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2008 for me was the worst year of my life, a year where everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong, the only saviour was a glimmering light in December. 2008 started off quite well, I was in a relationship, be it a long distance one, I was still quite happy and content at the way things were going. New Year came, and I spent the evening with close friends, drinking, smiling, dancing and as the clock struck 12, hugging. I felt like 2008 was going to be a great year. Speed forwards a few months, I was working for BT enjoying going into work everyday, but more than that enjoying the company of my friends at work and on the many nights out we had. My boyfriend was in the army so many weekends were reserved for me and him, time to catch up on each others week and spend time together. After a whirlwind relationship he proposed, looking back, young an niave and knowing what the army can bring I accepted. We immediately began planning the wedding, with me receivng many reassurances that this is what he wanted more than anything. Yes my parents were worried, yes my Dad went mad when he found out, but they knew it was my life, and if I wanted to do something I would. I had a similar reaction from my friends. Having booked and planned a girly holiday to Ayia Napa for the June and to plan and marry in the August, I planned to use the holiday as a hen party celebration. The months flicked by spending time with family and friends and I continued to be both nervous and excited for the wedding and very excited for the upcoming holiday!! About a week before me and my friends were due to fly, my boyfriend came home for the weekend. With me due at work early in the morning, I left him in bed, only to hear his phone ringing, I saw the caller ID said it was his friend, a mutual friend, and answered it, only to be met with a girls voice asking who I was and why I was answering his phone, suffice to say the truth emerged and his deception uncovered. He had been cheating on me with another girl for the previous month, and he wasn't sure who he wanted to be with. As you can imagine, mad and upset I made him leave, and have not seen him since. Definately the best decision of my life. I set off on holiday, obviously upset but looking forward to letting my hair down on my very first girly holiday, and I must say it was the best remedy for my mood!! I had a great time, and managed to forget all my worries, if only for a week. Whilst gone, my family were great in sorting out the returning of my wedding dress and cancelling everything that had been booked thus far. One thing however they didn't cancel was the room they'd booked for the reception, as the wedding was due to take place 3 after my 21st birthday, we decided to keep the room as my parents would've lost out on a lot of money. They threw me a big birthday bash and invited all my friends and family, and again for other reasons I'll explain later, it was another one of the best decisions we've made. The party came, and everyone showed, It really was a great night, and members of the family we'd not seen in years after a family row also came, and we were all able to forget the past and move on. I completely forgot the day it was meant to represent and instead looked forward to the future. It was one of the best days of my life. Sadly the year went even further down from here, on the 9th November 2009 my cousin, who was like a brother to me, was killed in a car accident. Sitting in that hospital waiting for him to be brought in, with the rest of my family, only to learn he had died, was truly the worst experience of my life, and one that I would not want my worst enemy to have to suffer through. The only light from all of this was the fact that on the friday before he died a lot of the family got together in the pub, got drunk, laughed, cried and talked about all the good times together, at the end of the night, he gave me a big hug and said see you soon. It also meant that the day of my birthday party was all the more special, as it was the first time my whole family had been together in years, but sadly the last. The light at the end of the tunnel came in the form of my current boyfriend in Decemeber, just over a year after losing my cousin, the wounds were still far too raw, but he helped me get through the pain, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I wasn't 100% ready after everything that had happened in the year, but he stayed with me and managed to win me over. We have now been together over a year, and I can honestly say with all my heart, he is the love of my life. I love him more than I've ever loved anyone, and he is more special to me than he will ever understand.
Tonight at 20:08 or 8 minutes past 8 in old money I ran over a cat. Yup, a cat. It was a ginger one that had 4 legs, or at least it did up until 8 minutes past 8 o'clock tonight. It's a real shame that it lost a leg, but having said that it's probably more unfortunate that it also no longer has a head. Now, I don't generally make a habit of running over other peoples house hold pets or in fact over my own household pets (as long as we ignore the 'Fluffy incident of 1984, the mysterious disappearance of 'Mr Tibbles' in 2003 and the hamster campaign of 2001 - 2007) so I wasn't exactly sure how to handle the small matter of informing the cats owners. The owners live just 3 doors down the street, they're a lovely family, new to the area, have a couple of kids and used to own a ginger cat. Yesterday they invited the wife and me to pop round for a drink and we had a fairly pleasant time until the cat was let into the lounge. It got very excited by my wifes coat which is one of those new ones you might have seen on the home shopping channel that has half a dozen balls of string attached so that you can knit on the go. Now the wife is mildly allergic to cats (and asparagus but's thats a tale for a different time) so when the cat started getting fussy she became quite upset and following a mild altercation, some spilt red wine (or possibly blood, who can say) and a heated exchange we left. Unfortunately it was only when we got home that I realised that I'd left my trousers behind so I had to leave my sneezing wife trying to climb into the house (my door keys were in my trouser pocket and my wife never carries keys when she isn't wearing underwear to avoid confusion) and head back to the neighbours house. I discovered upon my arrival that the neighbours had wrapped their shaken & wine stained cat up in the nearest available material which just happened to be my size 24 trousers (yes, sometimes I wear large womens trousers to make myself feel like an overweight lady with low self esteem) and had taken him to the vet. The neighbours kids were still in though so I waited with them, watching alleged childrens tv that looked more like soft porn to me, what with all the nipples and erections that were on show, and eventually the neighbours and cat came back and I gleefully accepted the return of my trousers. Unfortunately it transpired that the cat had, whilst wrapped up in my trousers, managed to swallow my house keys. On the plus side my neighbours allowed me to have a copy of the x-ray that showed the keys inside the cat along with a vets bill of £765 plus VAT. They also invited me to pop over to their garden whenever I wanted to so that I could sift through their cats faeces until the keys returned. Having slept in the car last night as I couldn't get into the house and my wife had decided to spend a day or two resting with our good friend Francoise (see my review of French transgender prostitues 'Ooh la la lady-rent-boys' for more info) I was very hungry and tired and, it's fair to say, slightly seething with an uncanny rage and hatred towards felines this evening when I saw the creature wander up the road and squat on my front lawn. I waited patiently whilst it did it's business and then chased it away so that I could have a nose around. My keys had not surfaced. So, wanting to be able to get back into my house to shower, shave, mess about on Dooyoo etc I thought 'sod this for a lark', jumped into my car and ran the bloody (literally) cat over. They sure can move when their lives are threatened I can tell you. Still, alls well that ends well. I've got my keys back, my wife will return sooner or later, we've had a few laughs with the neighbours and I've just ordered a book on Amazon for them all about how to talk to your kids about the death of a pet. I've also just agreed to help their little girl put up posters around our estate. Something about a missing cat I think....
