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See-ya 2017 - A round up of the year!

"It has been one of the greatest and most difficult years of my life. I learned everything is temporary. Moments. Feelings. People. Flowers. I learned love is about giving. Everything.
And letting it hurt. I learned that vulnerability is always the right choice because it is easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft. I learned all things come in twos. Life and death. Pain and joy. Salt and sugar. Me and you. It is the balance of the universe. It has been the year of hurting so bad but living so good. Making friends out of strangers. Making strangers out of friends. Learning mint chocolate chip ice-cream will fix just about everything. And for the pains it can't there will always be my mothers arm. We must learn to focus on warm energy. Always. Soak our limbs in it and become better lovers to the world. For if we can't learn to be kinder to each other how will we ever learn to be kinder to the most desperate parts of ourselves."

The moment I saw this from Rupi Kaur, it spoke to me, so, so, much. Well, everything but the mint chocolate chip bit because I'd never choose chocolate chip ice cream.

There is no doubting that 2017 has been one hell of a year. There have been challenges worse than I ever thought I'd have to face. There have been losses and there have been gains. There have been great friends lost, and new friends made. There have been moments that I've wanted to not get out of bed, but there have been days of such joy. And for now, as we go into 2018, I'll be trying so hard to be kinder to myself whilst I learn what my new post-cancer normal is.

But amongst the tough moments, there have been some fantastic times too, I just need to make sure I remember those more than the bad times. So, here is a bit of a round up of my achievements over the last year; 
So, let's start with the big stuff. The first 5 months of the year were filled with my cancer treatment. 2017 saw me finish off 3 or the 6 rounds of chemo I was having, and 23 lots of radiotherapy. I'm going to be totally honest, this treatment, and the fall out from it has left its imprint on the rest of the year for me, and not in a great way in a lot of occasions. But it has taught me so much about myself and about the people around me, and it's going to shape the me I am from no on, so it'll be forever part of my life now.

But I also started silversmithing. I started doing a silversmithing class last February as a Christmas present and now I've found a new passion in my life. It's lead me to open a little Etsy store and start a bit of a portfolio on Instagram under the Oh Gosh Silver mantle - which has amazed me because people are actually buying the things I've made. There is no better feeling than people buying, and loving, something that you have made.

We made it out to Morzine, in France, for a weekend of snowboarding between my 5th and 6th chemo treatments. It was interesting, but maybe the most needed trip to the mountains I've ever had in my life!

My friend Zoe and I created the #snowgosh pin, raising money for Coppafeel - And we've only got a handful left. I couldn't be more proud of what we achieved. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has bought, shared or supported the pin. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

There was our epic holiday to the east coast of America. To start with, we flew first class, but then we visited Washington, Philly, Amish Country, Long Island and New York. On one hand, it might not have been the best plan to go on holiday the day my treatment finished, but on the other hand, having a distraction from the end of it all was great!

And we visited Amsterdam and our friends who live there a couple of times. Once, just for a mini break before I went back to work, and once to go to Borefts. One of the posts sitting in my drafts is all about our weekends in Amsterdam. At some point soon, I'll sift through the photos and get the posts live!

We've been to quite a few beer festivals this year and done some beer tourism. Which has been a lot of fun! We've also probably spent half our wages on fancy beer!

I've also spent some perfect days with my dogs. Right now, sitting on my sofa, with their furry bodies sleeping either side of me, I feel so calm and happy just looking at them. Taking them out into the countryside is one of my favourite things in the world to do. 

And in the not so great stakes, I also went back to work. Which has, I'll be honest, sapped everything out of me. I'm so tired when I get home, my brain is mush and it takes everything I have to get through the evening being social with Jim so things like blogging and friends and a life have gone out of the window. 

Which means I've been super absent around here and I know the blogger thing is to apologise, but you don't want to hear that. I don't want to write that. So I'll just be honest - I've had a hard time knowing what to write. I've got lists of posts to write, I've even got a bunch of draft posts sitting in the cms that I ought to finish, but I've just not had the motivation and the more I thought about them sitting there, needing photos or requiring more words, the more stressed I got, so I figured the best bet was to just walk away for a few weeks and give myself some headspace.......I'm hoping that it's done the trick, becasue I am looking forwards to a better 2018!

How was your 2017? Tell me your achievements, leave me links to your round up posts, tell me your best bits. 

It's Christmas 'Time'

Sorry, sorry, I couldn't resist throwing a dad joke in there, please forgive me! 

So, from dad joke to cliche, can we chat about how fast it seems December is passing and how little time there seems to be until Christmas, and can we also chat about how unorganised I am with my shopping.........

I seem to have spent all my time in my craft room making things for friends and fulfilling orders from my Etsy shop and so, actually thinking about gifts for people who aren't getting silver creations, well, that's passed me by a little bit. 

Don't get me started on what to get Jim...... I thought I'd hit gold last year buying him a homebrew DIPA kit but as he;'s not used it yet, I've started reading the book he got with it to make it myself....... so this year he might just get coal and have to like it! 

