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2023. Bloody flew by!

Updated: Jan 5

I swear the years are getting shorter. Hey ever faithful reader, bet you thought I had forgotten you, well, yep, I guess I did, this 'thing' has clearly not been a thing for me this year. Excuses aside. Looking back I only wrote this in 2023:

and that was a response to an event, an ending, a part of life over once again. 'Hey alright, it’s Kip Casper, Klon radio, L.A.’s infinite repeat! How we feeling out there? How’s your drive time commute? I need a saga, what’s the saga? As of writing, I am seeing Queens of the Stone Age tomorrow, which is why I quoted them, but I don't always need to write about a 'saga' it felt right at the time. There it is, I am now officially Saga aged.

I qualify!


It is now 3rd December, a Sunday and I have picked this back up, there is a dusting of snow over the town I now call home, although it is receding fast as we also have rain, it is one of the coldest starts to December I have noted for quite a while. I didn't go and see QOTSA in the end, I asked everyone I know and could think of but none could make it and as I had recently come out of a relationship, the prospect of going alone didn't sit well. I have a new 'toy', an executive toy if you like, a rising desk, so that I can stand for some of the working day, this is my first time using it and so far, I like it.

2023 started as 2022 ended, I was in Boston, with Sam, it was bloody cold, but we had a Mustang hire car to play with for a few days, my aunt was still hospitalised and as it turned out this would be the first of many visits for her.

The above was gaining traction and seemingly having a mind of its own, I was along for the ride, even if I wasn't sure of, or happy with the destination. I have never been one to compare previous years and decide if one was better than the other, one year was brutal and thankfully unlikely to be repeated,

2022 was a sublime year for travel but I did less this year, that doesn't make it worse. I started the year by deciding to move apartments, after two years of living above a bar I needed a change and whilst still in 'The Loop' I am on the other side of town now, bigger place, with a balcony and a penthouse no less! Ok ok, its the top floor, but by definition it qualifies.

Great views, 'side eye emoji' if you know, you know.

I also decided that the Mondildo had to go, she had served me well for the best part of two years, but I wanted something nicer and also an automatic as I was spending a huge amount of time going to and driving around London and back for work and an auto would just be easier.

I set a budget and then had a look to see what I could get... Hello, A Jag!

Seriously, a Jag for that money!

So yep I bought a Jaguar XF 3.0d V6, what a beast of a car, then I crashed it... The automatic gearbox has a wheel controller on the centre console (bit flash as it rises up when the car is started) and an electronic handbrake, which will hold the car when it is in gear, and releases when the accelerator is pressed, as I was soon to find out. Long story short, I turned the wheel to R and not all the way to P engaged the handbrake, jumped out of the car to put some rubbish in the bin and as I was getting back in, slipped and stamped on the accelerator with my left foot, disengaging the handbrake and unleashing 240 rampant horses to the back wheels and catapulting the car, with me hanging in/out of the drivers door around 12m into a lamppost.

Balls. A number of weeks and an insurance pay out later I bought another Jag, same model, but slightly nicer and had it mapped... now she is 290bhp with 575nm of torque at the back wheels.

I am much more cautious with the gear selector as well... 2023 was also New Bike Year, I have made the leap and gone Electric, yes I can hear the haters and purists amongst you but you can all pipe down, it is a beast and the electric bit means I ride much more than I would without. When I got back into mountain biking in the early 2000's I bought a hardtail and said 'I'll never need a full sus' bike, then promptly bought a full sus, to then say I'll never need a full DH Rig, then bought one and of course said that electric bikes are not for me... Well my lounge has a TR450 DH Rig, NS Snabb E1 custom full sus and the E-bike that is the Orange Phase MX in it now. 2023 started off expensively! I had no trips planned, I was spending time in Hampshire a fair bit due to being with the ex again and us splitting our time between there and up here. I won't lie and say I enjoyed being in Hampshire, because I didn't, it is my home county and where I grew up, but I had no desire to be there longer than was necessary and seeing the Shropshire sign on the drive back always warmed my heart, I have never felt so grounded as I do here. At the end of December 2022 I was down south and bumped in to some old school mates, all similar age to me and they mentioned that as one of them was turning 50 that summer they had booked a weekend in Centre Parcs for a bunch of them that had all grown up on the same estate, the same one I grew up on with them (that's a messy sentence isn't it?). They said, 'why don't you come along' and being four beers deep, I said, yeah, drop me the details and I'll have a look. So £400 later I am booked on a weekend going to a place I would never consider visiting to spend a long weekend with a bunch of lads, some of which I have not seen in over 30 years.

I was apprehensive.

