Okay January was a tough year, but we got through it…
It was, of course, a heart-breakingly tough month for anyone caught up in the devastation of Australia’s bushfires.
Others are talking and writing about that with far more eloquence and authority and proximity than I can, so I’ll leave it to them.
January began early for us. We were still in the UK and, more specifically in a fabulous village that I’ll tell you more about another time, Lacock.
Given that our little travelling party was comprised of Aussies and Kiwis, on the dot of 11am, as the TV in the pub was playing the fireworks from Auckland, we toasted in the NZ new year.
Then at 1pm as the telly in the pub was playing the fireworks from Sydney, we toasted the new year in Australia. Sometime around 2pm, we remembered to have a drink for the new year in Queensland. You get the idea.
We didn’t, however, last through until midnight in England, although our lovely landlady at Clover Cottage in Wyck Rissington gave us a bottle of red to see the new year in with.
We began the long trek home on January 3, landing in Sydney a couple of days later before beginning the 1000 km drive home via Armidale. It was surreal seeing the smoke haze and the hectares of forest that had been burnt out before Christmas in that part of the state. There were still trees alight and spot fires flaring up in the range as we passed.
As for other travel, nope, I’ve stayed put during January and hope to do so in February as well.
I didn’t intend to miss out on anything while we were in England so had budgeted on a 2kg gain with the intention of being back at my December pre-holiday weight by the end of January.
I was back on my little baggagey wagon within a week of being back and it took me the rest of January but I finished the month at about the same weight as I was before we went away. That, in my view, was a win.
The total loss still stands at just over 10kgs.
I read six books during January, two of these being absolute stand-outs.
“The Most Beautiful Walk In The World” by John Baxter, was on the bookshelf at Wyck Rissington.
It’s a memoir, but mostly it’s about Paris and walking, and people who walk in Paris, and the stories about famous people, mostly artists and writers, who walk in Paris. I’ve read a few of Baxter’s books before (and also read his latest, “A Year in Paris” during January) and love his fabulous style. It’s a ramble – as if you’re sitting having a glass of wine and chatting. He writes the way I’d love to write.
“With wide clean streets, Parisians began to walk, and to walk for the pleasure of it. They even coined a word for this diversion. It’s called flânerie, and someone who does it is a flâneur.
…People who lead tours or write guides crave an itinerary, the route from A to B. The flâneur has no such aim. Their promenade exists for itself, irrespective of destination.”
My other 5-star read for the month was “The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After” by Jenny Colgan. I’d read the sequel to this before I read the book but that didn’t matter at all.
The easiest way to describe this is to say it’s the loveliest book I’ve read in a long while. Maybe since Nicholas Barreau’s “Paris Is Always a Good Idea.” It’s a book for anyone who loves books, who can escape into a story and who truly believes there is a book for every mood and for every ill.
“I swear you think books are alive,” said Lennox.
“Because they are,” said Nina.
Plus, it’s set in Scotland, which is always a good thing. One last passage, just because I love it:
Some people buried their fears in food, she knew, and some in booze, and some in planning elaborate engagements and weddings and other life events that took up every spare moment of their time, in case unpleasant thoughts intruded. But for Nina, whenever reality, or the grimmer side of reality, threatened to invade, she always turned to a book. Books had been her solace when she was sad; her friends when she was lonely. They had mended her heart when it was broken, and encouraged her to hope when she was down.
Yes, yes and yes.
Not a lot really. The stand-out for the month was the Derry Girls episode on Great British Bake-off. It was broadcast on New Year’s Day in the UK and was laugh out loud hilarious.
Other than that, I’m enjoying the current season of Death In Paradise (Foxtel) and the new season of Silent Witness(Foxtel) and am re-watching Shetland (Netflix).
Oh, and I watched the Downton Abbey movie on the flight.
The most “liked” pics on the ‘gram last month was this one of Mooloolaba Beach Surf Life Saving tower
and this one – the road trip pie at Tenterfield.
In addition to my day job I’ve taken on the presidency of the Romance Writers of Australia. It’s definitely bigger than I expected it to be, but I’m now getting my head around it. Slowly. Let’s just say there’s going to have to be some serious scheduling and balancing done this year.
To give me some semblance of stability I’ve gone permanent part-time in the day job. It means that while I’ve compromised on some of my flexibility, I now have structures which were previously missing. Realising that was another get real moment for me.
I have a lot on the go. This year I’m getting real (there’s that phrase again) about my writing career so I’m currently:
- Finishing the first draft of “It’s In The Stars” (Book 5 in my Melbourne Girls chick-lit series). I’ll have this to my editor in March.
- Finishing the structural re-write to “Escape To Curlew Cottage” (Book 2 in my Brookford series and a companion novel to “Wish You Were Here”). This is due for copy editing in April.
- I’ve also received the copy edit back for “Careful What You Wish For” (Book 4 in my Melbourne Girls chick-lit series) and now need to complete that and do something about a cover for it.
- Finalise the formatting for “I Want You Back” (Book 3 in my Melbourne Girls chick-lit series).
It’s a lot to juggle, I know.
The 5 things series is back, but rather than being a run-down of my week, it’s now the things that either made me smile or made me think. Snippets from here and there.
I’m also slowly blogging my way through our recent trip to the UK. If you’ve missed any you’ll find them here.
The Nigella Diaries
Remember how I have this lofty ambition to cook my way through Nigella’s “How To Eat?” I haven’t blogged an update from here for months, but during January I did cook another recipe from the book – a Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake.
You can find the recipe here...
Okay, that was my month…how was yours?