A year ago today, we merrily toasted the back of 2016. It’d been a unforgettable year of new places, new experiences and new friends, but outside our idyllic BVI bubble, the world seemed at unrest and politics had let us down. “2017 will be awesome” we said. And how very very right we were.
When life gets turned upside down faster than a 58′ catamaran in a Cat 5, it’s easy to forget that the first eight months of 2017 were some of the best of my life. So starting the new year as I mean to go on, here are 17 moments of 2017 that I never want to forget.
Warning: long post. You might want to grab a snack or just skip to the photos
- The time we SUP’ed 14 miles and didn’t die.
The goal? Why the legendary Soggy Dollar bar on Jost Van Dyke for the best-earned ‘Painkiller’ cocktail of your life of course. Not to mention a share of the $10k prize money!
But that was then, and now, somehow, you’re standing on the bow of a catamaran, as 15 or so of your friends excitedly gear up for a day of singing, cheering and dancing. The start klaxon sounds… and you watch your strongest team member get overtaken by every last one of the 20 or so other teams of (mostly professional or sponsored) paddle boarders.
The race isn’t called the Painkiller Cup for no good reason. 14 miles on a paddleboard in around 3-4h is no easy feat, especially as the rules state you must switch paddler every 25minutes and share one paddle-board between all 3 members of your relay team! The swell and chop of the open sea tests your core strength to the max and at each rotation you’re desperately trying not to lose too much time (or the paddle!) as your teammate pulls up beside you, and you’re unceremoniously hauled into the dinghy so they can take their turn.
Of course the hero’s welcome from your support crew each time you return to the boat increases in volume with every bottle popped, and the noise and fervour as you arrive at the finish on White Bay is almost overwhelming. Somehow, Mick, Jadid and I completed what many teams didn’t and didn’t even come last!
The restorative powers of the Painkiller (a potent mix of pineapple, orange, rum, coconut milk and nutmeg) are able to fix even the wobbliest of legs and celebrating by dancing to SOCA music on the beach until the small hours is mandatory.
2. The time I woke up on the morning of my 30th birthday with (still unexplained) chemical burns on my face.
In 2017 I turned 21 (for the 9th time).
For anyone that knows me well, it will come as absolutely no surprise that outside of work, ‘organisation’ is not my strongest suit (…indeed, in 2017 I somehow managed to throw a BBQ-less beach BBQ!). So partly because they’re lovely, and largely because they wanted an excuse to party and knew I’d never get around to never organising anything myself, George, Claudia and Becs assumed the task and banned me from all involvement!
Now there are many things made easier by living in a place where everyone knows everyone else, but secret party planning, it seems, is not one of them. February arrived and ‘accidental’ slip-ups and cryptic clue-dropping became something of a sport, but one thing I was very sad to find out, was that two of my favourite humans, Gretchen and Natalie couldn’t make it. Hrumph.
You can imagine my surprise then, a week before my birthday, when my inbox pings with a curious email containing some simple instructions:
Two days later and after a hilariously unconvincing mystery tour of Tortola (and a worrying amount of collusion from the Beef Island airport staff to keep our destination secret from me till I was sitting on the plane!), I am somehow clearing US Customs in Puerto Rico, dressed in a thoroughly inappropriate novelty shirt and being scowled at by a family with five young children.
After a weekend of shopping, Vietnamese cafe foot massages, bourbon bars, rose ceremonies, too many free shots, midnight Accordion-hunting on the streets of old San Juan and the hangover to end all hangovers, Natalie Gretchen and I flew back in a private plane and I even managed not to be ill on the pilot. Success.
The following week my actual birthday approaches and it’s hard to see how the previous weekend could possibly be topped! Friday afternoon I’m treated to a slew of preemptive birthday wishes and promises to catch up in the following week – and as many of these are from people I’d hoped would be coming to celebrate with me, I am expecting a small affair.
