New year, same me (minus the scaly, eczema-plagued hands). 2018 was a blast, even if I am hurtling towards being a member of the quarter-century club (argh, how time flies!). To those who have read La Grenouille Anglaise since the beginning, and to those who have joined along the way, thank you – for your comments, support and words of encouragement. With 2019 already well underway, it’s time to take a look back at some of 2018’s most memorable moments. On y va !
January | Travel-wise, 2018 kicked off with a weekend in Norwich, chez Laurence’s parents. We ventured up to Blakeney Point to see a beachful of blubber – that’s a seal colony with heaps of adorable pups, to those unfamiliar with the North Norfolk coastline – while we were there, and also checked out a handful of new murals which have popped up in the city centre. Later that month, Lumiere London lit up the capital, and whilst it wasn’t quite in the same league as Lyon’s famed Fête des Lumières, the illuminations made for an interesting (and free) evening out.
February | Usually a hot contender for my least favourite month, February really pulled it out of the bag last year. e-Luminate bathed the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge Guildhall, Senate House and a select number of colleges in colour, and brought a big smile to my face. Laurence and I discovered Global Generation’s urban oasis – Skip Garden – in King’s Cross (the area, not the station), before heading over to Bodean’s BBQ for my mum’s birthday lunch. I also spent numerous weekends warming up in the Glasshouse Range at Cambridge University Botanic Garden; Orchids 2018 was well worth a second visit, and a third.
March | One trip, two countries. Laurence and I had a whale of a time hitting the hiking trails in Hong Kong, munching satay in Singapore and switching off from the daily grind for a fortnight. Long-haul trips aren’t on the cards this year, but if they were, I’d return to Hong Kong in a heartbeat. Closer to home, we (at long last) squeezed in a trip to the Fitzwilliam Museum.
April | After two weeks basking in sunshine in Hong Kong and dodging downpours in a somewhat stormy Singapore, we were expecting milder weather back in the UK. Only, the UK had other plans: a heatwave – and one which was only just warming up. I spent a couple of days in Brighton with work, and although I was in a windowless conference venue for the vast majority of the time, I managed to fit in drinks on the beach with colleagues and a ’99 in my lunch break. Win-win. There were a few scorchers later in the month, and we passed one such day exploring the medieval market town of Bury St. Edmunds.
May | Bank holidays, BBQs and bike rides just about sums up the month of May. We wandered along the River Cam to Grantchester, discovering a new favourite pub in the process (Blue Ball Inn, if you were interested), cycled up to St. Ives (Cambridgeshire, not Cornwall) to check out their local museum and market, and visited Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits for the very first time. Ahead of our hiking holiday in Scotland, we spent a day walking from Cambridge to Ely along the Fen Rivers Way. We figured covering a fair distance counted for something, even if there wasn’t a hill in sight – but we hadn’t bargained for the path being so overgrown that we were dwarfed by stinging nettles. Ouch – scratch that, big ouch. I received a jury summons earlier in the year, and spent the latter half of the month at Cambridge Crown Court.
June | Even with my photo archives just a click away, June is a bit of a blur. It kicked off with a lovely weekend spent playing tourist with two school friends: touring the colleges, punting (or rather, attempting to punt) – you know the drill. Green-fingered wasn’t a word I’d have used to describe myself until last year – the year we planted carrots, onions, lettuce, choy sum and various herbs, battled an army of slugs and emerged triumphant. Towards the end of June, we took a trip to Shepreth Wildlife Park, home to hedgehogs, red pandas, tigers, lemurs, bats and much more.
Related | 2017’s Memorable Moments
July | July was jam-packed. Having booked a week off work, we headed up to bonny Scotland aboard the Caledonian Sleeper. First stop: Glasgow. Rough around the edges it may be, but it had the edge over Edinburgh for me. We then spent five days hiking the 96-mile West Highland Way to Fort William, taking in the shoreline of Loch Lomond and sleeping in a bothy for the very first time. We spent the last few days exploring Fort William, bagging our first Munro (Ben Nevis, what else?) and watching France triumph over Croatia in the World Cup Final. Back in Cambridge, we scoped out the Polar Museum; it’s only open weekdays, but is well worth a visit. We celebrated my birthday on the WHW, and a week or so later celebrated Laurence’s by the sea in Hunstanton (follow the main beach round past the pinky cliffs to reach the better, sandier one). July ended on a high, with a promotion to Assistant Editor.
August | August began with a trip to Glazed Creations, a pottery painting studio in Royston (my belated birthday present from Laurence). We booked a morning slot, and a couple of hours later had two bowls to show for our efforts. I picked them up two weeks later, and was chuffed to bits with the results. One of the major plus-points to living in Cambridge is being able to see more of my auntie, uncle and cousins; we had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch together one weekend. Northern’s rail strikes threatened to put paid to our bank holiday trip to the Peak District; 30% of services were (supposedly) running, none of which were on the line we needed. Fortunately, between a local bus and our own legs, we made it. We had gorgeous sunshine for all of a day, and endless rain for two, but still fitted in a fair amount of walking.
September | There are a fair amount of things that I never get round to blogging about, and much of what we did in September fell into that category. We took advantage of free entry to London Transport Museum (one of Laurence’s work perks), a tour through time from the age of omnibuses to the opening of the Elizabeth line. I took Laurence to SEALIFE London Aquarium (his belated birthday present) one weekend, using a 2-4-1 voucher; it’s definitely not big enough to merit the full entry price, but for a tenner it’s not bad. Having missed out last year, we spent a day exploring various venues across London as part of Open House. Whizzing up to Landing 42 at the Leadenhall Building was a definite highlight.
October | In early October, we spent a weekend in Norwich devouring cake at No. 33, checking out cute farm animals at Norfolk HarFest and visiting The Broads, the UK’s only man-made national park. Five days in Portugal followed, divided between characterful Porto and hilly Lisbon (with a day trip to Belém thrown in for good measure). Series Nine of The Great British Bake Off came to a close, and with it, our own bake-along. And of course, October ended with pumpkin carving for Halloween.
November | Remember, remember, the fifth of November . . . fireworks, pizza and pop. (Given Bonfire Night fell on a Monday, we couldn’t resist the temptation to have 2-4-1 pizza at the Salisbury Arms afterwards!) Mum and I met up in London, and spent the day meandering through Soho, lunching at Sicily (an atmospheric Italian near Victoria, recommended by Dad) and escaping the drizzle in the London Portrait Gallery. As November morphed into December, Laurence and I had our first taste of German Christmas markets in Bremen and Hamburg (more on those soon).
December | December, as usual, was a whirlwind of festive gatherings, treats (mince pies and the like) and films. I finally got round to seeing Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, and whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film itself, I did highly rate the reclining seats. (Where were they when I was a more regular cinema-goer?) I spent Christmas up north with my nearest and dearest, playing board game after board game (Quicktionary is now a firm favourite), visiting Chester Zoo (the double bear cub viewing took the edge off the fact the Scottish wildcat kitten was off display) and catching up with friends.
Bonne année à tous – and here’s to an adventure-packed 2019!