I started the year with Nick, kissing on top of Temple Hill and looking at the fireworks across London and the waves of fire lanterns. Later that day, we went into London and strolled in St James' Park in the pouring rain, snuggling under a hastily-bought umbrella and smiling as a squirrel climbed up my leg.
A couple of weeks later, waking on a sunny Saturday, we decided to take a trip to Whitstable. We squeezed through squeeze-gut alley, basked in the chilly sunshine on the beach, I skimmed my first ever stone, and we froze our toes paddling in the sea. To warm up, we went into a cosy-looking restaurant called Samphire and had some delicious grub while I snuggled in a tiny alcove filled with bright cushions. Heading back out to the beach late in the afternoon, dusk was falling on a perfect day and we huddled up against a groyne and watched as the sun set and the first stars came out before heading home hand-in-hand from the perfect day.
Later that month, Tim and I took a long walk through London, following the path of the buried river Tyburn from Hampstead down to the Thames at Vauxhall and then along to Westminster.
Tim, Pete, Matt and I took our now customary January Landmark Trust holiday at Freston Tower in Suffolk, just a couple of miles away from Pin Mill. The Tower was set away from any other buildings next to the Orwell River, and we enjoyed a fantastic weekend of walking in beautiful countryside, games and tea at the kitchen table, hot water bottles and neck-risking races up the five flights of spiral stairs (Tim won, Pete came second, Matt third, and me last). Tim and I managed to clock up 60 kilometres each on the walks. My favourite place was certainly Pin Mill, which I knew from the Swallows and Amazons books, and was every bit as quaint as I'd hoped, beautiful boats waiting in the sunshine for the tide to rise and lift them from the mud. After searching through the guest book, we managed to find the combination to the padlock on the trapdoor at the top, which let us out onto the roof. Standing there shivering and looking at the stars is my favourite memory of that holiday.February
On the first day of February, Nick and I braved a bitterly cold night to take a ride on the London Eye. Nick isn't fond of heights and so hadn't yet braved the Eye, whereas I'd only been for a daylight trip. Seeing London spread out below like an electric anthill was lovely, and we enjoyed picking out the landmarks and the dark ribbon of the river.
I had an early Italian birthday meal on the first Saturday in February with all the guys - Nick, Tim, Pete and Matt - and then a walk in Greenwich Park. Later that day, after dark, snow began to fall and Tim and I went for a long ramble over the Heath since I was worried about it melting before morning. Luckily, the next day, it was thick and glorious, and we met first thing with Pete and Matt on the Heath. Pete and I went for a long walk and spotted someone swimming in one of the ponds, while Matt and Tim stayed behind to work on Matt's masterpiece, an enormous Easter Island head more than two metres high. It became quite famous, with flocks of people queueing to have their photos taken with it. They went on to build a tv-and-armchair installation, complete with remote control, and a fabulous sphinx big and strong enough for two to ride. Nick turned up later in the day for a snowball fight and to help me build a snow dalek, and then we all had a late warming lunch.
Sadly, Gran's funeral was the next day, but since she had been old and tired, it was not too gloomy an occasion, and we were mostly able to enjoy the family gathering. I have to admit, I was quite amused at the baby (a cousin's kid) who seemed to take a liking to me, and kept toddling at me and doing dribbly faceplants into my skirt.
Next weekend was still snowy, and Mum, Tim and I took a lovely walk in the New Forest, enjoying the snow and petting a very cute pony.
Nick and I had chocolate fondue for my birthday on the 14th February, sitting on his floor.
The next weekend, I went to Exmouth with my mum to stay with Ann and David. We had a lovely time, walking on the beach, enjoying the promenade lit with coloured lights in the dusk, and generally catching up. We visited A la Ronde, a strange National Trust property decorated with hundreds of shells.
For pancake day, I went all out, buying two squeezy bottles and making elaborately-shaped tiger pancakes in constrasting colours.
