Posted in Living

2012 – A Retrospective

I didn’t think I had much to say about 2012, but looking back at the photos I took, I have about 40 pages worth on Flickr. Most of them seem to be of the scenery around our home, so I suppose you could say 2012 was the year of dog walking.


In January, my main recollection is that I worked from home a lot. My boss had been worried that the weather would stop me getting in to work, but as it turned out, it was fine. It did allow me to spend time with the dog, settling him in, as he had only come to us just before Christmas, so I spent most of my days walking in the woods with him and puzzling over who was going to subtitle what news bulletins from the comfort of my own desk.

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Oh, also in January, I bought this amazing sideboard for £8. Yeah,  you know you’re jealous.


In February, I fulfilled a wish I’d had for a few years – to cruise the North Sea to Amsterdam for the weekend. It was both awesome fun and hellish – the boat was full of drunk Geordies and it was -5, but we had a really great weekend – it’s what you make of it, in these circumstances and we crammed in as much as we could on our 7 hours in Amsterdam!

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I bought a huge armful of tulips which lasted for weeks when we got back and on the way back we stopped off at Tynemouth market where I found lots of treasure. I love that place.

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Other highlights – a trip to the theatre to see a workmate in Thoroughly Modern Millie (which was thoroughly entertaining), reverse parking in a multi-storey car park and a new phone!

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Is it sad that a highlight of March was putting up our new doorbell? If it is, I don’t want to be cool. It’s pretty awesome. After a very low-key birthday, we went to Hammerfest in Wales, thus proving I am the best wife ever. It was pretty awful, accommodation-wise, but I did end up enjoying the music way more than I thought.

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It was also unseasonably warm in March, for Scotland, so much so that I got sunburnt on a walk on the beach with Sarah and the dogs. We had a great day paddling, eating chips on the seafront and generally frolicking on the sand. I also went on a Loch Lomond cruise with Marceline around her birthday, which was really good fun.


Oh, and we celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday at the very end of March, too with a family meal at the Boathouse. Everyone got well-oiled, we ate like kings and then my mum did a dance to Shalimar when we got home. AWESOME.

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April is probably when panic began to set in about doing Pulse. A lot of it was spent making plans and preparing kits and so on. I also did a really shitty craft fair over Easter.  I wrote about that and generated debate amongst my indie craft compadres. I worked a lot at subtitling HQ. I remember being very tired in April.

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The weather in May was pretty good as I remember – so hot we had to buy the dog a paddling pool, which he loved. Work-wise, I was up to my eyeballs in Pulse-prep and day-job stuff. I did find the time to do a sponsored 10k walk with Jo though, through the streets of Glasgow at midnight, which was pretty fun. We raised about £500 for charity, too.

June was mega-busy. It started with Pulse. I took a giant suitcase down to London for the week and set up my wares for perusal by the great and the good of British retail. My mum came up from Suffolk to help me set up and I had my first taste of Wahaca.

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I haven’t publicly admitted this yet, but Pulse turned out to be the biggest waste of money ever. I daresay I will come back and explore this topic next year but enough time has passed now for me to be able to evaluate and say it was an utter drain on all of my resources and very nearly ruined me financially. It was the beginning of a lot of soul-searching for me, business-wise.

I don’t seem to have any photos of it online, but immediately upon my return, ie, the very next day, Lee and I jetted off to Lanzarote for a week in the sun. It was very relaxing – we pretty much lay down in the sun for the entire time and read, swam and ate delicious food. Bliss.

The day we got back, I pretty much got changed and went straight to Portsoy with Marceline for a weekend at her mum’s, where we stayed upstairs from their antiques shop and had some boat festival fun and visited the Baxters soup place. I can only surmise I left my camera at home, as I don’t seem to have photos of any of this, bar this one from Baxters!


In July, the weather was pretty good again, and we spent a lot of evenings outdoors, barbecueing. I don’t recall a great deal other than chargrilled meats and my parents getting tipsy when they came to visit (STANDARD).

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The garden was very green and Lee spent a lot of time out there. My brother came to stay and we went on a road trip to our home town, Kilwinning. We took Max to the beach, too, at Irvine. Just as well we did, because shortly afterwards, Max injured his leg and we thought for a long time he’d need a hip replacement operation. He was on sedatives for a long time and spent a lot of time being miserable, poor chap.

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August saw my mum staying with us for a while, during which time we celebrated her birthday and ate a lot of vegetables that Lee grew in the garden. Those carrots are amazing, we’re still eating them now. The weather gave us some good days to spend outside, and I did a lot of sewing for some wholesale orders (that weren’t Pulse-related). My little blue car also gave up the ghost and I got some new wheels!

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In September, Max got the all-clear from the specialist vets and came off the sedatives, hurrah! He gradually got back to normal. He’ll probably always be on low-dose painkillers, but he’s much better now. PHEW. I also helped with the decorations at Jo’s mum’s wedding and had a lovely time at the reception with Jo and Ryan and their families at Hamilton Racecourse (glossing over the fact I left the lights on in my car and had to call the AA…).


September also saw me packing up my monster suitcase again and heading back to London for Renegade. It was a really great weekend with my stallmates Kim and Adam from Finest Imaginary. We ate like kings all weekend, including at Meat Market. Gosh, I’m drooling now thinking of it. I stayed next to St Pauls and got the sleeper back, which wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be. Then I went to work. Zzzz.

