2018 Roundup

I’m not usually one for summary articles, but figured this was a good way to kick-start what I hope will become a more regular blog in 2019. I was also inspired to keep better records while I was putting an ‘our dating life’ photobook together for Adam; I’m going to do one a year from now on to preserve the memories of our married adventures – starting with our wedding in 83 days! So, what better way to move forward than by looking back? Here goes:

January

The beginning of the year was quite quiet, as they usually are. My Facebook posts show I was booking Crufts’ tickets and watching mindless TV, including Britain’s Favourite Dogs. Sounds about right.

February

February picked up, with a Valentine’s evening trip to our wedding caterer’s bistro, and the publication of one of my nerdier articles – albeit one I was rather proud of. Flynn the Bichon Frise won Westminster Dog Show and in the run-up to Crufts Team Lyzahro featured in the national press, thanks to a little nomination made by yours truly. Finally, my sister came to tour our wedding venue, and we prepped our save-the-dates.

March

March, as always, brought Crufts, a good catch up with Lydia and the gang, as well as a PETA protest moment that will go down in dog show history. It will more widely be remembered for The Beast from the East snow storm, which fell on our -1 anniversary. We commemorated 13 years since the day we met Pepper. At the very end of the month, a bonus check enabled a last minute jaunt to Dusseldorff with Adam. We had a lovely time drinking beer and eating pork – the best way to celebrate Easter.

April

In April I went to the Olivier Awards in London with the future-mother-in-law. Black Panther came out and a prince was born. Then, my father fell off his (new) motorbike and broke his kneecap – giving Mum and I a proper fright in the process. He’s healed up and is back on the bike now, but we did have a rather scary week of hospital visits this Spring.

May

May was busy, with the release of Infinity War and a Royal Wedding. For us it was also the month of the annual ‘Tyler trip’, this time to Pendle in the Peak District. 11 adults and two children all converged on one house for what would have been a lovely weekend, if it hadn’t been for a terrible tummy virus which had me feeling like death for 48 hours. The Tolkien trail has been forever marred – sorry Siobhan! Still, I had fun the first day and evening – a walk at Bolton Abbey and an American themed dress up night.

June

In June we took a week off to paint both of our bedrooms – only 25 months after we moved into the house! Many thanks to both Mum and Dad Wilson, and the future father-in-law, without whom this mammoth task could not have been achieved. Claire and Nathan were the first to enjoy the new guestroom when they came down for the weekend to explore the Milestones Museum and ride the Real Ale Train. Then, I made an epic (for me anyway) car journey to Wales for Miss William’s hen do – a lovely spa weekend with some very nice people who I am looking forward to re-connecting with next year.

July

Summer 2018 brought a World Cup – sorry, it didn’t come home – and a heatwave that will be remembered for many years to come. We enjoyed a trip to the Globe Theatre with the future in-laws to see Hamlet, and a weekend camping outside of London. I believe this was also the month of Adam’s godson’s Thanksgiving party; I bought my wedding dress on the same day.

August 

August was a month of celebration, as I turned 29 + 1. First was a weekend with the Wilsons and Greens in London; up the Shard, to Chinatown and out for cocktails, an amazing experience. Then, camping and Longleat with an awesome group of friends, including the Clarkes, who came all the way down from Stonehaven for the occasion. Adam missed the first due to a stag do, but was chief of logistics at the second.

September 

In September we also celebrated: our 9 year dating anniversary. Adam was in Boston on the actual day, receiving an award for his work, but he sent me beautiful flowers. We started salsa dancing lessons, and we attended the Coxden wedding.

October

October was a continuation of the 30th birthday celebrations, as my side of the family had clubbed together to buy us both a three day experience at the Solent Forts, off the coast of our old uni town. It was a truly awesome and unforgettable trip. I made another trip to the seaside, to visit some old work friends at their new place in Brighton; sadly it rained, so we spent the whole time indoors watching The Last Jedi and Kim’s Convenience! At the end of the month, my mother solidified 2018 as ‘the year of the crutch’ by undergoing planned hip-replacement surgery.

November 

In November we celebrated other people; first Adam’s godson’s first birthday, then his godfather’s 60th! We also got together with my side of the family to wish Dad, Claire, and Nathan ‘happy 122nd’ – ie all their ages combined. I wish I could say we celebrated Season 6 of House of Cards, but it was awful and I’m choosing to pretend it never existed. We rounded out the month with another trip to Portsmouth, for our engagement photos.

December

In December, Adam celebrated his actual 30th, with first his old climbing buddies and then his parents. I introduced Tanith to The Muppets, and made a gingerbread house. Then, we headed to Huntingdon for my ‘last Christmas a Miss’, and Pepper’s 14th birthday. Tonight, we’re back up there for the usual village hall party; bring on 2019!

Thank you to everyone who was a part of my life this year; I’m sure there were numerous dinners and film nights which have slipped my mind, but were no less enjoyable for not being documented. Do feel free to remind me! I know it was the year Carisa introduced me to Queer Eye (thank you!) and I turned her and Tanith into Star Wars nerds (you’re welcome?). It was the year we lost John Mahoney and David Ogden Stiers. It was the year of the Parkland shooting, the Novichok poisonings, and GDPR. It was the year without any elections in the UK, though lord knows that’s been a hard fought battle. Personally, it’s been a year of feeling settled, and looking forward; to our wedding next year, to numerous already-planned adventures, and to whatever my thirties bring.

Wishing you and yours all the best in the New Year.

Chef Duck: Gingerbread House

Over the holidays, my sister and I made our first ever gingerbread house, from scratch. Based on the BBC Good Food recipe and using the Lakeland Gingerbread House & People Cookie Cutter Set, I was very pleased with how it turned out.

We followed the recipe for the gingerbread dough (below) exactly, and then rolled it out to the thickness of two £1 coins and cut out the house pieces – two sides, two ends, and the two roof slopes. The leftover dough was cut into gingerbread people and trees. We baked the pieces for around 15 minutes. (Be warned – the cookie shapes will spread slightly, so give them lots of room.) Once they had cooled, we stuck the house together with royal icing – 1 egg white and 250g of icing sugar – and left it to dry overnight. Then we decorated it with sweets, more royal icing and decorating icing.

Gingerbread Dough
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 7 tbsp golden syrup
  • 600g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tsp ground ginger

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won’t quite come together, add a tiny splash of water.

The end result!