Thursday, 31 December 2015

December 2015

Well 2015 is rolling to a close, and to celebrate, I am having a fun evening sitting at home doing various bits of life admin. I might watch Jools Hootenanny later, but since someone told me the whole thing is a pre-record I get a lot less joy from it (sorry if this has also ruined it for you). I mean, do all those famous people really have better things to do for New Year's even than hang out with Jools and get smashed? Why can't they do it live?!

Anyway. I got a little distracted there. The beginning of December feels a bit like forever ago.

For the first few days of December we had NO INTERNET, which was disconcertingly upsetting. We've managed without it for periods of time in the past (when switching providers, etc), but the sudden unexpectedness of this outage, and the ridiculous hoops we had to leap through to get it fixed (there was a cherry picker involved!) meant that me and Alex got rather upset. In the end we mostly dealt with it by going to other people's houses and stealing their internet (Thanks George and Wes!), or distracting ourselves entirely with other IRL non-internet related activities...

On the 2nd, I went knocking on lots of neighbours doors to see if anyone had a landline phone we could borrow to test our phoneline. Lesson: not many people have landline phones any more. It was nice to say hello to a few new neighbours though, whose names I have now entirely forgotten because I am terrible with names.

Later that evening, I went to a charity raffle thing and won some beautiful children's building blocks, and after a brief jaunt to boardgame club with Alex, we came home and built the tallest towers we could.

On the 3rd, our makeshift post-storage solution collapsed, showering the living room in about 5 – 10 years of post for former tenants, Alex bank statements, old gas bills, electricity statements, various threatening late-payment letters and a vast amount of other paper based junk. I spent my third internet free evening having a thoroughly satisfying sort-out.

On the 4th, it was my work Christmas party. I wore a dress which made me feel happy and lots of people said nice things to me. I also ate far too many crepes.

On the 5th I generally continued desperately busying myself around the house to distract from the huge internet-shaped hole in my soul. (I did make some great muffins though)

On the 6th I went to two separate wonderful festive gatherings, and hit the limit on my entire month’s 4G allowance.

On the 7th, the internet was fixed, and all was well once more. (But continuing my unusually vigorous spree of socialising, I went over to Lou and Caroline's for a lovely dinner and catch-up)

New year’s resolution?

Have you been to Beelzebab at the Hope and Ruin yet? Beelzebab was a pop-up vegan kebab stand, but they’ve now taken up residence in the kitchen at the Hope and Ruin pub and expanded their menu to include a vast array of vegan delights, including hot dog topped doner meat, kebab topped with a hot dog, an amazing range of loaded fries, PICKLED GHERKINS DEEP FRIED IN BATTER (my personal favourite), and these incredible brownies, which, for no extra charge, they’ll also deep fry in batter. That was a step too far for me and George, who had our brownies ‘naked’, but Alex and Wes opted for the heart-attack including deep-fried option and spent the rest of the evening sitting very still with contented faces.

It’s really been such a lovely social month. January is inevitably going to be cold and bleak by comparison. This was a busy day: Nat was down visiting from Manchester, so we all went to Beelzebab for a thoroughly indulgent lunch… Then old uni friends Michael and Lyall came down from London for a meet up with us Brighton folk… and then in the evening, some other friends came over to me and Alex’s for boardgames. Wonderful people, all.

I’m still dancing, and sometimes I even manage to do kind of okay!

Here's another valuable lesson: don't eat three kinds of cabbage for every meal in one day, it won't end well.

Everyone at work was grumpy that our Christmas do was so early in the month, so we had a festive pub quiz a bit later on in the month. I was on the winning team, which was obviously great. Even greater: one round involved throwing a small toy monkey into a tiny bucket from about three metres away. For some ridiculous reason I was nominated to do this for our team, and even more ridiculously, I succeeded, and was the only person to succeed, causing jubilant scenes, in which ALL MY COLLEAGUES cheered and whooped and shouted my name and bought me savoury snacks in celebration, possibly the only time in my life I have ever been applauded for any sort of sport/coordination prowess.

To help us get into the festive spirit, we invited people over to make Christmas decorations with us. Elly, Finn, Kat, Stina and Orestes all obliged, and we ate lots of snacks and did some pretty intense crafting with old maps. Our halls were suitably decked.

I feel very lucky that I work in a job where I get to have a solid amount of time off over Christmas. So much love/respect/gratefulness to all people in jobs who keep going over the festive period.

Port and cheese party over at Chris and Anna’s… not ideal for a vegan tee-totaller, but I still managed to have a good time, especially once the papier mache animal heads came out.

Alex always does Christmas shopping super last minute. While I find this faintly ridiculous, it was this time four years ago when we started falling in love (Alex asked me to come along and maintain sanity/level-headedness/gift judgement), so I look very fondly on this mad dash around Brighton’s shops for family gifts.

Went to Alex’s parents in Torquay for Christmas. Mostly enjoyed walking miles and miles along windswept coastline with good music in my ears… I’m not actually very good at traditional Christmas activities of sitting indoors eating my body weight in fatty food and watching hundreds of films any more.

A highlight of this windswept walking was my boxing day stroll along the coast to Paignton, where I got to see hundreds of people fling themselves into the icy sea, for charity/tradition/larks or some other reason. Also loads and loads of great dogs on boxing day beach walks. Excellent.

As for the last few years, once we were back in Brighton, we invited maybe too many of our friends over a big shared vegan roast, which we like to refer to as ‘Christmas II’. This year, the guest list was 19/20 strong, which meant a LOT of vegetable prep the night before. Alex was adamant that we must have sufficient roasties, so I calculated 7 roasties per person and got peeling. That’s a LOT of potatoes you guys.

Remarkably, considering a) the size of our house, and b) the size of our cooker, we managed to pull it off, which we are still feeling pretty smug about. (Previous years have only been 14 – 16 people) We re-purposed India-absent Justin’s room as dining room, and with some cunning furniture rearranging, managed to fit everyone in. (Don't worry Justin, order is being restored!)

We also did some pretty nifty oven juggling, tin-foil wielding and microwaving to ensure we got 20 people’s worth of vegan roasties, broccoli, carrots, pigs in blankets, sweet potato/mushroom/sosmix wellington, gluten free nut roast, stuffing, haggis and two different kinds of gravy to the table — hot, and all at once. Phew!

We’re wasted in our day jobs, I tell you. Someone kickstart us to set up a vegan cafe/boardgame shop!

Now, onwards to 2016.
2015 has been pretty good, although perhaps with little major to differentiate it from 2014, or, indeed, 2013. Maybe 2016 will be time for change.

As most people who know me and Alex are probably already aware, we're looking to move up North at some point in the not too distant future. If anyone hears of any promising graphic design jobs in the Manchester/Leeds area, hit me up.

Alternatively, if you'd like to fund the vegan cafe/boardgame shop enterprise, we'd be open to that also :)

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