Category: Miscellaneous

2017: The Year In Review

It’s New Year’s Day already and that means it’s time to do our annual Year In Review. At this time last year I had almost completely freed myself from a terrible, punishing job at the World’s Worst Company – I was almost at the end of my contract, slogging through the last of a huge pile of paperwork and looking forward to being formally released mid-January. I was in love with a Person who I wasn’t supposed to be in love with during the second half of 2015 and much of 2016 but by the time 2017 materialised it seemed to be really over, at last, and I formed a new and more worthwhile relationship with my Playstation that I had for Christmas.

By the end of 2017 I had visited 5 countries and set up home with someone new, in my first serious relationship since this blog began.

January

January arrived, as it is wont to do. I handed back my keys at the World’s Worst Company, left the building and returned to full-time self-employment. This was definitely the high point of the month. I was in terrible physical shape due to being overworked for a long time but I was optimistic for the year ahead. I joined a local community choir, to give my lungs some exercise and to provide an opportunity to keep dressing up in outrageous, huge-skirted, 1950s frocks, a habit I formed during the last few months of going to work. Check out this little number, it has dinosaurs, which turned out to be rather a theme for January.

dinosaurs

I played Far Cry: Primal on my Playstation and it was the TLYW Game of the Month.

Far Cry® Primal_20170118035629
Far Cry® Primal_20170118035629

I celebrated my new-found freedom going out around London. I saw some art: I went to the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern.

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I went to the British Museum to look at some African masks

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and to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.

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I went to the gym, which was a new thing. I despaired about the state of my teeth, which is never a new thing.

February

I got seriously into live music in February and started going to concerts and operas around London. The first event was a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra of Haydn’s Creation at Royal Festival Hall. Then I returned to Royal Festival Hall for a performance of music by Philip Glass. After that, I went to the comic opera The Pirates of Penzance and then to Rigoletto, both sung by the English National Opera.

I went to the British Museum again, to look at John Dee’s crystal ball. Dee was a 16th-century mystic who advised Elizabeth I. Then I went a third time, to see the South Africa exhibition, which was amazing. I felt relatively well-informed about South Africa, having visited in 2016 and learned as much as possible about its history while I was there.

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I went to an exhibition of board games at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London, which is an extension of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I ate heartily, at South Bank Food Market and Comptoir Libanais.

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In February I conceived the idea of the TLYW Year of Console Gaming, an organised programme of console gaming, in which I lined up a total of 14 console games to be played at a rate of one a month. This programme continued well for the first three quarters of the year. Game of the Month for February was ARK: Survival Evolved, which was awesome and turned out to be my favourite game of 2017. I will definitely return to it. I will do a separate post about my 2018 plans for gaming.

ARK: Survival Evolved_20170227004731
ARK: Survival Evolved_20170227004731

I went to the gym and caught two colds, which was so predictable. At least I was trying.

March

I continued to be excited about music and went to hear the Philharmonia Orchestra perform Stravinsky’s Firebird. The below clip shows Stravinsky conducting the last three scenes of The Firebird himself, it was recorded in 1960.

The story of The Firebird comes from Slavic folklore, a theme which held my attention for the rest of the month while I was reading The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

I fulfilled a lifetime ambition by seeing the wonderful Marc Almond perform live in Camden.

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I went to the Royal Academy to see an exhibition called America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, which featured Edward Hopper and Grant Wood.

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Then I returned to the RA to see an exhibition of Russian art (mainly paintings and ceramics, some films) from the period 1917-1932, that is, immediately following the Russian Revolution.

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Dress of the month was this turquoise Ophelia by LindyBop.

ophelia turquoise

Game of the Month of was God of War III: Remastered.

God of War® III Remastered_20170327221550
God of War® III Remastered_20170327221550

April

My interested in classical music continued in April and I went to Royal Festival Hall yet again to hear Mahler 5. I’d been in hospital with cellulitis, having had a run of bad health for about three months, and they let me out just in time to go to the concert.

mahler 5

I also went to the Royal Opera House to see a performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. The production took my breath away with its scale and beauty and I cried at the end. 10/10, would go again.

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Then my interest turned from opera to ballet and I went to see George Ballanchine’s 20th-century ballet Jewels, performed by the Royal Ballet. It was glittering, as one might expect.

Game of the Month was Witcher III: Wild Hunt.

White Orchard
White Orchard

May

A fabulous month. There was more opera and ballet. I went on holiday to Spain and France. I fell in love twice, latterly with Harry, who was about to change my life by becoming my first serious partner in several years and moving in with me before the year was over.

Opera of the month was Mozart’s Magic Flute. I enjoyed it so much, I saw it twice. It was performed by the Charles Court company in the back of a pub in London’s Islington. The second time, I was with Harry and it was our second date.

