Tuesday, 31 December 2013


So I'm cheating a bit here, as December isn't technically over, and I haven't done my visual diary yet for today. But lots of people are writing a bit about their experiences of 2013, so I thought now would be a good time to post a bit about my December, and the year as a whole.

I can't claim that 2013 has been remarkable in any way, but if nothing else, it's been fairly consistent. WHAT FUN, EH? What I mean by that, I guess, is that I'm still in the same job, the same house, I'm still with Alex, so in terms of big life things, little has changed for me throughout the course of the year. But I've had lots of awesome experiences, and I feel very pleased that I've managed to keep up the visual diarying throughout the year, as everything still seems very fresh and real and wonderful in a way it might not have done if I didn't have this document of my doings. It has made me appreciate just how much I HAVE done this year, when otherwise I might have thought to myself 'Meh, 2013, what happened that year?"

Anyway, December specifically has been a better month than some of the previous ones. Mainly because I feel like I've been pretty frenetically busy the whole time, but in the best kind of way, because it's almost all been fun stuff.

The first few days of visual diary were a bit rubbish, but on the 4th I stuck in one of my Christmas cards this year. Rather than share with you a crude scan of a print out, here's the actual artwork. It went down pretty well, although lots of people said to me 'wow, did you draw this?' to which I'd immediately respond 'Yes!' but then have to backtrack and explain that I didn't draw each card individually. Because that would be madness.

On December 5th it was my boss' birthday, and he bought a ridiculous cake for the office. It was arguably the best dessert thing I've ever had, but I ate way too much on an already slightly upset stomach and was filled with regret.
It was basically a biscuit base, with chocolate mousse on top, then giant waves of solid dark chocolate, dusted with icing sugar. (hand included in photo for scale)

Alex's friend Kier came to visit. It was lovely to see him, and I finally found someone who hadn't heard my ridiculous Brian Eno story. (If you haven't heard my ridiculous Brian Eno story, just ask. It's probably the best life anecdote I'm ever likely to have.)
Oh, and he thought my swan was amazing.

December continued, and I started freaking out about Christmas. I'm normally one of those horrible people who has addressed and posted all cards and bought and wrapped all presents by the end of the first week of December. Not so this year! Agh!

Carols! Man, I hate carols so much. Basically I hate singalongs in almost all their guises - musicals, karaoke, etc. However, I love going to my church's carol service and volunteering to welcome people and give out candles and hymn sheets. My hatred of singalongs is matched only by my love of meeting people and being smiley and talking lots.

After a ridiculous ten hour long office party extravaganza on the Thursday (during which my boss bought my partner Alex three double whiskeys over the course of one hour), Friday was a subdued affair for some. I, however, was full of the joys of spring. LAST DAY OF WORK FOR TWO WEEKS! NEW MAC ARRIVAL! LOADS OF FESTIVE SNACKS! Good day.

So having finally posted all long distance Christmas cards, I set about hand delivering all the local ones. I invited Alex along, and he (probably rightly) insisted that it's not ok to just quietly post cards through the door when the people are in the house, you have to knock and say hello and give festive greetings (also solstice greetings, as it was the 21st). This delivery strategy meant that it took four hours to deliver three cards, but also meant I had a wonderful afternoon of cups of tea and catch-ups with lovely people. And then Justin came over, and we decorated the living room, and at that point, I started feeling FULLY FESTIVE.

So I had this fun idea that it would be nice to make some home-made crackers for our planned post-christmas gathering on the 29th. (In which me and Alex got pretty over ambitious and invited everyone we knew for roast dinner, and then started freaking out that over 20 people might show up and our house is TINY)
I spent some of this day mooching around Brighton's flea markets, tat shops and other miscellaneous places in an attempt to obtain 20 cracker-sized gifts for under £2 a go. It was a fun challenge.