It was a sublime weekend, the weather was good and the beer flowed as did my mouth. I am writing another post alongside this one, titled 'I Do Not Mix Well' and this may give you an insight as to why. Centre Parcs Longleat has a lake, with a 'sandy beach' and you can hire pedalos, rowing boats and SUP's, something I own two of and am not too shabby at. We were down by the lake one afternoon, a few beers in when I noted a group out on SUP's and some were on their knees. OK, granted, it is not an easy thing to do, but if you are trying it, at least have a go at standing up, otherwise why bother and I vocalised this opinion quite loudly, along the lines of;

"Its called Stand Up Paddle Boarding for a reason".

To then watch one lady, in particular, come into the shore, still on her knees on the board and then remain on her knees as she crossed the beach to climb into a wheelchair, look over at me and say "I've not been able to stand for 15 years..." FFS, what is wrong with me? ha ha. In May I (ok we) went to London for the weekend and to see Shirley Valentine at the theatre with Sheridan Smith in the lead role, I had bought 'us' a box and we got dressed up, all suited and booted and had a superb meal at Steak & Company, before the showing, who had brought the hot stones back, an amazing experience, try it if you are in that there London.

Shirley Valentine hits me, every time, as I have mentioned in previous posts without fail, I am guaranteed to cry, she reminds me of my mum, although Shirley escapes her mundane home life and I believe there is a part of me that wishes my mum had managed to do the same. I was blubbering as soon as the opening music started .

Sheridan Smith was sublime. By the end of May I was single again, quelle surprise. I should have taken a break from dating, however as I was not happy in the previous one for sometime, considered that I was ready and jumped back on the Dating Apps, such a strange place as I wrote about here;

I had a few matches and some chats and agreed on a date with one lady, who turned out to be a total catfish and then soon after met the 'most recent'.

We hit it off and soon became an item and all was good.

I had a trip away to the US planned which meant two weeks apart, and when I returned the lady was scheduled for surgery, so whilst not ideal it was manageable. We had some amazing times out, eating in amazing restaurants, cinema trips, afternoon drinks in town, she gave me the best birthday gift I have received in a long time, a vinyl twelve inch of The Cure, Boys Don't Cry and a frame to put it in, I adore it. The time we spent together was really good.

I don't know how or why but cracks started to appear and we parted, we are still friends but I have no idea if we will consider giving it another go. September saw me off to Boston, again, third time in a little over twelve months, the main reason being, aside from seeing Sam was that one of my dearest friends was having his 'diaper kegger' across the border in Canada to celebrate his soon to be born son and I was invited. Essentially we all got very drunk in his in-laws back garden and had a great time. They welcomed their son at the end of November and I cannot wait for my first cuddle. This time Sam actually had some holiday and we decided on a trip, initially thinking Nashville, however flight prices got silly and when considering that, and lets be realistic here, all we were going to do was walk around a city and sit in a few bars, which we could do in Boston and regularly did, so I started looking at other options. Miami. Why not? Short flight and good weather, off we went, three nights near South Beach and we managed to SUP in a mangrove swamp to see tree climbing crabs, manatees and jellyfish before hand feeding Racoons water melon. Random, I know.

That was followed by the north Everglades and an airboat trip seeing alligators in the wild. From Miami we boarded a flight to Detroit to do 36 hours in Canada as above which broke Sam somewhat, ha ha, honestly never seen him so bad. I know where your mind is going, The Canadian;

No, we didn't meet up, I was tempted and made contact to say I was in the area, but I was also seeing somebody and that would not have been fair on either. Looking back, I bloody wish I had made more effort. My 51st birthday came and went and, without wanting to sound too arrogant, I have always managed to look younger than my actual age, this is born out by evidence of the same, people are sometimes amazed that I am in my 50's. When in the US for my 50th, it became a bit of a game to ask people what age they thought I was and I think I averaged 37 and no one put me over 45, this was helped by me having little grey hair and still having a decent amount on top I guess.

This year, wow, what a change, it started in late spring with alopecia in my beard, which has started to heal, but come back grey in those patches, I am starting to look my age finally, I am unsure as to how I feel about that. Work has been good, usual ups and downs, I have dealt with some nasty claims, namely the gas explosion in Swansea and the large hotel fire in Midhurst, the former of which hit me quite hard. I have also stepped up at work due to one of the directors being off ill and then retiring and that has recently been recognised with a promotion and pay rise. I have also submitted my RICS application, something I never considered I would do, I have no idea if I will be accepted, but they have not said 'no' so far. I have managed to get out on the MTB's and SUP's a fair bit, the UK summer, especially June and July was a washout though. If you ever think that your year has not been good, scroll through your photo library and I am willing to wager that you will smile, because that's exactly what I did recently. I said that I am not one to compare years and I'm not, but I did feel this year had not been great, when actually it has, its been bloody great and I have done a number of amazing things, granted not always things I necessarily would have planned myself, but they turned out to be amazing. Centre Parcs Lets Rock

Wild Swimming Army reunion

Theatre trips

USA and Canada Good food

Good company

2024 beckons and I have no idea what it brings, save a stag do to Ibiza where I know I will feel every one of my nearly 52 years by then. There it is, 2023.

Is this my most boring blog post ever...

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