2008 was a very mixed year in my life, and started with the New Year from hell and finished with something a little special. January started just like all the previous ones, with the expectation of me being capable of super human abilities - doing a 37 hour week, cleaning, washing, diy work and popping in the odd couple hours every Saturday to see my son, and the very rare chance of seeing my daughter. But, most of my time apart from trying to look after my 5 year old daughter I spent trying to avoid home life by going shopping very regularly at night time to stay away from the constant jibing towards my children by my soon to be disabled ex-wife and her 13 year old daughter. Not only was it hell, but I spent every penny of my ISAs trying to pay for the home improvements that my ex-wife wanted and I even had a serious chest infection caused by health issues that were a result of their lack of help around the house. (There were 4 children ranging from 4 to 18 at the time). All changed in July as a result of an a random look at the Friends Reunited site where I found my ex-girlfriend from 20 years ago, who is now my partner, and the feelings we had for each other are as strong now as they were then. Things have not been easy financially, but we have a happy relationship and I get to see my children more regularly and I don't have to justify what I spend on them. The youngest is an issue as she still lives with her mum, but even if I don't get residency I have at least made her home life a little more bearable. Since July things have really started to improve which includes my favourite football team Manchester City and their arab board of directors that are set to make them one of the most formidable teams in future seasons. Lots of good things happened after July and it was certainly something that I had to consider carefully not just for me but my kids and it was definitely right. The last few days of the year were spent in unexpected places - walking along the beaches at Dawlish and Paignton with my partner, my 5 year old and other members of our family and it was fantastic.
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Wakeboarding. It was an amazing experience and has since become a favourite sport of mine. 2. Did anyone close to you die? Too many people. I was at 15 funerals last year - all close friends/family. 3. What countries did you visit? Germany, Spain, USA and Greece. 4. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? As vain as it sounds, one hot bikini body. 5. What dates from 2008 will remain etched on your memory and why? 17th, 18th & 19th of July - I appeared as Mrs Lovett in Sweeny Todd, need I say more? 6. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Overcoming my fear of public transport. Seriously. 7. Did you suffer illness or injury? Oh boy did I. I still suffer from ME, anaemia, JHM, severe calcium deficiency and my hair is falling out and I'm not even in my 20s! For more information, check my review on ME. 8. What was the best thing you bought? I have no idea, I buy so much crap. Actually, my T in the Park ticket is damn cool. 9. Who's behaviour made you appalled and depressed? No one really, well, no one who made an impact for me to remember it now... 10. Where did most of your money go? Into the tills at Lush, Topshop, Mac, Karen Millen and Cruise. 11. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being on TV for the first time since I was 15. 12. What song will always remind you of 2008? Rio - Duran Duran. I have no idea why, but I always think of summer 2008 when I hear it. 13. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) Happier or sadder? Sadder b) Thinner or fatter? Thinner c) Richer or poorer? Roughly the same. 14. What do you wish you'd done more of? Travelling and taking more risks. 15. What do you wish you'd done less of? Sleeping, but that's completely out of my control. Oh and being in hospital, I'd much prefer not to spend like, 1/4 of my year in that craphole. 16. What was your favourite TV programme? The Hills and Cheerleader Nation. 17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Isn't there enough hate in the world without me hating people? 18. What was the best book you read? If I'm honest, I think I only read two books last year. Unless my scripts for shows count? 19. What was your greatest musical discovery? I discovered that I'm a pretty good songwriter. Look out for me in the charts ;). 20. What did you want and get? A car. 21. What did you want and not get? My education back. My health back. 22. What was your favourite film this year? Pass. I couldn't even tell you what films came out last year. 23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I had a big partaaaaay in a hotel and went to asda in my pajamas at 4am with my best friend to buy ice cream. I was 18. 24. Who did you miss. I'd rather not say, I know a couple people on here who knows the person in question. 25. Whow as the best new person you met? Evan. The 7 year old boy I work with at theatre school. He's such a sweet, innocent little boy, you can't help but be happy when you're in his presence. 26. Tell us a valuble life lesson you learned in 2008. I didn't, anyone want to teach me one this year? 27. What do you want from Dooyoo in 2009? For people to appreciate all the time and effort I put into my reviews. It's always reciprocated. p.s 3 stars because the year kinda sucked Thanks for reading :)
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Experienced bull handling! What an experience! 2. Did anyone close to you give birth? No 3. Did anyone close to you die? No 4. What countries did you visit? France, Canada, America, Ireland, Czech Republic 5. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Gain confidence in speaking french 6. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? When my boyfriend left me in Paris and the cheer me up party put me in hospital when i was unaware that my bad flu of the summer was actually pneumonia! 7. What was your biggest achievement of the year? making a lot of progress with my eating disorder 8. Did you suffer illness or injury? pneumonia (and consquently a coma) 9. What was the best thing you bought? i didnt buy anything amazing actually 10. Whose behaviour merited celebration? my mom and dad for putting up with me post-breakup and then keeping their mouths shut when we got back together and they didnt approve 11. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? the boyfriend who left me in paris, without knowing anyone and doing a runner so i had to pay extra rent. cheers! 12. Where did most of your money go? flight tickets 13. What did you get really, really, really excited about? my last cruise on the qe2 14. What song will always remind you of 2008? Sebastian Tellier - Divine 15. Compared to this time last year, are you: more confident, slimmer, a heavier smoker, a lighter drinker, a happier person a) Happier or sadder? Happier. b) thinner or fatter? thinner c) richer or poorer? Poorer!!! 16. What do you wish you'd done more of? Studying 17. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worrying over lack of studying! 18. What was your favourite TV programme? Shameless 19. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this Yes. We shall leave it at that... 20. What was the best book you read? The Lovely Bones 21. What was your greatest musical discovery? Chromeo 22. What did you want and get? A summer away from England 23. What did you want and not get? My year in paris 24. What was your favourite film of this year? La Vie En Rose 25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 22 and I went to a spa with my grandma and mother and then for a meal with my family and also a night out with my friends. 26. What political issue stirred you the most? The hype of the US election 27. Who did you miss? My boyfriend when I was in England 28. Who was the best new person you met? A girl I met when I started work. She was great fun and made the job bearable! 29. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: I shouldn't waste my time to people who won't give me the time 30. What do you want from Dooyoo in 2009? To pay out according to ratings rather than a review that took 5 minutes to write getting the same as one that took 40 minutes to write.
