Forgive me. My monthly wrap-ups got somewhat defeated by the past few weeks, which have been pretty frantic. Let me tell you what I've been up to, and about a few of the places I've been exploring recently...
1. I hung out at the British Museum a bit. (I even interviewed for a job there.) Despite the hordes of schoolchildren learning about the Egyptians were buried and how Roman houses were heated, I passed several enjoyable hours checking out the museum's endless rooms. I checked out the controversial Elgin Marbles, some glorious archeology, shining Aztec and Mayan finery, and a fascinating temporary exhibition of illustrations on the subject of witches and witchcraft.
2. At the end of October I turned 30. Without having any kind of existential crisis. (Yay me!) But I did have rather a lot of cake. (Supplied by the excellent baker and blogger, Lady Aga)
3. I started a new job, which left me without much blogging energy or exploring time, but has provided me with a paycheck again; swings and roundabouts, eh? My new role is also based in Clerkenwell, an area of the city that was previously relatively unknown to me, so I've had fun exploring new corners and wiggling side streets. (Everything I needed to know about working in Clerkenwell I found covered in this excellent post by the witty Jo of She Loves London.) Much of my time has been spent in and around the concrete-covered Barbican, wandering its highwalks, and contemplating how to make it work better as a place; for the City, its workers and the people who live there in these enormous towers.
4. In possibly the most ridiculously decadent move ever, the Accidental Boyfriend and I flew up to Edinburgh for lunch in November. (We absolutely had to get on a plane that weekend as there were frequent flier points to secure. Or something.) We ate here, and it was completely sublime. We rolled out of the restaurant and then spent the rest of the afternoon groaning about how full we were and how amazing everything we ate had been. And then we flew home again.
5. In November I attempted a crazy challenge - writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days for National Novel Writing Month (or 'NaNoWriMo'). It meant evenings dashing home from work to bash out a couple of thousand words, weekends spent going from coffee shop to coffee shop, clutching my ipad and my notebook. But really, it means you should put your life on hold and throw everything at the challenge. However, a couple of weeks into a new job, and with lots of people I needed to catch up with (including lots of family from out of town), I just didn't quite make enough time for my new novel. And I failed to produce my 50,000 words. But I stuck with it, and I tried a different kind of writing, and it was hugely satisfying. One day, I'll get round to finishing my novel, just probably not before the end of 2014.
6. A project I worked on over the summer was finally finished this autumn, and the result was a shiny new video for Cats Protection, all about fostering cats and kittens; something in which I have been involved with the charity for several years. We worked with a fabulous professional animal photographer, Steve Hoskins, energic staff and publicity volunteers for CP, and a little furry rockstar called Sahara. Whilst having to watch and listen to myself makes me cringe, I'm so proud of what we've achieved, and hope it will encourage more people to get involved with the charity as volunteers. (And yes, blood was almost drawn over who got to take Sahara home after the shoot...)
7. I had a wee break from the big city and headed up north to visit a friend who lives in Doncaster for a weekend last month. When you think of Doncaster, fine foggy fields are probably not the first thing that springs to mind. But a mere ten minutes from my friend's front door, on a lengthy dog-walk, we found woodland, fields filled with discarded turnips and even wide lakes ringed with solemn fishermen. Surprisingly pretty, eh?
8. A few weeks into my new job, I discovered that one of my colleagues, Rute Ferera, has achieved my dream and published her very own book about London. Together with Amandine Alessandra, she also created her own publishers - Tower Block Books - to launch 'The Big Letter Hunt' earlier this year. Principally created with children in mind, the book also speaks to more grown-up lovers of letters, London and architecture. It takes you on an alphabetical tour of East London through a series of beautiful risograph prints of original photographs taken by Rute and Amandine. Having done extremely well with their first print run, the book has just been reprinted again and would make a wonderful belated Christmas present or guide for exploring in the new year. You can get your own copy from the Tower Block Books website here.
9. And so Christmas...that happened too. Trees went up, carols were sung, mulled wine was drunk. Oh, and it snowed! It also went too fast. As it always does.
Thanks for another wonderful year, dear readers! Happy holidays to you all and here's to a splendid 2015.