Forty Two

I turned forty two last weekend. I never feel like I really settle into the next decade of my life until I hit the second year, so I’m quite excited to see what will happen.

I had an incredibly rich intellectual and activist life during my twenties, but I was lonely,  completely bonkers, and on an emotional roller coaster the whole time. My thirties were a period of great personal development, including a proper relationship and a ton of therapy.  I’m hoping that my forties will be a time for self-actualisation.

But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never know what life is going to bring you, so I’m just going to try and be open to whatever comes my way.

January Life Round-Up

January has been pretty quiet.

The second week saw both the anniversary of our civil partnership in 2011 and our first proper date back in 2007, so we decided that was worth celebrating and went out for a nice dinner at a little French bistro near where we live.

We went to one gig. It was supposed to be folk legends John Kirkpatrick and Martin Carthy, but Martin had flu and had to pull out. John Kilpatrick  managed to get a set together at the last-minute and it was a really fun gig, with all the joy of watching a tuly consummate performer. Plus he sang one of my favourite songs by Fairport Convention, ‘Crazy Man Michael’.

Books

I finished and wrote a post about Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers.

I also read Star Nomad  the first in a series by Linda Buroker which was fun (CN for rape threat though).

Film

We went to see The Favourite and seem to be in disagreement with pretty much the rest of the universe because we didn’t like it!  I won’t get into the reasons here because it would take an entire post.

Television 

We watched Lucy Worsley’s series History of the Home which was fascinating. I love social history.

Winter Solstice

Image shows a stylised black and white drawing of the sun rising over a snow capped mountain and forest

The Winter Solstice is one of my favourite festivals. I’m pleased to know that the sun will be returning but, for me, this time of year is all about embracing the darkness and the quiet. It’s the point at which I draw the last year to a close and start to think about the twelve months ahead.

We were both getting colds, so we didn’t do much on the day, but we managed to give the flat a good clean and created a little altar with a candle. I made a butternut quash gratin by Nigel Slater and served it with a 1970s-style nut roast from my Good Housekeeping book of vegetarian recipes. My partner made delicious chocolate chip cookies.

There are three areas of my life that I’d like to focus on during the coming year.

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November Life Round-up

I usually struggle in November because it comes with some difficult anniversaries. This year, I decided to just try and enjoy it for what it is.

I did pretty well socially. Work sent me to North Wales, which gave me the opportunity to visit some friends on the way back. We took our nephew to the museum for an afternoon and he had a great time. We also went to a party at the end of the month at the house of people we hardly know, so that was definitely an achievement for us.

Reading 

I only finished two books in November and they were both re-reads, Persuasion by Jane Austen and Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie. I was motivated to read these after watching adaptations, Persuasion just because it’s wonderful and, along with Sense and Sensibility, is the Austen I like to read in the winter. I re-read Sleeping Murder with a view to actually writing a post about it, which I haven’t got around to doing yet.

Television 

I watched Anne of Green Gables (1985) and The Sequel (1987) for the first time and really enjoyed them. Anne of Green Gables isn’t really a “thing” in the UK, so I didn’t know much about it, but it was very important to my American partner.

I’m working my way through the Netflix re-imagining of The Haunting of Hill House. I think it’s brilliant, but it is f***ing with my head!

My chill-out watch has mostly been Chef’s Table, which has become more interesting now that the chefs have a bit more diversity. My favourite so far is the episode with Christina Martinez, an undocumented migrant who runs a traditional Mexican barbacoa restaurant in Philadelphia. It made me cry.  I really liked the one with Ana Ros, a self-taught Slovenian chef, too.

Film

We only watched one film and that was the 1995 adaptation of Persuasion. I didn’t really like this adaptation when I first saw it, but it’s grown on me over the years and is now one of my favourites. It has a different feel to other adaptations – slower and more realistic. The only thing I don’t like is the ending which has Anne and Wentworth kissing in the street as a circus goes past (why?) and then sees Wentworth demanding Anne’s hand in marriage in front of a room full of people (erm, no!).

Soundtrack to the Month 

Mostly Kristin Hersh!

October Life Round-up

Image shows a tree with all its leaves turned golden in the late afternoon sun

Poem: Louise Gluck, October (section II)

Work took me to London for a couple of days and then Mid Wales, where I stayed at a rather odd B&B. Sometimes I get sick of seeing the inside of Travelodge and Premier Inn rooms and opt for something more adventurous. A mistake, in this instance.

My partner had her birthday and we went out for gourmet pizza.

Then we went back to Mid Wales, but this time for a holiday. We stayed in Machynlleth and visited The Centre for Alternative Technology, Borth beach and my birthplace, Aberystwyth.  We ate a lot of vegetarian food in The Quarry Cafe and Treehouse. I love old-fashioned vegetarian restaurants.

If you’re ever in the area, check out the Pen’rallt Gallery Bookshop which is an absolutely lovely women-run bookshop.

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Lammas Day

Lammas Day is the first harvest festival of the year. It marks the wheat harvest and is usually celebrated around the 1st of August.

We didn’t manage to bake the traditional bread, but I made a vat of ratatouille because I thought, well, it kind of represents a harvest. One of my friends is giving us their bread-maker though, so that seems seasonally appropriate.

I’m not sure what I’m ‘harvesting’, in a personal sense, this year. I had an emotional crisis last winter which is still affecting me. That’s been horrible, but I’ve learned a lot from it.  Work is going well and we have decent housing for the next year, so I guess we’re also harvesting some stability in our lives for the first time in quite a few years.

Forty-one

I turned forty-one at the weekend.

I found hitting forty much harder than I expected. It’s not that I’m scared of getting older (yet, anyway!), but my fortieth brought up all this existential angst about life and meaning and my value and place in the world. The experience taught me that it’s a good idea to be aware of your subconscious beliefs about birthdays and not to treat any particular birthday as some kind of referendum on your life.

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