The Highs and Highs of 2012

It seems that the first rule of blogging is to have some form of review of the year, whether that be a summary of a top five, ten or twelve books; Mr Cameron’s three least finest moments or the ten greatest refereeing moments of the past 365 days. ¬†While I could certainly manage the five least interesting games of football (Oldham Athletic played in all of them) or the ten top clangers dropped by Michael Gove regarding the education of our youth, I’d making a conscious decision to give ME some time here, because all in all, 2012 has been a pretty great year. Especially seeing what a complete Titanic 2011 was. ¬†The following are in no particular order except of that in which I think of them:

  • I did NaNoWriMo. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†ImageAfter several years of procrastinating upon the idea, I sat down and wrote a novel in 30 days. ¬†Or rather, 60,000 words of a novel. ¬†A novel which is almost completed. I’ve been writing since I was 10, back in the days of Mr Clegg’s Junior 4 class. ¬†School stories were written¬†in journals, detailing the doings of characters called names like Carlotta and Jo, blatantly nicked from the books of Enid Blyton and Elinor M Brent-Dyer. ¬†I disliked the said Mr Clegg, and he didn’t like me much either, to the extent where he refused to give me the journals back. ¬†I moved on and carried on writing. ¬†2013 will see the self-publication of a novel – not the first I’ve completed by any stretch – but the first I’ve wanted the world at large (or maybe a few more people than those I know) to see. ¬†Authors such as Mel Sherratt have made me realised that there’s a lot to be said for self-belief, and will-be authors Keith B Walters and David Bastinani kept me sane during NaNo and proved that writing isn’t a lonely occupation.
  • I ran. A lot. ¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Image¬†Woodbank parkrun was somewhat of a saviour last year. ¬†It made me focus on Saturday mornings as a get up and do something time, rather than a lie in bed and wallow in self-pity. I hadn’t managed more than a quick hoof to get into the Radley shop on the first day of the sale until my first parkrun, now it’s part of my staple diet. ¬†I also managed to run 5k under 30 minutes several times, and completed four 10k ‘races’. ¬†I love parkrun, it’s ‘all in’ motto and the people I’ve met through it, because they’ve all been amazing. Runners have a sense of humour – they have to. ¬†Running down a grim street at seven o’clock in the morning when it’s peeing it down, trust me, you have to laugh. ¬†So next time you drive passed some neon coloured, red faced, slightly sweaty runner, don’t pity them, or think they’re mad, they’re actually enjoying it and they’ll be a damn sight fitter than most!
  • I bought a house. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Image¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†This should probably be the top thing, and when I look back at 2012 in several years time, it probably will be. ¬†How momentous a thing it is grows each time I think about it, but at the time it was a means to a very long end. ¬†It doesn’t just mean that I have several rooms to decorate however I please, but that I can call my own shots. ¬†It’s changed a lot of dynamics for the better, and I’m not just referring to the dynamics of the Next Home department which has certainly benefitted. ¬†Big thanks to my grandparents who stumped up the deposit – at least you know where your money has gone and that I didn’t buy that flash car and go on those expensively wasteful holidays like I threatened.
  • I discovered Reginald Hill. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ImageCrime fiction has been my genre of choice since I read Cruel and Unusual at the tender age of 14. ¬†Thankfully, I didn’t have nightmares about decomposing, mutilated bodies – school was a hell of a lot scarier – and I became a fan of Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter and many more, but I never read Reginald Hill. ¬†In all honesty, the TV series put me off and I decided it was too mainstream. ¬†However, I came across On Beulah Height and fell in love. ¬†Love became slightly obsessional and I devoured the rest of the Dalziel and Pascoe series. ¬†The plotting, structure, characterisation and humour were masterful and playful at the same time. ¬†Hill never seemed to become consumed by his own writing. ¬†I enjoyed it, as he appeared to enjoy writing. ¬†The series has opened my eyes on how not to become formulaic and that as a writer, there’s always room for imagination in how you present not just how you plot.
  • I met more people than ever and made so many friends as well as renewingold acquaintances, through running, Kettlercise, work, football, yoga and Twitter. ¬†I like my own company, but I have spent time with people this year whose company I have also enjoyed.

There’s been a lot more: a holiday in Parga, Greece; going to Harrogate for the Theakstons’ Crime Writing Festival; getting a promotion at work; acquiring a new kitten and Oldham Athletic managing to avoid relegation. ¬†I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s been involved in my year, one way or another.

Unless you’re that bloody interfering bloke from the 10k race yesterday who told me some runners had gone a different way and completely put me off finishing as quick as I could because I was worried about getting lost. ¬†Grrrr.

Happy New Year, one and all.

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Grand Meteora

Meteora, Greece. A baking hot day, forty plus in the shade. I think I melted. But it was worth it for the views and the monasteries. They were built into the rocks, a way for monks to retreat to pray and to save their skins from the enemy. A tour of Grand Meteora brought about some interesting and unexpected sights: museums and displays which honoured the dead of the wars, martyred, the military dead as well as the religious. Funny how the two so often cross.