D4D

Boy, it sure would be nice if we had some grenades, don't you think?

More Posts in 2017?

One of my aims/hopes for 2017 is to write more stuff here.  It slackened off massively for a while, and I’ve never really got back to the same levels as back in the first few years. I’m not necessarily aiming to go back to those levels either, but it’d be nice to write more here, and it’ll be related to other stuff that’s planned, so it kind of makes sense.

As part of that though, I did wonder about my annual post counts, so through the wonders of databases, I came up with the following…

  • 2002 – 411 posts
  • 2003 – 987 posts – the busiest year
  • 2004 – 882 posts
  • 2005 – 950 posts
  • 2006 – 823 posts
  • 2007 – 666 posts – the year of the beast, obviously
  • 2008 – 491 posts
  • 2009 – 535 posts
  • 2010 – 362 posts
  • 2011 – 43 – all time low, for reasons known to regular readers
  • 2012 – 141 posts
  • 2013 – 245 posts
  • 2014 – 233 posts
  • 2015 – 179 posts
  • 2016 – 151 posts

I’m not disheartened by that – I know I’ve had other things going on in the last couple of years, and that 2016 in particular has been madly busy with stuff that I haven’t written a lot about, so it all works out somewhat.  And even then it still works out as about three posts a week, which isn’t abysmal.

We’ll see, come the end of the year, how things have gone.  But for now, the plan is to write more here, as well as elsewhere.

What’s The Plan?

And here we are, at the start of 2017. Didn’t that come round quickly?

As with previous years, I don’t really make resolutions. It’s all pretty arbitrary, the whole resolutions thing, so I usually choose to make plans from one birthday to the next, rather than the whole “January 1st is for new starts” cobblers.

This year, I’ve got some plans for 2017 as a whole though – although they’re not much different to what I’d laid out back in November.  However, in my head, I’ve laid some of these down as being “this year” instead. I don’t quite know why, but it’ll work for me.

So – what are they?  Well, in no particular order…

  • Finances
    • Add a significant amount into the savings
  • Work
    • Figure out what comes next after the current contract (I’m sure that’ll happen at some point in the coming year)
    • Learn some new stuff, because why not?
    • Launch at least one of the projects that’ve been in my head for way too long
  • Writing
    • Complete at least one of the screenplay ideas I’ve started in 2016
    • and then figure out what the hell to do with it/them
    • Complete a book idea I’ve got, and publish it (for Kindle)
  • Health
    • Lose weight (I’ve put some on over the Festering Season, and want to lose that, plus a bit more)
    • Do some training/practice walks for that walking marathon in September
    • and then complete it on the day

And really that’s it. There might be a couple of other projects along the way, but that’s the main objectives, all in one place.

Whether or not they happen, I don’t know. (Obviously, as we’re only on Day One)  But I’m going to give it a damn good go.

 

Eating Out – The 2016 Summary

In all over this year, I’ve had 22 Michelin-starred meals in 18 places, for a total of 36 stars all told.  I’ve tried to keep a wide range through the year, from pubs-with-stars through to some of the most spectacular-looking dining destinations in the UK.  In no particular order, I’ve been to…

  • Three-star
    • Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester Hotel, London
    • Waterside Inn, Bray, Berkshire
  • Two-star
    • Hélène Darroze at the Connaught Hotel, London (three times, including tonight)
    • Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham (twice)
    • Midsummer House, Cambridge
    • Hibiscus, London (now closed)
    • Hand and Flowers, Marlow
    • Manoir aux Quat Saison, Great Missenden, Oxon (for my Birthday, no less!)
    • Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, London
    • The Ledbury, London
    • Marcus at the Berkeley Hotel, London
  • One star
    • House of Tides, Newcastle (twice)
    • Raby Hunt, Summerhouses, Darlington
    • Pony & Trap, Chew Magna, Bristol
    • Paris House, Woburn, Beds
    • Benares, London
    • Alimentum, Cambridge
    • Wild Rabbit, Kingham, Oxon

Interestingly, neither of the three-starred places count anywhere notable on my favourites.  In my opinion the best restaurants of the year have been

  • 1st= Hélène Darroze
  • 1st= Midsummer House
  • 3rd= Hibiscus
  • 3rd= House of Tides

The best meals, on the other hand, is a smaller list – the top three would be…

  • Hélène Darroze – the second visit
  • Hélène Darroze – the first visit
  • Midsummer House

Yes, Darroze really is that good (in my opinion, of course – others may vary)

Alongside that, honorable mentions go to

  • Wild Rabbit – any other year, it would certainly have been in the top three, and indeed I’d say it’s probably number four/five in the list
  • Marcus – much as I dislike the man himself, I can’t deny that the meal was bloody marvellous

There are other places I still want to go (and I’m considering another Scotland visit at some point in 2017) but I won’t be going to anywhere like as many as this year.  I’ve massively enjoyed it, and I truly don’t want to become blase about the entire thing.