Saturday morning, and as I’m lead down the dock at The Moorings I discover that I can no longer trust a word any of them say as 16 people jump out of two gorgeous catamarans! By 11am we’re sailing for the North Sound with a Mimosa in one hand and a homemade sourdough bacon sarnie (supplied by Becs of course) in the other. Needless to say we spent an unforgettable weekend sailing and sleeping aboard two beautiful boats, jumping into crystal blue waters, dancing, laughing, lunching with Oil Nut Bay to ourselves (complete with surprise pressies arranged by my girls back in the UK!), inventing the ‘Markarita’, more dancing, and dining at Saba Rock, all finished off drinking Champagne under a blanket of stars.
The weekend was an unbridled success. Well, except those times we unsuccessfully tried to stay afloat giant inflatable toucans and ended up drifting through the North Sound; unsuccessfully tried to operate and moor the Dinghy (more drifting in the North Sound); unsuccessfully attempted to use said Dinghy to procure cigars from Bitter End Yacht Club at 1am. Unsuccessfully recreated ‘Chandelier’ (a la Sia) in the rigging. And of course the inexplicable chemical burns I managed to end up with either side of my nose.
In March 2016, a bright new star joined the night sky as Ellie Perkins, one of the most beautiful, funny, kind-spirited one year olds I’ve ever known, was taken from us far too soon. In honour of his daughter, Ellie’s equally amazing Dad established a Not-For-Profit called Ellie’s Wish BVI, dedicated to purchasing new equipment for the paediatric department of Peebles Hospital, Tortola. With a lot of hard work we managed to turn one of the saddest events of 2016 into one of the happiest of 2017, with the inaugural Ellie’s Wish fundraiser event – The Flamingo Regatta.
The idea is simple – take a stunning white sand Caribbean beach, add 60 odd bonkers participants racing giant inflatable flamingos, a DJ and live guitarist and a huge crowd of screaming supporters. Even an unexpected swell and rainstorm couldn’t break our spirits (sadly the same cannot be said for my GoPro!) and the event was a huge success raising $18500!
The Weston household took home prizes for ‘1st Place Solo Jockey’, and ‘Biggest Wipeout’ (for an encounter with a particularly vicious wave which robbed one of us of all their clothes and left them desperately hiding their modesty from the video drone) – I will leave you to decide which of us won what.
The afterparty at Paradise beach bar was well deserved and equally spectacular. Our house full of impromptu sleepover guests were surprised to discover the 9 small puppies residing in my downstairs bathroom.
At around 3am I discovered a talent that I never knew I had… sadly my pride was short-lived when I was immediately upstaged by the hypnotic hips of Simon Hall. Oh well, you win some you lose some.
Apart from the sunshine and sea, one of my favourite things about the BVI is the community spirit and the huge amount of charity work we all do – so imagine an event that combines all of these things and you can sure i’ll be there!
The corporate Tag Team Surf Competition is an annual event. The format – teams of 3 surfers (at least one female – yay surf girls!) take 3 waves each in 10 minutes and try for as many points as possible. As one of a limited number of girlie surfers, we are in high demand as ringers (regardless how novice we are!) and end up competing for random law or accountancy firms!
It’s a brilliant day where law firm big-wigs get to embarrass themselves in the waves in front of their staff and everyone else gets sunburnt – but it’s a corporate event nonetheless so a certain amount of decorum is required (especially when you’re surfing with your husband’s boss!).
You can imagine my horror therefore, when I get handed my team rash vest and realise that I’ve forgotten to bring my surf tights… and not only that, but I’m wearing the smallest bikini bottoms. ever.I mean small. And to make matters worse – there is a professional photographer. And one of my teammates is a 9yr old child. Awkward.
5. Cat, Lauren and Hannah’s Weddings
What’s better than a good wedding? THREE great weddings! Friends, dancing, free food, an excuse to buy new shoes and brush my hair – What’s not to love?!
In April I flew back to a sunny Suffolk (and luckily still fit into my Maid of Honour dress – bonus) to join my wonderful Cat and her new hubby Alexis riding the miniature railway into their future!
