2014 Firsts

2014 Firsts

Had a wisdom tooth removed [Possibly the best way to begin a year, ever!]
Baked bread from scratch
Eaten at Five Guys
Visited Wendover
Watched Billy Elliot, the musical
Taken tea at Tea & Tattle
Visited the Twinings Tea Museum
Made skiers out of pipe cleaners
Appeared in an article in The Independent
Played Twilight Imperium
Worshipped at St James’s Piccadilly
Visited Postman’s Park
Received a review copy of a book from Bloomsbury Publishing
Watched The Commitments musical
Received a tweet from a West End actor
Visited Pickering, Lastingham, Old Bydale and Rievaulx, while on the least retreating retreat ever!
Met very newborn lambs
Owned a pink hard hat
Watched a service at St Paul’s on a big screen in Paternoster Square
Sung Sing
Watched The West Wing [still got two and a half series to go]
Explored the abandoned Aldwych tube station
Been in the studio audience for a recording of QI
Had a commissioned article published in The Church Times
Achieved a First in a degree. [In fact, if I can be allowed to wallow in this special ‘First’ for a moment, this is the first First in my immediate family. It made me very happy!]
Eaten Scoop gelato
Sat on Centre Court at Wimbledon
Set foot inside the Shard and drunk cocktails there
Visited the Cabinet War Rooms
Watched the Tour de France live
Hunted for book benches
Travelled to Paris on an overnight coach
Lived in Newham
Worshipped at St Peter’s Bethnal Green
Made my own Magnum (ice cream, not gun)
Watched Miss Saigon
Studied for a MA at St Mellitus
Attended an outdoor wedding
Participated in Big Cottage
Received a tweet from Zoe Williams
Led an undergraduate reading seminar (& assisted with a tutor group)
Visited the Texas State Capitol
Visited a Presidential Library
Explored the campuses of Baylor, SMU and UT Austin.
Eaten a Snowcone
Consumed breakfast tacos
Travelled to Dallas
Watched a High School football game
Travelled on the DART
Worked in an office next door to the Texas School Book Depository
Eaten Chick Fil-A
Used Dallas Fort Worth airport
Had a layover in Minneapolis
Hunted for Paddingtons
Lectured on the Beginning Theology course
Made soup from scratch
Attended an international rugby match
Owned a Fitbit
Watched Made in Dagenham, the musical
Watched tennis being played at the Royal Albert Hall (Staliol Masters)
Visited the Geffrye Museum
Attended a private screening at Universal Pictures
Been to a production at the Royal Opera House
Watched the Royal Ballet perform

2014 – Blogging: Could do better…

I don’t need to check my statistics to know that my blogging productivity has been low in 2014. I could provide you with lots of excuses, but I won’t. I’d like to improve on my frequency somewhat in 2015 [this is not a resolution – I do not do resolutions!], but have come to the conclusion that quality is better than quantity and that certain changes to my lifestyle could up my productivity a bit.

So, 2015 is two days old and the media is full of retrospectives. The handy thing with blogging is that it acts as a memory jogging device as to all the year held, so I don’t have to wrack my mind too hard. Here are some highlights that spring to mind…

2014 may not have included thrilling trips to new, exotic locations (unlike 2013), but it did see two returns to Chateau Duffy and a second trip to the great state of Texas.

On a bright July morning, I found myself wondering deserted Parisian streets and had possibly the best views of the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower a tourist has ever had. I was en route to Chateau Duffy #6, which included what may have been my best birthday for quite some years. Surrounded by good chums and new friends, all were willing to celebrate my birthday according to ‘Liz Birthday Rules’ [from 4pm on July 29th, through to the end of the 30th, owing to being born in the Pacific]. There was a banquet in a barn, a quiz and possibly too many hours in a hot tub. (Is midnight to 3am excessive?? I was rather pruney, but hey, birthday privilege!)

Paris in July

Texas was awesome in a whole range of ways, not least because a fortnight of temperatures in the high 20s is quite a novelty for a Brit at the end of October! I will never tire of experiencing new places and cultures, and Texas is a even more of a joy now than it was back in 2012, thanks to the vast number of Texans who have crossed my path in the interim. Love y’all!