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? I moved to another country. France, to be exact and it was one of the best things I have done in my life. A new culture, language and life! 2. Did anyone close to you die? My great-grandma, we weren't close exactly and didn't get along most of the time but she was still family and it was sad to see her go. 3. What countries did you visit? Austria, Spain, Belgium and France. I'm not exactly a world traveller I know but it's a start! 4. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Confidence, both in my self and others. It's something I'm working on, a little everyday. 5. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 24th of August which is the date I came to France. 6. What was your biggest achievement of the year? This carries on into 2009 too but learning to speak "proper" French is something I'm pretty proud of. 7. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not particularly, I have an excellent immune system :) 8. What was the best thing you bought? My plane ticket out of England, not to sound too cliched but it was almost like buying a new start. 9. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Certain "friends" who seemed to just abandon me, particlarly at the beginning of the year when I had a few problems. However, I'm now a lot closer to those I know I can trust. 10. Where did most of your money go? Plane tickets back and forth across the channel and phone calls on the same thing. 11. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to live in France and also my 18th birthday which was a really great day. 12. What song will always remind you of 2008? Toi +moi by Gregoire was a great song of the year(ta main by the same artist is better but was only released a few weeks ago so I guess it doesn't really count.) 13. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) Happier or sadder? Much happier b) thinner or fatter? Thinner c) richer or poorer?Eternally poor 14. What do you wish you'd done more of? Smiling, laughing and just being happy in general. Again, this is more about the first 6 months of the year. 15. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worrying about things to come and dwelling on things that have happened that I have no way of changing. 16. What was your favourite TV programme? Dexter was a great show last year. 17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I try not to hate anybody, it's not good for me and not good for them. There are people I dislike but it's something I try not to dwell on and I'm not going to name names. 18. What was the best book you read? There are way too many to list, I think I read about 1000 books last year and at least two thirds were pretty good (don't know why I finished the others to be honst.) 19. What was your greatest musical discovery? I didn't have a great musical discovery but was introduced to lot's of french music I'd never heard/ had the chance to hear before. 20. What did you want and get? A second chance. 21. What did you want and not get? To be a little materialistic not to mention unrealistic I had my eye on a motorbike but it wasn't to be. 22. What was your favourite film of this year? Slumdog Millionaire was a fantastic film in my opinion. Very original and both funny and moving. The child actors were also better than any I've ever seen before. 23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 17 in 2008 and did nothing. It wasn't a great birthday to be honest but things can't always be great. 24. Who did you miss? My family in the second half of the year, more than I expected to be honest. 25. Who was the best new person you met? People I met in France; the little 5 year old so keen to learn english, the 28 year old woman who was unbelievably welcoming and a great friend, the 40 year old jockey who is one of the most open people I've ever met, the 22 year old "computer guy" who will talk to anyone regardless of language barriers and is completely crazy. These are just a few but there are many more people, I can't pick just one. 27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: If you try hard enough you can turn things around and make something of yourself. 28. What do you want from Dooyoo in 2009? To read and write interesting and (very) useful reviews.
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? I gave birth to my beautiful little boy, although it was a beautiful experience, birds didn't sing and my husband didn't weep at my ability to produce such a wonderful human! 2. Did anyone close to you give birth? Aside from myself I had 3 friends give birth, two boys and one girl 3. Did anyone close to you die? Not close as such but one of my friends lost a baby, he was born at 27 weeks and died 4 weeks later, I can't imagine what she must have gone through and is still going through. 4. What countries did you visit? America (New York) and Spain (Gran Canaria) 5. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Hapiness, I suffered from Post Natal Depression and spent a lot of 2008 feeling very alone, having taken a course of Anti-Depressants I am pleased to say I came off them 7 weeks ago and 2009 is definitely on the up! 6. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 5th February, my sons birthday, 4th August the date Angel Charlie was born and 5th Sept the date he died 7. What was your biggest achievement of the year? At the risk of sounding repetitive giving birth, how he got out is still a mystery to me lol! 8. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing really other than the odd cold thank goodness. 9. What was the best thing you bought? The baby monitor with the heart rate pad - ds had a temperature fit and having the heart rate device was really helpful in stopping me panicking and having to go check him every other second of the night, I knew if there was a problem the alarm would go off. 10. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? My own, but that was down to the PND, some relatives just not understanding and making me feel like I was weird and in the wrong. 11. Where did most of your money go? On petrol going to see my folks with the baby as often as I possibly could (320 mile round trip twice a month) and baby clothes/toys/food/nappies! 12. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to New York again with my son to show him off to our friends and Christmas! 13. What song will always remind you of 2008? Plain White T's Delilah is one that sticks out 14. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) Happier or sadder? Happier b) thinner or fatter? A little thinner and getting thinner still hopefully! c) richer or poorer? About the same 15. What do you wish you'd done more of? Dieting so I wasn't the same size this summer as last! I also wish I could've enjoyed the baby months more and taken more photos of us as a family. 16. What do you wish you'd done less of? Wallowing and eating lol! 17. What was your favourite TV programme? I love Grey's Anatomy so probably that 18. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I think hate is a strong word, there are people I've 'gone off' for one reason or another but no one I hate. 19. What was the best book you read? I can't honestly remember, I do love reading and tend to read Crime/murder books that tend to be very similar to each other. I did read a book about Starbucks that I really enjoyed but can't remember the full title of it. 20. What was your greatest musical discovery? Not sure I had one last year - nothing springs to mind anyway 21. What did you want and get? I wanted a new laptop and finally got one when my old one gave up the ghost in December! 22. What did you want and not get? Would it be wrong of me to say a Girl? I was convinced through my entire pregnancy that it was a boy but secretly longed for a girl. However, I wouldn't change him for the world now, he's one cool dude! 23. What was your favourite film of this year? Not really a big film fan, I have a tendancy to fall asleep half way through! 24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 32 in 2008 and I can't actually remember what I did! It probably involved a trip home as Birthday's without the family aren't the same. 25. Who did you miss? My family, I know they're only 160 miles away but that's 3 hours driving time and I can't just pop and see them when I want 26. Who was the best new person you met? Being on Maternity leave and having a new baby I didn't really get to meet any new people last year, I'm hoping to change that this year by joining a college course and hopefully changing jobs! Actually re-reading that I guess my baby should be the best person I met last year!!! 27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: That I'm not a bad mum, depression is something you can't help but it can be helped. 28. What do you want from Dooyoo in 2009? To spread the word of some of my favourite things, earn points and get people's opinions on different products.
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Climbed a super big hill in Scotland. I went to visit a friend and where he lives (Menstrie), he's surrounded by mountains. Apparently a lot of people climb these on a regular basis but i know i wont be doing this ever again. While it was kind of fun, im really not fit enough to do this kind of thing. 2. Did anyone close to you give birth? No but quite a few of my friends are pregnant now 3. Did anyone close to you die? No, thank goodness. Hoping 2009 will be the same. 4. What countries did you visit? I came from from my working holiday in canada in March 2009 so i guess i can say Canada. I also went to Scotland a couple of times to see a friend. 5. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? More money would be nice, but i dont think thats going to happen unless i win the lottery. Dooyoo is helping though :D 6. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? March 19th - My 22nd birthday and the day i came back from Canada. I dont think ive ever cried so much. I missed my family loads while i was away but Toronto felt like home after being there so long. 7. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being brave and going on a bungee ball. I went to a theme park in Scotland and had already paid to go on this 'ride' but once i saw it in action i really didnt want to go on it. I think i must have sat there watching it for about 30 minutes before i decided to go on it. Mostly i didnt want to waste mine and my friends' money. 8. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major - only colds etc really. I class major as needing time off work, and i havent had a sick day for over 2 years now. 9. What was the best thing you bought? A young persons rail card. This thing pretty much paid for itself in 1 trip to scotland. Now i can get return tickets for about £25-£30 instead of about £90 for a regular priced ticket. I went all over the place last year with my rail card! 10. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? No ones. 11. Where did most of your money go? On holidays and days out. I went to scotland a couple of times costing probably £250 each time i went after meals and doing things etc. Days out add up very quickly, especially going shopping in Sheffield. 12. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Seeing my friends and family again after living abroad for a year. 13. What song will always remind you of 2008? None, normally i have a sountrack to the summer kind of song, but i didnt for last year. There's too many i really liked. 14. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) Happier or sadder? Happier b) thinner or fatter? The same c) richer or poorer? The same 15. What do you wish you'd done more of? Spent more time with my friends. I worked a stupid amount of hours over Christmas and didnt really have any time for myself. 16. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worked so much. The money was great but i was so exhausted after it and took me ages to get back to normal when i went down to me 16 hours. 17. What was your favourite TV programme? The X Factor. I love reality tv shows and last year had some great people on the X Factor. Shame JLS didnt win tho. I loved them. 18. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? My ex. We used to be good friends then he got a new girlfriend and decided he didnt want to know me anymore. After 6 years, hate seems the most appropriate word for what i feel towards him. 19. What was the best book you read? Twilight! It got me hooked onto a different genre of books that i dont normally read. I fell in love with it and couldnt put it down. 20. What was your greatest musical discovery? Paramore - Now one of my favourite bands and was recommended by a good friend 21. What did you want and get? A new I pod - My old one was only 2GB and i just couldnt get enough songs on it, now i have a 8gb and i still dont have enough room haha! I dont like having to leave songs off it. 22. What did you want and not get? A promotion at work. I wanted to be assistant manager but at the end of the year at interview time i decided to go back to college instead. 23. What was your favourite film of this year? None that really stand out 24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 22 in 2008 and flew home from Canada. I didnt do anything special on the actual day but i did have a fantastic last weekend with my friends and even went to see a castle. 25. Who did you miss? My friends after i left Canada. Its going to be a long time until i can afford to go and see them again. 26. Who was the best new person you met? No one, I didnt meet a lot of new people in 2008 apart from the people i work with now. I couldnt just pick one of them. 27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: You dont always need a man in your life! Im quite happy being single for the first time in years. 28. What do you want from Dooyoo in 2009? Some extra cash/ vouchers to spend on books and to read some great reviews from other people.