In August it was Lauren and Guy’s turn to tie the knot. 20 or so of us beach bum BVIslanders jetted to France and danced until my shoes literally broke in a breathtaking Chateau perfectly decorated with little pieces of home. We made the most of our trip by taking the opportunity for some family time with the Westons and some world-class tasting menu action (accompanied by yet more highly inappropriate dinner conversation). If all that wasn’t enough to thank Lauren and Guy for, this holiday is the reason we were away from the BVI when Hurricane Irma hit – Not the ideal start to their honeymoon, but it certainly something to be grateful for!
We rode in a classic VW bus, learned the Charleston, conga’d with a brass band to Rage Against The Machine and I definitely didn’t laugh so hard during the speeches that I threw red wine all over my cream dress.
To finish the year in style, one of the silver-linings of my refugeedom was being able to join my fellow RVC Rotation Group survivor Hannah at her wedding to the contagiously enthusiastic Adam. It was a beautiful day with a wintry Whissendine backdrop and a great excuse to catch up with old friends. I managed to hold it together when Hannah’s dad tried to make me cry with his lovely words, and even when I found a wig that makes me look concerningly like my mother.
6. The time I fell off a racehorse in front of an audience
I have a confession to make. Brace yourself. It’s a big one.
I. Don’t. Do. Horses.
Even though I am verging on obsessed with all animals, I’ve just never understood horses. They’re big, gangly, dangerous, usually uncooperative to work with, and physiologically nonsensical with tendons that like to snap and intestines that like to twist up on themselves. Up until this year, I had ridden more camels than I had horses.
That was until I found myself working with Alison; whose passion for her animals is infectious and who made it her mission to get me enjoying (instead of just stitching up!) her happy herd of misfit and rescue equines.
In early 2017, Alison and her husband Colin began planning for the 2017 ‘Countryside Adventures’ Highland Spring Horse and Pony Show – a fun, community-focused celebration of the farm, the horses (and many other animals!) and all the educational work they do. Plus even better, a fundraiser to help them continue!
Around the same time, the ‘funny farm’ gained a few new members. One of whom was ‘Bittersweet Dream’, a stunning dark bay thoroughbred mare, fresh off the the Thomas Ellis Downs Racetrack. She was beautiful, she was young and fast, and she was a complete unknown. And that was it – I had my challenge.
It will come as no surprise to people that know me, that I don’t often follow the ‘usual’ rules, so once I had Sweetie in my sights, starting slow and steady was unlikely to happen. With a LOT of care and dedication from Alison, Sweetie and I began teaching each other.
The first time I rode her, I felt like I had a bomb beneath me. She radiates power and I was acutely aware that the ground was a lot further away than with any other horse I’d ridden. But she was a complete gem, and we both held our composure. I was buzzing. And I was hooked.
In the weeks leading up to the show, Bittersweet Dream and I worked hard getting to know each other and trying out the course for the show’s ‘Cowboy Up’ challenge course.
The day of the show arrived and we got up early to groom and tack up the herd. Sweetie’s old race trainer came to tack her up in full racing kit, and then as the final straw, the PA system was turned on and it was like someone had flicked a switch in her brain – It was race day! Uh-Oh!The farm was buzzing with people from all corners of BVI. Kids enjoyed petting and learning about the animals. We donned cowboy boots and checked shirts to serve Kentucky Derby style Mint Juleps, fresh coconuts and a hog roast. The children’s events were a real delight and the show was well and truly stolen by a pint-sized Appaloosa painted as a zebra flying around the course with reckless abandon. The judges (my boss Dr Laura, and a couple of my best clients) watched carefully from their ringside tent. Then it was our turn, so with a little trepidation, I hopped on Sweetie and we proceeded to the ring.
