Our 2018

First Age

D&D h@ck3r and Hopepunk
Staff member
I thought that 2017 was sufficiently action packed, with thrills and spills to spread over a number of years, but no, I think that 2018 may have topped it off. I peek hesitantly into the snow globe of 2019 and wonder whether the curve will continue? A deep breath. Anyway, join me as I take a selected look back at our year, and thank you so much if you have played a positive part in it and helped us along the journey.

We started out with a walk out to Chatsworth, me Carmel and Megan, to see in the New Year. A moment of calm before life propelled us forward.

I’m starting in the middle, in wedding res. Yes, me and Carmel got married in August at Whirlowbrook Hall. It was a day of magic and love and laughter and feasting and dancing and family. The day said everything about us, our journey together and our future. Our first night and day was spent on the Chatsworth Estate, where I tried to emulate Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy as much as possible, though managed to avoid throwing myself into the fountain pool. Some subsequent days away in fantastic Northumberland gave us some much needed alone time.

Speaking of which, me and Carmel have had some lovely, planned, weekends away throughout 2018, which changed the pace and helped us recharge our batteries together. A trip out to Nottingham to see the terrific Derren Brown was another highlight.

We have done some work on the house, most noticeably the conversion of the double garage into a full living space. I shall call it the ‘Gaming Room’, I may yet put a sign up on the door. It is a multi-function space with a good sized gaming table, His ‘n Her computer workstations, fold down guest bed, TV, sink and a rear storage room. It has blinds and radiators and all things nice, including a couple of prints from Age of Arthur on the walls. The room has already proven to be a great addition to the home with much use.

The rear part of our long living room now has a woodland mural wall, bringing our love of trees into our living space, along with a mock burner stove and some thoughtful Carmel touches. A team effort in different ways, but honours go to Carmel for her good eye and skill with the wallpapering.

To cap off the 2018 home, our aged boiler decided to leave this heated system and so have replaced it with a Vaillant condensing combi boiler, negating the need for the big water tank on our second floor. Hot water on demand! Not only that, but the sophisticated boiler also prepares and sends telemetry data for the SpaceX programme when not fired up. OK, it doesn’t do that, but for the price I paid for it I sort of expected something like that.

As you might expect, Carmel tops the list of achievements for 2018, continuing her truly remarkable force of nature forge through the annals. To start the year Carmel was embarking on a new Mental Health nursing placement, but this progressed to another publication in the Journal of Clinical Nursing:


This was topped by achieving the prestigious award of Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC) funding for a PhD! This is an outstanding achievement and propels Carmel into a fully funded four years of academia. Look out world, Dr Bond is coming!

Our trip to Canada with Ruth and Ross was a major highlight of the year. Ten days away just the four of us, exploring the Rockies, hiding from bears, all with the most amazing backdrop. The visit was prompted by Carmel, who was to present her research at an international nursing conference in Banff. We had the most amazing time, cossetted by the warm Canadian service industry. "You're Welcome"!

This year Megan took the bold step to move on from her Nottingham course and move to Sheffield Hallam to study Media. This has proved to be an excellent move, with a course that is much more to her suiting. I succumbed to the suggestion that Megan get a cat, and so Megan now owns Rhaegel, a Ragdoll breed who has made himself very much at home.

Erin is now a driver of a smart little black Corsa, with a replacement sound system that is at least three Tech Levels up from the vehicle. From marvelling her second year at Leeds Uni, Erin is now taking a year in industry in Cambridge, doing real science and impressing everyone. She’s a wonder.

Connor is now settled working at The Forum, as the hottest barman in the joint. He is learning all the time and working his way up the organisation. He’s living out in trendy/studenty Ecclesall area with work mates and with his girlfriend Charlotte. Connor has also continued his love of travel and managed to get away for some city breaks this year. Thanks for being my Best Man!!

Cameron has become a teenager and is slowly eclipsing everyone in terms of height, with a clear goal of becoming the tallest person in the family. I think Carmel is his next target followed by Connor and then, me. I’m looking forward to that day. We managed to make it out to the Insomnia 63 gaming convention at NEC and took a boys road trip to Cambridge to stay over with Erin. He’s growing up proper lovely.

Other than somehow managing to marry the most beautiful of women, I have had some notable successes this year. In gaming, I launched the North Star convention with my co-conspirator Dom. It was great to get some SF action going at the Garrison Temple of Gaming (and occasional hotel). Along with my writing partner, Paul Mitchener, we got a scenario published for Cubicle 7’s The One Ring ‘Laughter of Dragons’. A big deal for me as I am a lifelong Tolkien fan and this small contribution has brought me closer to his creative world. The aforementioned Gaming Room is being used for games that I want to run. I’ve started a rather fun ‘Forbidden Lands’ campaign, which provides an opportunity to roll some dice, have some laughs and provide some hospitality with a lovely group of people.

It was good to help Sarah move into her new flat during the year and have managed to stay over a couple of times (?) whilst out in Leeds on work socials.

I’m in the midst of an extended Christmas break. Last year, and throughout this, everyone at NHS Digital has to apply for their own jobs, as the organisation sheds 840 or so people. It is a stressful time. I was in Wave 1, have been assessed, and retained. Further heating system developments allowing, I plan to continue on the commute for a further four years. I shall be supporting friends and colleagues who are to go through Waves 2 & 3 this year.

It was lovely to have family over to our home this Christmas, our first as a married couple. Carmel orchestrated a truly magnificent Christmas day dinner, with so many magical touches. We’ve just about finished off the left-overs!

I continue to watch, slack jawed, as my country makes a complete and utter fool of itself in full international view. There will be much more to say on that in 2019. There have been a number of personal disappointments too this year, such is the way of things. However, I have picked myself up, often with Carmel’s helping hand, and got on with things, always looking forward.

Forgive me therefore, if I have focused on our positives? There are so many. I will look back, as I always do, reflecting on our efforts and the fortunate twists of the Fates that have brought the good things. We strive, we learn, we laugh and we love.

All the very best to you and your dearest for 2019.

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