Sunday, 31 December 2017

Rituals | A letter to 2017

On this, the last day of the year, I’m sitting down with a cuppa to write my annual letter.

It’s a tradition I picked up a few years back. Write about the year just gone and hopes for the year ahead, then squirrel the letter in with the departing box of Christmas decorations. Getting the decs out for Christmas is exciting enough, but having your own mini time capsule to read as well takes it to a whole new high.

Writing this as the sun is setting on the final day of 2017, I’m drinking a cup of Turmeric Chai – golden milk for the golden hour. I’ve been drinking turmeric milk a lot this year, using an Anna Jones recipe to brew up my own from scratch, but now Yogi Tea have sent me a box of their new Yogi Tea Turmeric Chai to try and it’s already a favourite. Instead of measuring out teaspoons of various spices and crushing cardamom pods, I just heat the milk, throw in a Yogi Tea Turmeric Chai teabag and leave to steep for seven to nine minutes. The golden colour of the turmeric is uplifting and sunny, even on the greyest of winter days, the flavours as warming and sweet as a love letter to the last 12 months.


Dear 2017,

The first thing to say is how fast you’ve flown past, so much so that I’m beginning to muddle up dates and years. I can’t decide if you’re like a child I’ve not seen for a while or I’m like an elderly relative greeting you – moving into our new house in 2016 seems like yesterday, not nearly two years. That just doesn’t seem possible! Wonderful, but mathematically dubious…

Almost a year ago to the hour, we had a houseful of kids all vying to be the one to stay up latest – ‘past midnight!’ was their rallying cry, and yet all were asleep on various sofas by 11.30pm. I wonder how long they’ll stubbornly keep eyes open tonight.

January 2017 was a huge month in this house. From going vegan to getting engaged to having a hair makeover, we managed to pack a lot into the first month of the year. I’m so glad I made the decision to give up dairy and eggs – nothing to do with #Veganuary, as it happens, but a natural point I reached of my own accord. Ditto having a fringe cut. I didn’t tell my family I was planning a change so they were pretty surprised by it. Now, I can’t remember what my hair looked like before – I love it.

Getting engaged was quiet and momentous at the same time, all in one big loved up frenzy. A wintry trip to Brighton sealed the deal. After brisk walks along the seafront and chips for lunch, we peered into what seemed like every single jewellery shop window in The Lanes until we spotted The One. We celebrated with cocktails in a hipster pub with an old friend.

Love was in the air, too, for some dear friends who tied the knot in May. It was so special to witness their day – warm and wonderfully funny, just like them. I became an auntie again in November which was pretty great, and our kids warmed our hearts (and those of our friends’) with their drive to raise money for homeless charities (there's still time to donate!). It’s hard not to notice the number of people sleeping rough and begging in a big city like Bristol and the kids ask some pretty tough questions about why. I love that they are motivated to try to help.

Bringing up socially minded kids feels good… They have a particular understanding of differences in this house, and we have all noticed a significant surge in autism awareness, thanks to primetime TV dramas like The A-Word plus the amazing documentary by and about Chris Packham.

Work was a mixed bag this year (it’s par for the course when you’re freelance) but I’m proud of myself for having food features published in The Simple Things, interiors features published in Mollie Makes (plus a new title has commissioned me for interiors in 2018 – yes!), and my big client of 2017 is going from strength to strength – I just know 2018 will be great for her, too.

I gave a guest lecture to digital publishing students at Oxford Brookes University, and I’m leading monthly workshops teaching photography and styling at The Makery. For someone who used to hate, no, DESPISE public speaking, this is something I’m really, really proud of. Mike’s work this year was also impressively good – he’s an inspiration and I’m so proud of him for working so hard, and for getting a new job here in Bristol. No more five hour commutes each day for him. This is lifechanging (but I’m not sure either of us will know what to do with the time!).

Well, what DID we do with what free time we had this year? We got fit, we played house, we travelled. This year saw trips to Dorset, Cornwall, the Forest of Dean, Exeter, Wales and a work trip to Croatia (more of that next month). But the big highlight? Taking all the kids to France. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, it was exhausting. Yes, it was absolutely worthwhile and yes, we’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Half the kids had not been abroad before – wading to marooned islands and swimming back to shore was a particularly special moment. More on this early in the New Year as we dream of (and budget for) adventures new.

Closer to home, I adored the weekend Mike and I spent in London at the height of summer. We explored the newly opened gallery at the V&A, taking in the Pink Floyd exhibition. Tramped to the Southbank and pretended it was winter with the Moomins. Spent warm evenings on the rooftop garden at the Culpeper. Laughed and argued and put the world to rights for days. This for the rest of our lives, please.


PS Please tell your esteemed colleague, 2018, that we would like more of the same next year – more love, more work, more fun. For us and for everyone x

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