The bell rang, and we were off, a nice fast (for me!) trot around the course. But as we set off I realised I had a completely different animal between my legs than the girl I knew – twitchy, on edge and itching to run. With me doing my best to radiate calming vibes, we carried on – we did the flags, we did the slalom and we did the box – and we did it without fault. Until…entering the final lap of the course, we change reigns and head for the finishing gate – and that was it – the breaks came off. Flying twice around the ring as fast as I’ve ever been, we veer into the centre, headed straight at a large wooden cart. I drag her around it but by now I’m unbalanced and slipping. I hang onto her neck for dear life, hurtling around the ring, before unceremoniously plopping to the ground right in front of the judges.
I look up, to find Sweetie standing perfectly still right next to me, looking down at me as if to say ‘Owh it was just getting fun!’
7. The times we got all dressed up.
Most people in Tortola are fairly used to me rocking up to wine tastings or restaurants still in my work scrubs (often complete with questionable stains!). Those times I’m lucky enough to have an evening or weekend not interrupted by work, I can usually be found in swimwear or shorts, getting tossed around on a surfboard or enjoying a sundowner or two. One of the things I love most about the BVI is the laid-back rough and ready attitude, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good excuse to get dressed up when we see one!In 2017 we enjoyed no less than two ‘White Parties’ – one hosted by Richard Branson on Mosquito Island and the other by Navanchor sponsored by Moet et Chandon ‘Ice’. We had a Tiki Luau boat party complete with hula-hooping, grass skirts and I finally got an excuse to bring my power drill for rum coconuts! We put our glad rags over our bikinis and headed to the Rock Cafe to scream Abba and Disney songs at people while they tried to eat their dinner for Lauren’s pink hen party! We took our joke about Dan’s numerous doppelgängers to another level for his surprise birthday dinner. We put on our dresses and pretended not to be scruffy island-bums for an cocktail evening with the officers aboard RFA Mounts Bay. We dressed as schoolgirls, covered ourselves in glitter and sang every word of Backstreet’s Back for Davinia’s birthday. We chartered a couple of planes to Anegada and spent Caro’s last BVI weekend pushing a broken-down taxibus through sand dunes in heels (#isitingearthough?)
8. The times I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.
Not many people can say they love their work. But I can.Sure its hard, and its messy, and unpredictable, and sometimes it makes me cry. But for every time I’m crying because of a difficult case, there are ten when I’m crying with laughter. When we trialled ‘Toxoban’ facial hair. When the equipment failed at exactly the wrong moment and I sprayed my nurse in the face with a dog’s abdominal fluid. When the dog I was about to spay turned out to be a hermaphrodite. When I got pecked in the eye by a chicken. When we had to perform seminal collection on an enormous Bull Mastiff for the third time that week.
With its pristine roads, haute cuisine and celebrity culture, St Barthelemy is in many ways, the antithesis of the BVI. You’ll have to take out a mortgage to eat out, but in early June, when the high season is over and the likes of Roman Abramovich and Bill Gates leave, this little slice of heaven becomes the perfect getaway and an ideal anniversary treat. We had a magical weekend, and to top it off, I got the best present of all when Cat FaceTimed to tell me she was pregnant!
Last year, Clauds celebrated her big ‘Four-O’ with a fantastic 80’s beach party in Virgin Gorda. Not one for letting number 41 slip by unnoticed, this year, 18 or so of us headed to St John in the USVI for a weekend in a couple of villas at the The Westin.
Like so many of the best moments, what followed was one of the most unscripted, spontaneously hilarious weekends of my life. At 3pm we had abandoned all ideas of a hike in favour of our villa’s private pool. At 9pm we had eaten our weight in Italian food and made so much inappropriate dinner conversation that even the waiters serving other areas of the restaurant were joking with us as we left. At 11pm we sang tune-less taxi-bus renditions of the Backstreet Boys. At 1am we found ourselves whining in child-sized rubber rings in the jacuzzi. At 2am Nick discovered my Bloodhound Gang prowess. At 4am we jumped on the beds to the Stereophonics until we couldn’t breath.
