Apparently, the twelve days of Christmas evolved from a Pagan tradition of reflecting upon the year just past. The Pagans would reflect on January on day one, February on day two and so on and so forth. I had every intention of making my family endure such reflection during the twelve days of Christmas this year but got caught up in the unwrapping of presents, the Doctor Who episodes and the over-indulgence of chocolates and wine.
I have some making up to do!
January was as Januarys always are -the calm after the December storm. There wasn't much travelling and not much planning to travel. I did, however, get a contract renewal which was possibly the highlight of the month.
I visited Poland for the first time ever in February. I was greted by what looked like storm-troopers but it turned out that Hillary Clinton was in town for a NATO summit. Krakow was excellent, however. Auschwitz was sombre. Warka Strong was consumed in vast quantities. I'm looking forward to my return.
Saw Jimmy Car this month - very funny. Won £50 on the Premium Bonds. Woo-hoo.
March is the only month that has failed to present me with any event that I can recall. Did I sleep through March?
I turned 38 in April and took the kids to London for the weekend. The Natural History Museum, The British Museum, Gordon Ramsay's Maze Grill (for some Wagyu steak) and The London Eye were the highlights for me. The kids, however, preferred the fact I could stick my hand out and jump in a cab as their "best bit".
Saw Rob Brydon this month - very funny.
May saw me start working on a project in Oxford. I'd never visited Oxford before and was unpleasantly surprised to find that the heart of England is nowhere near an airport! I had to spend the rest of the year flying in and out of Birmingham and being hassled on the Cross Country train service from Birmingham to Oxford (and back). Still, I got to work on a Local Education Authority project and finally got out of Financial Services (after a 19 year wait). That was an eye-opener!
I also got to be best man at a wedding held at La Manoir - Raymond Blanc's little eatery in Oxfordshire. I can't imagine I'll ever be at a wedding which has the bride walking down the aisle to the tune of the Imperial March from Star Wars again!
We had hoped to go to New York in June - but couldn't. Kids at school and all that.
I went to a music festival for the first time ever - Cornbury in Oxfordshire. Pimms and Lemonade was on offer and I loved the fact it was being served from a double-decker bus. The Damned, The Pretenders and The Sugababes headlines and the sun shone - mostly. Sleeping in a tent, however, was more of a chore. I'm used to something a little more Five-Star it would seem!
My father got married while we were holidaying.
The highlight of August was possibly taking the kids to the Grand Opera House to see The Big Friendly Giant. I was intrigued as to how they could possibly make a stage version of this Roald Dahl classic and pleasantly surprised at the result. Kids loved it too.
I got to go to Malaga for a wedding in September. Sharing a villa with good friends and Champagne is hard to beat. Alhambra was great too!
Deep sea fishing off the coast of Donegal was meant to be an opportunity to fill the freezer with self-caught haddock and cod. Unfortunately, I caught one small mackerel (and even that was a mis-hook) and nine gurnards (which, by all accounts, are stinking). The fishing was fun though. And the stars visible from Donegal were spectacular. Also got to see some Shakespeare for the first time ever - Macbeth. It was an odd interpretation of Will's masterpiece though. German Soldiers riding around on WWII motorcycles? Had to be seen to be believed!
November was a quiet month until Motorhead came to town! A few nights were spent watching the International Space Station fly by.
I got to present the books that I had written to their intended recipients. At least, I got to present them to half of the intended recipients. The other half couldn't make it from Gloucester to Belfast due to the flurries of snow that settled across the UK.