A year, a year, and again a year.
January, as always, seems a very long time ago. I returned to school pretty much in to the swing of my job, Brownies was ticking over nicely, morris was being danced, things were well enough. Caroline and I continued to reside with our wonderful housemates (or Tasso Queens, as we have come to be known – blame Chloe), and our little place seems quite the lovely little home. Besides squabbling over the washing up, there has been much playing of board games, shouting at MarioKart, solidarity in study ethics, and Front Room Announcements as the year has moved on.
February’s Half Term break had an exciting twist – our first holiday abroad, in Athens. We’d picked up a bit of unexpected extra work over New Year, so decided to splurge it and use the lot to pay for a wee trip. It was great fun, and we were both quite in need of a break by that point in the academic year, so it was lovely to be able to wander around the city with little purpose, see the sights, take silly photos in the gardens, and treat ourselves for a bit. Obviously, being February, it wasn’t roasting hot, but we the weather treated us to sunny and bright days, although it was chilly standing outside for the photo on the hotel rooftop!
March was a mixed month. Mostly it was quiet: work, studying, and trying to fit in as much sleep as humanly possible. It also saw the funeral of my Granpa; the second of the year after a trip up to Darlington to farewell my Godmother, Auntie Sue, and the first time I’ve been in a funeral car. Shoutout to the funeral director, who on collecting us to leave for the wake wasn’t sure if we had all our passengers – popped her head in and cheerfully inquired: “have you lost someone?”
April was adventures with dogs and with Jessi and with London. There may also have been some studying (but then again there may not…). I had pretty much the whole month as spring holiday from school and it was good to have a change of pace. We got to get to know a Bo-dog, who is very much the charmer, and be re-acquainted with the mad cats in Woolwich. A few spring outings didn’t go a-miss too, with doge-walks by the river, visits from friends, and taking ourselves off to explore Mudchute farm and going round the city.
May was hectic – and joyous, but hectic. I had to work on May Day, alas, but we danced in the summer in style – between deadlines a-plenty. Since May, however, we seem to have hardly seen Esps – there has just been so much going on, and it has been good as the year ends to be getting back to practice, where in true Esps-style, our friends are waiting. Through the early summer, it was very much a work-hard, play-hard attitude, mostly because it had to be. Caroline decided to produce her final BA work in graphite, which was… messy, to say the least. I spent a lot of time sharpening pencils, and am still cleaning graphite dust out of just about everything in my world. Essay deadlines started to roll up for me, too, so there were a few high-tensions as we both went head-long into the fray.
June was where it all paid off. Somehow, we managed to hang all 8 metres of Caroline’s work for her Final Show (showered head to toe in graphite, naturally), and it looked amazing (even with my bias). Things started to ease off at work too as we headed towards the end of term, albeit with some hiccups (I’ll log those to be learned from…), and it was wonderful to be able to share Caroline’s graduation with her at the start of July.
July was madness. In some mad moment earlier in the year (while it still seemed a good idea), Caroline and I decided we would have a swimathon in aid of Pathfinders – a Double Marathon Month. So both of us donned swimgear and set out to swim 26 miles each during the month of July. We made it by a scrape (and a shake, but the time our muscles climbed us out the pool at the end) and raised just over £1000 for Pathfinders, which we were completely chuffed with. Thank you so much to all of you who sponsored us!
August was a holiday month, but none of them particularly restful! We started with Explorers, which had a pirate theme which went down swimmingly… and I spent most of the week at the pool. Highlights included making bath bombs, overlyambitious party food, smiling faces at our antics, ‘appropriate’ swearing, frantic cutlass fights, sensory adventures, sitting round the kitchen fire, and a hilarious game of pool-lacrosse (empty pool – no swimmers harmed!).
