Celebrating my 25th birthday. Views of the Liffey in Dublin. Afternoon tea at 45 Park Lane. New Year’s Eve. Sunset in Croatia. Brunch at London Grind. Arcade Fire. Views from my Christmas party. Afternoon tea at Mr Fogg’s.
I feel like I probably say this every year; but this year has absolutely sped by. I feel like on the one hand 2018 has been a good year; and on the other that it has been a bit of a rollercoaster, not helped by the fact that paying attention to the news has had me wanting to move to some remote island with no wifi access.
Finding my ‘Thing’
At the end of last year, I was feeling a tad lost when it came to work. A combination of some of my colleagues going through a hard time; a job interview which knocked by confidence and sense of where I fitted and a placement which was not stretching me in any way; made me start to think about leaving my old job. I spied an advert for a Senior Consultant position at a consulting firm on LinkedIn and after dithering over it many times I decided to bite the bullet and sent in my CV. Some time later and I’m now 9 months into working there; and I have no regrets. I’ve had the opportunity to work across lots of different areas; got to work in Ireland for a few months; and am surrounded by supportive, smart people which I love. I also think I’m actually quite good at my job, which is a rather nice feeling too. I am grateful for my NGDP experience as well; I got the opportunity to work with and meet some great people both in the council and within my cohort and its exciting to have a network of people at the start of their careers who I’m sure will all be bossing it in a few years time.
Is it weird that one meal has made my End of Year highlights? Possibly, but it was just that good. Mei Ume is an Asian fusion restaurant inside the Four Seasons hotel at Ten Trinity Square. Some friends & I managed to get hold of a Time Out discount for the restaurant soon after it opened and I am STILL fantasying about the miso soup and sashimi which are hands down some of the best things I’ve eaten. The service was also excellent, and lacked any of the sniffiness that sometimes comes with using a discount in a fancy place. It is usually pretty expensive, as its surroundings would suggest, but if you do have deep pockets I would really, really recommend it.
A Long Weekend in Barcelona
Some discounted EasyJet flights meant that a semi-spontaneous trip to Barcelona happened. I’d wanted to visit for ages and found it such an interesting place. It’s a really beautiful city and we were lucky enough to be staying in the very well located Gothic Quarter. Plus I had nachos for breakfast which was pretty great. You can read a full post on my trip here.
Turning 25 definitely made me feel like more of an adult than I was expecting. Being *whisper it* five years to 30 has given me a bit of a kick up the bum when it comes to planning my life but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun celebrating. First, my parents and brother came down to London and we all went to Hawksmoor, somewhere that I’d been wanting to try for ages, and whose roast dinners are well worth the hype. On my actual birthday I went to Duck & Waffle with a couple of friends which I’d had to book mega in advance and was earlier in the morning than intended (I decided to book the day off as I’d handed in my notice by then) but again, well worth the hype. In the evening, I saw 42nd Street as a last minute treat. Finally, I got my housemate friends and my work friends together for a celebration at Blue’s Kitchen in Shoreditch and no one hated each other; although I was horrendously hungover the next day.
A Return to Italy
Despite declaring our holiday to Spain the final family holiday; somehow me and my brother found ourselves in Italy again this year. It was lovely to return to one of my favourite places and spend a week eating amazing food and enjoying the Tuscan landscapes. It also came perfectly timed at the end of my first project at my new job giving me the space to breathe a little.
The Great Heatwave
One of the stand-outs of the summer was the heatwave that gripped London for weeks. Whilst on the one hand it made my commute to my client that was entirely Central Line grim; it was also pretty glorious. Everyone was so much happier; aided perhaps by a Royal Wedding and the World Cup, and constant alcohol but I loved it.
A Break in Croatia
A bargain appearing on Holiday Pirates meant that me and a friend found ourselves in Pula, Croatia for a few days. I know loads of people who’ve visited Split, Hvar and the other islands but north Croatia was a bit of an unknown quantity for us. However, it is a beautiful country and the food in the north is very inspired by neighbouring Italy which I had no complaints about and ate a lot of pasta and octopus.
