The Good, the bad and the just plain ridiculous

a.k.a. 2013 a year in review.

The Good.

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The Boyfriend at Loch Ness

The highest point of the year for me came in August, when I was accepted as a reviewer for Crimesquad.com after meeting up Chris Simmons, the man behind it all in July.  Crimesquad is a cracking website with regular reviews of all your favourite new books, and a huge archive of previous reviews so if you’re looking for a worthwhile opinion on a book it’s a great place to look.  If you’ve never seen the site head here to check it out, and if you’re interested in my reviews, you can find some of them here.

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Other highlights of my year were all mainly travel related, there was a week roaming round The Highlands of Scotland and Northern England staying with good friends, and even spending time at the Inaugural Crime & Publishment weekend in Gretna Green.  Of course Crime and Publishment wasn’t the only inaugural event that I got to attend this year, being in on the first ever IcelandNoir was also something I would never have missed for the world, and it left me with some wonderful memories.

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The Harrogate book haul.

Finally there were the usual annual trips to both CrimeFest and the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, which always bring with them happy days, and my favourite thing of all free books.  This year was a record haul with just five books purchased, but twenty five brought home.

The Bad

The year started off badly with the loss of my beloved 94 year old Grandmother, a little over a week in.  She was a wonderful woman, the most remarkably positive person I ever knew.  Sadly the trauma was made a little harder to bear due to an uncooperative work colleague of the Boyfriends meaning I had to attend the funeral alone.

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A beautiful soul

I’ve had  a fair few lows as the year has gone on but I’ve come back from most of them relatively unscathed, and I have a plan in place for 2014 to try and avoid getting into the dark places in the beginning.

Of all the long running bad things, this rant was possibly the best.  The catalogue of errors faced when I bought my car was shocking and irritating, but the response to Rant the Fifth being published on the interchoobs and posted on twitter was great.  17 minutes from tweet, to initial phone call, rant resolved the next day.

The Just Plain Ridiculous

Doing this journey.

Twice.   In the same day.

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a 1,027 mile round trip just so I could have a specific breed of pedigree cat.

Blue Lagoon

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The Blue Lagoon is one of the strangest most surreal experiences you can ever have.

When I was there a few days ago and took this picture, the temperature was 2 degrees C, the rain was lashing down, the winds were howling across the waters which were of the brightest blue hue you can imagine.

It was magnificent.  I first went to the Blue Lagoon back in 2001 and I never thought I would get the chance to go back there.  A fortunate turn of life events however meant that this year I would.

The whole experience was even better this time for several reasons.

Firstly I got to visit with my other half. He is a great person to travel with.  He is someone with boundless enthusiasm for everything and who wants to see and make the most of every possible opportunity. 

Secondly I got to visit with some really good friends.  Friends I only get to see a handful of times a year, whose company always lifts my spirits and reminds me of how blessed I am in life.

Finally I got to enjoy what I missed out on last time.  Last time I didn’t appreciate where I was, or how fortunate I was to be there due to reasons that at that time meant a lot to me.  I’m glad to say those reasons aren’t there now, and I truly got to appreciate how lucky I am to be somewhere so beautiful with the people I care about.

Yes! We will be there.

Back when I was at Crimefest in May, I became vaguely aware of an event that was going on in Iceland later this year. I thought little of it.

Whilst I was at the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, known simply in crime writing circles as Harrogate, I heard more about IcelandNoir.

It caught my attention, a little.

Holidays for the boyfriend and I are currently on a not about to happen basis. It has been almost three years since our last overseas holiday, and since then we’ve only had one other break away of at least a week, when we travelled round Scotland and The North, back in March.

Our next planned foray overseas was to be in 2015.

The thing is I can’t wait until CrimeFest next year to see some of my friends again, and it’s too long to go without something to look forward too.

We would normally go to FantasyCon, hosted by the British Fantasy Society, but this year, since the UK is hosting World FantasyCon, it’s too big a thing for us, and also at the wrong time in my shift cycle for me.

The alternative, or so we thought, would be Bloody Scotland, but again the timing is ill-fitting with my shifts.

Then a friend told me they would be attending IcelandNoir. Then another couple of acquaintances also mentioned they would be there, and my mind began to churn.

