Just as with 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 – 2017 was full of chaos around the world, much of it personally manufactured by the Maniac in Chief in the White House. This is the fourth New Year’s Eve I have to say that Russia is still invading Ukraine and nobody cares. Terrorist attacks everywhere.
However, there was plenty of other stuff happening this year that was good.
The view of the Grand Canal from our apartment. During Carnevale it’s totally normal to see people in full costume around every corner.
My year began with Ukrainian Christmas, followed by a winter trip to Europe. A month in Venice for Carnevale, with a few days in Verona (accidentally) over Valentine’s Day. It was alternately freezing and foggy, and sunny and warm enough to sit outside in piazzas with a glass of wine. It was also alternately total chaos, and calm when you stepped away from the carnival crowds. We met up with Italian friends first met when my family was based in India nearly fifteen years ago, who drove over from Asti (near Turin) to spend time with us in Venice.
One of the streets I used to live and work on.
Then it was off to London for a week. I hadn’t been for a while, despite living there for a few years in the past. I actually loved London more this time than on other visits. I’m not sure why, and it was a bit of a chaotic race around, but I forgot how much I could enjoy it.
Almost immediately after I got back home I was off to the country town of Jugiong to moderate a panel at a popular book festival with Di Morrissey (intimidating because she’s one of Australia’s most famous authors, as well as a television personality), rural fiction/romance author Margareta Osborn, and historical fiction writer Sulari Gentill. I hadn’t expected such a huge turnout in such a small community, but people came from all over for it. (Thank you to Freda Marnie for inviting me.)
Plaza de España in Seville – it served as Padmé’s palace in Star Wars
Along with my father, one of my aunts turned seventy this year, and plans for some of us to go away to the beach for a week morphed into a month in HOT Andalucía, Spain. My aunt, my mother and I started in Málaga, accidentally there in the middle of the insanity of the Feria, which was fun.
I was on a train from Ronda and heading back to Málaga (it was my aunt’s actual birthday on the 17th) when the terrorist drove a van down Las Ramblas in Barcelona. When we got off the train there were men with assault rifles protecting all the streets – we didn’t have any idea what had happened at first, but Spain rushed to make huge changes immediately (unlike in Barcelona, where the security afterwards was shockingly lax). New bollards were put in the cities, disguised as decorative trees. Traffic in tourist areas was diverted. Police cars blocked off footpaths to stop vehicles getting through.
From Málaga to Córdoba, a place I’ve visited a few times before and love so much. It was HOT! After the better part of a week there, it was on to Seville, just about my favourite place in the world (and Lonely Planet’s top pick for 2018).
Memorial for the terror attack victims at the top of on La Rambla – the spot the attack began.
I went back to Barcelona at the end of the trip, not long after the attack, and stayed in an apartment disturbingly close to where the van stopped after driving through the crowds.
Barcelona is a fascinating place, with some great little places to go if you know your way around (Barri Gòtic – the old town – all the way!), but there’s so much chaos in Cataluña at the moment (actually, there was the last time I was there, too).
Canberra, my gorgeous hometown, was named by Lonely Planet as the third best city in the world to visit, and every year we seem to have more events, more restaurants and bars, more everything.
Gay pride number plates and roundabouts in Canberra.
Plus, 74% of us voted YES for marriage equality, cementing our spot as by far the most gay-friendly place in the Australia, so that’s something to be proud of.
Just like last year, and the year before, and the year before that, it was a year of cats. No strays this year, but Misty, a neighbour’s lonely nineteen-year-old, blind, deaf cat adopted me, so I had a lot of company this year. She had a stroke while her owner was away, so she lived with me full-time while she recovered.
Then there’s Hannibal, the maniac from next door who doesn’t have enough hours in the day for all the adventures he has to go on, and – for a maniac – who has the most ridiculous, pathetic little meow I’ve ever heard. I really love Burmese cats.
When this post is published will be on a trip to Thredbo in Australia’s Snowy Mountains – it’s summer, but not so hot there. Then it’s back home to prepare for another Ukrainian Christmas.
In 2018 I will be going on a trip I’ve been dreaming about and planning for years. After revisiting Ireland (Dublin, and then into Northern Ireland to the area my father’s family is from), I will be travelling around Derbyshire and Yorkshire in England, visiting little villages and the stately homes I’ve always wanted to see but never got to in my time living over there.
Because this is a book blog most of the time, I also have to mention:
There are SO MANY books to look forward to in 2018. I have so many favourite authors’ upcoming releases on my to-read list, In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many books I’m excited about.
Here are a few. Some don’t have covers yet!
It would be nice if in 2018 someone put Putin and Trump on a rocket and sent them on a one-way trip to the moon, but as that’s unlikely the world is just going to have to muddle through.
I hope next year is a better one for the world, but there’s also heaps to look forward to.