I took Nick on a belated birthday treat to Dans le Noir?, an eat-in-the-dark restaurant. It was altogether a very strange and fun experience. We were led by our blind waiter, and told to call his name if we wanted to summon him. We were sat at a long table, in between several other couples. Nick was opposite me, and at first I was quite nervous, and had to hold his hand across the table to steady myself. I was expecting easy finger-food, but we got our first indication of the style when asked what we would like to drink. I asked for water, and was brought a jug and a glass, and cheerfully told "good luck pouring it!" (as it turns out, you can hear how full the glass is). The meal itself was eaten with proper cutley too, although I did tend to rather ignore that and dig in with my hands - and had no embarrassment at all at licking the pudding plate. The surprise three course meal was utterly delicious, though Nick's was more exciting than mine, being meaty - ostrich, shark, wagyu beef. We enjoyed feeding each other bits across the table, having to feel where the fork is, and touching each other's faces, and felt completely comfortable in the dark quite soon. When it was time to leave, two other couples were leaving at the same time, and we were conga-lined up all together to exit, which was enormous fun. Before leaving, we were shown photos of what we had just eaten. The oddest thing of all was that later, we could both remember vision from that evening.
Tim and I found time that month to try out the Ghost Train in London, also known as the Parliamentary Service. This is a train which isn't really a passenger service, but which through outdated agreements, runs once a day. It is not advertised anywhere or displayed on the boards, but passengers can't be stopped from riding it. It was very nearly deserted, and I had a great deal of fun going "Wooooooo" and waving my arms around spookily.
This was also the month in which I finally completed my four-train bingo. I'd been trying for ages to be on Poo Bridge, the footbridge between Finchley Road and West Hampstead, when all four of the tube trains (Jubilee line north and south, and Metropolitan line north and south) went underneath one after the other, and I finally managed it. Two of the train drivers waved at me too!March
- Took a trip with Nick to Amsterdam. We went to a gorgeous Ethiopian restaurant with Stu on Fri evening, I went to the beach with Stu on Saturday to fly a stunt kite, then met fuzzie and Bertram for dinner in Leiden on Saturday night, then we had Sunday to ourselves to wander round.
- March was a super warm month, the first t-shirt day of the year was on 11th March. Tim and I went to Richmond Park and had Mr Whippy ice-cream.
- Spent a lovely sunny day in Canterbury with Nick.
- Saw the sun, the moon and Venus at the same time.
- Went to Horniman museum and touched the lion gently.
- Saw the fritilleries in Magdalen Meadow with Mum.
- Visited bluebell woods in Lewknor and around West Tytherley.
- Went to the strange ghost town of Imber with Mum and Tim.
- Had easter egg hunts with a huge sack of small chocolate eggs from the Netherlands.
- Visited Tyneham ghost town with Mum.
- Made daisy chains with Nick in St James Park.
- Walked to Seven Sisters and Beachy Head with Tim. We cut out a boring section of the route by taking off our boots and wading across the river Cuckmere.
- Made delicious gorse ice-cream.
- Had a warm summer evening picnic at the pergola with Nick.
- Visited Battle Abbey with Tim.
- Enjoyed Eurovision as usual!
- Saw Madame Butterfly with the ENO with Tim. It was absolutely stunning.
- Got up at 4am on the 6th to see the Transit of Venus with Nick. The clouds cleared just long enough to see the transit.
- Visited Red House gardens with Nick and led him round with his eyes closed to see if he could smell the difference between different colours of roses.
- Walked along Southbank with Nick and Tim. We saw Tower Bridge open, the red arrows fly by, played in a big multicoloured sandpit, and had yummy dim sum.
- Went on a great walk around Guildford with Tim and saw a ruined powder mill.
- This was the Summer of the Goodyear Blimp - saw it at least three times.
- Went to Tim's work barbecue to play on the bouncy castle. There was no disappointing gateau for dessert, so we bought one from Sainsburys and ate it walking through Regent's Park.
- Walked to the White Cliffs of Dover with Tim.
- Went on holiday to Edinburgh and Lindisfarne with Nick. We loved Edinburgh, with its delicious porridge at Centotre, lovely botanic gardens, and best of all, seeing the sunset from Arthur's Seat. Lindisfarne was absolutely beautiful, and we managed to avid the tourists by leaving the town in the daytime and going for long walks around the island. I crossed Pilgrim's Way barefoot, we made rock balance sculptures and ate lots of crab sandwiches and rocky road.
