Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy 2010 everyone! I hope you all had exactly the kind of New Years you wished for; New Years isn't exactly my favorite holiday on earth, and most years I want to crawl under an afghan, exhausted, from weeks of eating and drinking to nurse my hangover and say good riddance to the year that was. After my horrid 2009 it was no different - I would have happily spent the holiday with Casablanca and a bottle of wine - but the Irishman and I had agreed to spend New Years Even in a cottage with five other couples in Exmoor National Park. So less than 24 hours after we returned to London from Dublin, we were in a hire car on our way to Lyncombe Farm in Somerset.

After a detour through Bristol, we drove through tiny adorable towns like the medieval village of Dunster Keep and headed farther into the depths of Exmoor. We were nearly at the house when a thick fog descended on us and what should have been a lovely drive into a valley became a crazy and confusing trek down dirt roads and country lanes. We finally arrived at our destination, a 500 year old farmhouse (give or take) with no central heating, only 1 bathroom (without a shower), and electricity powered by a generator in the barn. In short, it was lovely.

We spent New Years Eve on another "walk" - this time a hike across sheep meadows and up hills that seemed to be too perfect to be natural. It took us to a little town called Withypool where we had a table reserved for a hearty pub lunch, and sampled the fine local brew of Exmoor Gold. On the way back, we took a different route home and I'm here to tell you that walking straight up a hill for about 200m after drinking a pint and eating deep-fried brie is NOT a good idea. Ugh. But after the terrain levelled off, the rest of the return journey was amazing.

Once we recovered and defrosted, our hosts held a sound clash - a music competition where couples queued up three songs to be voted by the group - which the Irishman and I won with our combination of Beastie Boys "Sabotage," Sir Mix-a-lot "I Like Big Butts", and Aha "Take on Me". I suspect our interpretive dance routine for Sabotage might have been a big factor in our win; the Irishman entered the room by rolling on the ground. Too bad it was freezing stone! Then we moved on to a murder mystery game complete with fancy dress and some seriously good acting.

We were so busy with all of our fun and games that we nearly forgot to countdown to 2010. When it got close we found a radio and tried to tune into a countdown, but it didn't really work and we went by an amalgamation of watches to ring in midnight properly. After our toasts and cheers, we all wrote our hopes, dreams, and wishes on a paper lantern that we sent flying into the night. It was powered by a candle, and supposed to burn out in the atmosphere; I sincerely hope it did and that some thatched roof cottage in the park didn't have an unwelcome New Year surprise!

New Years Day was bright and cold, and it took us a few attempts and some pushing to get our hire car back up the lane and to get on our way back to civilization. I must admit, I had the blues a bit thinking about returning to the big city and the impending end of the holiday season. Being out in the country, walking with sheep and relaxing in the woods made me really think about why I'm trying to scrabble out my little existence in the big, fast, expensive city; seeing the English countryside in all of its glory, spending time with good people, makes a London lifestyle seem a bit overrated. So after we returned to Blighty, unpacked the car, and SHOWERED, I made a pact with myself that part of my New Years resolutions would be to really think about what makes me happy in life and to do more of those things. I'll be sharing my New Years plans with you all shortly, so until then... I hope your hangovers are mending nicely.

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