In June, I left St George’s after nearly three years of being their ordinand. The memories are plentiful and I’m very grateful to have made several friends there who I’m sure will be in my life for a long time to come. It’s been strange not being ‘officially’ attached to a church, but Christmas has proved that this can be a good thing and will serve as great preparation for all that’s to come in the future.

Celebrating Women at St Paul's

The Church of England did good too. In May, the 20th anniversary of the ordination of female priests in the CofE was commemorated with a fabulous celebration at St Paul’s Cathedral. Talk was full of anticipation of a yes to women in the episcopacy at the summer’s General Synod – and we were not disappointed. By the end of the year, we had the first female bishop. It’s amazing what can happen in a comparatively short space of time! [Obviously, I mean the stretch from July to December, not the twenty years since the 1994 ordinations!!]

My love affair with the greatest city in the world continued throughout 2014. There has been London Transport geekery aplenty, including the achievement of a long-held ambition to visit Aldwych Station. My last few months of central London living were punctuated with trying to complete local(ish) Hidden London walks (which I nearly succeeded in, except for the shortest walk that was closest to my flat, ironically).

Lovely London

East London has now replaced Central London as my local neighbourhood, which at times has been a tough adjustment. (Especially when going home after a night out in town, or on my way back from a long journey. Living so close to several mainline stations for three years spoiled me for life!) But, it’s had a lot of plus points – its proximity to the Olympic Park and Stratfield being two of them; the fact that bits of Epping Forest are just at the end of the street (ideal for running and muddy walks); living with friends who have an insanely cute three year old; and the fact that aforementioned friends finally have their home sauna finished!

I didn’t need Timehop to remind me yesterday that it was a year since series three of Sherlock premiered – and it still ranks as one of my TV highlights of the year. Of course, this is in part thanks to that first episode’s glorious tribute to the secrets of the London Underground, and largely owing to Mr Cheekbones Cumberbatch. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m doing fine since THAT notice appeared in The Times. My smallest housemate’s request to watch “apples and oranges” (his name for Cumberbatch counting on Sesame Street) the following day was, however, a little too soon…

Sherlock’s disappearance for another year or two was slightly mollified by the fact that the following week, the BBC aired a week of celebrity Bake Off. This short series is something of a bright spark in the dark winter of time between competitive baking series, when GBBO fans are counting down until late summer and a new cohort. 2014 did not disappoint, and like many a review of the last 12 months, the Baked Alaska cannot be forgotten. I still feel for Iain.

I wouldn’t have survived this year without my friends! Thanks to Matryoshka Haus, I found a new place to live and people to help me move. We had fun together in France and Texas, and continue to build community life in the unfriendly city. My Vicar School pals helped keep me sane during a very hard first half of the year, and I miss them terribly now I’m at college as a unique 4th year.

Two definite highlights of 2014 involved the same group of friends, a group that have now been a constant for over half my life. I think the Orchestra & Singers/OneSound reunion weekend brought home to us just how lucky we are to have had that organisation in our lives, and how much it’s impacted us. Four months later, we cemented a new tradition amongst our group, going away for a weekend on which the men amongst us were allowed to participate! Big Cottage 2014 was a roaring success, and the 2015 date is already in the diary.

Big Cottage 2014

Just like last year, the act of reflecting upon the year past has made me think about Firsts. No matter how hard I try, I can’t completely escape the pull of my 2010 decision to track all the things I’ve done for the first time, so another post on that topic will be imminent. After that, we’ll see what 2015 has in store!

2013 Firsts

I know, I said 2012 would be the end of this – but after writing a review of 2013 and going through last year’s blogposts, they just came popping up. So here’s the list I’ve been able to compile from my memory and blog:

