Saturday 28 December 2019

December 2019: The End of a Decade

Hello readers, and welcome to this, my first (and last!) blog post of 2019!

It’s been well over a year since my last update, apologies for the super-long hiatus.  There’s been a lot of changes in the interim, it’s amazing what can happen in such a short space of time (when put in context of the human lifespan).  But since I’m off work for two weeks for the Christmas and New Year break and finally have some free time, I thought it would be nice to get one last blog entry in before the start of 2020 and the new decade.

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first: Pete and I ended up going our separate ways.  He was put in a situation where he needed to move back to Manchester to care for two of his three children full time, and I wasn’t willing to go through the upheaval of moving to a different part of the country away from family and friends.  It was an amicable split, and we’re still in touch.

However, some very good things have happened: in November 2018, I (finally!) passed my driving test, which was a huge achievement for me and the culmination of many hours of practice with my instructor and long-suffering parents.

It's a pass! Finally got my license on 22nd November 2018.

This lead to the second very good thing: I got my first car!  She’s a white Citroen DS3 and I have named her Lady Rosalind (or Rosie for short), because a pretty car deserves a pretty name.  She handles very well and is easy to drive, plus comes with all the mod cons I wanted (parking sensors, cruise control, sat-nav, air conditioning and DAB radio).  My only complaint is with the on-board sat-nav: its tends to pick idiotic routes and constantly needs paid-for updates to stay current; these days I just use Waze on my phone, which is free, updates automatically and is very effective at finding efficient routes to miss traffic and obstructions.  I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my newfound freedom, zipping around with Planet Rock blaring through the speakers!

My shiny new car, Lady Rosalind (Rosie, if you like), out for a spin at Foxton Locks.

Rosie came in especially handy when I met my third piece of good news: my new(ish) boyfriend, Tom.  We met shortly after I got her through the dating app Bumble, and since Tom hasn’t yet passed his driving test (his first try was Friday 13th December – sadly it lived up to its reputation as a day for bad luck!), I currently am the default designated driver.  We were soon planning trips both near and far: one of our first dates was to Foxton Locks (country lanes in the dark, such fun!) and since then we’ve taken Rosie to Bath, London, Coventry, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.  Next year we’re hoping to share the drive up to Scotland to visit my brother and his family, providing Tom has passed his test by then of course!

The ancient Roman Baths at the Georgian spa town of Bath.

Then the fourth piece of good news to share: Tom and I moved in together!  Tom had been living in a massive pad in the Stoneygate area of Leicester (it had an AGA and everything!) with his pal Rob, but they wanted to move out as the rent was due to increase and unfortunately the landlords hadn’t been proactive about maintaining the standard of the property, so it was slowly falling into disrepair.  He had to find a new place to live anyway, so he asked me… how about finding somewhere together?  We’d only been seeing each other for around three months at that point but decided to take the plunge and see how we’d get on making a home with each other.

Our lovely home in Syston, it looks even better in the summer when my hanging baskets don't look so sad!

I’m pleased to say that almost nine months on, we haven’t regretted the decision once!  Tom is an absolute pleasure to live with, he’s relaxed, easy-going and happy to pull his weight with the housework (which is a godsend to me, being rather house-proud).  Hopefully he feels the same about me!  Our home is beautiful too, it’s only around ten years old with lots of modern features, a humungous kitchen and lots of light and space.  For the first time I have ample room to store away all my kitchen gadgets, organise ingredients and experiment with food – I am thoroughly spoiled!  We also have the pleasure of really friendly landlords; their parents are also our next-door neighbours and lovely people, so easy to get along with.

Our massive kitchen, possibly my favourite room in the whole house.  I'll often be here cooking or enjoying a cup of tea!

Our new home is in Syston in north Leicestershire, and we’re enjoying living in this area so far.  It’s really peaceful and quiet, has its own rail station with direct routes into Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham; and has the added benefit of a small town centre with ample shops and amenities.  It also has the craziest number of supermarkets within spitting distance: Aldi, Tesco, ASDA, a giant Sainsbury’s, M&S Food Hall and Costco (which we absolutely love!), plus the Barkby Thorpe out of town shopping centre five minutes’ drive away.  The jewel in the crown though is Watermead Country Park, a series of interconnected lakes and waterways with lots of leafy paths to explore and waterfowl to spot.  A lovely place for an afternoon stroll or picnic!

This coming year we plan to buy a house together to settle into and make our very own, so we will be moving again in the fairly near future.  However, we’re not planning on going far and if something suitable comes up in Syston, we’d definitely be more than happy to stay in the area.

Strange sculpture at Watermead Country Park in Syston, not a clue what the scene is supposed to depict.

2018 was a year of ambitious forward thinking and progress towards goals, and my career aspirations were no exception.  In September that year I started a distance learning course with the Oxford College of Marketing to achieve a Chartered Institute of Marketing Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing.  Throughout that winter and during the first half of 2019 I studied extremely hard, submitting two lengthy pieces of written work and then sitting an exam in July.  In September this year I got my results (more good news!): Pass with Merit!  I also discovered that I am now eligible for an upgrade to Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and can use the letters ACIM after my name.  It was a really proud achievement, that I am hoping will allow me to further my career in marketing.

To be framed and hung in pride of place: my hard-won diploma.

One last piece of lovely news is that we have some new additions to the family: in 2016 I became an Aunt for the first time when my little nephew George was born to my brother James and his fiancé Jenni, my older brother and his wife Leah followed suit in 2017 when they had my niece Niamh.  In August this year Will and Leah welcomed another new arrival, a little boy called Edwin.  And in May 2020, James and Jenni will also greet their second child.  I’m thoroughly enjoying my new role as an Aunty; my niece and nephews are cute as buttons!

Another thing I should mention before I sign off: Sunday Assembly Leicester is sadly no more.  For over a year it was essentially being run by three people including myself, then that dropped to two of us and became impossible to manage without more manpower.  So we made the decision to see it through to the end of 2018, and held our last assembly in December of that year.  We went out on a high, singing Christmas songs and enjoying lunch together like always.  It was a good time to bring that chapter to a close as I was able to then better focus my energies on studying for my CIM qualification, and (once Tom and I moved in together) maintaining our new household (no more Mum and Dad getting dinner ready for when I come in from work!)

Tom and I celebrating our first anniversary at Tandem in Leicester.

Lastly, I’ve been making some plans for future good health, which has included adding more walking to my daily commute (to and from Syston and Leicester train stations each way), creating and using a home gym, and joining Slimming World in July this year and achieving a weight loss of over a stone so far.  The latter of which in particular has been really rewarding, I’ve discovered new ways of cooking and eating more healthily, have tried lots of delicious new recipes and made some great new connections in my local area.  The Christmas break has presented a bit of a departure from the usual plan regarding food (anyone know a recipe for Syn-free sherry trifle or Christmas pudding?  No, I thought not!) but now that Christmas is over it’s time to put some control back in and perhaps just allow myself some extra Syns for alcohol on New Year’s Eve.

I think that’s all the news I have to share (for now!), see you in 2020 for the start of a new year and a new decade.  Here’s hoping it’s a really special one for all of us; wishing you all health, wealth and good luck!

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