Happy new year! I know, it’s very late. I’m sorry.
I feel as if I should declare a Hester New Year, a bit like the Chinese New Year, since I’ve only just wrestled 2013 under control and stuffed it into a box, had a brief nap, and am now rolling my sleeves up for 2014. January 1st seems too soon to start a whole new year, so soon after Christmas…
I have been working, though! I delivered the rather overdue (again, sorry sorry sorry) first draft of The Honeymoon Hotel to my editors last week – that’s patient and understanding Karen in New York, and patient and understanding Kathryn in London. It took a long time because for most of 2013, I was working with ear defenders on because teams of builders were knocking down my house, and then putting it back together. They were lovely builders, but it’s kind of hard to conjure up romantic wedding scenes while someone is drilling the wall down behind you, and someone else is reversing a truck full of lime plaster past the window, and someone else is eating a ham sandwich that your dog is desperate to steal.
So that was summer, then autumn (when it started raining, as it has done every day since, to the point where the dogs walking up my lane are slowly evolving flippers) and my desk was piled high with so many wedding magazines that the builders were regarding me with gently concerned expressions, as if I’d turned into one of those delusional women who’s convinced herself she’s getting married to Prince Harry next March. By Christmas, the house was almost back to normal but by now deadline insanity had reached to the point where my blood/Nespresso ratio was about 1:1, and I was hallucinating George Clooney in the kitchen, operating the Aeroccino. Oh, the witty banter George and I had as he wondered anxiously if maybe I’d had one too many around 3am last Wednesday morning! (No, George, I needed it.) And then there was a dark three-day spell when I ran out of milk and had to go with pure espresso, but I think it gave the final big wedding scene a certain, um, urgency, and I finally finished just after new year. Hurray!
I celebrated handing in my homework by going to London for a few days, to have tea with editor Kathryn and, for #hestercocktailhour purposes only, you understand, a celebratory cocktail with Chris Manby at Bar Boulud in the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. In all honesty, I can’t recommend the Victoria Rose. To my very untutored, and let’s face it, coffee-ravaged palate, it felt like drinking plum-flavoured loo cleaner mixed with rosehip syrup. Sorry, lovely barman who spent quite a long time making it with flamboyant precision. I will post a picture, just as soon as my phone wakes up. I should have known as I was taking the photo that it wasn’t going to end well; I couldn’t seem to make the liquid in the glass look… unsludgy. Chris’s Basil Fizz was much nicer, though. One of the ingredients is fresh basil, which the barman clapped over the glass. Literally clapped it. I recommend you try it with salad or something, clapping the coriander. Your guests will think you’ve had some very specialist culinary training, or possibly that you’re doing a cunning magic trick and the coriander is going to turn into croutons or something. (OK, so I was totally waiting for the basil to be clapped into tiny basil confetti. I haven’t been out much this year.)
And so here we are, nearly in February. Exciting things are afoot in February! But I’m going to post this now, to get my New Year off to a good start, and tackle February after tea. Here, meanwhile, are my New Year’s Resolutions. I would LOVE to know yours.
1. Break love/hate Sidebar of Shame habit
2. Drink less coffee.
3. if 2. not possible, drink more water at the same time as drinking coffee
4. Learn Welsh (da iawn!)
5. Send postcards for no reason to good friends because it’s always nice to get postcards.
6. Stop thinking the dogs can understand a word I say to them that does not relate directly to cheese.
7. Get up earlier.
Perfect new house cocktail for finished house
(I actually did this one at New Year – pics to follow!)
9. Start running again, although to be fair to me here, the paths I was running along this summer are now so muddy even Kitchener would have cordoned them off at the Front as being ‘a bit treacherous’, so until then I will have to promise to keep up my nightly date with Jillian Michaels and her abs of fear.
10. Read more.