I also started to get a lot more paid proofreading work so wanted time away from the screen on days when there wasn't any to do. Plus perimenopause on top of Hashimoto's has started destroying my life at random intervals. I am a shadow of my former self right now (and I always felt that even my former self was still a shadow of who I was supposed to be, having battled autoimmune disease from the age of 15).
And Brexit has left me (if not us all) in a state of permanent uncertainty and stress. Aside from the more pressing issues of whether or not we will actually have medication, drinkable water and basic food supplies, will we be able to go anywhere ever again as of the end of March? Theresa May's staggering narrowmindedness, stubbornness and incompetence has left the entire nation in limbo, unable to make plans for anything, or see any kind of future. How we can be in this mess is beyond me. It should have all been stopped the day after the referendum. (Or preferably the day before the referendum.) Meanwhile, all the liars and criminals who forged the "leave" vote have not been held to account - in the words of our hopeless Prime Minister, "Nothing has changed!"- so even if we end up going to a second referendum, it will still just be taken over once again by the rabid rightwinger press barons, Russian Facebook ransackers, and tax-avoiding billionaires trying to protect their offshore bank accounts. I have never felt so despairing of my country. We used to be a funny, if slightly useless, place to live, but with fairly obvious strengths (multinational food, pretty scenery, lack of dangerous predators, tolerable if wet climate, free healthcare available to all, ability to laugh at ourselves). Now the place seems to be bordering on fascism, accepting of racism, and all of our state systems are on the verge of collapse. And the Opposition parties are all useless, when really it shouldn't be too hard to stand up and slag off this shambles of a government. But still, as long as the Tory Party stays together, eh?
So clearly no politican wants my vote, and I can't watch the news, and I just haven't felt inspired to write about what I have been watching. Telly is a bit of a Groundhog Day anyway - the same series coming back again and again, with not much more to say about them. Masterchef, Bake-off, Endeavour, Cold Feet, Death In Paradise, Strictly, the Last Leg. More recently, Deutschland '86 and Trapped have reappeared on our screens, which did offer a flicker of affection for the days when I used to write. In the past year, though, Killing Eve probably deserved a mention, as did a couple of things over Christmas (the ABC Murders, the Midnight Gang). Our daughter loves Dancing On Ice, and I will always have a soft spot for Torvill and Dean, who I got to see skating at Wembley Arena in 1986 thanks to a generous Christmas present from my grandparents. She has also become obsessed with Blue Peter, and has earned herself both the much coveted traditional Blue Peter badge and a diamond badge this year. This has saved us a fortune in admission fees (York Maze, Whipsnade Zoo, Tynemouth Aquarium, Bekonscot and Vindolanda among others) so is to be much lauded. It also entitled her to a free tour of MediaCity in Salford, including a visit to the Blue Peter studio (though it was partially dismantled for the summer break at the time we went - no sofa! - which was poor planning on my part).
I nearly wrote something about the posh hotels series set in Cliveden, since we went there last summer. But if I don't do something immediately, the memory quickly fades.
Les Miserables also should have had a blog post, since in October we went to a park in Brussels (see below) where some key scenes were filmed:
And as for our travels since our trip to Spain last April, we had the aforementioned trip to Buckinghamshire in August, staying at my aunt's. We also had a lovely week borrowing a house of some friends in Newcastle in the summer, but I don't think they would welcome a review on TripAdvisor or random people turning up on their doorstep trying to AirBnB. Newcastle and Northumberland are always worth a visit, however, even if you can't bag yourself some free accommodation:
|Housesteads Roman fort and Hadrian's Wall|
|Alnwick Castle, where the Quidditch in Harry Potter was filmed|
And talking of AirBnB, we tried it for the first time in October, when taking our daughter to Brussels, the heart of the European Union, to show her just how bloody stupid Britain is being right now. We travelled on Eurostar (just perfect) and stayed in a wonderful apartment in a brand new block just off the Grand-Place. We went to the Matisse, the Musical Instruments and the Manneken Pis Museums, ate a ton of expensive chocolate (the pound being worth nothing), and spent a day at the Atomium and Mini-Europe. If only the Remain Campaign had photocopied the back page of the Mini-Europe brochure to explain to our dumb-ass citizens what the European Union was all about. Then we wouldn't be in this mess. The Mini Europe model of the Houses of Parliament even has a little Brexit protest outside.
In February half-term, we unexpectedly went back to Center Parcs. This was because York's half-term was a week later than the rest of the country's, and Center Parcs didn't realise, so were charging about a third of the price of the previous week. We went to Sherwood, where there were plenty of familiar York faces, but most of our friends chose to go to Whinfell. I had expected there to be a possibility of snow on the A66, based on this time last year when the Beast from the East hit, so decided to head south instead. But the weather, as it turned out, could not have been more different.
However, the Subtropical Paradise was Arctic. Whether it was because it was undergoing some building work, or whether it was because it has a roof made of clingfilm, the temperature inside cannot have been anywhere near the promised 29.5 degrees Celsius. And as the water was just human soup, it was impossible to swim around to warm up. Standing around shivering made the whole experience a real chore, especially as the rammed changing rooms are now showing their age and there is always a long wait for a hot shower or a free cubicle. There were new play areas and a new Tropical Cyclone ride due to open on the Friday, though these were all actually up and running from the day we arrived. Our daughter wouldn't go near Tropical Cyclone , especially after we made her try out the original raft ride, the Grand Cascade, which she found utterly terrifying. To be fair it was pretty fast.
The whole place is designed to rip you off. Swimming is the only free activity, then you pay for everything else, at vastly inflated prices. We took all our own food and thankfully only had one kid to pay for, but we still racked up a hefty bill, letting our daughter try out archery, football and tree trekking. Thankfully we didn't have to accompany her on the latter, but for £26 it might have been nice to let her go round twice, since she spent a lot of the first circuit wobbling about and crying, only gaining her confidence and deciding she was having the time of her life in the last two minutes. We had also booked on a falconry session but this was cancelled, so we went on a family bowling trip instead. I also had a wonderful afternoon in the incredible spa, the one thing that was genuinely worth the money. Although only I could manage to get a spa injury - I slipped in the changing rooms and banged my knee and hips so badly I had to cancel my Pilates session the following day. Still, our daughter had a great time the whole week. I doubt we'll ever get as lucky with our school holiday dates again.
So a year on, this is where we are at, sort of. It's all different, but it's frustatingly all the same. Only worse. How can we still be so in the dark? There's another crucial Brexit vote tonight, but will this be the week when the whole shit gets sorted out once and for all? No. It's going to go on for bloody years and we will all have nervous breakdowns that there will be no resources left in the NHS to treat.
Anyway, I guess my point is that maybe the blog just reached a natural end. Or did it? It's always been kind of a dumb premise anyway. Or has it? Really, Gogglebox does it all so much better than me. Even if they never get off their sofas.