So we're at the end of 2011. Wow. I don't know about you, but this year has absolutely flown by for me.
Did August happen? Did we get August? I remember summer happening in May and June when it was ridiculously hot, but I don't remember much about August.
Going through month-by-month and looking at what I've done wouldn't work, simply because I really don't remember what I did. Maybe I did some amazing stuff over the course of the year, but as most people know, my memory really isn't that great for a couple of reasons. So, inspired by a thread on UKFF about Personal Highlights (a thread about personal low points a few months ago resulted in some borderline criminal revelations from some members, some utterly disgusting stories and some things that my mind can never unsee), I'm going to scribble down some of the main things that I can remember.
Some of the points are quite trivial in the grand scheme of things, but I'd like to think I've got some good points. So...here we go.
Finally going to a Grand Prix
I've been an F1 fan for the vast majority of my 20 years on this planet, but before this year, I'd never gone to an F1 race simply because I've not had the money, and F1 really isn't that cheap a sport to attend. Regardless, there was a bit of luck and there was the opportunity to do something pretty awesome, so I got a ticket to Silverstone. The weather may have been rather suspect on Friday and Saturday (including one of the most sudden downpours of rain I can recall happening to me), but the entire weekend was amazing. Hearing the engines firing up on Friday morning while I was sat in one of the grandstands with my brother drinking coffee and then watching the cars all drive past sent shivers down my spine. Without a doubt, that's probably one of the best weekends of my life to date. There have been other fantastic moments (even during this year), but they all happened during week days.
Of course, I was then back at Silverstone just a month later for the Renault World Series weekend. Slightly different weekend (and a hell of a lot cheaper...well, the tickets were free after all!) but it was a great chance to see some young racing drivers honing their craft, and looking at the grid now, quite a few of the guys I saw that weekend will be in F1 next year. If we're keeping tabs, those drivers are Jean-Eric Vergne, Charles Pic, Daniel Ricciardo (though he was already racing for HRT by this point too) and Robert Wickens (though he'll be in a reserve driver role) So in that respect, it's pretty cool.
I don't know whether I'll get back there next year...I wouldn't count on it, but I might try and get to a European race, or check out another WSR weekend somewhere in Europe. Perhaps I'll head over to Germany and check out the Nürburgring!
As a side note, but staying with sport, it was also a good year for cricket. I made it to the first day of the Championship with Nick Foy to see the mighty Lancashire kicking arse at Aigburth. And kick arse they did. Lancashire bowled Sussex out for 243 on the first day and still had time to make inroads into that score before the close of play. They went on to win that game by an innings and it set them up for an outstanding title victory in September.
Living in Leeds had another advantage as I spent quite a bit of time from May at Headingley watching the cricket there. Yorkshire's season...well, it sucked. Of the 5 games I saw (3 T20s, a CB40 and one day of a county game), they lost or went on to lose all five. So I'm waiting for the day next season when I get to witness a White Rose win. As long as it doesn't happen in the T20 when they're playing Lancashire, I won't mind.
I've always been a musical guy, whether it's the dozen years or so I've spent playing flute or the last 5 or 6 that I've spent involved in samba drumming. The last year's been all about the drumming, especially with Honeydrum. I've had the opportunity to do some really cool gigs this year in some really nice locations in Leeds and Yorkshire, and they brought me into my own as a musician. Plus, I never realised I could multi-task by drumming and singing at the same time. Turns out I can, and it's not a disaster, so that's always good to know. I'm by no means a good singer, but I can just about hold it together and no one has ever told me that I sound terrible, so I must be doing something right, right?
It's been strange not really getting much chance to play with Beatlife, but I've had a few chances to take a couple of sessions at for Beatlife when I have been home and able to make it to the Tuesday night session. So it just gave me a chance to try out some stuff from Honeydrum and hear it being played by a different group, and also see how easily I can teach a group a completely new rhythm. I had maybe two or three chances to do this over the year, but each time I did it, I felt pretty good about myself and people seemed to like them and thanked me. It's something that doesn't seem so significant, but getting that chance to prove myself has been something I've really enjoyed being able to do this year. If you'd asked me to do this last year, I wouldn't have even considered it for a second.
Friends, and life in general
I'm a much happier person at the end of this year than I was last year. I feel much more settled in life, and since my life is mainly at Leeds, that's what it all comes down to. I suppose it's time for some lovely revelations. It just wouldn't be the end of the year without some revelations and heartbreak.
Last year, I wasn't really feeling that I was enjoying my course that much, questioning whether I really did want to be studying German, and there were points when I felt like I had no real friends and was...well, a bit lonely. It's one of the secrets I've carried with me over the past 12 months and I've only talked about this with one or two people...and even then, that's only been in the last month or two.
I think what surprised me most has been in the last week or two when talking to school friends about uni and whatnot. Where I've just casually mentioned that I think I'm doing well, I'm pretty happy and things are much better than they were a year ago, they've pointed out how they thought I was a bit glum and down. Maybe I'm not so good at hiding it...
So, I'll end the blog, and the year with something that is nothing short of emotionally disgusting.
To all of my friends, whether those that I've known for years, or those that I've only really started to get to know over the last few months, thank you. I've grown and developed as a person over the last 12 months, and you've helped to shape me into who I am, and the person that I'll continue to be.
Whether I'm that guy who starts dancing at random times, bursts into song when no one else does at a Stammtisch (or anywhere else for that matter), acts like a 6 and a half year old because it's fun and it beats doing work, someone to have a serious conversation or being that shoulder to cry on, I am who I am because of you. Without you guys, I wouldn't be who I am. Life would be a different ride, but I doubt I'd enjoy it anywhere near as much as I'm enjoying this one.
I may not tell you how much I appreciate our friendship, but I do. Thank you.