The next day, we returned home and I received more than one, non-sarcastic message from (clearly longsighted) friends complimenting my amazing abs – which I then had to fess up had been had been applied with a spray gun next to the pool.
11. The time we watched Fister beat Bummer
When you work on-call 7 days a week, the occasional weekend away is a sacred opportunity to recharge. After the busiest (and most complicated!) July on record and working 26 days straight, BVI Emancipation Festival weekend couldn’t come soon enough! It’s a 5 day bank holiday weekend when those who don’t stay and join in with the parades tend to take the opportunity to escape the August heat and discover somewhere new. This year, George, Mark, Claudia and I took off for Boston!
Boston is a beautiful city, and we made the most of the food and shopping that you just can’t get on a tiny patch of sand in the Caribbean. Mark and I ruined George’s enjoyment of the ‘Freedom Trail’ with an impromptu innuendo-off. We laughed until we physically cried more than once. I nearly spat my dinner across the table as Mark quizzed our poor waiter on exactly what genre of movies they were showing upstairs. All four of us miraculously celebrated our birthdays on sequential days and were presented with delicious complementary cakes and rousing choruses of ‘Happy Birthday’. We barely controlled ourselves as we watched ‘Fister’ make his debut as pitcher for the Boston RedSox, then lost it completely when ‘Bummer’ came to pitch for the Chicago WhiteSox. We discovered a Harvard Alumni mixer in the lower floor of a whisky bar, into which we took turns wandering – I came away victorious with canapes.
12. The time we ate all the Pintxos
The best kind of friends are those you can go years without seeing, but when you meet up, it’s like you’ve never been apart. That’s what made our holiday in San Sebastian and Bilbao with Ed so much fun. San Sebastian is a fun Spanish-French fusion, with a unique dining culture called ‘Pintxos’ where you pick large canapé style finger foods from an array set out on the bars of every establishment. As is becoming a theme of these favourite moments, we ate far too much, laughed too much, totally failed to understand the art in the Guggenheim and ended up covered in sand racing up the beach in the moonlight, much to the delight of bemused locals.
You could say that Adam’s trip to visit the BVI was a somewhat inauspicious introduction to the Caribbean. After bugging him to come visit and for the best part of two years, Lauren and Guy’s wedding presented the perfect opportunity for him to come and visit, then work in my practice and cover me while I went on holiday, it should have been ideal!
Adam’s trip began with a bumpy start. An unexpected tropical storm conspired with the BVI’s notoriously opaque Immigration procedure and the day before he was due to arrive, his work permit paperwork was still sat incomplete in a flooded basement. Long story short, Adam arrived, and after a tantalising taster of BVI beach-life, was deported back to Antigua to wait for his papers to be finalised!
When he finally gets the all clear and arrives legally back in BVI, we rejoice. All will be good from here on out, and he still has the best part of 3 weeks left to settle in and enjoy our unique island lifestyle… OK so by now you all know the grand finale of Adam’s BVI adventure (after all, what holiday would be complete without a Cat 5 and evacuation!?), but in the intervening week, we did have a great time in my island home, introducing him to friends, Necker Island’s furry inhabitants and ordering him his first Dark and Stormy.
14. The times I couldn’t have been prouder of my Hurricane Irma family
I’ve said more than enough about the horrors created by the Atlantic’s biggest hurricane in history. In a matter of hours it wiped life as we know if off the earth and replaced it with a scene which has been described by some members of the UK military as ‘worse than any war zone they’ve ever seen’. You will (or at least should!) have seen the footage of the destruction in the news. You should have heard stories of families with infants sheltering in their shower cubicles, a man left hiding in his fridge, 58′ catamarans tossed onto their roofs like leaves. Looters threatening each other desperate to provide water for their children. Prisoners released/escaped from the prison.
