So how are your resolutions working out?
I had two resolutions this year, both designed to get me away from the laptop. The first one was to take swimming lessons. The second was to try to cook more - with ingredients.
So far I've had three swimming lessons, should have been four but I missed the first one as I was in Belfast. I'm taking a class for "improvers" as I can already swim but want to work on my technique. Most of the other people in the class are women in their 50s. There is also a guy who can't put his head under water. The instructor uses the word "fabulous" quite a bit.
During my first class, after ten minutes, the instructor took me to one side and said "You're better than the others in the class, are you sure this is the right class for you." I had to assure him that it was only because we were doing front crawl which is the only stroke I can do. Sure enough, by the second week, when I couldn't get the timing right for breast stroke, it was clear that I was in the right place. And in the third week, when we tried diving, I was both terrified and hopeless. Diving is unnatural. We do not jump head-first into things. I'm sure there's a gene in us that's evolved for us to avoid head-dives for a reason. My diving involves me standing at the side of the pool, shivering in a crouched position, and then falling into the pool, usually feet first. I was the only one in the class who couldn't get it even half-right. At least I am learning how to improve my technique on the other things. After a lot of practice by myself I got the breast stroke figured out. And I can do a "tumble-turn" which involves doing a somersault in the water when you reach the end of the pool. It hurts your head as water goes everywhere so even though I can do it, I'll probably not bother with it.
Cooking has been a bit more muted. My fella is the cook in our house. I am the one who makes the cups of tea after the meal. When we first met I was a student living on microwave food and very underweight. But over the course of 18 years I've rarely had to cook for myself (and have 'filled out' as my parents congratulated me last year). My fella actually likes cooking and is good at it, so I haven't really seen the point of learning. But, I thought it might be worth giving him a rest, so I've bought a Mexican cook book and have tried a few things in it. Unfortunately my cook book was bought in New York, so it is written for an American audience and has brand names of stuff I've never heard of (Velveeta!) I'm having to improvise. My salsa dip was pretty horrible, although my fella bravely ate half of it. Whenever I go to New York, you get amazing salsa dip in the Mexican restaurants. I only ever get to taste it once or twice a year, and when I'm at home I crave it like a drug. Anyway, my attempt at salsa dip was dreadful. It wasn't even red. It was pink and watery, and so hot that a mouthful made you want to throw up. My burritos were a bit of a let-down too. They were incredibly complicated to prepare - and then tasted bland and nasty. I was so angry. All that work chopping things - for that! My vegetarian chilli has been more successful (I've made it twice and it worked both times), although here it is easy to diguise any short-comings with sour cream and grated cheese. I doubt I'll ever be able to hold a dinner-party, but I feel that at least I can do something other than heat stuff up now.