How long is the festival? How long would we need to go for? How much would it cost to go? Could we afford it? In short? We couldn’t go, was the first answer I came up with.

Then my heart got involved, which in turn inspired the money talks, the what have we gots, the what can we do withouts, the things coming up, and the things coming in….

The talks finally ended in a maybe, just not yet. Lets get some potentially large bills out of the way and see what happens.

Then I got a phone call out of the blue. The result of which means we ARE going to IcelandNoir, we are going to strike at least two things off the Boyfriends Bucket list (already off mine) and yes, as of today we are both registered with the festival and we WILL BE THERE.

W00T!!!!

Alien Sky

I never get tired of playing around with this app.

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I took the original shot when the Boyfriend and I were at Thorpe Park last week, just after we had come off this roller coaster. I liked the idea that this signified just about the exact point that the big adrenaline rush kicks in.

Road Trip

The Boyfriend and I are heading off on holiday on Friday for a week driving round Scotland and the North of England catching up with rarely seen friends.

It’s our first holiday together since we went to Egypt in 2010, and with both of us off for two weeks, it’s actually the longest time we have spent together since we met way back in 2008.

It may well all end in tears….

(but we’ll try not to think about that shall we?)

Things you enjoy when you’re drunk

I’ve been stuck in bed all day swinging between hot and cold sweats as my body is currently being used as a battleground between some dreaded lurgi and my immune system.

While I’ve been trying to keep myself amused I have been perusing the files of some recently re-discovered SD cards.

I’d forgotten I’d got this. I took this video in Piccadilly Circus last February. I was very drunk, after spending several hours frequenting the hostelries of Leicester Square, celebrating achieving a lifelong ambition to meet Stan Lee, at the inaugural London Super ComicCon .

I must admit to being quite surprised at how steady this video footage is given my level of inebriation at the time. I do know when I watched it at the time I thought it was brilliant. Watching it back it’s not as good as I remembered, but it’s still good entertainment, so enjoy watching, if only to appreciate the things I enjoy when I’m drunk.

Well that was….

Not the day that I was expecting. The much anticipated and built up meeting was done and dusted in one hour and fifteen minutes with little in the way of conversation or questioning beyond, “oh you work there, do you?”

I felt a little let down.

But enough of the underwhelming meeting.

I have today navigated myself around London Town, on my own, and more importantly in the rush hour commute with just a couple of wobbles to show for it.

Wobble the first came as I was carried out of the late arriving train onto Paddington platform with little or no clue as to where I was going next, so I stood, centred myself and swore at my phone as I tried to work out which tube station I needed to get on, and where I was supposed to get off.

Wobble the second came as, once I had located where I needed to go to get on the tube, I waited on a cramped, people filled, tiny piece of platform (because of building works) and tried not to fall forwards onto the track.

Once on the train I actually impressed myself. Despite feeling like a more tightly packed thing in a vacuum packed packet of tightly packed things, and having the tube driver from hell, who insisted on violently jerking the train on a regular basis I made it where I needed to go.

After my meeting I discovered I was in luck with my timing of my trip. A twitter fiend I had been trying to meet up with for not just a long time, but the first time was also at work, and was less than a five minute walk from where I had been at my meeting.

It was not only nice to meet up and have something to do while I waited the four hours for my train home, but it also gave me a purpose, a place to go. I think if I had been at a loose end and simply meandering around to kill time I would probably have had a few more wobbles. Simply because it would be too much to cope with being in a busy, crowded place, alone, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

So I enjoyed the best two hours I have ever spent in a tuve station. Sitting drinking tea in the back office, chatting over everything and anything, while watching the daily life of a tube station on the CCTV monitors.

After that I did something I do alot, but didn’t think I’d ever do, if that makes sense. I went off to the pub alone for lunch. I don’t usually think about it because it’s something I do all the time at home, but a strange pub, by a tube station in the middle of London, I had once thought was a never going to happen scenario.

Hiding behind my laptop and the pubs free wi-fi, I grabbed a quick snack, treated myself to a pint of beer and whiled away another quick 45 minutes before heading for my train home.

I did feel a wave of apprehension beginning to build again as entered the station and tried to work out where my train home was going to be, but it soon passed.

Now I’m on the train.