I've decided to share my fabulous year with you all. 2008 was the best year of my life so far, and also the busiest! I moved house twice, got married, got a mini promotion and fell pregnant! 1)What did you do in 2008 that you have not done before? Got married, made a baby, and bought a kitten 2) Did anyone close to you give birth? No but I made one! He wasn't born until March this year 3) Did anyone close to you die? No, thankfully 4) What countries did you visit? Italy, USA, and Switzerland and Germany on our way to Austria 5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Better financial security, we had such a busy year that our savings seemed to dwindle. A lottery win would be nice! 6) What dates will you remember from 2008? 10th December 2008, my wedding day 15th November 2008, day we moved into our new house 7) Did you suffer illness or injury? Just pregnancy. I was really ill for the first 5 months and actually weighed less than I did before I was pregnant. The remaining months were fine though 8) What was the best thing you bought? 3 wedding dresses! I am extremely indecisive and fell out of love with my original dress. My second dress was THE ONE but unfortunately nature had other ideas as I fell pregnant 7 months before the wedding meaning there wasn't enough room for me and bump in there...hence dress number three! 9) Whose behaviour has merited celebration? My husband's. He is the most supportive and kind man I have ever known. He took on all the stress of moving house and was amazing during my pregnancy. The fact he said "I do" is worthy of celebration in my opinion! 10) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Some of my colleagues were particularly unhelpful and piled on additional stresses that I really didn't need at 7 months pregnant. 11) Where did most of your money go? Our wedding, rent, preparing for the baby, our honeymoon 12) What did you get really excited about? The wedding, meeting our baby, and Christmas like I do every year! 13) What song will you remember from 2008? Katy Perry - I kissed A Girl 14) Compared to this time last year are you ..happier, fitter, more productive? Happier, definitely. I've never been this happy. Fitter? Baby weight aside, I believe that I am,I've ever done so much rushing around! Productive...I think so. My new family gives my life a new sense of purpose 15) What do you wish you had done more of? Seen my family. We've had quite a tempestuous relationship in the past but since the birth of my son the gap has been bridged and I've come to realise what I was missing. 16) What do you wish you had done less of? Getting stressed. I understand its practically impossible not to stress over a wedding or moving house, but I just wish I'd taken the time to enjoy my pregnancy more 17) What was your favourite tv programme? I discovered Bones in this year, and it's currently my favourite show so I'd have to go with that. 18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year? I don't really hate anyone, people have let me down and disappointed me but I wouldn't say I hated them because of it. 19) What's been the best book of 2008? Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I read a lot of books but usually light-hearted frothy chick-lits so this was different for me. I bought this book after it featured on Richard and Judy's book club. I found it hugely moving and a great read 20) What was your greatest musical discovery? Kings of Leon and Katy Perry. 21) What did you want to get in 2008? I just wanted to get married, my whole year revolved around planning our wedding. 22) What did you want and didn't get? More money. Other than that my wishlist was fulfilled 23) What is your favorite film of the year? The Dark Knight was definitely the most memorable in my opinion 24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I turned 23, and spent it with my husband, best friend and her boyfriend in our new house 25) What political issue stirred you the most? The war in Iraq 26) Who was the best person you met? A new work colleague. I can genuinely say she is one of the nicest people I've ever met and considering she's 30 years older than me we get on lie a house on fire 27) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008? To save, save, save!
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? I went to the Carribean 2. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes. One of my mates had a little girl 3. Did anyone close to you die? Nope 4. What countries did you visit? Venezula and Cyprus 5. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A range rover sport.... just a few more reviews to go ;) haha 6. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 15th of January. My 21st birthday 7. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Earning more money at work than anyone else :) 8. Did you suffer illness or injury? No 9. What was the best thing you bought? My flat 10. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Lol ermm i cant think of any 11. Where did most of your money go? My mortage... pretty much all of it infact lol 12. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Getting my flat done up 13. What song will always remind you of 2008? I dont know.. i listen to hundreads of songs a day.. none stick out 14. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) Happier or sadder? Happier b) thinner or fatter? about the same c) richer or poorer? Poorer, although i own a property now though 15. What do you wish you'd done more of? Gone out with my mates more 16. What do you wish you'd done less of? Travelling around the country following Ipswich lose lol 17. What was your favourite TV programme? Britains got talent 18. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? The "director" of the managment company of the flats i live in 19. What was the best book you read? I didnt read a book :( 20. What was your greatest musical discovery? Hey? lol 21. What did you want and get? A property 22. What did you want and not get? A winning lottery ticket 23. What was your favourite film of this year? Of 2008? .. borat 24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 21. I went for a meal and went bowling then to the pub 25. Who did you miss? No one 26. Who was the best new person you met? Some chap called smithy, hes always out in the pubs and hes hillarious 27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: Stay close to your mates from school. I aint kept in touch with them all :( 28. What do you want from Dooyoo in 2009? £150 a review would be nice :)
1)What did you do in 2008 that you have not done before? I went white water rafting, and learned that it wasn't as terrifying as it looks in The River Wild. 2) Did anyone close to you give birth? My cousins wife had a baby girl called Lilly, who is now a year old. 3) Did anyone close to you die? My cousin Stewart died of a blood clot to the brain. 4) What countries did you visit? I didn't venture out of UK last year, disappointingly. 5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Drive and determination. 6) What dates will you remember from 2008? 6 July, saw Kylie Minogue in concert. 18 August, my niece started school. 7) Did you suffer illness or injury? Spent most of the year ill, and visiting surgery's and hospital. It wasn't pleasant. Thankfully, I am now reaping the rewards of those treatments. 8) What was the best thing you bought? Recordable freeview, I never miss any of the shows I like anymore. 9) Whose behaviour has merited celebration? My aunt who has been hugely supportive through my life, but really stepped up to the mark last year. 10) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? I wont say, the person knows who they are. 11) Where did most of your money go? Clothes, DVDs, I-tunes (lol) 12) What did you get really excited about? The new baby, the white water rafting, getting better, Kylie X2008, my niece starting school, and the prospect of redundancy - dont ask. 13) What song will you remember from 2008? Black & Gold. How could we forget it, it was around forever. 