Top Books of 2018
- Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton; I just loved Dolly’s memoir of her 20s; her celebration of female friendship is really lovely and I’ve forced this book on several people
- La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman; A book that took me away to a magical world for the duration of my time reading this. I loved getting the ‘before’ story to His Dark Materials, and I can’t wait for the next installment
- Hired by James Bloodworth; A book that explores the rise of the ‘gig’ economy in the UK. Bloodworth takes on a variety of jobs including Amazon fulfilment worker, carer and Uber driver. It’s really worth a read and I haven’t shopped on Amazon since I read it.
- How to Survive a Plague by David France; France’s exploration of the Aids crisis is brilliant. It explores the activists and scientists who came together to raise awareness and then fight to ensure that sufferers could live good lives.
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne; This novel broke my heart in a good way. It follows the story of Cyril Avery from before his birth through to old age as he makes numerous poor decisions as he struggles to come to terms with who he really is. I adored this, and loved learning more about Ireland through its pages.
- Sally Rooney; I read both of Rooney’s novels this year, and whilst I didn’t love either as much as the books above she is definitely a new favourite author. Her characters feel so real, and as though she picks up your worst thoughts and speaks to them; meaning they were plenty of times in both Conversations with Friends and Normal People that I had to pause my reading. I’m excited to see whatever she does next.
Top Films of 2018
- The Greatest Showman; I’m pretty sure this came out in 2017 but I was late to the party and saw it in January. And I loved it; Pasek & Paul’s score is great and Hugh Jackman is great as Barnum. It obviously glosses over a lot of the darker side of his character but it is a great feel-good film.
- A Star is Born; Another musical film! Again, maybe not the most complex plot in the world but who cares when the music and performances are this good. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are excellent, I ugly cried at the end and haven’t stopped listening to the music since.
- Lady Bird; Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film was lovely. Saorise Ronan is so good as Lady Bird and I felt the relationship the film featured with her Mum (Laurie Metcalf) was really well done.
- Crazy Rich Asians; I thoroughly enjoyed the Kevin Kwan novel when I read it some years ago and the film was such fun. A kind-of grown up Gossip Girl, with the stunning setting of Singapore and actors who all appeared to be having a great time.
- Phantom Thread; I wasn’t expecting to include this film on a ‘Best Of’ list when I first saw it but this has really stayed with me. The styling of the film is excellent; Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps are great as a difficult fashion designer and his muse; and you’ll never look at an omelette in the same way again
Top Theatre of 2018
- Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre; Something truly terrible would have had to happen for this not to end up on my best of lists. Seeing the original London cast last January was just such a magical experience. You can find my full gushing here
- Company at Gielgud Theatre; After Hamilton this was my most-anticipated theatrical event and again, it was just perfect. This re-imagined version makes Bobby a woman turning 35 and surrounded by her married friends. Marianne Elliott makes the show laugh-out-loud funny as well as touching and the entire ensemble cast are fabulous; with Jonathan Bailey’s ‘Getting Married Today’ well worth the ticket price.
- The Lehman Trilogy at National Theatre; I had no idea what to expect going into this play but it was one of the most interesting things I saw this year. Three actors; Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley, tell the centuries long story of the Lehman brothers, from migrants to the US to banking mogels.
- Little Shop of Horrors at Open Air Theatre; JCS had given me very high expectations of the musical this year and this wacky show was just such fun. Marc Antolin was great as the put-upon Seymour, Vikki Vox as Audery II bought the house down and the whole design of the show was excellent. I cannot WAIT for Evita next summer.
- Summer & Smoke at Almeida Theatre; You can read my full thoughts on this play here; and I still think that Patsy Ferran’s performance is the best I’ve seen all year