Blimey, the end of 2016 was busy!

It has been almost 4 months since my last post. I have not neglected this blog intentionally. Not at all. There have been many a night when trying to get to sleep when what to write next has been one of the zillion things whirring around my brain.

No, the lack of posts is merely a consequence of a lack of time. Indeed, the first draft of this particular post was scribbled in my journal as I stood, cramped, in the women-only section of a busy train from Varkala to Cochin in India – writing it being a welcome distraction from the stares and the vague worry that I didn’t know which carriage Den was in and would we both get off at the right station. But more on that later; first a brief recap on what has been occupying so much of my time over the last few months.

September and October saw the height of party conference season and resulted in me traipsing around the country: first to Liverpool for the Labour conference and then to Birmingham for Tory conference. Both offered the same as they always have: Labour – division, lack of unity, open-back stabbing between the Corbynistas and everyone else (although admittedly they were a lot better behaved than last time); Tories – gloating, guffawing and a whole lot of hot air. In both cases it was all washed down with some bad sandwiches, the odd canapé and of course, copious amounts of cheap wine (the only way to get through it).

There were a couple of personal highlights for me at the conferences. I chaired a great discussion with Will Hutton (officially my new favourite person) on artificial intelligence which was both high energy and hugely interesting (our world is changing so much and so fast!); and I actually got to present at the Conservative conference instead of just chairing, thanks to the Webb Memorial Trust who invited me to speak on their panel discussion about the role of business in reducing poverty in the UK. It was pretty nerve-wracking but I got through it!

Despite this, as per usual, I left feeling disillusioned with politics and wondering how the hell anything is ever going to change when it’s the same old crap being discussed time and time again by the same old bunch of privileged white men in suits. Thank goodness for the Women’s Equality Party conference that we were co-organising with the party to provide some hope of positive change!

The conference took place at the end of November and was by far the most challenging but rewarding gig my company had been entrusted with throughout our short history. There were times when I didn’t think we were going to do it – we were so short on time and budget – but in the end, with a lot of hard work and long hours, we pulled it off and managed to create something rather special. Well worth the extra grey hairs and wrinkles that I was left with afterwards!

After the conference, I managed a very quick respite in Manchester with my two best girl friends, Beccy and Jenn, and another stop in Cambridge to spend some time with my new nephew before heading back to France in desperate need of some R&R.

But it wasn’t to be. I now had to catch up on all of the work I had put on hold during conference season and urgently needed to spend some time giving my other poor neglected clients some love. My own needs were going to have to wait. Multiple 5am starts and 15-hour days ensued (s0 much for me finding a work/life balance)…

On top of this there was the small matter of our new house purchase to deal with – this went through on 14 December much to our delight and relief! We are now the proud owners of a very beautiful water mill in the Dordogne and can’t wait to start turning it into our home. Much more will follow on this over the next few blogs.

And of course, there was Christmas and so we had a manic few weeks visiting friends and family in various parts of Europe.

All in all, it meant that December rushed by in a flurry of activity that went something like this:

  • Travel to UK and take Nanny Betty for an early Christmas meal; drive to Kent and spend evening catching up with friends; nurse hangover; visit Den’s dad, sister and boys; drive to Hastings and have dinner with Jim and Lesley; laugh a lot, set world to rights, nurse another hangover; drive to airport and return to France.
  • Sign for new house; move in; take delivery of all belongings that have been in storage for past 6 months; clean house; unpack – all while dealing with unexpected HR issues, a client emergency and no internet (aarrgh!!)
  • Do all food shopping for family Christmas; make 2 curries, 1 sausage roll, 1 veggie roll, Christmas red cabbage and put the turkey in brine.
  • Drive 9 hours to the Alps for a fabulous family Christmas: find my snow legs (it’s been 20 years since the last time I skied); hang out in a hot tub with my ma and sis and a bottle of bubbly; laugh some more.
  • Spend the period between Christmas and New Year nursing terrible stomach cramps and feeling sorry for myself.
  • Recover just in the nick of time to host a New Year’s Eve party for friends and neighbours; make woodland-themed nibbles and a massive pot of mushroom bourginon.
  • Tidy up, attempt to catch up on work and prepare for our house and cat-sitters to arrive, Hannah and Hauk; pack for our holiday to India.
  • Have a short but sweet buzz with Hannah and Hauk and then leave for the airport.

Phew! I am exhausted just writing it all down. No wonder I felt in desperate need for that holiday!



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