Thoughts on our 10th wedding anniversary

I often imagine what future dates will be like.  But I’m not sure I would have accurately predicted, ten years ago today when Geth and I got married, what our lives would be like a decade on.

I would have been semi-surprised to see myself living in Newcastle.  We already knew that Southampton (where we were living at the time) wasn’t quite right for us in terms of distance from family and various other things, but at that point we were hoping either to move back to Scotland or to somewhere like Manchester or Leeds.  Newcastle wasn’t really on our radar, and in fact the first time I ever visited was when we were househunting after Geth got the job here, but I’m really happy here and with the life we have in north-east England now.  I feel settled.

While I had vaguely thought about running after enjoying the indoor version on Wii Fit circa 2009-2010, I don’t think I would have imagined that I’d have got into the habit of doing it every day – or that the first thing I’d do on our 10th anniversary would be to go for a run in the pouring November rain!  I also couldn’t have imagined that I’d have got Geth (who at that point was resolute about ‘walking to work being enough exercise’) into running too…

I would have been surprised (and a little disappointed) to see myself mostly still spending my work days proofreading.  Ten years ago, I still viewed my proofreading business as a bit of a stopgap, and hoped that my creative work would support me eventually.  That hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve taken a lot of positive steps in the intervening time, have branched out a bit and am now very happy with my portfolio career and its future possibilities, even if it’s still the proofreading that’s the bread and butter.  I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Geth taking on senior academic roles and winning teaching awards, though I might have been a little indignant on his behalf (as I am now to some extent) that it hadn’t happened sooner!

For our anniversary celebration itself, I blithely assumed that we’d be off in the tropics somewhere!  But we’re so busy with work that it’s actually quite impressive we’ve made the effort to go out for a meal tonight, rather than collapsing on the sofa with a takeaway like we usually do these days.

So much has changed.  But while I can’t speak for myself, I’m happy that Geth is exactly the same as he always has been.  He is my constant in life and I couldn’t love him more.  I’m so excited to see what the next decade brings us.

10th wedding anniversary

Shrove Tuesday / St David’s Day

Shrove Tuesday and St David’s Day fall on the same day this year, apparently for the first time since 1960. Geth was hopeful that this would mean we could have both pancakes and Welsh cakes today, but I think that would be a little excessive. We’ve got some nice daffodils on the mantelpiece that will do for the latter celebration.

Daffodils

No pancake pictures as we’ll be eating late!

Burns Night

It’s a busy time for me at the moment, so I’m not hugely in the mood for celebrating anything, but it was nice to make the effort to cook Burns Supper tonight.

Burns Supper

A really nice change. We even sat at the dining table instead of in front of the TV!

Thirty-seven

I think, from today onwards, I may be slipping over the border towards ‘late thirties’ rather than ‘mid-thirties’. I am much more okay about this kind of border crossing than I used to be in my younger days. Life is getting better in most ways as I progress through it.

I had a nice normal birthday today (in contrast to last year) because I was able to spend the morning celebrating with family in Edinburgh before travelling back to Newcastle for the evening. I’ve got a few final days of Christmas to enjoy at home before the decorations disappear for another year.

Birthday cake
Dad made me his usual delicious New York style cheesecake. Photo (c) John Cooke 2022.

…and hello 2022!

Geth and I did do a New Year’s Day parkrun this morning but I’ll save my regularly scheduled parkrunday post for tomorrow. Lots of 2022 stuff to discuss today!

