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{01/01/2017}   My Year of Challenges and Treats – January to December 2016
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One, if not the, best lunch of December (sadly not one of my work lunches but no other lunch was worthy of a photo and I used the one photo of a December work lunch, bao, for my November post.  How lunch should be in my world – fish meze at Wheeler’s Oyster Bar, Whitstable)

Wow, it’s 1st January 2017.  “Wow” because it’s surprising that I’m actually writing on the date I intended to and that somehow 2016 and my 12 months of challenges and treats is now behind me.  I have never, ever kept up anything that resembles new year’s resolutions, yet by setting myself challenges I have managed to do it and I am ludicrously pleased with myself.

For December, being the last month, I thought a month of treats would be in order so I decided that instead of taking my own lunch to work every day I would have lunch out, no sandwiches, somewhere different every day of work in December.  I had 13 days of lunches over December and by lunch number three the novelty had worn off.  By about day seven I spent most of the morning distracted by thoughts of where I could possibly eat next that would be more exciting than the last lunch.  It ended up being more of a chore than a joy.

I did manage to eat somewhere different every day, all in London, though I doubt I will remember all 13.  In the order they come to mind:

1. Pret a Manger, Fetter Lane (an unexpectedly memorable ham hock macaroni cheese, my number four best lunch of the month)

2. Gino D’Acamopo- My Pasta Bar, Fleet Street (an uninspiring pasta dish that served solely to puff me up and make me sluggish all afternoon)

3. Tsuru, Broadgate (an ok sushi box)

4. Koshari Street, St Martin’s Lane (very tasty, hearty Egyptian street food, koshari/kushari, number three favourite but only just pipped to two by Banh Mi Bay’s pho)

5. On the Bab, Ludgate Broadway (exceptional South Korean bao.  I’d ordered a beef bulgogi “in the bun” but actually ended up with fried chicken “in the bun” – SOOOOOO good, definitely the best lunch, and also the messiest)

6. Eat, Fetter lane (tastier than expected truffle macaroni cheese, but a bit samey even by macaroni cheese standards)

7. Banh Mi Bay, Cannon Street (excellent, warming bowl of beef pho, a very close second to On the Bab)

8. Coco di Mama, Fleet Street (a very bland carbonara that made me feel desperately sorry for myself)

9.  Tuckers, Fetter Lane (A bit of a find on Fetter Lane, a cheap and cheerful caff.  I had a jacket potato with beans and cheese for just over £3, which was far too generous and filling (I obviously devoured it all enthusiastically) and made me spectacularly yawny for the rest of the day, about which I’m not complaining because it hit the spot perfectly)

10 -13.  So lacking in excitement I can’t think where I ate, but one of those was definitely a snack-based lunch due to a very short lunch break and no non-repetitious or appealing lunch places around.

All in all, I now have renewed enthusiasm for my own random and varied packed lunches (also far less stressful than having to find something interesting to eat over short lunch breaks), a sense of disappointment and shock over how much bland and overpriced food there is on offer and a realisation of just how many food chains there are duplicated over a small area in central London compared to independent eateries.

This is the end of my year of challenges and treats and, as I now have a conviction that I can do new year resolutions with my new-found discipline, I have written a 2017 To Do List of 12 things … but as I pause having written that, I fear I need to set myself monthly deadlines to achieve anything.

In many respects, 2016 was a year of learning about my potential self-discipline.  I am a few days off completing 365 days of posting a photo a day on Instagram, all of which have been taken and posted on the same day, so no sneaky stock pile of photos.  I never thought I’d manage it every single day, let alone to get to 365 days (three days to go).  Likewise, I didn’t think I would set myself AND complete 12 challenges for the year.  I have surprised myself with some I have enjoyed/found more difficult than expected.  For example, I really enjoyed learning the capital cities (I’m horrified to report that I need to refresh my memory as a lot I have forgotten already), I found it difficult to read for 30 minutes a day and had to do a lot of catch up days and I didn’t enjoy the treat of lunches out.  I knew sorting my photos and recipes would be a bit tedious, but I did it.

Alongside all that, I also vowed to do something to pamper myself at least once a month.  I have never had so many pedicures, I had a few massages, my eyebrows were more frequently shaped than ever before … but I never had a spa weekend, disappointingly, which I thought would be an obvious pampering treat.

I have also not watched any television all year, not even catch-up.  I’ve missed it a few times and have seen write-ups about a few things I wished I could have seen but, otherwise, I haven’t found it difficult.  I don’t even know when I’ll reinstate a TV in our home.

Finally, I had wanted to read at least one book per month.  Epic fail.  I have written down seven books I’ve read this year but I think I’ve forgotten one.  Very lame not to have managed to read 12.

I wanted to visit at least one new country, I did: United Arab Emirates (in fact I went there twice, unexpectedly, first for a holiday then for work).

Oh well, I’ll see how I get on with my 2017 list and maybe if I write about that at the end of each month, I can chart my progress and hope that encourages me to not only get through a year of doing things I want to do despite their being challenging, but also further ensure ongoing self-discipline, something I had always felt I wasn’t at all good at demonstrating.

 

 

 

 

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Julia says:

We so could have had a spa weekend in Dubai! Here’s to a great 2017!



We so should have talked about this before you left Dubai! India?!



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