So There It Was

And there we are, done with the Festering Season for another year. Well, nine months.

This year has actually been vaguely decent, as it happens – with a kind-of enforced break happening due to it all being on a weekend, and thus including two days of pretty much sod-all squared.

My only outstanding job on Christmas Eve was to collect pre-ordered foodstuffs from two places, both of which had happened before 9am (as planned, even with one of them being an absolute clownshow) so I was home before most people had even got out of bed. And from there on in, I did pretty much nothing – caught up on some recorded TV, read a book (well, Kindle, but same thing) and went out for a walk round the village in the evening. And that was pretty much it.

Christmas Day involved going over to the parents – once the cats had been appeased with food and biscuits, and I’d sorted out what was being taken over there – and a decent day was had by all. Home for about midnight. And that’s about it.

Boxing Day was similar to Christmas Eve, except with even less visiting of retail emporia – I went out for two shortish walks to achieve my daily steps goal, and that was it.

So for me, Christmas has been properly quiet, and probably the laziest I’ve been all year. Which was exactly what I wanted and needed, and just how I’d planned it.

So yeah, that’ll do.

Waiting Around

I wrote a while back about how bad I am at doing nothing – something I hadn’t properly realised before this year.

In a related way, I’ve also found I’m not great at days when the only thing I’ve got planned is in the evening. It’s not too bad during the week, because I’ve done stuff during the day, and then just adding bits in the evenings.

But on weekends, it’s not the same. There’ve been a few days this year where I’ve had afternoon or evening stuff planned, and it’s left me feeling like I’m at a bit of a loss in the mornings, like it’s kind of freeweheeling a bit, not knowing quite what I want to do, or where I want to be.

Honestly, it’s not a feeling I’m overly comfortable with – I like having a plan, and getting on with it. Being in a holding pattern ’til later in the day isn’t something I do well.

I’m more aware of this now, and come 2017, I’ll be making better plans, knowing this about myself. If I’ve got something in the evening, I’ll also do something in a similar area earlier in the day – or just get better at having a half-day.

So Here It is

And now, the Festering Break begins.  Not that I’m taking much of a break – that’s not even a surprise these days – but still, it’ll be four days of doing very little. And I’m OK with that.

As it turns out, the entire Festering Season thing hasn’t annoyed me too much this year. Sure, it’s got the standard annoyances and irritations – the same old, same old adverts on TV that you can’t miss for a good couple of months, the inane bollocks that shops do (filling the shelves with tat, blah blah blah) and so on, but that’s all pretty much par for the course.

What’s different, and has been for the last couple of years, is that I have less and less people trying to tell me how I should feel, or how I should be, around the Festering Season. I’m rotten at doing (or feeling) what I “should” do at any given time anyway, but for some reason this Season always exacerbates that, with people telling me I “should” be more festive, or “should” decorate my office, or “should” do a Christmas meal/party with clients, and any number of other things that I should be doing, because ‘everybody else does it’.

So it turns out that really, my enjoyment (or at least tolerance) of the Festering Season is more than a little dependent on (and inversely affected by) the number of people who feel it’s their place to tell me what I should do or feel in that season.

This year, far fewer people have done it, so conversely I’m OK with the season. More or less.

The Last Bits, and The Next Bits

It’s hard to believe that it’s only a week to Christmas Day, and two to the end of 2016.

This week we’ve had temperatures up around 10-13° C – which is ridiculous for mid-December – and I’ve been wandering around in shirt-sleeves.  (While also wondering just how people are walking about fully clad in coat, gloves, and even furry hats. What the bollocks are they going to do when it gets cold, for fuck’s sake?)

Yesterday was my penultimate Michelin-starred restaurant visit of the year, so it’s all coasting down to the end of year. Which is no bad thing, to be honest.

I’ve got some plans and ideas for 2017, but really I think the theme is “do less”.  I’ll still be doing all the stuff I’ve been doing in 2016, just less of it.  That’s the idea, anyway. Whether it’ll work out that way, well, only time will tell.

Post Navigation