2019… a year in review!

2019… a year in review!

It took a fair few password reminders and a bit of a (HUGE) tidy up before I could even get to this page, but I am here now and looking forward to writing again. My last post – recipes aside – was in September 2018 so I am very rusty but will give it my best shot. We have a lot of catching up to do!

I guess the most obvious place to start is at the beginning of this year when just days after we welcomed in the start of 2019, our kitchen ceiling came crashing down.

It was the middle of the night and I heard the Greek God(zilla) leap out of bed and race downstairs, muttering “SHIT!” with every step. By the time he made it to the kitchen there was a big hole in the ceiling and water was pouring out of it. It turns out that the man who fitted our new bathroom the year before – and left before finishing the job, never to be seen again – had not sealed behind the shower properly and it caused so much water damage that we had to replace the entire kitchen ceiling. Happy New Year!

It didn’t seem to faze our new rescue cat, Percy, too much. As long as he could still get to his food bowl, he was happy. The repair works went on for a few weeks, but he slept blissfully through it all. I was never been much of a cat person before, but this little boy has brought so much joy to our lives and we are so happy to share our home – and hearts – with him.

With both the kitchen and bathroom being out of bounds, I was forced to shower at the gym. I knew my membership would come in handy one day!

While I was there, I thought I may as well start using some of the other facilities too. I started the couch to 5k (again) on the treadmill, used the pool at weekends and tried out a few studio classes. After a few weeks, I felt AMAZING. Who knew that exercise is actually good for you?! And, with weight loss not being my main motivation this time, I continued to go to the gym 3-times per week for most of the year. I have slipped off the wagon a bit these past few weeks (ok… December) but will be back on it again next week because I have missed it (who even am !?!).

I did a lot more of the things I love this year. I started a Film Club with some of the school mums. We meet once a month and take turns to choose the film, which means that I have seen and enjoyed lots of films that it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to see before. Our Film Club picks were ‘Green Book’, ‘The Sisters’ Brothers’, ‘Long Shot’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, ‘Judy’, ‘Midsomer’, ‘The Joker’ and ‘Knives Out’. I’d say I was most surprised by ‘The Sisters Brothers’, which was very gory but I liked it! I was most disappointed by ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, which I really wanted to love but just didn’t get, although I do still adore Brad and Leo who are both great in the film. My favourite Film Club pick was ‘Judy’. I missed the months when we went to see ‘Midsomer’ (no babysitter) and ‘The Joker’ (a funeral, more on this later).

However, I did also sneak off to the cinema on my own to see ‘The Favourite’, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, ‘Late Night’, ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Last Christmas’; plus I took Z to see ‘Dumbo’, ‘Toy Story 4’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’. So, all in all it was a brilliant year of film for me and I hope to continue to make time to go to the cinema for many years to come.

I also spent more time reading this year – 19 books in total.  The ones I really enjoyed and could not put down are ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney, ‘Three Women’ by Lisa Taddeo, ‘Whisper Network’ by Chandler Baker and ‘The Cactus’ by Sarah Haywood – all brilliant. Basically, if Reese Witherspoon recommends it, I’ll read it!

I also liked the ‘The Day We Met’ by Roxie Cooper, even though it had me in absolute floods by the end! Only read this book if you are prepared to ugly cry – I was SOBBING for days. I even tweeted the author to let her know and she very sweetly tweeted me back. I am currently reading Wham! George and Me, by Andrew Ridgeley, which I received for Christmas. I was a huge Wham/George fan back in the day and am looking forward to getting properly stuck in to this one.

But, 2019 wasn’t all about books and movies (or the theatre, which I also love!) – I did actually do some work too! Since we closed our Greek dips business in 2018, I have been working part-time from home as a PA and currently have 5 lovely clients! They are all very different, but I feel so proud to work with them all. I am too busy to watch daytime TV, but not too busy to still enjoy my afternoons with Z. He has after school activities a couple of times a week, so I use this time to pick up emails and tidy up odds and ends from the working day. It’s a really good balance and I feel happier now in this aspect of my life than I have in a long time.

My health was more of a nuisance this year. As I am fast approaching the big 5-0 (only 4-years away – surely this can’t be true?!) I have noticed that my body does not seem to work quite as smoothly as it once did. I had blood tests in March, which flagged up that my thyroid was out of whack again. My rosacea was also the worst it has ever been and I had to take antibiotics for 12-weeks to clear it. I hated taking the antibiotics but they did the trick and my face is no longer sore and on fire. At the risk of really sounding my age, I then did my foot in at the gym and my hips ache if I sleep on one side for too long! The icing on the cake is that I am pretty sure the menopause is just around the corner so at least that’s something else for me to look forward to…

Greek Easter was soon upon us and Yiayia passed the responsibility of decorating the eggs to me this year! The PRESSURE! I was very nervous but I think they turned out ok and, if not, then everyone was very polite about them. A new egg champion was crowned – well done Carolyn!

As the Greek God(zilla) was about to go off on his annual cricket tour to Somerset, I managed to squeeze in a girls trip to Paris. We walked for miles, drank a lot wine and ate all of the cheese. It was magical!!

How I love these glorious women who I am lucky enough to call my friends. We did not stop chatting and laughing all weekend.

My father-in-law celebrated his 96th birthday in June and I made a batch of Cypriot flaounes for him. They are a bit like cheese scones and are traditionally made at Easter. They were a real chore to make but he was delighted with them and even asked to take some home.