14) Compared to this time last year are you ..happier, fitter, more productive? I'm not yet as happy, fit and productive as I hope to be soon, but yeah I'm getting there. 15) What do you wish you had done more of? Exercise. 16) What do you wish you had done less of? Moaning ;) 17) What was your favourite tv programme? Toss up between Desperate Housewives, Ghost Whisperer, Medium and the umpteenth re-run of Friends. 18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year? Hate's too strong a word, but I am currently very irritated by my partner lol. 19) What's been the best book of 2008? Harlen Coben's Hold Tight. 20) What was your greatest musical discovery? I got more into country music last year, but I cant say whether I discovered any life changing artist, or if it were one particular artist. 21) What did you want to get in 2008? A new job, but that went on the backburner. Unfortunately, now, its a priority. 22) What did you want and didn't get? As above. 23) What is your favourite film of the year? The Dark Knight was pretty spectacular. The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas, Mamma Mia, a few others that I cant think of right now. 24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Last year I was 29, but since I've already had my 30th this year, it'd be difficult to think back to that birthday. In fact, my sister had a wee surprise party for me last year because she thought it was my 30th, I nearly brained her. Luckily she hadn't organised it in time to invite many of my friends. 25) What political issue stirred you the most? LIke everybody in the universe, I was most affected by the recession hitting, thats definately the number 1 priority. 26) Who was the best person you met? I met an uncle who I hadn't ever met before last year, so that was a definate highlight. 27) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008? That your health is too important not too care for. If you even suspect for a second that your ill, get it sorted. Dont just take your GP's word for anything. Yes, they know their job, but they make mistakes, and if they aren't looking for something then they might just miss it. Get a second opinion. If you're not satisfied by results, get it seen to again. You cant let anything slip by unnoticed, its too dangerous.
1) What did you do in 2008 that you have not done before? I was a bridesmaid for my best friend. I graduated as a teacher and started teaching my own class in a lovely little school. 2) Did anyone close to you give birth? One niece was born on New Years Day, one in June and a nephew in October! 3) Did anyone close to you die? No. 4) What countries did you visit? No holiday's last year as we are saving our socks off for our wedding! Just a trip to Alton Towers. 5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008 A holiday! More money! 6) What days will you remember from 2008 My best friend's wedding, My first day as a teacher, graduating, Being there for my friend when she needed me. Partying with the girls at Shanghi Shuffle, the day my parents gave us a holiday as a present! When my fiance won player of the year for his team! 7) Did you suffer any Illness or injury Dancing injury - back pain - ouch! 8) What was the best thing that you bought Things for the house (which we still don't have yet!) 9) Who's Behaviour has Merited Celebration My fiance, for encouraging me and believing in me 10) Who's behaviour made you appalled and depressed No-one worth mentioning 11) Where did most of your money go? Saving for the wedding, nights out, clothes, my car 12) What did you get really excited about When I found the perfect photographer for our wedding 13) What song will you remember from 2008 We are the Romans.... the song my class wrote for our assembly (too cute!) 14) Compared to this time last year .... I'm much more mature and I believe in myself in my profession, I know I can do this. I am so much more organised for the wedding. I am more confident. 15) What do you wish you had done more of Saving my money! Overtime! 16) What do you wish you had done less of Worrying. 17) What was your favourite television programme Too many! Reality TV! (god thats so bad!) 18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year No 19) what has been the best book of 2008 Don't have much time to read! 20) What was your greatest musical discovery Lady Gaga 21) What did you really want to get in 2008 A job in my area 22) What did you want but didn't get A holiday 23) What was your favourite film of the year stepbrothers 24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you. I was 22 and I went shopping all day with the girls and then went on a night it which was great fun. I also went out for dinner and cocktails with my fiance and parents 25) Who was the best person you met My fiances best friend's girlfried and she is now one of my best friends 26) Tell us a valuable lesson that you learned in 2008? Work hard and always try your best, even if you are not THE best it doesn't mean you're not amazing at what you do.
1) I went Jet Skiing for the very first time and became quite a regular out on the waves. 2) Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, one of my best friends Kate had a baby girl - Sophie 3) Did anyone close to you die? No, thank god 4) What countries did you visit? Greece 5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? true love 6) What dates will you remember from 2008? The IOW festival - amazing times, very happy memories and holding my friends little girl for the very first time 7) Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major, I work in a Doctors surgery so just the usual bugs and sniffles 8) What was the best thing you bought? My festival ticket and my green giraffe dress. 9) Whose behaviour has merited celebration? Hmmmmmm, not too sure about this one, maybe my ex for putting up with me for so long?! 10) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Again, not too sure, maybe the local chav kids hanging out on the corner hurling abuse at anyone who happens to walk past them 11) Where did most of your money go? Clothes, alcohol, petrol 12) What did you get really excited about? Seeing The Police at the festival 13) What song will you remember from 2008? Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon and Newton Faulkner... There's a place I go... 14) Compared to this time last year are you ..happier, fitter, more productive? Definitely happier, without a doubt, certainly fitter, about 2 stone down on my weight this time last year, lots of swimming and walking. 15) What do you wish you had done more of? More time spent with friends/family instead of my ex 16) What do you wish you had done less of? less alcohol, fewer nights out, I would have had so much money now! 17) What was your favourite tv programme? Lost 18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year? No, can't say that I do, I don't like the word hate anyway. 19) What's been the best book of 2008? I read a lot of Martina Cole and loved Dorothy Koumson 20) What was your greatest musical discovery? Kings of Leon, Tim Armstrong 21) What did you want to get in 2008? married 22) What did you want and didn't get? married, am so glad now I didn't! 23) What is your favourite film of the year? I can't honestly remember any off the top of my head....maybe Mama Mia, very funny 24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I was 27, I went to my local with my then boyfriend, Mum, dad and 2 close friends, had a lovely meal and too much pink wine and sambucca! 25) What political issue stirred you the most? ??? 26) Who was the best person you met? Some of my new workmates, very good friends 27) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008? Live life to the full, you only get one shot at it, and if you're not happy then CHANGE things, only you can do this!