I even forgot to send my mum my Christmas Pinterest board until last week. Luckily for her though, one of the items on it can be crossed off because this beautiful Frankie watch in Zebrawood and Champagne from JORD is already on my wrist. 

If you've not heard of JORD watches then let me introduce you to them - they make beautiful wooden watches, in a variety of styles, so there is something for everyone's style. I went for the Frankie because I'm a sucker for a big, simple, watch face - you're not going to find a delicate number on my wrist anytime soon - but they do do a smaller version of it. In fact, if Jim hadn't just bought himself a new watch (I know, who does that before both Christmas AND his birthday) then there were a couple of their watches, with the mechanics showing on the face, that I'd had my eye on for him! 

My favourite things about this watch are how pretty, and unusual for me the colours are, how crazily light is it (I had it in my head that a wood watch would be heavy) and how many compliments I get, every time I wear it! Honestly, every single outing it's had, it's turned heads!  
And can we take a minute to chat about how beautiful the presentation of the watch is? It comes in a stunning wooden box, that's filled with all the supplies and tools needed to keep your watch looking great. The watch itself comes wrapped around a cute little jute pillow too, to keep it safe, but it also makes the perfect place to store your watch when not in use too. It's going to look perfect on my dresser! 

The watches do ship from America, but I have to say mine arrived in a couple of days so you've definitely still got time to get one if you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that person, who like me, has been rubbish at sending you their Christmas list. 

Now, I best get back to the homebrew reading......Who knows, maybe next year I'll have spent November and December stressing about getting my homebrew gifts right? 

*In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this watch for free, but all word and opinions are my own*

Indy Man Beer Con 2017

If you're a beer lover in the UK and you haven't been to Indy Man Beer Con yet, you need to rectify this immediately, because it's an amazing event, held yearly, in Victoria Baths in Manchester. This was our second year at Indy Man, and it's already a must visit event on our 2018 beer calendar!
The beer festival runs over a long weekend - Thursday to Sunday, (we had tickets to the Friday night session.) And it's at Victoria Baths which is a traditional old school swimming baths. Complete with changing cubicles with curtains, and beautiful old tiles. A lot of the festival takes places in the pools - yes, in the bottom of the pools (not filled with water, obvz) or in the nooks and crannies of what used to be the swimming pool. It's so much fun to wander about and explore what is in which room!

My only complaint would be that as we went in the evening, and the baths are sooooooooooooooo badly lit, it's super hard to take photos of your beer, the room, all of it, that look nice!
As with most beer festivals, your ticket includes a glass, but you buy your tokens on the side. Jim and I both bought a pocket full of 10 tokens each, but we bumped into Jules from our local beer shop on her way home and she gave us a token each, so we ended up with 11 beer tokens each! As I said about Borefts - it might sound like a lot but of beer, but the glasses are thirds, so it's not like we were planning on smashing 11 pints......
I was super excited about the amount of fruity beers on offer. I still stand by that the Lervig 'pop that cherry' beer I had last year might be my fave cherry number to date, and this year I had some more epic fruity numbers too. 

Pictured above is the Cloudwater Mango Sour - it was so thick and mango-y and a little bit more like the consistency of a fruit juice rather than a beer, but we both agreed that it was one of the best fruit beers either of us have had - and we had a couple of mango-y beers that night! I also had a really great Chuckleberry Sour by Hawkshead - which was bursting with fruity berry flavours. 

And I managed to get my hands on some of the Buxton x Omnipollo Blueberry Slab with the soft serve on the top. I've had the beer itself before but not with the soft serve. I was a bit gutted for Jim that they didn't still have the Maple version on soft serve still though. 
We also picked up some food tokens to grab some treats - as always, if we see Dim Sum Su at an even we grab a couple - the peanut sugary stuff that they put on the top of the bao is so addictive. We also grabbed ourselves one of the most amazing cheese plates we've had in a long time, and a couple of doughnuts for the bus ride home too! I also, completely by accident, ended up with a fab, really interesting, and savoury, Lemon and Thyme beer which was, the best beer to be drinking whist we ate the cheese! Such a good pairing!
And so, in drunken order, here are the beers that I tried at Indy Man 2017!  
  • Burning sky - cherry monolith
  • 4 points - kettle sour saison
  • Hawkshead - chuckle berry sour 
  • Northern monk - Mango lassi ipa
  • Cloudwater - mango sour
  • Partisan - lemon thyme saison 
  • Brewski - pango (Mango pineapple) 
  • Lervik - hop drop sour
  • Buxton - blueberry slab cake soft serve
  • Imbc x bbno - peach lychee pale 
  • Lervik - hazy days

Ooooooh, whilst I didn't video this year's event, but if you want to see what Victoria Baths and Indy Man is like, here is a vid i took from last years event; 

let's play a game of drink the beer! from emma fisher on Vimeo.