This year’s non-binding New Year Resolutions:

  • Sort out the house. It didn’t happen last year and it may not happen this year, but I would at least like to get some more stuff up on the walls (including that spice rack I bought a year ago) and work out a more manageable cleaning schedule.
  • Don’t book any midweek trips away and assume I can just ‘squeeze any work in’. I’m far too busy to be away during the week. Trips will be weekend-only with very rare exceptions.
  • Get one or two of my years-in-the-making longer game projects published by focusing on those rather than short things for jams and competitions.
  • Use the skills from my TechUP course to build at least two fairly complex websites.
  • Create some games using Python!
  • Take another big chunk off my marathon PB at the Edinburgh Marathon in May.
  • Get back to the fitness level I was when everything screeched to a grinding halt in March 2020.
  • Get my parkrun ‘different events’ total up to at least 30, continue to volunteer once a month, get my Wilson index to 15 (geeky – don’t worry if you don’t know what that is) and take part in parkrun every possible parkrunday!
  • Listen to more music and keep a closer eye on what’s going on with synthwave, industrial and heritage artists.
  • Actually leave the UK for the first time in four years (Ireland is the plan… not going far but it’ll be something!).
  • Catch up with what’s been happening with Doctor Who. It’s my favourite TV series but I’ve drifted away from the fandom over the last few years as I’ve been busy with other things and haven’t been hugely fond of the Whittaker/Chibnall era. I’m about two and a half series behind!
  • Finish all the books I’m reading. I’ve got into an awful habit over the last year where I start a book, read it for a week or so (last thing at night in bed is my reading time), neglect reading for the following week or so (because I’m anxious about not getting enough sleep if I read… even though I know I sleep better if I do), then abandon it and start a different book. This year, I’m going to concentrate on one at a time and read them right to the end. 20 books in 2022 seems like a good target!
  • Make a LOT more time for videogaming by keeping my evenings and weekends free. My game backlog is probably 1,000+ now and it’s time to start whittling that down. It’s my favourite way to relax and I most definitely have not been doing enough relaxing in 2021, so this has to be a real priority over the next year.

It’ll be interesting, as ever, to come back to this post in a year’s time! I didn’t make any resolutions last year except the house-sorting one, which was kind of a fail… let’s hope there’ll be more hits than misses in 2022.

P.S. Happy birthday blog! Four years today since I started my daily rambles.

Shin Megami Tensei V
Geth’s current videogame (which he has been playing nonstop since Christmas Day) is Shin Megami Tensei V, which I got him for Christmas. I would love to spend as much time videogaming as Geth does, and in order to do so I am planning to reorganise a few things this year.

Goodbye 2021…

I always intend to post lots of blogs at the end of the year with lots of big lists of all the things I did and the media I consumed and my highlights… but December is always so insanely busy I never get round to it. Maybe in 2022 I will write them as I go along haha! It’ll just have to be one megapost this year…

This year’s big resolution was to sort the house out. I did not do that and now it is one of 2022’s big resolutions. Other things have just taken more priority.

Business exploded in a good way this year, which means that I’m now working a lot more hours. It’s taking a while to adjust my life to this, and I’m beginning to realise that I can no longer just plan a trip away midweek on the assumption that I won’t have much work to squeeze in. 2022 will be a lot stricter in this regard.

I continued writing and coding text adventures and being involved in the wider interactive fiction community, and managed to release four games for various competitions. My highlights were winning the Scott’s Choice Award from legendary text adventure game creator Scott Adams for Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and winning PunyJam #2 with Morris, my first ever PunyInform release. I also enjoyed making a short game for ParserComp based on photos of the beautiful area around Causey Arch after visiting it with Mum and Dad, and my first ever attempt at speed IF for EctoComp!

Since October I’ve also been very busy with studying for the TechUP Software Development course. I have learnt a lot of Python and other very interesting things that I will be taking forward as my career gradually transitions more towards tech. (The Python knowledge will also enable me to do some very fun stuff with my game development!)

Running has continued on a more positive trajectory this year, with races and parkruns returning. I am nowhere near as fit as I was in March 2020 when everything shut down, but I have still managed two important PBs in 2021 – I took nearly five minutes off my 10k PB at the Sunderland 10k, and more than 45 minutes off my marathon PB at the London Marathon. I have also completed the second year of my daily run streak today and am hugely proud of that, as it’s been very difficult at times. Finally, parkrun-wise I have visited two new-to-me parkruns (Girvan Prom and Southwark) and earned my V25 t-shirt with my 25th volunteer stint!