While going about my boring dreary life back here at home (you know working 9-5, paying bills, etc.), I often start daydreaming about mine and my husband's 5 months backpacking trip around the world last year. I have to say that 2008 was the best year I've had yet in all my 22 years. It was the trip of a life time that we'd been saving up for for roughly 3 years. We'd eventually saved up enough money and I'd managed to convince my husband to leave his job, and so, on 22 January 2008, we said some tearful goodbyes to our family and departed to our first stop on our trip. We visited some wonderful places, did so many amazing things and made some great friends. Our trip took us to Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the Cook Islands. I've always been quite a sensible and careful person who'd never take any risks but travelling taught me to be more independent and carefree and I did things that I'd never thought I'd do. Here's some of the amazing things we did: - White water rafting down a 7 meter waterfall in Rotorua, New Zealand - the biggest waterfall that you can legally white water raft down in the world. - Ridden a horse bare-back in the sea on Magnetic Island, Australia - also stood on the horses back in the water and jumped off. - Held a giant iguana on my arm in Phuket, Thailand, and it licked my ear! - Climbed Kings Cannon and the Olgas, Northern Territory, Australia. - Snorkelled and sunbathed in Maya Bay in the Phi Phi Islands, Thailand - the film set of 'The Beach'. - Watched a musical show in Phuket, Thailand, which only starred transvestites. - Snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. - Raced down the motorway (if you can call it that) in a tuk tuk in Bangkok, Thailand. - Taken a Thai cooking course and learnt how to make green and red Thai curry, spring rolls and sweet banana with coconut milk in Chiang Mai, Thailand. - Watched Lewis Hamilton win the Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia. - Partied at a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand, where we saw a lot of crazy things! - Visited the set of Home and Away in Palm Beach, Sydney, Australia - got to meet and hug a load of the cast! - Watched 7/8 year old boys fighting in a Muay Thai match in Phuket, Thailand, while their parents egged them on from the side. - Climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. - Jungle surfed in Cape Tribulation, Australia - zoomed on a zip wire 23 metres above the ground through the trees. - Visited a long neck tribe in their homes in Chiang Mai, Thailand. - Watched the sunset and sunrise over Ayres Rock, Australia and walked around the entire rock. - Got stranded in the middle of the sea on a long tail boat, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand - the crazy boat driver just laughed and then got out his tool box to fix it! - Trekked for 8 hours over the snowy mountains of the Tongariro Crossing, Taupo, New Zealand - the home of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. - Dived and swam underwater into an underwater cave in Fiji - one of the scariest things I have ever done. - Slept in a swag under the stars in the Northern Territory, Australia. - Seen gorgeous lady boys dancing on tables and showing off their still male private parts in Phuket, Thailand. - Swam across the sea from the mainland in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, to a tiny island. - Ridden an elephant over mountains and through rivers in the jungle of Chiang Mai, Thailand. - Camping on Fraser Island, Australia, with the dingoes howling from nearby. We also spotted many wild animals including kangaroos, koalas, dolphins, a shark, whale, octopus and snake. There are plenty more wonderful things we've done but I won't make you jealous any longer! I'm actually starting to make myself feel a bit depressed thinking about what we were doing a year ago compared to what we're doing now! Hopefully we'll have saved up enough money again to go flying off on another trip of a life time - I've got the travelling bug and all I ever think about is going away! Let's hope future years bring us as much joy to us as 2008 did.
Just for a change from my never ending stream of car reviews here on Dooyoo, something completely different - indeed a whole category that I had no idea even existed....... RICHADA CELEBRATING 2008 I extend my sympathies to all of you who had a thoroughly bad 2008, 2009 can and will only be better for you. Not being one of life's great optimists, I am not usually given to passing much thought on either having a good or a bad year, what has gone has gone, is in the past and cannot be changed, what is to come - that is what matters. When Richada says that 2008 was not a bad year, then I guess that you can assume that out of his 46 it was probably one of the best. Personally speaking, in our own household at least, it was one of good cheer and remarkably little sickness, discontent or sadness. What follows is a very personal recollection of 2008, any opinions expressed are purely personal, if they offend then I apologise profusely in advance. 2008 ON PAPER For me it is of some regret that, towards the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, putting pen to paper is becoming a rapidly outdated concept. 2008 was the first year in which I did not actually sit down and WRITE, with my own fair hand and fountain pen, a letter of any kind. As a very young lad at school I remember, with some pride, being taught properly how to write - joined up letters. Biros and felt tip pens were not allowed, messy, blotchy fountain pens were used for all subjects. I cannot remember the name of the manufacturer of the cheap school issue, one - only that for a Christmas present in 1972 (my first year at boarding school) I received, from my parents, a beautiful stainless steel Parker fountain pen, with my name engraved upon it. Although it is long worn out, it remains one of my most treasured possessions. Indeed several years ago my wife, presented me with a superb new Schaeffer fountain pen, regrettably it has seen little use. Naturally I did "write" in 2008, birthday and Christmas cards being the most personal items. Review notes were also hastily scribbled out - particularly the ones for the car reviews - I knew at the time that it would take many months to actually commit them to "Word", hand written notes are invaluable to me, both for review writing and every day life. Richada Enterprises, whilst having relatively modern systems, can hardly claim to have a paperless office, manual records are still kept, telephone orders are still written by hand. As a result of the reduction in writing, especially with a "proper" pen, I now find that my, once really rather presentable, handwriting has turned into a rather messy scrawl, of which I am no longer remotely proud. Regrettably internet publishing leaves no space for proper handwriting, will the fountain pen follow the typewriter into obscurity I wonder? 2008 ON SCREEN In case you had not already guessed, the screen to which I refer is the very one in front of you right now...... ......the one that for me, progressively over the last ten years, replaced pen and paper. Unlike the very many of you who use the PC as a games console and general entertainment centre, I use mine more as a glorified word processor. Actually that is to grossly diminish the role that it plays in my life, without it my photography would be altogether incomplete, as would my latest and most frustrating application - the dreaded iTunes program. Naturally the screen also spends a fair proportion of its daily life beaming the contents of the "www" into the Richada household. On screen over the past twelve months I have actually started keeping my diary again, this lapsed around four years ago when I became more involved with reviewing. This is indeed one "application" that was carried out using the faithful fountain pen, until my first PC and printer arrived in around 1995......the internet took a further five years to arrive, hard to think now that I have only been using this incredible resource for eight years.....difficult to remember life without it! I digress, back to the diary. It is no conventional daily one, oh no! Since first learning to drive in 1980 / 81, I have kept what I always used to refer to as my "Car Diary". In fact it was always more of a record as to where I have been and with whom, naturally of course too a running commentary on whichever car that I owned or was using for any given journey. It contains not only words, but many pictures over the years. The PC is actually a fantastic tool for this application as the words and pictures can be integrated seamlessly onto the same page - having now access to a colour laser printer the whole result looks most professional - even if it is bad form to say so myself. Yes, as many have always suspected here, my life does and always has, revolved around cars! 2008 ON WHEELS A good year in my motoring lifetime 2008, especially as after four and a half years and 96,000 miles, my rather un-loved 2004 Honda Accord Diesel was traded in for a superb new Subaru Legacy Diesel at the end of September. That was undoubtedly my motoring highlight of 2008. The Legacy had been on