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Trying to sum up a year in a few sentences always feels a bit awkward, and if I’m honest, a bit self-indulgent. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been dragging my feet this time round! The habit didn’t have illustrious origins, and is still not much more than an attempt to store away lessons learnt, in the hope that they might not need to be relearnt too painfully or often! It also does me good to look back over the highlights reel as an aid to keeping perspective and cultivating a resilient sort of gratitude… Though I do so this time in acute awareness that while I found 2016 to be passable company, it was a right jerk to a whole lot of people, who will be most pleased to have made it over the line. I was mildly disappointed that the replay of my own year was a little lacking in amplitude or achievement, but then perhaps that’s the take home message. Ordinary years have their place, to rebuild after extraordinarily bad ones and prepare for extraordinarily good ones. So to all those who crawled the last few metres of the finisher’s chute last week, I hope 2017 brings an end to the plagues and misfortunes of this year, and shows up instead with plenty of fantastic days to go round, an adventurous road ahead, and unexpected loveliness. I hope you also have a few nice bits of salvage that are worth celebrating. Jx

1. One favourite film: The BFG. Just beautiful.

2. Two favourite books: ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’ by Mary Ann Shaffer, and ‘Heroic Australian Women in War’ by Susanna de Vries.

3. Three favourite tunes (none of which were written in 2016): ‘Benedictus’ by 2Cellos, ‘Calm and Crystal Clear’ by Miss Higgins, and ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Disturbed.

4. Favourite wardrobe addition: The loveliest pair of Duckfeet Fyns that ever was!

5. Best meal: Madame Hanoi, Adelaide. Outstanding company. Outstanding meal.

6. Best drink: Sullivan’s Cove American Cask. Breathtaking.

7. Best piece of advice: ‘Don’t rush. There are more opportunities ahead of you than you can even consider now.’

8. Favourite view: Newcastle Harbour from Stockton Bridge. I will miss it dearly.

9. Favourite addition to my happy home: The various precious gifts that send me on my way with a beautiful, diverse and most sufficient collection of teas.

10. Plan for the New Year: Work hard. Read widely. Take risks. Make time for kindness. Carefully expand scotch collection, in consultation with friends near and far.

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Quote of the Week

“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”

Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner

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