f 2015 was a person, I’d say goodbye with a high five. 2014 was the year that seemed to be a bit crap for most people, but 2015 was the year that made us go, “That, yeah, that was alright, actually. Good, even.”
52 (ish) weeks, or 365 days, or 8,760 hours. When you put it into hours, it sounds like hardly anything, but when you state it in terms of events and changes, a year suddenly seems like a long time.
I cried more in 2015 than I have in about a decade, my family was subjected to an alarming number of needles at the hands of the NHS, and things – questions, answers, facing realities – have been hard. But I’ve also cried laughing, and we, a bigger we than we were 12 months ago, with new family members, all pulled through. I became mildly obsessed with sausage dogs. I met an excellent boy (on Tinder! I know!). I even had little baby abs for a while.
But what were the highlights on The Dinner Bell? Let’s see…
What you loved
It’s weird to see which posts were actually most popular this year – a couple of them are recipes I’d be inclined to delete because they’re just not that exciting. But you lot seem to have other ideas.
- Viennese mince pies
- Chicken, leek, and mushroom crumble
- White chocolate & salted caramel cake
- Lime & coconut yoghurt cake
- Browned butter, peanut & chocolate Rice Krispie squares
What I loved
It’s been an excellent year for food: I’ve eaten a lot of burgers, and we’ve hosted quite a few shindigs at our flat. Here’s some of my favourite discoveries.
- Caramel spiced rum hot chocolate (honestly one of the best things I’ve put in my mouth this year)
- Raspberry breakfast rolls with cream cheese frosting
- Chilli chocolate cheesecake (this recipe was a bit of a risk, but good lord, this was a triumph. I’m making a note here: huge success*)
- Sweet potato and feta salad with honey and cinnamon dressing
- Quick spicy sausage and bean casserole
- Eating out: The Belgian Monk, Norwich
Or, that bit where I talk about books even though you’re here for food.
My one resolution, really, was to read 52 books, predominantly by women, which can be tricky if you’re not into chick-lit but tend to buy books from charity shops. I didn’t make it to 52 – I did about 40. But they were full of surprises.
Pop Co was one I really expected to love. Like Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, one of my top reads of 2014, it was about code breaking and quests and general weirdness, but I felt deflated as I finally closed the back cover, after the story went off onto a bizarre tangent about homeopathy. Similarly, The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice, the third instalment of what had been a great sci-fi/fantasy series, was a slog, saved in part by the odd spark of humour that was so abundant in previous books.
But there was plenty that I’d recommend, now I think about it: there was Of Things Gone Astray, The Colour Master, and Life After Life, all absolute triumphs that regularly pop back into my head; the Peter Grant series, which I’m only halfway through but has been the most fun I’ve had reading since Penumbra; The Bees, which made me look at end-of-the-season fuchsia in a whole new way.
And, of course, the zombies and the post-apocalyptic fiction. Station Eleven, which is just as wonderful on its second reading; The Girl with All the Gifts, a fresh twist on the zombie genre; and Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus, the only book I pre-ordered this year. Though only a novella, PDNTO filled in important gaps in the almost-complete post-zombie apocalypse world brought to life by Mira Grant.
I tried, too, to get into comics. I love the idea of them, of art meeting words and of the creativity and sometimes entrepreneurship that goes into them…but I think, in the same way that I’m not particularly into movies or TV, that I prefer to let the images unfurl in my own mind. I read This One Summer while on holiday and it was…good? The story was good. But it might have been better as a short story.
When I looked back on 2014, I thought that this had been a worst year for books. But…yeah, that was alright, actually. Good, even.
* Nerdiest joke on this blog yet.