With a week of rest (ha-ha!) in between, it was then back to Woodlarks for Pathfinders. We had a lot of fun with the Circus theme, with Caroline and I setting up quite the rivalry between our Blue and Orange patrols (Orange was vastly superior, obviously). I would be lying if I didn’t admit it was one of the most tiring weeks I’ve spent at the site, between a combination of factors that left me feeling pulled in all directions – trying to be everywhere and in fact finding you never fully get to any of the points. But I think I learned from that week, and there was lots to take away, including very happy memories of swimming with Jessi (first time we’ve ever swum together in ten years, I believe), walking the tightrope, the thieving of top-hats, many laughs, and learning just how it feels to be part of a team.
Our journey to Whitby was rather fraught – after a knackering week with a trip to A&E overnight, followed by missing a train… well, we were lucky to get there in one piece! But after a night’s good kip in your own tent (once we’d rectified the ‘someone’s nicked our airbed’s plug’ problem) we were ready for the week (if not the copious amount of hill-climbing). The week was a lot of fun again, even with their foolish agreement to let both Caroline and I be Team Leaders at the Spa. Much running-around ensued, along of late nights, being the most charming chucker-outer (I got kissed by the admiring (and rather sloshed…) public!), winning at the penny pushers, and meeting lots of lovely people who are on par with our level of crackers.
September saw me back for a second year at ESS, still supporting a lovely young chap (now in Year 1) and getting regularly doused in glitter/paint/snot/etc. I’ve had a great time both in the classroom and out – with progress in the day-to-day academics and routines as well as adventuring out to swimming, Legoland and museums. I’ve worked with The Boy both in school and at home (as well as at GOSH, which was an interesting adventure) and it’s a joy to see him make progress and hear his classic ‘old man’ laugh. Stepping up into Year 1 has been challenging but has seen plenty of good ends and rewards – and one constant in the changing classes has been my love-affair with the laminator. Classroom life really suits me and I’m full of mad ideas for the future, I daresay it’ll be a lot of fun witnessing how they pan out… watch this space!
October was back to Heythrop in earnest, and marked all of our flat being full-time students again for the first time since we moved in. This has, unsurprisingly, lead to a slight increase in house stress levels (particularly since we all have jobs as well…) but also a boost in silly house antics and banter to compensate. It’s good when we get to hang out together more, and we managed to not quite lose the pub quiz down the road (although gutted we did slightly too well – second-to-last got a bottle of wine…) which we keep promising to go back to! There has been much playing of board games, and the collection continues to grow… favourites include Munchkin, Settlers, Patchwork, Bop-It, and The After Eight Game. Christmas saw a QI board game thrown into the mix too, which is sure to feed the competitive streaks…
November introduced a new member of the household: zzzStephen, our venus fly trap. WHO IS STILL ALIVE! (against, I might add, all odds). There were lectures to attend and Brownie meetings to plan – so High Street Ken has seen a fair bit of me. Both Caroline and I have stepped back from Guiding a bit over the year to allow us to focus on schoolwork, but we’ve still had a good few adventures – a visit to Mudchute farm was a near-perfect summer day out, we paraded for Remembrance Sunday, and we’ve run some excellent Brownie evenings (a particular favourite was ‘I’m a Brownie, get me out of here!’ – never have pitted eyeballs [spoiler: tinned lychee] been so tasty!)
December was ruled by the now-annual “Cheer the fuck up!” Advent Calendar ™ – much joviality and silliness ensued! Reindeer Hat Hoopla was the best two quid I spent all year by a long shot, and once again we wrangled a free Christmas tree which was going begging after term ended which was decorated with enthusiasm if not with classy decorations. After a blasting Tassomas (as we name our house frivolities), actual Christmas for us was quiet, spent at Caroline’s parents’ in East London – and we were very lucky to be treated with all sorts of presents (the nano-copter is slowly but surely destroying the house) and a lot of laughs from pom-pom snowballs and balloon-modelling crackers.
And so 2015 has swept by, and the adventures of 2016 have already begun. All things are sure to be revealed in due course… Happy New Year!