As the title says, let’s get straight into some of my ‘thankful’ highlights of the year 2019! In no particular order:
- Being able to make use of Newcastle Uni’s Robinson Library as an alumnus
I was absolutely thrilled when I got my first ‘Access’ library card (I said my ‘first’ because within weeks, some evil skirting board in Five Swans swallowed it alive). This lovely library is a place that’s close to my office and close to town. It has group study spaces to do one-to-one Bible studies. It has big desks in front of huge windows. It has one cafe and many loos. It’s dry when it rains and it’s warm when it’s freezing outside. It opens almost 24 hours 365 days. It has books, books and books. What a place to be thankful for!
- The time spent with Penny and Pearl in Penny’s hobbit hole in Leicester
We followed Penny’s directions to walk into town along a massive road which was so typical of Penny. We read lazily on a warm late spring afternoon sitting on mix-and-match furniture donated by her church family, while children were splashing and screaming in next door’s garden. We drooled over Penny’s steamed chicken and finished everything off even though we’d only had lunch not long ago and didn’t do much in between. We re-watched the climax of Harry Potter, and the saddest film of 2019 (On Chesil Beach, in my opinion). Praise God for sisters.
- Dad visiting London
We hired a small apartment and I was able to cook for dad. I didn’t have any chance to do that before I left home and I never had any after (lesson: beware sending children abroad). And three of us enjoyed our mealtime. We did a bit sightseeing: the Globe Theatre tour was interesting if not too short; Churchill’s War Rooms were fascinating and worth every penny and every inch of the queue; Mary Quant in V&A was a solo trip since neither dad nor Andy were at all interested. We also had the poshest Indian curry ever in my life. How I missed Newcastle when I saw the bill! Thankful for that couple of days.
- Two Lake District trips
Andy and I wandered onto Crinkle Crags. The view towards Scafell Pike was almost like the final scene in The Chronicles of Narnia. And there was a square pool where I imagined the golden statue was found at the bottom. (See our walking route and many more photos here.)
A bit later I was in that magic land again with Gloria and Kate. We read contently until midday when the rain stopped. We took timelapse photos of clouds sweeping across the green fields and blue hills. We found a peaceful nook with a silver tarn. We strained our eyes to search for deer. The dark clouds caught up and enveloped us and big drops of water poured down on us – and I was thankful the girls didn’t give up or injure themselves during that memorable hour. The rain passed us and we had an impromptu photoshoot next to a lilac tree. (See the full story, the route and more photos here.)
Nothing special happens on my Mondays. But I’m completely thankful for the time I’m able to spend reading, writing, reading some more, learning new things, going swimming, finding a new coffee shop and reading a bit more.
These are some of my favourites but in no way exhaustive. For example, there was the crazy night spent in Newcastle youth hostel with Pearl and Dorothy – really thankful for dear friends who love me enough to do unreasonable silly things with me. There was the long over-due family Christmas gathering. Good colleauges, Durham Book Festival, other travels and family visits etc etc. It was a crazy busy year. In terms of work, it was the first in a long time where I used my brain to pretty full capacity. It slows me down a bit to look back at my diary entries and to take stock of the goodness of God. In the same vein, there are a few more ‘2019 highlights’ posts coming, ‘Best Books’ included obviously. Happy New Year!
Feature photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash. This is a small street in the centre of Beijing and I love the photo!