Monday, January 03, 2011

I can't believe my ears. Did we just break a story that wasn't 'The Ipswich manager's just got sacked'?

Right, so I did actually spend some time writing a 'review of the year' type blog post in my notebook on the day I flew home for Christmas but, well, I've decided not to bother with it. 2010 was pretty sucky for many reasons, and I focused on that a fair bit but I think that was at least partly because I was stressed about the possibility of my flight getting cancelled. There were lots of good things too about 2010. I think I can best sum up the highs and lows in the form of a list:

2010 +/-
+ New job, pay rise, working with interesting people
- New government closing my workplace, lots of stress, a buttload of commuting
+ It looks like my job may be moved to a new organisation, so no need to sign on just yet
+ Nic is lovely and we had many many wonderful adventures together
- The aforementioned work stress combined with family troubles meant I had a rough few months
- Real friendship heartache, being bitched about and lied about by hypocrites
+ I met some fantastic people by joining Sew Make Believe and meeting Louise
+ I learned how to sew!
- My extended family are buttheads
+ My immediate family are lovely
So, that's 2010. On balance there were more pluses than minuses, so I can go into 2011 feeling positive, I think!

Since I last blogged about a week ago, I've been joined at home by Nic. Luckily all of the inconvenient snow melted away in time for him to be able to fly into Dublin last week and since he's been here in Northern Ireland with me we've been having a grand time. Well, mainly a very lazy time but that's what holidays are all about. The horrible stinky cold I picked up on my way home has been doing the rounds of my family and I have been also finding it very difficult to shake off so we've mainly just been lazing around at home watching rubbish TV and hanging out with my family. It's been bliss!
For the first time in about 10 years I went out on New Year's Eve. It was an opportunity to go out with all of my siblings, which is always good fun. We were joined by my cousin Kim, and it was also her birthday, so we felt very celebratory indeed! Despite not having the petticoat to wear underneath it (yeah, thanks Royal Mail) I was very excited to wear the beautiful Vivien of Holloway dress Nic had bought me for Christmas, and we all headed out to the always reliable Hagan's Bar in Dungannon:

My siblings are so gorgeous, sometimes I think my parents found me under the gooseberry bush!
Hagan's was very busy, although not as busy as I've seen it on other occasions. They were giving out free champagne and we bagged a table next to one of the bars so, drinks-wise we were all set. We were joined by my sister's other halves and assorted friends, and we were quite the merry crew. On what could be a very stressful evening, we did manage to have a lot of fun.

Me, enjoying the free champagneWith Nic, who was looking very handsome...
And he enjoyed the Guinness. Well, he was in Ireland!
Kim and Stacey had a good time

We all enjoyed the free masks
I'm pretty lame, and I'm not used to being somewhere so crowded and loud, so I have a shameful confession to make. Despite not drinking over-much (well, not really any more than on an average night in the Somerville) I was sick! Yes, I was that classy, boking in a bin in the toilets of Hagan's. It was not the most glamorous end to the evening, and certainly not how I wanted to start 2011! Still, it could have been a lot worse. I didn't get any boke on my dress.
We were all feeling somewhat delicate on New Year's Day. Poor Kelly had to work, but the rest of us were able to have a long lie in and a lazy afternoon. Thankfully neither Nic nor I were hungover, just tired. In the afternoon we went to see my grandma and aunt, before coming home and settling down to watch the Father Ted night on Channel 4. It was very exciting to see Neil Hannon talking about composing the music for the show, and even better to watch my daddy wiping away tears of laughter while watching the writers' favourite episode, Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse. We managed to rouse ourselves on Sunday, however, and decided to get out of the house and go for a day out.
Ever since Nic and I have been together, I have been telling him he should see the Giant's Causeway so we decided to head up there. After paying the extortionate 'parking' fee of £6 (yeah, screw you too National Trust) we went for some lunch in the Causeway hotel. The food was good, and the people who served us were very nice but the hotel is a bit of a dump and very weirdly organised. We needed to get a fellow patron to explain how we could place an order for food! I was feeling a bit grumpy, and rather guilty for dragging my parents and Nic out but luckily the Giant's Causeway itself more than made up for any other shortcomings of the day. I hadn't been since I was in secondary school so didn't quite remember how beautiful it is.
The coastline from the top of the cliff path
It was pretty cold, and we were expecting the causeway to be deserted but there were loads of people there. And it turned out to be a really good day to see it, because it was windy and dramatic:
We thoroughly enjoyed scrambling about and climbing all over the rocks. So of course, I took lots of photos. So did Nic, so at some point in the next few days you can read about it and see his photos at Squeezegut Alley, probably!
How much do I love this picture of Nic and my daddy on the rocks?!
Nic and I, taken by daddy from on a great height! My mum was very cold!

We had a lot of fun, and I can certainly recommend visiting the Giant's Causeway, if only to see the bizarre artist's rendering of what Finn McCool looked like! Of course, there were some silly tourists who were underwhelmed by it ("I thought it would be bigger! What's so giant about this?") but it was excellent. It was dark as we were leaving, so unfortunately we didn't make it round the coast to Dunluce Castle, but that will be an adventure for another day! On our way home we stopped in Maghera for a coffee in the lovely Walsh's Hotel before getting home to eat pizza in pyjamas and watch a film. It was blissful!
Today Nic and I headed into town for a coffee and a wander around. Dungannon is actually pretty good for shopping - while there are some of the bigger high street shops, there are also a fair few independent shops selling smaller labels. Last week I bought an Emily and Fin dress from Aurora and today I bought some Irregular Choice shoes from Solo (which sadly doesn't have a website, but it's on Scotch Street. Just past the Presbyterian Church)
Shoes number 36: Irregular Choice Flick Flack shoes: red and metallicYes, more Flick Flack shoes! I might employ the old 'one in, one out' here and give my black Flick Flack shoes to my sisters. I bought them this time last year, before I realised I need to buy a size smaller in Irregular Choice shoes so they are a wee bit too big, and I could do with the room in my wardrobe. Anyway, it's another pair to add to the Ruby Shoesday rotation (although I'm not sure if anyone is still doing that?!) and they were even more reduced than the price sticker suggested so: yes!
We've got one more full day here in Northern Ireland before heading back to Leamington. I booked the rest of this week off work so I could have a nice long time at home, so my back-to-work pain is not going to kick in until Sunday, which is nice! I'll catch you all when I'm back in Leamington, blogging on my own computer. I'm looking forward to that because trying to write a blog on my dad's Windows 7 laptop is a ballache. Seriously.

One last thing I didn't add to my list of pluses for 2010 is this blog. It's caused me some minor stresses at times, but mainly it's been brilliant. I've met some fabulous people through it, people who have become real friends and I've made contact with some other wonderful people out there. It's helped me to have fun with my style, to form a good relationship with my body and, you know, it's really good to know that there are some amazing people out there listening to me. Thank you to all of my lovely readers - I hope 2011 has lots of fun in store for us!