>2006, Happy New Year and some resolutions

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Well its 2007 tomorrow. For me it’s been a great year of travel, an uninteresting year of work, a year of watching others move on in ways and means and a time of following up on projects and of contemplation.

After spending New Year in a crazy bar called Sharky’s in Phnom Penh, I traveled through Vietnam (review here) for a month with Ben and Eloide, returning south through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia to Indonesia (review) and loved every minute of the place. Genuine sights and people. I returned to Thailand and flew to California (review), exploring the national parks and major cities. I then flew to Mexico and travelled Central America (review) and Cuba (review), meeting cool people and feeling more alive. I returned to LA and flew to New York (review) for 5 odd, odd days and then over to Dublin to meet Joe, Valencia (review) with Joe and John, followed by the dour Berlin (review) and Krakow and Slovakia for James’ stag do and meeting the legendary Clebson along the way (review). Overall it was a long but rewarding trip.

I returned in summer, excited to see friends and new family. They were all generally cool and the other teachers I met at Reading University were a funny, mixed bunch, making a month with Italian kids just about bearable, though never again. I managed a night with Carlin, a few with Dr Luke as well as James’ wedding down here in Devon. The World Cup came and went with pure frustration (and nothing has changed since). Beyond that, it’s been work to pay off debts and accumulate for next years trip which maybe the last for a while. I’ve read and studied a lot and so have grown that way but can’t help feeling that I am reaching as the Americans say, the ‘tipping point.’

For it’s difficult maintaining my lifestyle. While it has been highly enjoyable, I’ve sacrificed regular income, a graduate job, a firm footing in society and relationships for these wanders. Undoubtedly it has improved me in many ways; given me a broader outlook and a range of friends to be proud of. But as Nic mentioned recently, floating through life isn’t a virtue in England. I like to think I have bounded around rather than floated. Or ‘tugged on the teats of life’ as I coined earlier this year. It seems glamorous and I know many, especially men, profess some kind of envy for we will never do this again when we are older.

But there in is the rub. I am now getting older. And it means I must make choices. This life can continue if I forgo a career in England or more correctly a career in a respectable business. For that’s what really gets me. I want some kind of respect. I want to feel I have achieved something of worth in others eyes. The question is, do people respect what I have done so far or is it just a blind pat on the back? I have enjoyed my life and who I have met. But is this my life? Is this what I am to do? And does it matter anyway if I do this? My friends will still be happy as long as I am happy. My family, the same. Should I try something else, take the high road into a career for 10 years, join the Foreign Office and forgo my travels, my freedom.

While I have been down here in Devon, I have missed my friends immensely. Not so much for nights out but just being able to talk to them, laugh and joke, bounce off these ideas and come to some conclusions. For it would help my mind, no end. Next year is an important time for me. I will need to have resolved these issues and headed out onto the path with little regrets and no turning back. Looking back in 10 years time, I don’t want to regret anything and so maybe that I need to step out and use my gray matter somewhat. I don’t seek money, just self-satisfaction.

So looking back at my 2006 resolutions, I achieved about half which isn’t bad, is it? Kept myself in better shape, learnt some decent Spanish, continued with my Japanese, met old mates, saw my cat before she died aged 18, took care of my eyes more and picked up my guitar again. I never learnt how to roar like a bear or juggle like Ronnie or get to BA with Paul or draw better but I didn’t do badly.

2007 is the final year of my first 5 year plan. So far, so good. I want to apply for the FCO this year, do a Diploma with the British Council and a few others things. In no particular order, the plans are:

1) Travel North Africa, Turkey and Armenia

2) Dive in Sinai

3) Do a DELTA, probably in Poland in the summer.

4) Be able to play some good tunes on the guitar

5) Continue to take care of myself health wise.

6) Apply for the FCO in December

7) Meet up with Jeroen, Christine, LP, Dunc, Moneim, the Gorings, Matt and Minka and the other Japanese crowd.

8) Get back out to Asia for winter

9) Take my exams in Japanese

10) Continue my other languages

11) Start back on the book as Christine encouraged.

12) Keep my hair somehow.

