So, that year in summary…

Welll… I’d said it was probably the toughest year of my life. And possibly also the best. Here’s a photo montage of some of the highlights.

Including:

The Gambia, Calum’s Road, leaving in January in heavy snow, heavy laden bike, The Butcher’s Shop restaurant (where we got food poisoning), and a return to the original road on Raasay.

Severe weather conditions, but spring arriving!

Volcanic ash disruption, and alternative ways home. Prince Charles waving to me, and Meet the Meat.
New iPhone!

New abode – planes trains and automobiles.

Bad bananas and mad dogs.

Talented daughter and bf.

Pangalactic gargleblasters on 101010.

Parking fine and flat tyre.

Major work to the Beahive – shed, bathroom, boiler, furniture from IKEA, where I’m now on first name terms with the staff.

The many aspects of me – new hair, new bag, my Trilogettes, dressing up as Doc for a Back-to-the-future-a-thon, Beatrix, working out measurements in the Numbers room, balloons, bingo by the pool, dancing with Chris Hollins….and getting engaged!

I’ve ended the year 1/2 a stone lighter than I began, and I hope 2011 will be as full of adventure and fun !

When God gives you lemons…

I know, the textbook answer is “make lemonade”. Although after a fab weekend with my best friend Sarah, we decided the answer should be “pour gin and tonics!”

I’d gone to London for the h2g2 meet, managing to wave to Prince Charles en route, and get an upgrade to first class on the Stansted Express as I went. Flight uneventful, sitting in my comfy carriage using my newly acquired dongle to keep in touch with the interwebs, Sarah texted and said she was in need of a hug – it was her last day of Law lectures before exams (she used her redundancy money to go back to Uni and convert her degree to a Law diploma). You’re in luck, I said, I’m just pulling into Liverpool Street now!

We met at a little pub round the corner from the station, then schleped in a taxi over to the pub where her fellow students were drinking, then had a cocktail at the posh hotel across the street, me admiring a young Weim passing by, still with its gorgeous blue eyes. then we got a taxi to my hotel to dump my bag, realized how late it was, had fabulous rare steaks in the Argentinean Gaucho restaurant in the basement, before schleping to the pub where we supposed to meet the hootoo lot – only to find they’d gone home!

The hotel proved its worth by managing to procure a bottle of contact lens saline solution at midnight, and having a computer especially for printing off boarding passes (I’d printed mine out on double sided paper so on the outbound flight they tore off the portion I’d need for the return leg – d’oh!)

pc dedicated to printing boarding passes

On the Saturday I met up with my son Harry, who is looking great, and earning plenty of money doing local rigging and sound-man work (including the moving of works at the Tate Mod for it s 10 year anniversary – my next port of call.)

Met up with the hootoo lot at the museum and spent a fun evening in eh pub, where Io, my little netbook, played a blinder! It managed to skype to a non-attendee, and download the half a quiz that had been prepared. I was given the most wonderful gift by one of the Editors – a signed CD of “Better”. Back at the hotel, I settled in to a good sleep…

…and was woken by text from Roger asking if my flight was OK. Why would it not be, I thought, and turned on the tv. Oh no not again – the Haveakerfuffle volcano ash cloud is back! I wandered up to Liverpool Street station, yet again unable to use the first class lounge, and managed to get lost on the way back to the hotel. I phoned Sarah, expressing my frustration at not knowing where to go. “Come to me!” she said. “I have a bed, I have internet” Mmm-hmm, I replied. “I have gin!” she offered – I’m on my way I said! and headed out to Heathrow. If the planes started flying again at least I’d be near an airport. But my hopes weren’t high, having been caught out last month.

At Sarah’s house I started looking for alternative routes home. I wasn’t keen on taking the old National Express coach as last time, and I knew there was a train and ferry link provided by Stenaline. I tried booking online, but because there was less than 7 days before travel I couldn’t do that. I tried phoning their all centre – it was closed on Sundays. I cried.

Despairing, I tried googling for rail links between Belfast and Dublin, and found a brilliant site called raileasy. It allowed me to choose a route and time online, pay with a credit card, and make a reservation there and then. Brilliant!

On Monday morning I headed for Euston, giving myself plenty of time to contend with any later rush hour commuters. I found a helpful Virgin employee who used my credit card to produce the tiny tube-ticket sized card which would take me all the way home. I enquired about reserving a seat, but their computer system was down. I did get some good advice though – head for coach A as soon as the platform was announced. This was the quiet zone coach, and I was glad I’d got there quickly, as the train was very soon full with many passengers standing in the corridors. I gave up on an attempt to reach the buffet car!

I declined to pay Mr Branson £5 for one hour’s worth of his wifi, but was able to reassure friends and fmliy via Twitter of my safe journey through the stunning scenery of that part of northern England and the Scottish borders. Change at Carlisle, and again at Kilmarnock, and I was very swiftly and painlessly esconced on the ferry, thankfully half empty. The HSS has a very chic cafe bar at teh stern, where I was able to access the free boat wifi, enjoy a glass of wine, and admire Ailsa Craig fading into the dusk.

view from the back of the HSS

This is actually not a bad way to pass the day, I thought to myself! Home shortly after 10 pm, I did get a lot of ribbing from work colleagues the next day, who all want to be informed the NEXT time I’m flying anywhere, as I’m obviously being stalked by a volcano.

Christmas in London

Just spent the most wonderful weekend in London and am so proud of my little darlings – well, not so little these days!  Harry’s just finished his first term at Central, where he’s one of only 4 students doing theatre sound.  He’s absolutely loving being in London (and what 18 year old boy wouldn’t!), but I was caught unawares by one of his comments about what was so great about life in the capital city: he said, no-one had once made a remark about his appearance.  OK, I know Norn Irn is a bit conservative when it comes to its inhabitants, and sure, people with blue dreadlocks don’t merit a second glance in London.  I just never realised my tough gothy heavy metal loving son was so sensitive about  jibes at his long hair and baggy shorts.

I’m so proud of this young man, who’d previously dropped out of school.  But, inspired partly by our lunch with an astronaut at KSC last year (thank you Storey Musgrave), he decided to follow his dream, and secured himself this rare opportunity by portfolio and references.  He was working with Pink last week.

Jemima had a ball.  Which was just as well, as it was her treat for getting such great feedback from her teachers this year!  I’d asked her “Would you like a puppy? A pony? No? OK how about a weekend in London…” and was bowled over by her exuberant acceptance – literally!

We gave a standing ovation to Legally Blonde, we shopped at Harrods and bought her Christmas pressie of a lovely new red coat, we ate Chinese food in Chinatown, joined in the carol singing at the tree in Trafalgar Square,  ice-skated at the Tower of london, and drank mulled wine watching the street theatre at Covent Garden.

It’s looking likely that the pair of them will be here next year (Jem’s sent off her audition applications to Laine and Bird today), and I just wonder – should I join them?