So Christmas eve is me and Alex's anniversary. Which all seemed very romantic at the time, but in the long run basically means that we'll never have a 'proper' anniversary (whatever that is) because we'll always be heading off somewhere for Christmas day. But in the morning we opened each other's Christmas presents to each other, and went out for some delicious lunch at La Choza, which should all have been very romantic apart from the fact that Alex was suffering a massive random hay fever attack and spent most of the day sneezing and moaning and crying.
Anyway, when the time came for us to head up to Alex's sister in St. Albans for Christmas the next day, it became pretty apparent that any attempt to travel away from Brighton was going to end in horrific rail-replacement bus hell. So we made a snap decision to STAY PUT with our housemate David (who had been planning on having a happy solitary Christmas, but got totally on board with us being there too)… we rushed home then dashed round the supermarket to stock up on all the necessary Christmas day essentials, and then snuggled ourselves in for a Christmas in Brighton. <3 br="">

And it was LOVELY. Boardgames and awesome Christmas dinner and Toy Story 3 and loads of snacks and general comfortable, relaxing, cosy Christmas loveliness. Perfect.

On boxing day I tried to be wholesome and go for a cycle, but you know what, cycling has become horrible recently and I hate myself a bit for that. I just stopped cycling to work when it got dark early because I realised walking with nice music in my ears was more pleasant than flinging myself through traffic in the dark with the rain and wind in my face. And despite not feeling like I've got any unfitter, I clearly have, because this cycle was horrible, and I got home feeling miserable and fat and grumpy. So I went shopping which was wonderful and cheered me up hugely, because I am A TERRIBLE PERSON.

So Alex got me TICKET TO RIDE for Christmas, which is one of my favourite boardgames. In a thematically appropriate turn of events, we got the train over to see my mum in Chichester and played a game with her, which was lovely.

In preparation for our big post Christmas Christmas gathering the next day, I had boldly promised that I would attempt to make some kind of horrific vegan turducken (aka bird inside a bird inside a bird). In the end it turned out to be a 'haduckage' (sausages inside vegan haggis inside fake duck). If you'd like to make your own, it's distressingly simple.

Buy some already-cooked vegan sausages. I used redwoods sage and marjoram. Buy some fake duck. I used Redwoods duck pieces. Buy a vegan haggis. Macsweens are the best (only?) ones. Lay six sausages out on a baking tray, like two little sausage pyramids (i.e. two rows of two end to end, with two more balanced on top). Cook up a vegan haggis and smoosh it over the sausages after it's cooled. Take two packs of vegan duck pieces and mash/blend them until they're just a delicious brown paste. Smoosh these over the top of everything else. Bake for about half an hour. Chop it up and question what you're doing with your life.

The next day people came over for roast lunch, not 20 in the end, just 13. Although that's still a lot when your living room in tiny and your landlord bought you an oven with ONLY ONE SHELF. Fortunately with luck, cunning, some skill and lots of generous help/donations from visitors, we managed to pull of a fairly passable (and sizeable) roast for 13, and to solve the whole 'tiny living room' problem, we served it in my room, which is the biggest room in the house. It's not, however, as big as this picture makes it appear. For a more realistic idea, see the photo below. Still. Lovely. And I'm so glad everyone came. It was a wonderful day.

Anyway, to recover from the busyness of the previous couple of weeks, I spent the 30th doing very little apart from washing up a LOT of glasses and plates, and watching Breaking Bad with Alex. I only joined in intermittently midway through the third season, and Alex had to put up with lots of me saying 'who's that man?' 'why are they all so cross?' 'what are they doing now?' 'Where are they going?' 'How do they know each other?' etc.
But anyway, we basically watched the entirely of the final season yesterday, which resulted in me staying up till 3am and generally getting REALLY INTO IT.
As I'm sure you all already know - Breaking bad is pretty amazing. You should go and watch it, if you haven't already.

Oh, also, I've been eating a LOT of kale. 2013 has definitely been the year of kale discovery for me. I've had kale for lunch and dinner for 5 of the last 6 days. (only interrupted by that day at my mum's when I only got to have kale for dinner, DARNIT!)
Can you eat too much kale? It seems unlikely, but if it's possible I'm probably doing it.

Now. ONWARDS! I wonder what 2014 has in store...?

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