Darkness has fallen and we will not see daylight now until next year. As we start the countdown to 2016, here’s my look back on the last 12 months…
As 2015 opened I was not more than a few weeks in to my new job. What was then a 6 month contract was extended and extended again and now I am on a permenant contract. Good news all round!
January saw me driving on my own in Dad’s car for the first time. 2015 was only 3 days old when I made my first solo car journey as I drove from Cirencester to Crowle! The first time I’d driven properly since passing my test, I stuck to roads I know. A year later, I now think absolutely nothing of driving my own car down to London on the M4 and M25 – and in November I did Cirencester to Greenwich and back all in one day!
In February I’d cottoned on to the fact that, in a full time job, you can take time off when it suits (no waiting for the school holidays before you get a rest). I used my first 2 days of holiday to spend a weekend in Munich. My German is slowly coming back to me…
A week later, in March, I went to the O2 Arena in London for the first time, where I enjoyed a great evening of live county music at the C2C Country to Country festival. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already booked my ticket to 2016’s festival.
In April, I took Dad’s car to work while he was off for a few days, and despite my journey home being on one single road I got lost. In my defence, I was trying to negotiate my way round some roadworks which had closed the main road through Fairford – but the result was I more than doubled the journey time.
Given that my journey home that night took me in to Oxfordshire and I didn’t have a clue where I had ended up, I was probably mad to get a car of my own a week or two later.
By the beginning of May I’d moved on from Dad’s car to a car of my own. My Volkswagen Golf still goes strong today – it even has a brand new exhaust now!
That same month, I returned to university to present a show for Gloucestershire’s student radio station Tone Radio. It was only appropriate, that as the Radio Production group’s political expert and wannabe-Prime Minister, I would have involvement in the General Election coverage. So much fun despite having to be up half the night!
By the time June arrived I was starting to miss my old life in radio, so after work one Friday evening I drove up to Worcester to spend the night at Granny’s house and the following morning I headed to Birmingham to have a nose around the BBC’s Mailbox building. I’m quite proud of the photo I had taken of me in the BBC WM radio studio.
June also saw a return visit to university to contribute to Johnny and Zoe’s ‘Big Podcast’ – a 30 hour world record attempt. Each hour is still available to listen to on demand through AudioBoom. I seem to remember I ended up playing Cards Against Humanity on live radio a 3 o’ clock in the morning.
My efforts in said game were summed up by Johnny who said that during our time at uni, “I think we’ve taught Fred some things which aren’t entirely politically correct”. All I will say is that I am a refreshing change when compared to the majority of students who, with their lefty-liberal political views, don’t like anything which causes offense.
In July, now more than comfortable on my home turf (Cirencester, Fairford, the A417, and the M5) I decided to tackle the city. During my first drive to London and back, I tackled some big roads for a relatively new driver. The M25, A2 and the South Circular can be scary at times. But driving in the early hours of the morning, they’re not too bad.
In late July my annual Summer holiday arrived and I went with Mum and Dad to the Cyclades islands in Greece – our first visit to Tinos was followed in August by a return to the neighbouring island of Syros, and then on the way back I took Mum and Dad to my favourite restaurant in the district of Plaka in Athens City Centre.
September was a relatively quiet month but I did travel up to Hereford one Friday night after work to see country singer Sasha McVeigh open up her ‘I Stand Alone’ tour of the UK in her hometown. If there’s one thing I want to do more of in 2016, it’s go to live music gigs.
October saw the annual Cheltenham Literature Festival – an annual highlight in my diary – which this year saw me going to talks by “Whispering” Bob Harris, broadcaster Paul Gambaccini and German comedian Christian Schulte-Loh. I think my highlight though was going to hear Victoria Hislop talking about her books and her life in Greece – all of this accompanied by a very tasty two-course Greek meal.
In the same month I returned yet again to university, this time to take part in Tone Radio‘s Alumni Day to celebrate the launch of their new studios. It was great doing my old show again from what is now one of the most advanced student radio stations in the country.
In November I went abroad for the third time in the year – this time to Berlin where I went to the theatre and drove a Trabant with a two-stroke engine through the city centre. The noise… and the smell of those fumes… But it was great fun!
Fast forward to where we are now – December – and having been on 3 foreign holidays I still had 8 days to use up at work. So I took the lot of them and haven’t worked a full week for quite a while now. Next week will be a shock for the system!
Where will 2016 take me? We’ll find out in a few hours…
Happy New Year!