As usual, I didn’t listen to much new music, but I absolutely loved the long-awaited new Duran Duran album Future Past, and I was over the moon at finally being able to see them live in Birmingham in September. Geth and I then saw Andy Taylor the very next night back home in Newcastle, and we had a great time seeing Soft Cell in Leeds in November. Lots more COVID-postponed gigs to come in 2022 (and some reviews of the ones I’ve recently attended!).

I watched pretty much zero new TV shows and films this year, though there were a few I added to my ‘buy the BluRay at some point’ list. I did record a lot of stuff on my digibox though! Geth has watched thousands of hours of YouTube channels about gaming and running, and I’ve enjoyed those by virtue of being in the same room. I did enjoy the Strictly series in the autumn, as ever.

I didn’t manage to find nearly as much time for videogaming this year as I would have liked, but there have still been a good few games to enjoy. In addition to playing all the other text adventure games in the jams and competitions I entered (see above – and also finishing off the Adventuron Christmas jam games from last year in January!), I finished Bravely Second in time for the much-anticipated Bravely Default II coming out, played Bravely Default II on and off from February but have still not made much headway ten months later, played the interesting demo of Project Triangle Strategy (set for full release on Switch in 2022 as just Triangle Strategy), finished Final Fantasy I (finally! I will be moving onto FFII for 2022), got very freaked out by Return of the Obra Dinn, got most of the way through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, played about ten minutes of Pikmin Bloom before deciding it wasn’t for me, enjoyed a couple of old ’90s platformers for Christmas that I’ve loved since childhood, started Braid again (will actually finish it this time!), continued enjoying the lovely meditative filler game Link-A-Pix Colour, and COMPLETED EVERY SINGLE DEMO ON THE NINTENDO 3DS ESHOP (a project I’ve been working on for years). Watch out for next year, when I will be putting some serious effort into finding a lot more time for games!

I have lots of plans and resolutions for 2022, but I’ll talk about those tomorrow…

Winter nails
Snowflake leggings and new silver nails – all ready for New Year.

I’ll do a separate earworm playlist post soon…. maybe (I’m considering starting to log that separately from the blog and doing a yearly chart instead). So far it’s three weeks’ worth of Christmas music and Disney/Pixar soundtracks. I must admit I am looking forward to listening to something else in January in order to clear it all from my brain.

Time for myself

The strange thing I’ve found about this Christmas holiday is that, after a year of nonstop rushing and deadlines, having time to myself is making me slightly anxious because I’m being a perfectionist about enjoying it efficiently! I’m trying to relax a bit more and just go with the flow of what I want to do. Yesterday evening I went back to my Python coding practice, even though that’s technically ‘work’ as it’s part of my TechUp course, because that was what I felt like doing. I’m also planning to make a bit more time for myself in January and February, as I’ll be very busy with finishing the course and I’ll need some relaxing downtime to balance it out.

Switch Lite case
My Switch Lite, charging in its case (its battery was almost flat yesterday). I might play it later, or I might not… it depends how I feel!

More peace and quiet

It’s going to be another lovely day spent doing some gaming! I got back into Braid on Steam yesterday (a game I’ve been meaning to finish for a long time) and am also charging my Switch Lite, as it’s seemingly run out of battery since the last time I used it. I may also be doing some coding later, as Geth got me lots of interesting coding books for Christmas.

Christmas leggings
I’ve run out of Christmas food photos for the time being, so here’s a picture of today’s Christmas leggings instead.

The golden week

The week in between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is my favourite week of the year. Quiet days with lots of videogaming and Christmas food. (This year I’m going to try and make the following week special too… I never really get the chance to have a ‘birthday week’ as there’s always too much going on with New Year followed by the dreaded ‘back to school’ feeling, but I’m going to try. Focusing on this week first though!)

It’s been so long since my last stretch of free time that I’m a little overwhelmed by all the options, so I’m going to spend this afternoon planning them out so that I’m not dithering during the rest of the week and can just curl up with my chosen books/games/podcasts!

Christmas presents
As a family we were very lucky with our haul again this year. Lots of things to enjoy later this week.