- Saw the incredible Fire Garden at Stonehenge by Carabosse, once with Mum and the WI, and once with Tim and Mum. The second time, we saw the stars overhead.
- Singa-longa Lion King (am I the only one who knows the lyrics to the Circle of Life?) and went home on the cable cars across Greenwich.
- Bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy Stonehenge!
- Played ping pong in Soho Square on the way to work.
- Solved the 8 queens problem in about 15 minutes.
- Started building my pizza oven.
- Walked the Clarendon Way with Tim and saw bits of Winchester I didn't know existed.
- Visited Danebury Ring with Nick.
- Set out my hammock in mum's garden and made virgin pina coladas.
- Saw the women's Olympic swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park.
- Went to the peace pagoda on Nagasaki Day to see the floating lanterns.
- Had a wonderful day out with Nick where we walked around Kew Gardens, had pho in our favourite Vietnamese restaurant, took the Thames clipper ferry which zoomed under Tower Bridge, then deciding that we were too late to see the fireworks we had planned to, we took a cable car across from Greenwich. We had a pod to ourselves from which we saw the fireworks after all! Waiting for the train home, there was a man with a big afro playing bongos on the platform and we danced.
- Visited Dungeness and bathed in the sea next to the nuclear power plant.
- Saw the ISS arc brightly over the sky.
- Went on holiday to Berlin and Vienna with Nick. We loved the huge green Tiergarten park in Berlin where saw red squirrels. Vienna was hot and wonderful, we had hot chocolate and cake in a fancy cafe where piano was being played live, we petted cats in a cat cafe, and we cycled along the Donauinsel and went skinny dipping in the Blue Danube.
- Went to the nerdy EMF festival (located between the M1 and a sewage plant in Milton Keynes), where I had a go at blacksmithing.
- Travelled on the Watercress Line with Mum, and visited Selbourne to walk up Beech Hanger again.
- Found St Dunstan-in-the-East, a pretty park in a bombed church in London.
- Saw Breakfast at Tiffany's outside in Kew Gardens with Nick.
- Went on a trip in an old tube train and the Sarah Siddons locamotive with Nick.
- Went to Apple Day with Pete and Matt and Tim.
- Went to Stonehenge with Mum and Nick for the Autumn Equinox. For the first time ever, we actually saw the sunrise, and it was magical. Afterwards, there was an impromptu jam of drummers, an african flautist and a guy playing the didgeridoo in a tiger onesie.
- Took Nick to Avebury.
- Spent a wonderful sunny day in Hall Place Gardens and then went to Nick's parents for dinner.
- Visited a slightly unimpressive cafe in our quest for hot chocolate in London, but then ended up sitting on big round hay bales at the edge of Hyde Park and giggling.
- Took part in a tribal dance flash mob in Covent Garden.
- For Nick's and my anniversary, we had pain au chocolat for breakfast, went for a walk in Joyden's Wood, then cooked ratatouille and chocolate fondant to eat by candlelight.
- Walked in Oxleas Woods near Falconwood to see the autumn colours.
- Did apple bobbing with Nick and Tim, which was very funny indeed.
- Met up with Stoo in London.
- Saw Amelie in the Prince Charles cinema with Nick.
- Went to the fireworks in roundwood park with everyone, and sang Queen songs in the tube train on the way home, as we were the only ones in the carriage.
- Made two trips to Bristol with Nick, where we saw the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the woods next to the town, and the Giant's Cave.
- Visited the bronze exhibition at the RA lots of times.
- Finally had my DPhil graduation ceremony, with Mum, Nick and Tim all there.
- Wandered around a spooky Natural History Museum at a late opening.
- Went to Bruges with Nick to see the Christmas market. We kissed on every bridge in Bruges (there are over 30!), saw a fantastic ice sculpture exhibition with a big slide, and went ice skating in the town square.
- Visited the Southbank Christmas market to go on the carousel.
- Went ice skating at the Tower of London.