So here we are, at the threshold of another year. I don’t know about you, but I felt that 2013 slipped away as quickly as grains of sand through an hour-glass. It has been a year of small discoveries, little celebrations – and one long road trip. So here they are, my most memorable moments of the past year.
As I have said so many times, this island may be small and yet, on several occasions I have had the thrill of unexpectedly finding something new. Like this red country house just a few miles from our home. Or this Rapunzel-like tower in a narrow country lane.
In Spring, our most beautiful season, when the sun is pleasantly warm and the breezes still fresh, we took drives to the countryside to enjoy the multitude of colours as plants burst into bloom simultaneously and our hills and valleys were as bright as a painter’s palette. As March gave way to April, the call of the siren was impossible to ignore. The sea too donned its most enchanting hues and it was time to wade in for the first time – just up to our knees,mind you, as the water was still numbingly cold.
Another happy discovery was Margo’s. It’s just a pizzeria on an island choc-a-block with pizzerias. But this one is different because the pizza tastes sublime – and now we don’t eat it anywhere else unless we absolutely have to.
But 2013 was also the year we celebrated our tenth anniversary. So we flew to St Louis (I wish it was that quick and that easy) and then to Salt Lake City (where I almost met sweet Suze). From there we drove to Yellowstone National Park via Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. This summer I discovered another part of America’s wild west. Some may think that, in the present day, the term ‘wild west’ is a misnomer. But it isn’t. We drove through a wild terrain that has barely changed since people left the frontier towns and journeyed into the great unknown in rickety wagons. I am as European as they come and I love nothing better than a city with ancient foundations, its ruins scattered carelessly in the grass like beads from an unstrung necklace. But America’s wild west holds me in thrall mainly because, in my mind, it is still the land of the native tribes.
We saw some wondrous sights: the Grand Tetons, Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, waterfalls, hot springs, forests and geysers. In bends on the road and in open meadows we came across buffalo and elk. The forests were alive with the cheeky chatter of squirrels and chipmunks. But the most poignant moment was in a small grocery store in West Yellowstone (Montana), when a Native American man walked past me, his greying hair in two neat braids and a fierce pride in his eyes. In an inexplicable way, I suddenly felt like a trespasser on land that was once sacred to so many.
Back home we continued the renovation of the Mischief Maker’s room as he transitioned from frogs and turtles to sharks. It required truck-loads of patience to paint waves on his walls but the end result was worth it. We now just need to hang a few pictures and we will be done (and I might be brave enough to share some pictures with you).
The last quarter of the year was pretty low-key: walks on the beach, a visit to the brand new National Aquarium and lots of craziness at work. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas and caught up on some much-needed family time during the holidays.
And that, in not quite a nut-shell, was 2013 – a year of indelible memories that I will cherish. There were moments that I have shared with you and others that I, somehow, never did. I thank you all for coming here, reading and leaving encouraging comments. But most of all I thank you for friendships that are being kindled across thousands of miles. May 2014 be a year of wonderful memories.
P.S. For those of you that have read this far, I promise that I probably won’t write anything this long until next year. But then again, you never know …