But what you probably haven’t heard about, is that after the hurricane had passed, they put out a call for those prisoners to return… and they did. You won’t have heard about the relentless work by OUR community to try and locate and reunite survivors. You won’t have heard that it was OUR community organising the evacuation flights. You won’t have heard about the Puerto Ricans (affectionately known as the Puerto Rican Navy) who loaded their boats with essentials like water, nappies and food and sailed to the BVI to help us waving banners of support. You won’t have heard about the hospital staff working in dangerous conditions round the clock to help those injured or sick. You won’t have heard about the people who’s entire livelihoods had been destroyed but who turned to their trades to offer free meals for children, massages for the stressed, to rebuild damaged infrastructure. My own colleagues who escaped the rubble of their former homes to work for free to provide travel documents and medical assistance for animals.
You won’t have heard about the enormous outpouring of support I received for my animal aid campaign. From friends offering help, and from people I’ve never even met offering logistics, contacts, supplies, sending containers of horse feed and hay, making hugely generous donations. The Rotary clubs that invited me to speak and sat in stunned tearful silence when I was done. The tireless pursuit of all those still in BVI and Puerto Rico struggling without power and running water but still picking up strays, evacuating the Humane Society, tending the horses left at the track, filling evac flights with crates of animals and putting into action all my plans for those voiceless animals that received no interest from anyone’s government at all.
It is these things I choose to remember. Sure, it’s been shit, and BVI like everywhere else has its complement of those who are only out for themselves, but the resilience and strength of our people gives it a beauty that can’t be razed by any storm.
15. The time I met Meredith
Since I can remember, Cat has been an honorary member of my family. She was the one my parents would compare me to when I was being chastised. Our parents would share children in holidays – the boys in one home and us girls in the other. As we grew up, she even lived with us for a period, and while we might not speak daily or even monthly sometimes, she’s family. When Cat moved back to England to attend Sixth Form, I introduced her to another of my best friends, Frances, and that was that. We were geekily referred to as the ‘Tripod’ and it’s been that way since.
You can imagine my delight therefore, when in December 2017, our Tripod became 4 as baby Meredith entered the world. She is perfect, from her crazy long hair to her crazy long toes. And if Cat and Alex aren’t careful I will be taking her back to BVI in my hand luggage.
16. The time I got my dogs back
It came as no surprise to anyone at all that within 6 months or so of moving to BVI, a small scared puppy with ridiculous ears had turned up on my driveway and never left. We named him Mozzie for his small stature, lightning speed and ability to buzz around your ankles.
In early 2017, it became apparent that the Tortola Humane Society was struggling, so glutton for punishment, I sent out some feelers and with the cooperation of THS manager Vijay and the ever-amazing PAWS, soon we had a spay/neuter initiative underway and I began volunteering at the shelter on my day off each week. Soon enough I ended up with housefuls of puppies in need – one day, I somehow ended up with 14 dogs. Oops. Five weeks later I had them all healthy and homed… with one exception who couldn’t leave. She was a blonde wiggly vibrating ball of fluff, and besides, she got on with Mozzie too well to send her away. She became Bumblebee and we spent our spare time adventuring on beaches and remaining ever hopeful of treats at beach BBQs.
Thankfully, they were in the expert care of Adam and co. during the hurricane, and indeed Mozzie repaid the favour by protecting his ‘Hurricane Humans’ from machete’d looters in the dark days of the aftermath. As we scrambled and begged to get our friends manifested on evacuation flights, we realised that we needed to get my dogs to join me in England, but try as we might, there was too much red tape for them to accompany Adam on his flight home.
Despite all the things I was achieving in the wake of Irma – the boat loads of supplies, the animal evacuation flights, the charity relief teams, the government waivers, the one thing I seemed unable to crack was getting my two hero pups home to me.
As a last resort to get them safe we reached out to the selfless Bonnie Lukas of the ‘Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico’, and a plan was hatched for them to stay at SCARPR for a short while until I could arrange onward transport…
Then Hurricane Maria decided to join to the party. Puerto Rico was left as devastated at BVI, and all those who had provided the BVI with so much aid were left in a similar predicament and with BVI unable to return the favour. Three difficult months passed, but with help from Eileen Wit at Golden Retriever Rescue PR and the lovely Diane from SCARPR, they made their way to Florida, where the equally amazing Stacey of Good Karma Pet Rescue took them into her home.