order since April; it was built to our own specification - pearlescent white paintwork with ivory leather upholstery. Believe me it looks much better than it sounds - everyone to have seen it says so too. My wife and I were delighted to receive an invite to Company Car in Action back at the end of June, many of the cars driven there I still have to review, but 2008 broke records both in the number of different cars driven and in the total number of miles covered, especially the 9800 during the last three months. As is usual nowadays, business saw us cover a lot of England during the year, three continental trips in all too - two in the Subaru and a summer trip to Poland in the Honda accounting for most of the miles covered. Always most relished is the opportunity to drive in Germany, where large sections of the motorway network remain de-restricted. Few English registered cars I suspect cover as many miles per year travelling "flat out" as mine. Speed may well be dangerous in the wrong hands (and in an inappropriate vehicle) but yes, it is addictive! During 2008 I drove: 22,288 miles and used 490.3 gallons of fuel - that is a combined average of 45.46mpg. Nobody could be more pleased than I to see the price of fuel falling then! Not included in that are the 13 different cars driven at Millbrook. During the last twelve months, in total, no fewer than twenty-two cars have passed through my hands: BMW 320d SE Convertible BMW 635d Sport Citroen C5 2.2 Exclusive Saloon Citroen C5 2.7 HDi V6 Exclusive Estate Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium Ford Escort 1.4i Van Ford Focus 2.0 5dr Titanium Ford Mondeo 2.5T Titanium X Honda Accord 2.2 i-CTDi Executive Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC EX GT TECH (2008 model) Honda Civic IMA Honda Civic Type R Honda Jazz 1.2 Honda Jazz 1.4 CVT Mercedes CLC180K Sport Mini Cooper CVT Subaru Impreza 2.5 WRX STi Subaru Legacy Outback REn Boxer Diesel Subaru Legacy Tourer RE Boxer Diesel Subaru Legacy Tourer REn Boxer Diesel Subaru Legacy RE Saloon Boxer Diesel Vauxhall VXR8 It is a piece of cake picking the car I liked the least, and by a country mile...... ......sorry, but you will have to hang on a touch longer for the review in order to find out which one it was. Choosing my favourite from the above list is altogether more difficult. The car that I am driving now, the diesel Subaru Legacy Saloon has to be the real world top dog here, especially at less than £20,000 for which it can easily be obtained. In a 'money no object' scrap though I would have the very devil of a job choosing between the pig ugly, but fabulous to drive, BMW 635d Coupe and the Vauxhall VXR8. Go on then, I'll take the VXR8, a more original - and spacious - choice. 2008 ON HOLIDAY Well I guess that those three continental trips, the last of which actually saw us into 2009, count as holidays. In late April we drove out to Poland, the centrepiece of our two and a half week holiday being a close family wedding. Close indeed, the parents of the groom are my in-law's brother and sister. To save you wracking your brains over that one, allow me to explain: my father in law's brother married my mother in law's sister! Having been there for a week in chilly, wet weather, fortunately it brightened up for the big event, held in the magnificent (modern) White Church in the centre of Mielec. The following week we escaped for a few days to our favourite hotel, the Redyk, situated in a village called Zab (Trans. Tooth) high up in the Polish Tatra Mountains. We hit lucky, the snow stayed and continued to fall late into the season, the scenery was magnificent, as were the photographs of snowy mountains under stunningly blue skies. It was during those few days in the Tatras that in 2008 I took my first trip in a cable car, to the top of Mount Kasprowy Wierch. This was an experience that I had always been frightened of - on the day I really enjoyed it and would not think twice about stepping into a cable car again. Indeed it is another subject that I have long put off reviewing; if nothing else, it would give me the opportunity of sharing the superb views of the Tatra Mountains with you. Over the last several years we have fallen into the habit of taking a short break holiday in October, sometimes a long weekend in this country, but the last two years we have been on the continent - but not Poland! This year from the early summer I had been toying with the idea of a "surprise", for my wife at least, trip to Switzerland. In the event, due to the arrival of the new car, the whole thing was actually planned at the last moment - less than a week before we went! The whole experience, whilst being a good one, seemed to be fraught with hang ups. We usually plan such adventures well in advance, from previous experience they tend to go far more smoothly. Some problems such as the Channel Tunnel fire - causing us to go by ferry from Dover and loose around four hours to gales in the Channel were well beyond our control. However, hastily booked hotels, both in Germany and Switzerland brought us one good night out of six, that being in the Black Forest on the way down. The reviews on the hotels concerned should soon follow here on Dooyoo. Switzerland, as a country, was everything that we had expected it to be, superb scenery - mountains and lakes just the way we most like it, and as a bonus, near traffic free roads too! However, we were taken aback in this land, famous for tourism and hotel keeping, to find that right at the close of the summer season, we felt far less than welcome in many places that we went. Initially we felt that we had just made an unlucky choice of hotel, but even in shops and restaurants we felt more of an inconvenience than a valued customer. Maybe recessions never touch Switzerland - it is, at the prices charged for everything, certainly a country for the rich - a touch of common courtesy though never goes amiss, no matter how prosperous you may be. On the return journey I had been recommended to take a small detour in order to see the "Romantic Rhine Valley". Looking at the map and working on our schedule, this actually appeared a perfectly sensible over night stop on the way home. Around an hour on the autobahn from Cologne and our usual route back to Calais - not that on this occasion we used it - the Rhine Valley is one destination that we intend to re-visit as soon as possible. Not only, even after the Swiss mountains, is it extremely beautiful, the people there generally were far more accommodating, even if far fewer speak English than in Switzerland. Even a bum choice of hotel failed to dampen our joint enthusiasm for this beautiful region of Germany. Our final excursion abroad took us back to Adrianna's parents in Poland for the Christmas and New Year holiday period. Following the Swiss trip and many business miles since, the car was by then fully run in and raring to go. I thought that in the Legacy I had purchased a very sensible, spacious and safe four wheel drive saloon. On the German motorways it proved itself to be an amazingly rapid sports saloon, cruising happily at an indicated 140mph. In cold, snowy Poland too, thanks to four wheel drive, we were able to go wherever we wanted in it, not giving a second thought to the bad road conditions! The second to last day of the year found us in Krakow, probably our favourite city. It was (literally) freezing cold and after walking on the pavements for about three hours we were both suffering from very cold feet - in spite of wearing proper winter boots and socks! A superb lunch was also enjoyed in our favourite little Chinese restaurant, even at today's dreadful exchange rate, under £12 for as much, very good, food as the two of us could comfortably eat, is superb value for money too! As recently as three years ago, we were able to eat here for around £4.00 each including drinks! This is not the first time that we have rounded off the year in Krakow, and for whatever reason it feels entirely appropriate to do so - the place has a fantastic atmosphere as they prepare for the huge Sylvester (New Year's Eve) party in the large Rynek (square). 2008 ON CAMERA My trusty Nikon D50 digital SLR camera has now taken some 18,807 photographs since being purchased in March 2006. In 2008 I took no fewer than 7713 shots with it, whilst it remains a superb camera, it is now starting to show signs of use (rather than age) and I am, this year, likely to supplement it with a rather higher specification Nikon D90. The D90 is the first D-SLR camera capable of taking High Definition movies of 5 minutes in length, so who knows, 2009 may see my debut on the silver screen after all! Digital (still) photography continues to give me great pleasure, since a young age I have always enjoyed taking photographs, on a 35mm SLR camera maybe a couple of hundred pictures per year. I wonder what would have been said only 10 years ago if you had told me that I would be taking nearly 8000 photographs a year.....that at almost no cost whatsoever! Every day life is far better documented now thanks to digital photography. We take photographs of what seem to be totally mundane events and objects, things that with a film camera one would never have "wasted" a shot on. What this does do though is provide us with a much better record, and more importantly, our descendants with a far more detailed impression of just what life was like year by year. With digital photography it is not even necessary to date the pictures.......still useful if you re-name the files though to give a clue as to what they contain! 