¿Qué lenguas hablas?
What languages do you speak? Before this year, my answer to that was… “English”. Now, I can say “English and a little Spanish” (in at least two languages). Learning a new language was a big deal for me, I was always appalling at French in school. In a world [London] where almost everyone I know speaks several languages, I was determined to no longer be a mono-lingual Englishman. After a year of Spanish classes, I am hardly ready for translating Don Quixote, though I can manage simple texts and hold a conversation. Many thanks to the excellent teachers at Cactus Learning!
With my new found linguistic skills, I went travelling in the south of Spain, not once but twice, this year. This was partly to practise Spanish, but also just to experience Spain and part of it’s rich culture. During my two trips I managed to visit Madrid, Córdoba, Cádiz, Sevilla, Málaga, Tarifa, Ronda, and Granada. I met many interesting people in the hostels; a pair of Argentinians who helped me with my Spanish; some crazy Israelis who taught me how to cook a traditional middle-eastern dish while on a beach; quite a few Germans; and even a swing dancer I knew from London! I visited lots of castles, cathedrals and museums; walked along the beach by the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; went hiking in the Sierra Nevada; got just a little bit sunburned; ate lots of amazing food… oh and went swing dancing!
Swing dance addiction
Speaking of swing dancing. I did quite a lot of that this year too (big surprise!). This years highlights included; the mainstay, The London Lindy Exchange, as fun and well organised as ever; The Ahoy Ball, dancing on a boat on the Thames; and Swing & Swim! A week long dance camp at a gorgeous beach-side campsite (with bar and restaurant) in Greece. I did the workshops here too, the teaching and general level of dancing was amazing. Kudos to Lindy Hop Greece for organising it so well!
Climb the highest mountain
Ok, so I didn’t climb any actual mountains but I did get introduced to the wonderful sport of Bouldering. That is, indoor climbing without the aid of ropes or safety harnesses. Intense physical exercise is important in life. Some enjoy jogging, others enjoy doing reps at the gym. For me these are not exciting, but climbing really hit the spot and although my fingers, knees and feet absolutely hate me now, I have become somewhat addicted to this activity.
I know, my puns are still terrible, I’m sorry! I missed out on Lindy Shock, in Budapest this year, but I went on a work trip instead. I still got to explore, take in the impressive architecture, and bathe in the famous public baths. The food and wine in Hungary is divine, I enjoyed it all. Although I missed the festival, I did manage to find a local swing dance night and met the local dancers.
Home sweet home
So here’s a first: I bought a flat!
I’ve only been looking for about 15 years but I finally made it. I have spent a lot of my time in the past month or so stripping paint, sanding, painting, and fixing. All of which is surprisingly satisfying when you know it’s yours.
Lets party like its 1925
As the final hurrah for this year, some dancing friends and I went to the 1920s themed, Prohibition Party in Bloomsbury. I always love these sorts of events, as everyone is dressed up to the nines, suitably merry with gin and fizz cocktails and generally having a great time. It gets even better when we all hit the dance floor, which never fails to impress the uninitiated. I won’t lie, my ego loves being the centre of attention, but I also love seeing people getting interested.
A perfect end to a year that, for me at least, has been truly great. Thanks to everyone of my friends who have been a part of it.