I experimented with a lot of new recipes this year and although I am certainly no Nigella, I am starting to feel more and more confident every day. I try to make as much as I can from scratch and use local produce when I can. We have also started to reduce the amount of meat we eat and want to follow much more of a plant based diet in 2020. This was actually our 10-year old’s idea as he is worried about the impact eating meat has on the planet, but one that we are very happy to oblige. Luckily, he loves a vegetable and has always been very good at trying new foods so we will start by just cutting out meat for now and see how we all get on. I think the Greek God(zilla) will struggle with this the most as he was raised to believe that the vegetarian option is chicken or sausages!

The class camping trip is always a lot of fun and more so this year because we decided to forget about preparing a BBQ and ordered a takeaway curry to be delivered to the campsite instead. It was a brilliant decision and we were the envy of the other campers still patiently waiting for their coals to heat up.

Typically, it absolutely chucked it down and the weather was so miserable when I woke up that all I could do was stay in my sleeping bag and listen to the rain hammering down on the tent. I knew it would be hours before the others would rise and as the campsite is very close to home, I pulled on my wellies, headed across the field to the car park and drove home for a hot shower and a cup of tea! Feeling a bit guilty, I popped a couple of packets of sausages in the oven and took them back to the campsite with me later that morning – I was very popular!

I think it is safe to say that I am not much of a camper… although maybe I would get more into the spirit of the outdoors if we camped for longer than 1 night – it just seems like such a lot of ‘stuff’ and effort is required for less than 24-hours in a tent.

One of the highlights of the camping weekend was the family cricket match the Greek God(zilla) organised. Everyone really got into it… until the Greek God(zilla) caught Z out and then he was in a mood for the rest of the afternoon.

Z became obsessed with cricket this year. He joined a team and watched the Cricket World Cup endlessly on TV. When a local cricket club invited kids from local teams to meet Liam Plunkett and see the World Cup, he was beside himself with excitement! The Greek God(zilla) decided to ‘work from home’ that day to escort Z to the event but I think this photobomb proves he might have had a personal agenda. Look how happy he is!

They both walked away with an autograph and a half promise from Liam to join the Greek God(zilla) on his cricket retreat to cider country next year.

Summer arrived but sadly, the sunshine did not. This didn’t stop my parents from throwing a Hawaiian themed party in the first week of the school summer holidays and my Dad even optimistically filled the giant paddling pool. The kids were in and out of the water all weekend, but I need to feel a bit of sun on my skin before putting on my swimmers.

Fortunately, a summer holiday to Spain was imminent and you’re always guaranteed warm weather in Spain, right?

No.

This photo was taken in Spain on my 46th birthday when the sky turned black and the heavens opened moments later. We may not have had 2-weeks of glorious sunshine, but we hired a car and did get to explore some beautiful parts of the country and sample lots of the local food and wine! We spent a week with the Greek God(zilla)’s sister in Tarragona, which was a real treat. She has a beautiful home there and really looked after us. Z and I both spent our birthdays with her and had a fab time.

We returned the day before the start of the new term and straight back into work, 17 mountains of laundry and something else that I had been dreading all summer… Z’s secondary school applications!

We visited as many of the local schools as we could and changed our mind about 67 times over the order in which to place them in. In the end, we decided to each write the schools in order of our preference and compare them. All 3 of us put the same first choice school so we just had to agree the order of the others. I was relieved to submit the application early and will try not to think about the outcome until March 2020. Yeah right!! My baby is going to BIG school. Proper big school. I’m not ready!

Towards the end of October, we received the very sad news that my father-in-law, Lefteris, had passed away. I don’t think anything can ever prepare you for the loss of a parent. It is brutal. I saw this with the Greek God(zilla).

Lefteris was the loveliest man and we were so lucky to have him in our lives for so long. We will miss you, Papou!

In the wake of this news, the Greek God(zilla) decided to cancel the big party he had planned for his 50th birthday in December. He just didn’t feel like celebrating and I totally understood this and so we decided on a low key get together at home with just a few close friends instead.

What he didn’t know, was that I had been secretly working on a birthday project for him since September. I had decided to mark his 50-years on this planet with a book called ’50 things we love about you’, and I asked 50 people from different stages of his life to each contribute one of the things. Trying to co-ordinate 50-people to send their messages in before the deadline was no mean feat, however, I somehow managed to pull it off and it is probably one of the most special gifts I have ever given to anyone.

Christmas was a much more relaxed affair this year as for the first time since we have had Z, we decided not to stay overnight anywhere. We spent Christmas Day with Yiayia, which was very chilled and lovely. We booked a taxi for 7.30pm and was home in time for the Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special. What did you think of the ending? I WANT MORE!

Waking up in our own beds on Boxing Day was amazing and we had all morning to rest and sort ourselves out before heading off to meet my family in Essex. The group gets bigger every year and I think there might be over 40 of us now with my grandmother at the helm. Then there are her 6 children and their partners, 14 grandchildren and their partners, and 12 great-grandchildren! My uncle dresses up as Father Christmas and the great-grandchildren hand out the presents. Everyone brings a dish for the table, but it is still a bonkers day for the person hosting us all. Usually, we are on the road for 3-4 days, but the Greek God(zilla) drove us home at the end of the night and it was just so lovely to be at home this year.

So, we started the year with a hole in the ceiling and ended it with a hole in our hearts. There were some nice moments, but I wouldn’t say it was a well-balanced year. Here’s hoping for happier times in 2020 for us all!

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