2016 review

On a general, global scale, the world has acknowledged that 2016 has been… not one of our better years. What with celebrity deaths, presidential elections, EU referenda, wars, atrocities and the ongoing existence of Nigel Farage, the big picture has not been pretty.

And the small picture – my life?

There have been highlights. There have been low points. So let’s have a look.

Highlights

Highlight number one is definitely getting my Archery GB Instructor Award. I never thought I’d be a qualified archery instructor and although I have yet to run my first session, I’m so excited about it.

Highlight number two is completing my Girlguiding Adult Leadership Qualification with my Guides. I was already qualified with Senior Section and Brownies and I’d been running Guides for over two years before I finally finished my qualification.

And while I’m listing my qualifications, I also did my YHA Yachting Level 2 back in April. It feels like years ago. I’m astonished to find it was even in 2016.

Another highlight was definitely going to Holuhraun at last – the big lava field caused by the 2014-15 eruption in the middle of Iceland. I was watching that eruption when it was still just some rumbles in Vatnajökull, I was watching it when the magma began to creep its way north and I was watching when it finally broke through. That’s my eruption.

The rest of my ten days in Iceland were also great – I climbed a volcano, went in two spas, visited Jökulsárlón after most of the visitors had gone, had an ice cream at Þingvellir  and drove over 1000 miles.

Back in January, I went to Norway and took the Hurtigruten from Harstad to Tromsø, which I’d wanted to do for years but was a bit nervous about – and it was spectacular, six hours of perfect weather and glorious scenery and I even saw the Northern Lights.

The work summer party was good – we chartered a 50′ pleasure yacht and I got to drive it.

Alton Towers! I nearly forgot my first trip to Alton Towers! My oldest Ranger and I went as part of Girlguiding SWE’s Senior Section Spectacular celebrations. We camped on the lawn in the middle of the park, had private use of the water park on Saturday night and then were allowed into the park (which we were already in!) an hour before it opened.

Reading-wise, a definite highlight of 2016 was discovering Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles, which I’d avoided because “the chosen one kills the king” sounded overdone. But it’s not like that at all and I not only loved it, I geeked out over it with one of my oldest Guides.

I also loved Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Also reading-wise, I enjoyed most of the Gollancz Festival, where I got to see – and speak to, and get a book signed by – Scott Lynch and also I saw Joe Abercrombie. I’ve not read many Gollancz books and I didn’t know what most of them were talking about but most of the authors – and there were a lot of them – seemed pleasant, interesting, passionate and people I would enjoy being around if I knew enough about them to not feel awkward.

For comedy, I very much enjoyed my first visit to the Comedy Store (the one in Manchester, specifically). I’ve seen Bill Bailey, Adam Hills, Ed Byrne, Josh Widdecombe, Flanders & Swann and quite a few others, although it’s been a pretty quiet year for comedy.

Low points

I’ve been unemployed for a good chunk of the year. After eight years, I took the step of leaving my job at the beginning of March, enjoyed a couple of months of free time and then started a new job which I loved – and within a month, I realised it wasn’t quite what I thought it was. That is, the place was lovely and the owners were lovely but it wasn’t the right job for me and I wasn’t the right person with it and after spending most of the summer crying, I left in September. After another two months of unemployment, my first job called me and asked me to come in two days a week to sort out something it turns out they can’t do without me.

My bank statement right now, as a result of the ups and downs of my employment prospects, is definitely one of the low points.

A thing that happened with one of my Guides over the summer is a low point.

I’m in two minds about whether going self-hosted on this blog is a highlight or a low point – I like that it’s self-hosted but on the other hand, my stats have plummeted and I’m nervous that it’s going to take a year or two to get it back to where it was three weeks ago before I can even start to think about earning so much as a penny on it.

I reckon the highlights definitely outnumber the low points but on the other hand, having a minus amount of money is a really bad and inconvenient thing (I get paid tomorrow for the last six weeks’ work!).

So here’s to a change in my literal fortunes next year and to another year dominated by highlights.