But still I couldn’t get them back to the UK! I don’t know why, I still can’t explain it, but every obstacle I hit was just too much. So mum to the rescue, between us and Stacey we managed it.
Seeing my Hurricane Pups arrive into the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre was indescribable.
Since joining the Chaplin residence they’ve settled in well and are doing their best to repay my rescuing them by rescuing me.
Finally getting to snuggle all three canine members of my family at once was almost too much.
Alright, so this ‘moment’ isn’t one single moment at all, but in a year of such ups and downs, none have been more so than where my family is concerned. Therefore, if there’s one note I want to end this 2017 memoir on, it’s celebrating my wonderful, weird, supportive, often goofy family.
We started the year with high hopes for some family fun. Little did we know, that Dad’s back ache would turn out to be something much more sinister, and two weeks before Hurricane Irma finished the job, we got the news that would begin to unravel life as I knew it. I will be forever thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to spend my father’s final months by his side and will savour the good moments amongst the ones I’d rather forget.
My April trip to the UK – making the most of the spring sunshine, taking to the somewhat murkier waters of the Regents Canal aboard Andy’s houseboat; acting like tourists at Southwold Pier; and embarrassing Mum as Dad filled my dress with pebbles on Aldeburgh beach and watched them fall out of my underwear as we walked up the street.
Our August visit from cousin Cicely to our (then pristine) slice of paradise – Introducing her to Mozzie and Bumblebee (I nearly never got Bee back!); introducing her to the delights of the Baths, driving unpaved roads whilst listening to reggae, our ‘jazzy’ friends at the Indian edition of our Supper Club…even introducing her to Michelle Obama’s Lemur BFF ‘Bob’ on Necker Island!
Our Weston/Calver holiday in France – eating some fantastic food, exploring some beautiful places and messing around with Billy in the pool.
Watching the seals and exploring Cromer for Hilary’s birthday. My one year old nephew’s appreciation of my new dress.
All the time I spent with my Dad, talking to him and looking after him, incessantly bossing him (and his Doctors) around. Taking him for trips to Costa Coffee and being eyed suspiciously as we put his Disabled Parking badge in the windscreen of my Porsche (nicknamed by Dad as ‘Thunderbird I’). Getting to know all the generous caring people at the St Elizabeth’s hospice. Taking mum out for dinner or just cracking a bottle of wine at home after one of the longer, more exhausting days. Dad realising his goal of meeting my two little mongrels (albeit in slightly colder climes than anticipated). Asking him what he wanted to dress as for halloween then jumping out at Mum dressed as zombies when he answered ‘a dead man walking’.
Making the most of Christmas together – Dressing the dogs in ridiculous outfits. Andy and I creating the worlds most amazing ‘pigs in blankets and brie croissant’. Mum laughing hysterically every time she put the ‘Speak Out’ mouthpiece in! Dad’s impromptu rendition of Gary Glitter in the middle of Christmas lunch. Getting him out of the house for some christmas carpool karaoke.
That was just a few of my favourite moments of 2017. I’ve left out plenty of other absolute crackers; Mark setting fire to Dan’s kitchen. A concerning number of evenings spent listening to Peruvian Panpipes at 5am. Trying to support crew Claudia around the Tortola Torture ultra marathon but accidentally pouring ice down her back. Beach BBQs to die for. Dancing on the tables at the Anegada Beach Club. Screaming in outrage at the Bachelor. Almost missing my flight because Dan, Mark and I were still busy drinking Ron Zacapa and playing the piano in Brandywine 6 hours before my 7am flight. Any of the times Claudia fell off a boat. Crashing superyacht afterparties at the Nanny Cay Regatta. So many other birthday parties and weekends spent messing about on boats and tropical islands. Too many sea turtles to count. But for now, 2018 is here and that will do.