Monday, December 31, 2018

Au revoir 2018, you've been a blast

Martin O'Neill photography French Village Diaries New Year
Our first ever family photo shoot by Martin O'Neill Photography

Looking back at 2018 I have realised it has been a year of unexpected experiences for me, taking me in directions I’d never dreamed of, and I’ve had a blast. 
French Village Diaries New Year
New Year's Day cycling in London
New Year’s Day saw me cycling around the west London parks, incidentally only a few miles from where I was born (and not somewhere I ever expected to be cycling), riding a hired Brompton bike on a group ride. I was looking forward to lots of new cycling challenges in 2018, but as it turned out cycling and I were rather distant with each other, although I did just about manage my birthday 100km in a day

French Village Diaries New Year Brompton
My new bike

This weekend, I collected my own brand-new Brompton, so 2019 will definitely see more cycling than 2018, then again, 2018 did throw me a few other exciting things to keep me busy.
French Village Diaries New Year
First day at the library
The highlight of my year has to be working in the local library for four months. It was a challenge and took me out of my comfort zone, but it was an amazing experience and a great boost to my confidence. I still miss it and would be back like a shot, if they asked me.

Adrian and I celebrated 20 years of marriage in April, although we still owe ourselves an adventure to truly mark the occasion. Our tenth wedding anniversary was celebrated with a road trip to the south of France and Italy, in Gizmo our Mini Cooper. This became a tradition we continued every few years; marking Adrian’s 30th, then mine and then Gizmo’s 20th birthday. Our passion for touring the back roads of France has not diminished, but these days we prefer two wheels to four. The maps are out, and a 2019 Brompton Tour de France is being planned.
French Village Diaries New Year
Ed's BAC results day
Ed took and passed his BAC exams, with a mention bien and I couldn’t have been prouder. This meant no more lycee; he was now ready to head off to university and independent living. If I thought working at the library was a major lifestyle change, it was nothing to moving Ed into his own apartment in Poitiers. 

French Village Diaries New Year
With Ed in Poitiers

I do miss him, but it has meant I have been able to explore the town a bit more than I’d ever done in the last 14 years and I have plenty of plans to visit again in 2019.

Martin O'Neill photography French Village Diaries New Year
Ed's 18th photo credit Martin O'Neill

Ed celebrated his 18th birthday in October, with a bash in the village bar. Having the bar open again really has brought the community together and events held there, whether monthly music, karaoke and food nights, or private birthday parties are great fun. It was the perfect place to celebrate Ed’s special birthday, even if I still can’t believe my baby is 18!

On a sadder note, 2018 also saw me experiencing the French medical and palliative care system, helping a friend with cancer in her final days. I can’t fault the level of care she received from the HAD hospitalisation à domicile (home hospital care) and although not an experience I want to repeat, I am glad I was able to help and I can now also add planning a funeral in France to my achievements.

2019 is likely to be a year of challenges. For health reasons, we have recently set ourselves goals to reduce our alcohol, salt and meat consumption, something we have been pretty good at so far, even over Christmas, and in 2019 we are determined to use the bikes instead of the car, wherever possible. Brexit will produce challenges, in terms of paperwork and the legalities of living an EU life as non-EU citizens, but 2018 has shown me that the unexpected often pops up and puts play to the planned, and quite often it’s these new directions that life takes you in that give the most.

Happy New Year to you all. Thank you for reading, commenting, liking and sharing my posts. I hope 2019 is a happy and healthy one for you all.

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