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We also went on a road trip to buy a dining table in Middlesbrough – I wish I could explain why. It’s a nice table though, eh? We stopped at Tynemouth market on the way back and Lee had his first Krispy Kreme experience – it was worth the  400 mile round trip!

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October seems like 5 minutes ago! I sold my little blue car which had been sat in the garage since I got my new one. It was sad to see it go. I spent a week in London at work on a course, staying in the Premier Inn and being so incredibly tired that I saw no one and did nothing except eat Thai food with my colleague and sleep (not with my colleague). Whilst I was away, Lee painted a wall in our living room and improved the room by about 5000%. I also had a commissioned design published in Cross Stitcher magazine, which was pretty cool – another ambition crossed off the list. The uncertainty about our future at Brownton began when we discovered the owner of the house we rent hadn’t been paying their mortgage. That’s still ongoing. Guh.

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Also in October – more dog walks. Max was getting back up to full walk-strength again, so we were revisiting our old haunts. Marceline and I had a fancy dinner at Chao Phraya. Lee and I bought two science cabinets on ebay and ended up selling one as they were massive. I also squeezed in a couple of days in Durham with my mum where we mostly ate cake and shopped.

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In November, I worked a lot. I had a fairly quiet one business-wise, never reaching the fevered panic that usually greets me in November. I did a lot of thinking. I went to the theatre twice – once to see the Hairy Bikers with Lee and again about a week later to see The Ladykillers with Sarah. Both were fun evenings. I also did one of the best craft fairs ever in Castle Douglas.

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December saw another long-held ambition crossed off the list – visit the Britannia Panopticon. We saw a colleague in a Christmas music hall show there, it was pretty awesome. I’d love to go back for a proper tour. It also snowed a lot. I LOVE snow, so I was pretty thrilled. I worked from home for a week as the snow gave way to ice which pretty left me stranded up Brownton Mountain. On at least one day, we couldn’t leave the house as our driveway was like an ice rink and poor Max kept falling over.

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Christmas arrived, and was a lot of fun. Mum, Jo and I went to see the Nutcracker which was interesting – I am not sure how I feel about ballet, really, but this was a bit more experimental than I expected. Fun night though, as we had dinner with Marceline beforehand, too. Our house got a Christmas facelift with a massive tree, a ton of presents and our Christmas village. We go a bit overboard, it’s true.

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Somehow, I managed to get 5 days off work for Christmas, so once my orders were out the way, I could really relax. And what better way to relax on Christmas Eve than to make 3 stockings from scratch? They turned out well, though, I think (if you ignore the fact I forgot to hem one).

We ate masses of amazing food, including the best turkey I’ve ever tasted. It was worth the upgrade at the butcher, for sure. The best thing about having a big Christmas dinner is the leftovers in an omelette the next day – sprouts and all. It was amazing.  Aside from eating, we did a lot of relaxing, as Max is demonstrating, above.

And now, it’s almost 2013 and I am back at work, at the day job, at least. I am extending my Miso Funky break until next week. I’ll be ringing in the new year at work, with my colleagues, which I don’t mind too much – I am not a big new year’s fan, but I do relish the idea of being able to start a new year with a clean slate and all the opportunities that may come my way. We’re already planning holidays and making plans, so I am sure there is some excitement in store.

Whatever you’re doing, have a good one and have a healthy and happy 2013.


I’m Claire and I live near Glasgow, in Scotland. I have strong family ties to Cincinnati, too and regard it as my second home. If I had to describe myself in five words, it would be thus: Does. Not. Suffer. Fools. Gladly. I’ve been cross stitching pretty much all my life, but professionally since 2005, first as Miso Funky, then as The Bellwether and now under my own name. I'm known for my witty, sarcastic and occasionally profane typographic designs. My work has been featured in The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Channel 4 and on BBC television as well as numerous media outlets across the globe. At one point, I was kind of a big deal but I mostly just dabble in it these days when I have time. My website is a repositry of cross stitch charts, travel and food blogging and you'll find it at I also love to travel and eat, ideally travelling somewhere great to eat something brilliant. I'm fascinated by social history, particularly the Victorians and will absolutely beat you hands down in a quiz about the Tudors. Dogs are LIFE. I like being in water and have lots of ideas that will never see the light of day but would definitely be a winner on Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank. I love to give people gifts. I! also! overuse! exclamation! marks! sorry!

3 thoughts on “2012 – A Retrospective

  1. Happy New Year Claire. I have enjoyed reading your posts. It’s really refreshing to read something so honest. I was thinking about what you wrote about Pulse. It’s drummed into us to talk about the positives re business which is great of course. But I think it gives us a false picture. Because sometimes things don’t work out, no matter how hard we’ve worked. And because we don’t hear much about things going wrong it can feel quite isolating. (For me anyway.) Like trying to live up to a false ideal. So good for you for writing this.

    Sounds like you’ve had a great year!

    I hope the New Year brings you lots of happiness, lots more dog walking and fun times.


    1. Thanks, Jenny, that’s really appreciated. It can be difficult admitting failure, or a lack of success, at least, but I really strongly feel that it’s important to be honest about these things. It does feel quite isolating, I agree. I don’t expect anyone else to lay themselves bare, but it’s heartening to get the odd comment or email privately saying, you’re not alone, I’m there too. More of this in 2013! Happy new year to you!


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