Our year commenced famously, hugely better than the previous January (when Yvonne had been hospitalised with a serious condition). In contrast New Years Day 2012 found us contemplating the surf thundering on to idyllic Banagalan beach near Jimbaran, Bali. A celebration shared with dear friends Aini (xx) and Seb (xx ;). Along for the trip too Yvonne's nephew (Boni, 20) and niece (Keke, 15).
A too short week later back at my mother-in-law's I enjoyed excellent rambling forays up into the forest, meeting the peasant farmers of the volcanic slopes above Malang, East Java.
This was followed by several often frenetic days (sometimes fevered nights) in Jakarta.
The long-haul home included two ameliorative days in Dubai, catching a couple of friends, enjoying the de rigueur visit to the old gold souk and so on.
The remaining half of January passed with work, and after some reacclimatision some Sunday rambles in the chilly Chiltern Hills. February routine likewise though punctuated by two fine and quite intimate music events:
A Chopin Society recital by the eminent Emmanuel Despax; next, the incomparably raunchy Elkie Brooks' 67th birthday performance.
At month end Yvonne had a 'routine procedure' by day-care admission at a local hospital with a few days rest following.
March 8th my Dad passed away after almost a year in a care home waning away with Parkinson's. We were all at his side as peacefully he breathed his last. As close to what Buddhists term a good death as one could wish for him. I was happy for this.
I was fortunate to be distracted from my father's passing thanks to a brief 'road-trip' taken with buddy Timo, stopping-over en route from Hawaii to Japan.
Over these nearly two days we enjoyed quite persistant dense fog.
At least it lent atmosphere to the several ancient Britons' megaliths visited (West Kennet long barrow, Avebury and Stonehenge). Pub accommodation in Swanage, Purbeck. The sun appeared briefly along the Dorset coast leg, suffice to brave the Spider open-top, it has a good heater :)
Abruptly, 28th March we raced back to Malang on news niece Keke was hospitalised following 'an accident'. Just a few hours following our arrival she slipped away, March 31st, and was buried next day. Without question the most difficult days we have endured.
Back in London April 4th I was diagnosed with DVT (luckily 'safely' below the knee), so started a six months course of medication. And I was told to exercise a lot. Hence daily 6am walks around Regents Park as the wettest April on record set in. On the up-side this monsoon prompted me to resume regular swimming (only slightly wetter!). Overall a most muted period. The close of April was marked by a Chopin Society recital by the delightful nonagenarian Abbey Simon.
May and June passed in similar vein (no pun intended), work, walking, odd weekends away:
Early May at Hythe, a curiously pleasant backwater 'cinque port' of the Kent South coast. And June 'Spring Bank Holiday’ (extended for the Jubilee) hosted by friends Angky (xx) and Ivan (xx ;) in North Beds.
More drenched hiking, though it did fine up briefly for a visit to nearby Santa Pod for its 200 mph dragster races. I was disappointed late in the month by The Ting Tings' cancellation of their tour.
Out of the blue in July woke up several days with a very tender back, barely able to turn in the bed scarce to get out of it! MRI and some consultations later reveal my spine to be a Leaning Tower of Pisa, degenerating on-going for no known reason. Fortunately the nerve this had trapped soon calmed itself. So I'm left trusting my new daily routine of the Physio's exercises might arrest the long-term decline. I'm given to believe this is unlikely to be the final episode :(
Sogginess continued into early August even in Kent, forcing an ‘indoor barbeque’ at friends Ewan and Laura's their delightful grounds rendered redundant. Other frequent respite from deluges of course: Soho Pubs, for example as the basis of the welcome bi-annual reunion of past and present Houstonian friends.
Amazingly mid-August we picked four almost dry even hot days for a long weekend at a Suffolk spa hotel. For me an indulgence in bird-watching, strolling around twee Aldeburgh resort and visiting fine pubs. Numerous spa treatments for Yvonne. A relaxing celebration of our 16th wedding anniversary.
We enjoyed the Olympics only vacariously: Thanks to the enjoyable occupation of our
sofa by Linda, an out-of-Town friend's seventeen year-old, working a security job at the Olympic Park. (A rare delight for me to have a captive audience to indulge a favourite pastime: Droning ever on about former times 'back-in-the-day).
End August long weekend the trusty Spider was aimed down the Channel Tunnel coming to rest in old haunt Montmartre. This in response to a last minute first visit to Europe by Yvonne's sister, Ika and her eldest (nephew Bob, 22). By small miracle warm dry weather prevailed and it was fun seeing Paris through the eyes of tourists.
Early September more visitors, again Aini and Seb (from Bali), for a weekend which required our presence one night at the Institute of Directors, Pall Mall (wedding reception), the next at the RAF Club, Picadilly (21st birthday party). At month-end, taking in a Chopin Society meeting in passing, my Mum and I journeyed by rail and road to Scarborough. We were submerged for almost three days by relentless heavy rain. Nonetheless achieved the aim of visiting Aunt Joan, now nearing 90 and recovering well from a hip operation.
Signed off 2nd Oct from the 'blood-thinner' drugs, apart from future long-haul flights for which I'm advised to shoot myself up (as Iggy used to say, back-in-the-day ;) The second and third weekends we enjoyed two separate local events each coincidentally centred on the University campus a few streets away. First an Indonesian Culture festival, second the Bloomsbury Festival of arts and two days of music in Russell Square. Both seriously impeded by significant interludes of, yes you guessed it, heavy rain!
The close of our year notably November proved relatively packed with welcome diversions. It kicked off with a visit to London of four veterans of school and college days.
Then the dog show at Earls Court always a winner with Yvonne. The sobering scattering of my father’s ashes.
On the up-side a thoroughly deserved five days away: Our first visit to Koln/ Cologne. Impressively a mere four hours twenty minutes distant by the efficient Eurostar/ ICE trains. And it only rained one of the five days! In the distinct sometimes dank chill of the Rhine bank we enjoyed a drive to Bonn. Another day a ramble in the fall woods. Visiting the botanical gardens, cathedral, 4711 shop! and nightly indulgence in the fine local Kolsch beer and Koln cuisine.
To cap the month - in fact the year - in terms of live music I was right up front for the UK’s hottest live act, The Noisettes at Camden’s legendary Koko.
With Yvonne out of holiday allowance come December we were able to enjoy a quiet twosome of a Christmas in a peaceful blessedly near empty West End.
Likewise New Years Eve when inevitably thoughts turned to the date a year ago ... spent watching seemingly endless fireworks over Kuta Bay with our sadly missed Keke.
Answer to 'What is this awesome number and Who by?'It's I Want You Back composed and delivered by excellent The Noisettes on their album "Contact" ... Buy It Now!