2008 ON HOME We spent 2008 negotiating with an architect. Since moving into our home, a two bedroom detached bungalow in December 2001, we had been thinking about converting the loft space into living accommodation. We were invited to have a look at an old friends roof conversion 'in progress', a slightly smaller semi-detached bungalow than ours, this triggered a renewed interest and introduced us to our architect. A man of indeterminate, late middle years, he turned out not to be at all as I had imagined an architect to be. My wife and I had fairly definite ideas of what we wanted to achieve in terms of using the space in our loft. Once the two chimneys are removed, we figured that there would be ample room for two good sized bedrooms and a family sized bathroom........and so there is. Why then, did it take the architect a whole ten months to come up with a plan that I had actually presented to him on our first meeting? And before you start thinking that he was milking us as a cash cows, no, the whole project was on a pre-agreed 'fixed cost' basis. Why also do these people take it upon themselves to brick up perfectly good windows downstairs in rooms totally unaffected by the conversion? In hindsight, I really rather wish that I had purchased a suitable computer program and done this myself, I think that I would have been around £600 in pocket and probably come up with an equally satisfactory result. 2008 ON CHARITY Those of us who are fortunate enough to have, I feel increasingly more strongly, should at least make some effort to share with those who do not. In practical terms, for me at least, this is a very difficult subject, I have you see, always had a deep seated suspicion of those that run charities and indeed the huge money making machine that many of the larger ones have developed into. You may well pillory me for this, but when it comes to money, I really do firmly believe that charity begins at home. I am neither a lender, nor a borrower by nature, in terms of "charity" I am increasingly of the mind that hands on is the best policy. My 'charity giving' is actually a little more complicated than that. There are two kinds of charities, those for the needy and those "hobby" charities, which many of us support to further our own interests. Of the latter group I include the National Trust, English Heritage and The S.S. Great Britain Trust, all of which I have been a member of for many years now. To my mind none of these "hobby charities" count as truly needy, yes, they do provide employment and yes all have outstanding educational merit. This however is not, hand on heart, why I continued in 2008 to support them, no, it is for our own interest and yes, pleasure. My wife is a Polish Catholic and was raised in very different circumstances to myself and in all probability 99 out of 100 who read this. In times of communism, society itself was very different the majority had precious little, everyone looked after each other and shared what little they had. Materially things and views have now changed in Poland, but my wife has changed my life in very many ways - most importantly the ones that do not show. Over the last eight years I have become far more charitable in the true sense of that word. For several years she had wanted to become involved with the Brighton Soup Run, a local volunteer organisation which is about as "hands on" as you can get in terms of charity. About three years ago, through our local church, we volunteered our services and were placed on a rota, which had us serving soup on the sea front here twice a year. This increased in the following year when we signed up for the "emergency rota", which finds us being called out sometimes at very short notice. Early in 2008 we became full members, on the second Wednesday of every month at 8.00pm our team, my wife and I plus another lady, are out on the sea front serving hot soup, tea and usually cakes to anyone in need. The Soup Run is an incredible organisation. It runs on almost zero funds, we donate time and food, and thanks to our own favourite local Italian restaurant, Donatello's donating fresh soup every night, 365 days a year, the lonely, needy and homeless of Brighton are served bread, soup and tea. Since now doing this on a much more regular basis and getting to know some of the 'clients' rather better, I have discovered that this whole set-up actually goes far deeper than merely providing a free hot meal - no questions asked. In many cases it is the only human contact that many of these poor souls have in a day. Before getting involved in the Soup Run, I have to say that in my ignorance I rather regarded the vagrants as a blight on our city. Having invested a little time in getting to actually know some of them, I have discovered that many are thoroughly decent people. Many are also extremely lonely and merely seek a sympathetic listening ear which is not offered anywhere else. There are 101 reasons why any one of us could find ourselves unexpectedly down on our luck. If we should find ourselves in this unfortunate position I can only hope that we too could be looked upon kindly and offered a helping hand by more "respectable" members of society. 2008 ON POLITICS Politicians? Stuff the lot of them! What a total and utter mess they have made of all this. Oh of course, it is a 'world recession' Darling, nothing to do with you then. 2008 ON WORK 2008 simply, and it has to be said quite unexpectedly, proved to be our best year in a decade. Richada Enterprises is a family owned and run precision engineering firm. Through the early noughties we, when everyone else was booming, made year after year of loss - quite how we survived, a long and difficult story, is anyone's guess, but in 2008 we turned a profit - for the first year in this century. The Company was founded by my late Great Uncle Bill in 1932, times were much harder then than now even, yet historically the firm has always bucked the economic trend. In my twenty eight years in the business this will be the third recession that we have seen, during both of the previous ones we continued to thrive. This time around it turns out that we have an extraordinarily fortunate customer base. Unusual in industry, we still have around 1800 "live" (well some of them only just!) customers. These are primarily at the cutting edge of technology; the aerospace industry which, thanks to Airbus remains very strong, and the Formula 1 motor racing circus which, although no longer the money no object business that it once was, still thrives in this country. However, amongst this largely happy picture there are one or two notable exceptions, J C Bamford, better know to most of you as JCB being the most upsetting. The largest private company in the UK, it is rather like our own family business, but on a much larger, global, scale. Over the past three decades JCB has known nothing but success. That all ended very suddenly at the start of 2008, the building industry being the first to feel the freezing cold bite of the "credit crunch" as it then was referred to. Those that know the company, either as customers or suppliers will know how hard this has hit the business. Whenever you enter a JCB site you cannot have helped but to have sensed the great atmosphere about the place - in my experience with the biggest companies in this country, conversation with the staff usually involves "retirement" and a fair amount of bitching about "management". At JCB that has never been the case, a loyal and happy workforce have shared in the fantastic success, and now, regrettably, find themselves paying the price of a downturn in their market which has absolutely nothing to do with their efforts or product. During 2008 my personal role in our own company changed very little. Due to a combination of unforeseen circumstances, I found myself having to sub-contract work, quite simply because we did not have the capacity to handle the increase in demand. This is the first time in seventy-seven years that we have had to do this. 2008 ON GREAT UNCLE BILL The last section very neatly brings me right back to the very first week of 2008 and to the founder of our modest business. In a sense a final chapter was drawn in the life of my dear, late, Great Uncle Bill in 2008. Although strictly speaking Gwen, his widow, died in 2007 - immediately before Christmas, the funeral did not take place until 3rd January. Although I just know that Bill would have been urging me to do so, on the grounds of taste and decency I, regrettably, felt unable to publish a review about this hilariously awful occasion, just maybe I will pluck up the courage one day...... ........a quote, though, standing outside the crematorium; - Gwen's stepdaughter from her second marriage to Gwen's stepson - Great Uncle Bill's eldest son: "Who'se goin' to pay 'im then?" pointing at the funeral director standing right next to her! Oh Bill if only you knew!!!!!!