I’ve done a ‘minimalist’s’ New Year post ever since my first book was published, but this year I have to say I hesitated. 2018 truly was an annus horribilus, starting with the death of my father in January and continuing through a prolonged bout of non-serious but incapacitating ill health that only ended in summer, leaving me feeling like a wet dishrag. But then – maybe searching for some good parts among the *!?* is a good idea, so here goes:
Best medical establishment visited: The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow, whose staff looked after us all so beautifully for most of January. All we can say is, thank you. Back then, the hospice was still in the old Clydeside building in the middle of the photo, though it’s since moved to lovely new premises in a Glasgow park.
Best new book cover: This year, The Paradise Trees and The Cold Cold Sea were both republished with swanky new covers. My vote goes to The Cold Cold Sea
Longest queue: The one I stood in at Luton Airport last March to get through passport control on the way to the Bloodhound Books spring bash. (Note to self, get an electronic passport ASAP.) I realise I have nothing to complain about; the queue wasn’t even an hour long, but I was poorly at the time. The party was one of the best, though – worth all the wobbles to get there!
Biggest wow experience: Visiting the Brontë Parsonage in summer. Seeing the actual rooms where Emily and Charlotte Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre was a.maz.ing. We can link this to:
Most impressive film watched on TV: To Walk Invisible, the story of the Brontës.
Best and worst parts of summer: The best part was definitely the weather. I LOVE summer heat, and this year we toasted for months on end. The downside, though, was watching our beautiful lake shrink daily. The heat, coupled with the almost non-existent rainfall, sucked up water at an alarming rate, and it’s only now improving slowly. The photo below was taken in November. Just a lake pic, you might think – but there shouldn’t be a beach there. There should be water right up over the green ‘grass’ on the bottom edge.
Best prosecco drunk in Zürich: We’ve had a few of these at various writer meet-ups, but I’ll pick the time I met with Alison Baillie, Louise Mangos and Swiss-American Christa Polkinhorn. Cheers!
Favourite read: tricky as always, but I’ll go for Susanna Bavin’s The Sewing Room Girl. I don’t often read family sagas, but this one looked interesting and it’s set around the time my grandmother was born. In a word, it was fabulous. I barely put it down until the last page was turned – thank you, Susanna!
Best purchase: my GA. This is a (horrendously expensive) travel pass that allows me to go on trains, buses, boats and (most) cable cars all over Switzerland and into neighbouring Germany and Austria (and probably France and Italy too, though I haven’t done that yet). It’s not so much about saving money because you don’t, really, but it means I can be completely spontaneous about hopping on and off transport whenever the notion takes me without worrying about tickets and it’s worth Every.Single.Cent.
Worst breakage: My rainbow Swatch. I replaced it with a funky little black one, but it’s not the same.
Biggest hopes for next year: That somehow, the world will get through the state it’s in now, and emerge a saner place. That my children are happy in their work and studies. That I’ll finish the book I’m writing at the moment by autumn. That we all have peace in our lives. And meanwhile, I’m grateful to live in and belong to this beautiful country, Switzerland.
Wishing you all a happy, prosperous and peaceful 2019!