13) And as Bernard Fanning sang, “I’m not too proud to hope for a little romance.”

Take care and see you soon
Love dan
xx

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>Sarah, Scott and Aalia

>Here is Sarah, Scotty and Aalia. The happy family.

She was born on Boxing Day afternoon, after a relatively short labour. A few minutes old there, she was 3 weeks premature but born fit and healthy as is Sarah though maybe not Scott’s liver.

I spoke to them today (though not Aalia as she wasn’t feeling chatty) and both are proud and maybe still a little amazed and overwhelmed.

A Happy New Year indeed to all of you and especially the new, improved and 50% bigger Gorings!!

>Robbo Robson’s 2007 predictions

>Includes such gems as:

February

Moves to reduce the 6 Nations Rugby Championships back to the 5 Nations are rejected and England are allowed to stay in the tournament.

England’s friendly is notable for the fact that Lampard and Gerrard come out the tunnel wearing the same shirt, with Gempard on the back of it. Both play okay but struggle to find space. McClaren says they proved the doubters wrong tonight. The press say Stevie and Frank – together they Stank.

More here

Merry Xmas??

> Merry Xmas ???

So how you all doing in these post-Xmas days? Its not the same Xmas is it as you get older? As a kid, it’s about pretending to be asleep when your Mum sneaks in to put some presents on the bed or being waken by your sisters to charge downstairs and debauch the wrapping.

I originally wanted an Ipod for Xmas but quickly changed my mind. Watching a kid on the train encased in his own world is a failure of modern soceity. A move to privacy and personal space in times where greater interaction is required. And beyond that, it takes away from your personality with others, your ability to observe and the soundtrack to your life. You miss out listening in on all those random conversations but more importantly you’d lack the inspired moments brought on by a feeling, a turn of word or an image that leads a man to song. I love singing, love the way my inner voice tells me how I really am. There is little better than understanding you are happy by the songs that you sing. I always find that the song I am humming is reflective of my inner being. When I am gloriously mumbling The Masterplan by Noel Gallagher, I am close to breaking out in am outrageous smile.

So what has Christmas brought for you? Well mine was fairly ordinary but pleasant. Two serious hangovers at the behest of old mates Nathan and Dr Luke, abit of work, some reading and study. As a time of celebration, Christmas has lost its meaning for me but when I got the text from Scotty on Boxing Day informing one and all that Sarah had given birth to Aalia, their first child, I smiled a-more. Of course, it didn’t help the hangover the next day, but it put it all in a nicer perspective.

>Merry Xmas Guys

>Merry Xmas and Happy New Year 2007.

It’s been a great year for me even as I age in body and mind. New Year in Cambodia, followed by months travelling around Vietnam, Indonesia, America, Mexico and Central America and Cuba, then New York and Europe. James’ wedding came and went and told a lot. We all looked the same but we’re not. Which isn’t a bad thing either. I wish I could have talked to Jamesy a little more but there was more to the day that that.

I’ve worked and met many new good
friends this year, as well as reinforcing the friendships I am blessed to have already. I’ve seen a lot of my family for once, catching up with the new additions and felt more comfortable with them. Next year will be important for formulating the plans I intend to put into practice over the next 5 years. Much to do but I’m in good shape for it all. I have missed my friends recently. Having many friends is great except they are so spread out that it makes me wonder how often I can see them. I guess I need to get married and have a huge stag do.

I’ll catch up with Scotty and Sarah next year as well LP, the mates in Korea and the boys from University and other friends. You are never forgotten and Jeroen, I’ll be there in April. I might even go back to Japan. After a quick trip round the Middle East and a summer in Poland, I’ll be looking better than this (<–). Well now, its 4pm Friday, the 22nd of December. I am off for a few well-earned beers or 10.

Buena suerte mi amigos.

>Poor kids!!

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A man dressed as Santa collapsed and died as he handed out presents at a Christmas party.

Children watched in horror as 82-year-old Andrew Robertson fell ill in Dundee.

After how many years delivering presents, the old dude finally takes his sleigh to the sky.

More here

Credit to Nathan.