Saturday, December 25, 2010

So another year has past by and I find myself sat once more in a pub at lunchtime on Christmas Day. Unlike the last 2 years where I was in the fabulous Bull in Little Walsingham, partaking in a festive drink with friends, this year I find myself back in London. I have no “local” so today was more a case of driving around to choose where to go. Finally went for Hoopers as a great local real ale pub and I occasionally come to watch football here. So here I sit drinking a pint of “Chocoholic” – a sort of Baileys dark ale.

I’m writing this without first reading last year’s Christmas blog. I suspect it said lots of stuff about builders and project managers, as well as redundancy and expectations for 2010.

Well 2010 has not turned out to be the year I had expected – but maybe that was where things changed. Expectations are simply that….expectations. What you actually get is often of your own making.

The year started with a contract lined up to work on a series of rail bids. But then came the election and economic change, and contracts were no more. We have waited patiently for news and finally it has started to drip feed out. Looks like there will be a few bids commencing in 2011 and 2012 but there remains a lot of uncertainty.

Uncertainty does not pay the bills so I will continue to look at alternative areas of work in 2011. I twice came close in 2010 to moving into new sectors, narrowly missing out with the decision to stick with people from within those industries.

On the plus side I got my accreditation as a tutor for Glasgow Caledonian University and I am working part-time on finance/economics module of their rail degree course.

I started 2010 with a lot of ideas - some that created quite a bit of interest. 2011 will be the year I turn ideas into reality.

Summer and Autumn was spent in Norfolk and I used this time to work on a project I had originally proposed a few years ago – setting up a micro-brewery in Walsingham. I’ve still got some work to do on it, but I believe it will happen if the “business partners” can be persuaded to part with their money. It’s been interesting looking at different product options and seeing how other breweries operate. Potential premises were identified but they have just been acquired for overhauling the local narrow guage railway stock (the building is an old engine shed so kind of makes sense). Hopefully the building will be available again next year.

2010 has been mainly about re-building our lives after 4 years of mayhem.
We made the most of being in Norfolk, enjoying a very relaxed life-style with lazy afternoons spent on the beach or by a lake, and in the colder winter months, in front of log fires in cosy pubs, or afternoon tea at the Hoste in Burnham Market.

The weather was very kind to us and we only left for London when we saw the forecast of snow.

Before Norfolk we did a few “firsts” for both of us, the most memorable being a trip on the London Eye which had always seemed an impossibility, but thanks to the kind London Eye folk, we were able to turn up and simply walk straight on.

Trips back to London were fairly limited – the odd business meetings, interviews, and seeing builders back at the house as we looked to finally finish the works. 2010 saw us get the building works officially signed off by the Building Control Officer. Since taking back control of the project I have had to work out how to resolve various design faults on a very limited budget. With the installation of a new boiler and the glass splashback in the kitchen, the house was pretty much complete in November.
Finally, just before Christmas, our garden arrived in 3 large boxes! The garden (which I have been landscaping over the last 12 months) will be planted out with grasses. We have a separate courtyard area that looks like will be more of a mini cottage garden effect using lots of pots. There are still problems with the house, in particular the kitchen floor, but at least we can now enjoy it.

Since being back in London we have had a whirlwind time of socialising as it has been 3 years since last here for Christmas. We also managed to fit in the 2nd half at the theatre – we only ever see the 2nd half as this ties in with when Helen is able to go out.
I got to see my brother and his wife to pick up last year’s Christmas presents! Rest of my family all together at parents in Wales and Helen’s all at her mum’s in Liverpool – so just the two of us, two Christmas trees and a very large turkey.

On the music front it was a mixed year. Michael McDermott came over to play Greenbelt and I spent about 24 hours there to see him play. The gigs were great but the festival experience was just a bit too weird for me this year. 2010 saw the break-up of the Panama Kings. It is always sad to see a band split at a point when they are producing some of their best music and getting good radio play and tour offers – but without sufficient funding it is hard to keep going. On the plus side I got introduced to a new band, Kaiser Cartel from Brooklyn. I instantly fell in love with their music and ended up organising part of their UK tour late in the year. We have been discussing 2011 and I am hopeful they will be back for the festival season.

With the 20th anniversary of the release of 620 West Surf by Michael McDermott next year I hope to be able to go and see it performed live in Chicago. No idea how this will happen at the moment but it is pencilled in my diary. Helen and I talk about the future and what we want to do with our lives. There is no point dwelling on the here and now, that’s history, and it is the future that provides future exciting opportunities.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. Hopefully we will meet at at some point.


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