Watched the New Year’s Day Parade.
Had physio & podiatry appointments.
Eaten mint M&M’s.
Watched a film at the IMAX. (Les Mis, obviously.)
Launched lizclutterbuck.com
Drunk tea at Tinderbox.
Been interviewed by UCB.
Experienced a retreat in daily life.
Learnt to french-plait my own hair.
Taken anti-malarials.
Visited Uganda.
Been fitted with orthotics.
Drunk tea at Teasmiths.
Been interviewed by Premier Radio. (And been in a live radio studio.)
Become a school governor.
Chatted to Rupert Everett.
Visited the London Transport Museum. 
Watched Robin run a marathon.
Visited the Titanic Experience.
Completed the 0-5k app.
Visited the Clerkenwell Design Show.
Joined the PCC.
Looked after Doris for over 24 hours in London.
Travelled on the Emirates Sky Line.
Watched the Graham Norton Show being recorded.
Drunk Strawberry & Lime cider.
Eaten dim sum in Chinatown.
Watched the News Quiz being recorded.
Watched The Book of Mormon.
Watched Andy Murray win a semi-final at Wimbledon from Henman Hill.
Experienced the joy of a Brit winning Wimbledon.
Watched A Chorus Line.
Hunted for Gromits.
Seen a play at the Finborough Theatre.
Done the Enneagram.
Written for the Church Times.
Played Greenbelt Bingo.
Experienced the Les Miserables Mass.
Flown Air France.
Visited San Francisco & the Bay Area.
Visited Facebook, Google, Apple & Stamford.
Owned an iPad.
Drunk a Shake Away milkshake.
Had a cooking lesson in a Jamie Oliver cooking school.
Cooked Thai Green Curry from scratch.
Been the student rep for a QAA inspection.
Eaten afternoon tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury.
Played Love Letters.
Sung at the St Mellitus Open Mic Night. 
Participated in the November Care Package Swap.
Had a chaplaincy placement at Guy’s & St Thomas’.
Visited BT Tower.
Watched Sherlock.
Owned a cassock.
Been interviewed by the BBC.
Watched The Light Princess at the National Theatre.
Preached at a carol service.
Had a trip on the London Eye in daylight.
Created a Gingerbread Nativity & made Royal Icing. 
Attended a Desert Island Discs themed dinner party. 

2013 Firsts

Looking back, 2013 times

Another year has passed and thus it is time for the obligatory end of year round-up blogpost. 2013 began with an optimistic blogpost about the start of the new year and the end of my project to count up things I had done for the first time.

This post contained a commitment to Project 365 – the taking of one photo a day – which should have been an easy task, given that barely a day goes by without my taking a photo. But a combination of illness (not leaving the house for 3 days isn’t conducive to photography) and forgetfulness meant that it didn’t last past March. However, an unexpected development of 2013 was my commitment to the 0-5km running app, meaning that between February and May I learnt to run 5km – which has since evolved into a fairly regular running habit and an Instagram hashtag of #photographyontherun. It’s amazing what you pass while running…

Photography on the run 2013Before you ask, I’ve got very good at jogging on the spot while taking photos. It basically came about because the RunKeeper app allows you to save photos to your runs, so why not keep track of where you’re running? 

Several of the year’s highlights came with their own form of ID or pass. Obviously, the first thing one does when given one of these is take a photo of it. (Especially as you never know whether you’ll get to keep them at the end of your visit.)


That would be Matryoshka Haus’ meeting at Apple; my glorious evening at Facebook; the Ask DEC event at BT Tower; writing for the Church Times at Greenbelt; and being interviewed by 8 different local BBC stations. Effectively, have a pass, have a highlight of your year.

This time last year, I already knew I’d be heading to Africa for the very first time – on a trip to Uganda with Tearfund in February/March. Without a doubt, it’s a trip that will never be forgotten. Lately, I’ve been having to re-tell some of the stories of our time there, as part of the promotion for Tearfund’s 2014 bloggers’ trip to Cambodia. (You have until Jan 5th to enter, get writing!) Apparently, this time 12 months ago, I expressed a hope of a return trip to Texas. It didn’t happen, but luckily, Texas came to London in the form of the first-ever Matryoshka Haus Learning Lab. And then a plan became concocted that saw me make a debut visit to San Francisco in September. Combined with a Chateau Duffy trip and a return to Merville, and all-in-all, this year’s travel hasn’t been too shabby!

Travel 2013

The other main highlight of 2013 would be the people I got to share it with. As I rather soppily wrote back in October, I am lucky to have some incredibly long-standing and fabulous friends – but they are not the only ones. The Matryoshka Haus folk have played a big part in the year, as have Vicar School chums, but most excitingly, there have been plenty of new friends too!

