not that I want to wish time away but I’m looking forward to going back again already.