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Ballet of the month was Casanova, a new ballet by Kenneth Tindall, performed by the Northern Ballet Company.

casanova

I went on holiday to Spain, where there was a resort and a beach, then I went to Paris, where there was wine.

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Game of the Month was Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. It was glorious and I particularly enjoyed sailing ships and fighting at sea.

Assassin's Creed® IV Black Flag_20170528183133
Assassin’s Creed® IV Black Flag_20170528183133

June

There were terrorist attacks in London and Londoners were annoyed. I went to the historic Black Friar pub in London, which was built in 1875 and has stained glass windows.

I went on another date with Harry, this time to see Wayne Thiebaud at White Cube.

thiebaud 6

Then we had still another date and went to London’s Kew Gardens. The summer weather was beautiful, we had weeks of sunshine, not to be underestimated in the UK.

kew tree house

Dress of the month: Nadia, by LindyBop, in a nice guitar print.

nadia guitar

I cleaned my house magnificently because of being in love. I had new, matching tableware from Portmeirion, the first of two sets this year.

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Game of the Month was Red Dead Redemption.

rdr camp

July

July saw two things happen: Harry started cooking at my house, revealing fantastic cooking skills, and I went on a health kick. I purchased a Nutribullet, made smoothies twice a day and started doing a lot of exercise. I felt v healthy and only stopped with the hours of punishing cardio because my hair was falling out (I am not good at doing things in moderation).

 

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There were some nice walks on Hampstead Heath.

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We had an interesting meal at the Carousel restaurant at Tate Modern, including green matcha cake.

The restaurant has this view across the Thames. That’s St Paul’s Cathedral on the other side.

view across thames from tate

While we were at Tate, we also went to see Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (and finally blogged about it in September).

soul of a nation

emory 2

George Romero died and I wept.

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Game of the Month was Battlefield 1.

Battlefield™ 1_20170729223245
Battlefield™ 1_20170729223245

August

My business life heated up. I had to blog far less and do less video gaming but I travelled more. In August I went to Rotterdam, Den Bosch and had my 51st birthday in Amsterdam. This is the point where I suddenly had a lot of photos and no time to post them, so you are still waiting for pictures of all these destinations. Here are some teasers.

Rotterdam.

Cube-houses-Rotterdam-architecture

Den Bosch.

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Amsterdam.

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Harry and I managed to squeeze in a date at London’s Camden Lock.

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Game of the Month was Batman: Arkham Asylum.

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September

Work was in full swing. By this point I was right in the middle of the busiest four months of 2017. There were no more fun dates around London or outdoor exercise sessions. I just worked and focused on meeting deadlines. I don’t even have any photos from that whole month.

Harry was supportive while I got all my work done.

Game of the Month was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, arguably the greatest of the GTA series.

gtasa 9

This turned out to be the last month of the TLYW Year of Console Gaming that I could fit into my diary. We are reviving the programme this January.

October

We celebrated the blog’s 7th birthday.

I went to Rotterdam again. Here are a couple more teaser photos. I’ll do detailed travel photo posts in due course.

Delft.

delft canal

I then went to India. Managed to get this quite nice snap out of the window on the plane.

plane clouds india

Spent a few days in Bangalore.

bangalore

Managed to carve out a very small amount of time to see some art, of which more later.

November

Finished working in India, went straight to Orange County in California.

Really nice weather, was like a British summer.

Back in London, Harry and I went shopping at The Japan Centre to celebrate his birthday.

December

Continued to work at a breakneck pace during the first half the month, then gradually began to slow down long enough to do a few Xmas things.

xmas market leics square

Harry and I went to see The Nutcracker performed by the English National Ballet.

nutcracker

Then, quite suddenly and very near the end of December, I finished work for real, cleaned my house, visited some relatives and settled in for a slightly delayed Christmas Day in London with Harry.

xmas cocktail 2017

And that was 2017. I wish everybody a very happy and prosperous year to come. I wanted to say that before hitting publish last night but someone was very keen for me to get off my PC and come to bed. Anyway, happy new year.

Xmas 2017

Christmas Day came at last.