Friends 2013

Finally, while traipsing through the blog’s 2013 archive, I couldn’t resist compiling a list of 2013 Firsts. Even though I’ve not been keeping track of them throughout the year, it’s amazing what I can remember just with a few prompts. I found so many that I’ve had to create a separate post for them. I guess it will always be a really positive way of reflecting upon the things that have been achieved in a single year!

Oh, and my happiest moment in the whole of 2013? Don’t judge me, but it would probably be this:

Murray wins Wimbledon

Hello 2013

My ideal way of spending today would have been tramping through the wilds of Hampstead Heath. (In the style of a Richard Curtis film, complete with co-ordinated winter knitwear and a handsome man on my arm, obviously.) However, that wasn’t to be, so instead I spent it watching donkeys, cheerleaders, Storm Troopers, Games Makers and kites fly through the streets of Piccadilly. (Clarification: only the kites were flying, everyone else had their feet firmly on the ground, apart from the unicyclers of Hackney and stilt-walkers of Barking.)


Impressive kites, no? 

It was the London New Years Day Parade, a rather bizarre event that goes on for a phenomenal length of time and features a competition between London’s boroughs as to has the best float – my money was on Merton. (Yes, that’s a borough!) A friend’s boyfriend was one of the Games Makers, so I kept her company during the two hour wait on the cold streets before his appearance. I already have one numb toe – by the time we left I had eight!

That would be the donkey breeding society. No, I had no idea either.
(Their marching was accompanied by a rendition of ‘Little Donkey’. Awesome!)

The point of this introduction is to say that, should I be collecting them, attending the parade would be a 2013 First. However, I’m virtually certain that I won’t be doing that this year. It’s been three years and my motivation to try new things has grown beyond belief (I believe Easter’s foray into snail eating might be the pinnacle of this), so it’s served its purpose. I’m an awful lot readier to try something out than I was when 2010 dawned. It’s also inspired a lot of other people to keep track of their own firsts – my mum, for example, is now recording her ’60 Firsts’. I’m fairly sure it’s not a list of 60 things she’ll do for the first time, but in fact things she’ll do for the first time now that she’s 60 (like having a pedicure and getting her senior citizen’s railcard).

As I’m sure I’ve said before, I don’t do resolutions. Once I’m back at work, my commitment to My Fitness Pal (the best calorie counting app out there, in my humble opinion) will resume; I have a new gym membership – but that’s thanks to a special offer I can actually afford; and my current mission to sort certain aspects of my life out began several weeks ago and is non-calendar related. However, I do like a challenge, and thus I’m grateful to Jenni for her suggestion of something I should do in 2013.

It’s not massively original, but it is something I’ll enjoy and ought not to be too challenging – it’s simply a 365 day photo challenge. There’s no theme, the idea is basically to capture something beautiful (or just interesting, failing that, it’ll be food…) in the ordinary-ness of every day. (I’ll admit that my days aren’t always the most ordinary, but still, the principle’s there.) It’s being facilitated by the rather fabulous new Flickr app (the acquisition of which I think gained three extra months on my pro membership). I may try and round up the photos on a regular basis, but otherwise they’ll have their own set on Flickr and will inevitably get tweeted.

And what of 2013? Well, there are already a number of adventures in the pipeline…

  • Next month I’ll be visiting Africa for the very first time, specifically, Uganda. It’s super exciting and I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity by Tearfund. There will be more (much more) about this soon – in fact, I’ll probably bore you all rigid talking about it!
  • Easter sees a return to Chateau Duffy. (Want to come too?)
  • Fingers crossed I’ll be heading back to Texas at some point in the summer (I’ve got a bit of a research project brewing).
  • Then there’s the ongoing adventure that is vicar training, though 2013 sees the beginning of the end with the commencement of curacy hunting. Scary stuff!

The other thing that 2013 holds is the launch of lizclutterbuck.com! I promise! I know this has been a very, very long time coming. (I was chastised recently by a friend for not getting my act together – I’m now worried that this will be a massive disappointment to all who are eagerly awaiting it.) Basically, it’s been in my hands for over a month and hopefully in the next few days I’ll be able to send word to my web designer that my part’s done, and it’s time to begin the final stage of the process. It definitely needs to be up and running pre-Uganda, so there’s at least a deadline! (However, I am getting this as a freebie, so there are limits to how quickly this can happen. Needless to say, I’m extremely grateful.)