I am on my way home. My feelings are mixed. It feels strange to have coped so well on my own. It feels good, but it also makes me wonder why I have been so nervy in the past, and why I can’t do it so well when I have people with me.

I don’t know is the honest answer, but for now I am going to be happy with being better. Better for knowing that it really isn’t so scary after all and yes, I can do it all on my own.

London part one, The Journey

It was an early start this morning. That wasn’t the problem, neither were the several degrees below zero temeperatures, as my boyfriend and I left the cosy warmth of our first floor flat, and descended the stairs to a darkened car park and an ice covered van.

Black and depressing, it fitted my mood, and seemed an appropriate start to the day I was facing.

“and if you want to get rubbed all over with goose fat”

You hear the strangest things on the radio when you are flicking through the channels looking for something to listen to in order to try and lift your mood.

I don’t think I’d ever want to be covered in goose fat, would you? They don’t even do it for cross channel swimmers now, because rescuers cannot get hold of them to lift them out of the water if they get into difficulties, although that said, swimsuit technology is brilliant nowadays, and I doubt that I would ever be undertaking a cross channel swim. I doubt if I could even swim the 50m length of an olympic sized swimming pool.

But I digress as I’m nervous. Fortunately for me the few miles to the train station was easy and quiet with all thr traffic lights on green, as we left later than I had planned and I didn’t want to miss the train as my tickets were for specific trains only. I made it though, to a startlingly changed train station, which I had last seen in the midst of it’s rennovations.

“you didn’t set that off did you?”

It’s the simple things that help you relax in life isn’t it. I’ve been worked up over this trip for weeks, and sometimes when you get to things actually happening you wonder what all that fuss was about.

I’ve been scared of catching the train, not because of it being something I’ve never done before, becuase I have hundreds of times, but because I’ve never done it on my own, and because I do have a habit of throwing myself in at the deep end my choosing that the first time I do ‘go it alone’, I pick a commuter train into London.

I have a reserved seat, will it still be there? How will I find the right carriage? Will it be marked? Will the train be packed? Standing room only? I’m in a quiet coach, will it be quiet? Will I be left alone? Will people want to talk to me?

These were all the worries going round my head. A hundred times over and more.

As I approached the barriers with a nervous look on my face trying to decide which of the two tickets was the right one to use to open the gate, I saw one of the station guards approach, friendly and polite I asked, “This may seem a stupid question, but coach A is at the front of the train right?”

Not so stupid at all it seemed, for Coach A is actually at the back of the train, since I am going backwards, but the guard simply said, “move out to the left of the platform, and Coach A will stop roughly around that sign over there.”

It was simple, and as I stood there, with just one or two people milling around where I needed to be, I relaxed a little. Only a little however as right around then the alarm went off in the British Transport Police offices and didn’t stop blaring for over five minutes. Apparently the key pad on the door to shut the alarm off wasn’t working properly. Probably the cold I thought. It was then when friendly guard chose to come out, be nosy and giving me an amused look asking “you didn’t set that off did you?”

The simpleness of a little banter, wore another little edge off my coat of wariness. This is normal, I can do this.

It is quiet on my coach. It should be, I picked a ‘quiet coach’ on purpose. I like the stillness of the quiet, people reading, working, dozing.

Fifty minutes into my two hour journey and no one has sat in the reserved seat next to me yet, although we are about to stop at the biggest station on route so I expect that will change here. There’s not much movement otherwise though, just one or two people migrating into my coach from the next along, as two of the carriages have no heating, and it’s a cold old day out there.

I wonder what I look like to other people. I am sat with just write room open typing this as I travel, it is a form of therapy, it is helping me realise all of this is normal.

I am wondering if the random shifting of tenses as I write is annoying my reader, I am wanting to go back and put it all right. I am not going to. I am going to sit here for a while soaking up the quiet, indulging in the sounds of the train on it’s tracks, and not thinking about how I am going to make it from Paddington station to Tottenham Court Road during rush hour.

I am going to enjoy the rest of my journey on this train. I am going to arrive at Paddington, find a coffee shop, and get a drink. Then, and only then will I allow myself to worry about the next part of my trip.

For now, I am just going to hit publish.

Tweet you later.

Love, The Fairy.

xx