Here are my Xmas flowers.

xmas flowers 2017

Harry made an amazing Xmas breakfast with lemon goujons and salmon.

xmas tableware 2017

As you can see, I have my longed-for Holly & Ivy tableware – there was a 50% off sale at Portmeirion before Xmas, so I bought just enough china for two place settings. It looks so pretty and makes me so happy.

xmas tableware 2

Then Harry cooked again and made Xmas dinner with roast chicken, Yorkshire puddings, vegetables, pigs in blankets and the best cauliflower cheese I’ve ever tasted. He made the cheese sauce from scratch and it had loads of cheese in it.

xmas cauli cheese

xmas dinner 2017

I made cocktails. The ingredients are white rum, Baileys, coffee, ice cream (vanilla or chocolate), whipped cream, fudge sauce and raspberries. You can also include chocolate milk if you have any.

xmas cocktail 2017

Harry had a chess set for Xmas – actually, he bought the pieces himself and I supplied the board, which is made of inlaid wood and is very large and heavy. The pieces are models of the Lewis Chessmen which were probably made in the 12th century and which are in the British Museum.

lewis chess

My breath was taken away by Harry’s present to me, he got me a glockenspiel. I love xylophones, vibraphones and all that family of instruments, yet have never owned so much as a chime bar, so I was bowled over to receive an actual glockenspiel. I love it and I don’t think it will be too hard to learn how to play.

glockenspiel

The glockenspiel has a rather magical sound, like tinkling bells, and plays a part in Mozart’s Magic Flute, which is ‘our’ opera because we went to it on our second date. Here’s the glockenspiel scene, it is an excerpt from a 1971 production of The Magic Flute by the Hamburg State Opera.

So that was Christmas chez Gloria. We had Boxing Day today and tonight’s dinner is slices of turkey with broccoli and roast potatoes, cooked (okay, heated up) by me. I feel like we are now caught up with the rest of the world and are all ready for New Year’s Eve tomorrow. We are planning to make a cheese fondue and I cannot wait.

Merry Christmas, readers. I hope you had or are having a wonderful break.

Xmas Eve

I just want to sit around and do nothing but Xmas is tomorrow and Xmas Eve is this evening, so I have a to-do list which I had better get on with.

  • Clean the smaller bathroom and give the larger bathroom a once-over.
  • Give the kitchen a quick clean and put the rest of the groceries away.
  • Reboot the laundry.
  • Superficial tidying in the bedroom and living room.
  • Clean the hall, this will mean disposing of some junk as well as mopping the floor.
  • Take the rubbish out.

At this point, all my rooms are clean at the same time, this always requires several days of housework and basically only happens once a year when I am on holiday from work.

  • Finish knitting that scarf, quick. There are only 22 rows left to go and I have to weave in the ends, then we’re done.
  • Find out what time Harry is expected. Have a shower, put on some clean clothes and make-up. Put a bottle of something fizzy in the fridge.

I’d better start on the hall. Hopefully it won’t take too long.

Maybe we can have a Xmas tune to help ourselves get in the mood. Check out this upbeat medley from the 1930s and 1940s. ‘In my Christmas letter, I asked Santa Claus to bring me you’.

 

Warcraft.

I have missed World of Warcraft so much. I haven’t played any PC games for a whole year, because the TLYW Year of Console Gaming began at exactly this time in 2016. I will do a separate post about that soon because we need to figure out how to complete the programme.

That’s obviously Santa on the left and on the right is my main character, a level 104 undead warrior who is 11 years old this Xmas, isn’t that amazing. I’m going to collect her Xmas presents now and then repeat the process for all of my alts, there are a lot. They are all Horde. Lok’tar Ogar!

warcraft xmas 2017

That’s better.  I forgot she had a Christmas jumper.

warcraft xmas jumper 2017

It is the eve of Christmas Eve

Xmas is finally approaching. Santa is finally coming to my house. I’ve waited months and months.

I am home, having discharged all my responsibilities. Groceries are coming this evening. Tomorrow during the day I will finish cleaning the house, then Harry will come home and we will have Christmas Eve tomorrow evening. Then it is Actual Christmas Day on the 29th.

I would like to finish the cleaning this evening but I am too exhausted so here is my alternative to-do list for tonight (it is already 4pm and starting to get dark).

  • Make coffee, I have cream in the fridge.
  • Log on to World of Warcraft and collect my in-game Xmas presents (the first Xmas presents of this year, there will be more from Harry on Xmas Day, which is of course Friday).
  • Take delivery of the groceries.
  • Pour a drink, put on a Xmas movie and attempt to finish a hat and scarf that I’ve been knitting for Harry so I can wrap it up and put it under the tree before he comes home.

I want to quickly say thanks to everyone who has worked over Xmas. Thank you for that. Your efforts are appreciated. I hope you have a restful new year.

Xmas is not here yet.

I don’t care what it says on your calendar, it is wrong. Xmas has arrived when the following things have happened.

– My house is clean. It is not there yet despite my valiant efforts. I still have to do the bathroom and hall. I missed the last day of cleaning because I was in bed with a tension headache.

– Family members have been visited. Spending time with family can be challenging and effortful, esp when you are already tired from work. I expect you don’t need to listen to me going on about it.

– I am making dinner in my own kitchen.

Today I am going to eat leftover curry while looking after Mom.

So that’s why it’s not Xmas yet, no matter what you may have been told. I will let you know when it happens. It is still a few days away.