14 January 2019

2018 in Review – Music

2018 was a good year for me, musically. Not only did I have more opportunity to listen to music than I have in recent years, I also attended a fair number of concerts and expanded my listening scope even more.

As always, I rely on Last.fm to provide me with my listening stats, which has become a lot easier since I use Spotify to listen and there is a native integration between the two services. It means that even the music I listen to on my Xbox while gaming is scrobbled seamlessly, which makes me very happy.

The Charts

While I didn’t get to listen to music nearly as much as I would have liked, I did scrobble more songs than before and listened to a total of 5190 songs, apparently.

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Absolutely not surprising me is that Ensiferum is, again, my top artist for the year. This is mostly because I absolutely love them, but also because I got to see them live again this year, which always causes a spike in listening.


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I did listen to a fair bit of new music this year…

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What’s not reflected are a few bands I discovered towards the end of the year, so didn’t get to listen to them enough to make an impact, but they should show up on the charts for 2019.

The concerts

We were lucky enough to head into London for a few concerts this year. We started the year off with Epica, supported by Myrkur in April, then saw Ensiferum and Ex Deo in May. Over the summer, the husband attended Wacken again, while I went off to Lollapalooza in Paris to see Rag n Bone Man, Jess Glynne, The Killers and the Gorillaz. We had a very busy November/December, and managed to squeeze in Powerwolf, Nightwish, Peter Murphy doing 40 years of Bauhaus, and Dimmu Borgir and friends.

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While I always love Ensiferum and Powerwolf and seeing them live in smaller venues was fantastic (as opposed to seeing them at Wacken which has been the experience for the last few years), for me, the standout was seeing Peter Murphy as it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It brought back so many memories of my late teens, early twenties and it was great to get the old body dancing again Smile

I really enjoyed seeing Ex Deo as well, and the introduction to Myrkur was very welcome.

Now that we have figured out this concert thing, we have already bought tickets to a number of events for the next year, including our tickets for WOA 2019 – which brings with it the opportunity to see many favourites, including Opeth (!!!) and The Sisters of Mercy.

7 October 2018

On holidays and anniversaries

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The husband and I will be on an airplane to the old country for a bit of a seaside holiday a bit later this week. We are looking forward to the beach and the sunshine, but we are a little less than excited to be dealing with the South African issues. It will be good to see family and friends though, and there are a few foods we are looking forward to tasting again. And, of course, travelling back while earning pounds changes our spending ability a bit.

This month, it is two years since I moved over to the UK. The husband celebrates the same in November. This month, it is also a year since we both quit smoking. This is fairly significant for both of us, as we were both long-term smokers and it is the first time we have both been successful at quitting the stinky habit.

23 September 2018

Reach for the skies

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Nothing to say today. Well, I have lots to say but no words to say them. So here’s a picture I took last week when we visited Canary Warf.

16 September 2018

On empty nesting and spring madness in autumn

My child, my one and only offspring, fruit of my body, is twenty one years old. Twenty one. I have produced and managed to aid a full human to grow to this ripe age and everything. And, strangely, one gets rather attached to a human living in your space like this. So it is with some dismay that I have recently realised that this human will not remain in our space forever.

It has been even more pronounced recently as they have been travelling to Norway fairly frequently to visit their partner. The last trip was the one that really drove home this realisation. And so I have started preparing myself for the empty nest syndrome.

The husband and I luckily enjoy each others company, and have spent a fair bit of time together so we won’t find ourselves suddenly living with a stranger as so many do, but our house always feels a little emptier when the young one is away and the emptiness will take some time to get used to. I am sure it, as all other feelings, will eventually fade.

I will just need to plan my travels carefully, to ensure we can continue the one real tradition we have, which is me waking them up at 5:45am on the morning of their birthday with pancakes (or crepes as the rest of the world apparently calls them).

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Growing up in South Africa, September was always the month of spring. It may not always be warm, but the signs of spring would be everywhere – sun rising earlier, trees in full bloom, air full of promise. September also meant I had a lot more energy and a head full of ideas, which I later realised was a cyclical bout of hypomania.

When we moved to the northern hemisphere, I believed this would end, as September is the beginning of autumn, and I expected I would see a slight downturn in mood.

And last year, my first September here, I didn’t really notice a mood swing either way.

But, this year, the mood I associate with September is back. Less sleep, more excitement, more exuberance, more energy. And thanks to my lovely friend Mandy’s research skills, I have now learnt that this is expected behaviour. And with some additional research, it turns out this is expected two weeks on either side of both the Autumn and Spring equinox. I must be honest, I have not really tracked my mood that actively for the last few years, and I have become a little complacent. I can feel the hypo coming on, and try and manage as much as possible with diet, sleep, exercise and sheer stubborness, but this means I am probably overdue a full episode and should keep track of things slightly better again.

26 August 2018

On future planning, upcoming events and hidden art

It is hard to believe that a short two years ago, we were rushing around madly trying to sell our home and belongings, arrange our visas and planning for the biggest adventure we could imagine. It feels like we have been in the UK for a lifetime already.

We have been talking about our next steps recently, as our visas only allow us to be in the UK for five years, and we don’t want to leave it for the last minute and get caught with our pants down. And while we have a few options we are mulling over, the one thing we know for certain is that we simply do not want to return to South Africa. We rather enjoy being so close to the things we enjoy, and cannot imagine living in that constant state of fear again.

But really, for us it is about the lifestyle that we’ve always wanted. Going to Wacken now means a quick 1.5 hour flight to Hamburg, rather than the 10-18 hour flights from the Southern Hemisphere, which means we can now attend every year. We can also go to gigs and events all around the UK without having to apply for a visa and saving for a year or two. And while we are here, we are going to do this as much as possible. Which is why we have already lined up tickets for the following:

  • Powerwolf and Amaranthe in November
  • The Unnoficial Stargate Convention in November
  • Nightwish in December
  • Peter Murphy in December

And the husband is going to see Dimmu Borgir and Kreator in December as well.

We’re also planning to see Turisas and Korpiklaani in February, and I am going to try and see George Ezra in March. And then there is also the opportunity to see great minds like Professor Brian Cox share the wonders of science with vast audiences.

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We took a wander through London again yesterday, and my bestie Mandy introduced us to a wonder that’s been hidden right under our noses, the Graffiti Tunnel located under Waterloo Station. It’s actually called the Leake Street Tunnel and was first turned into a street art gallery by the famous Banksy. It is now a legal space for street artists to show off their skills, and it truly is a magnificent sight. I took some photos, but they really don’t do the space justice.

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