2007 onward had been a particularly grim period in my life. 2015 saw my financial situation ease by moving house and reducing my mortgage from colossal to manageable. My quality of life had improved, but I had no idea how much better it would become in 2016.
Fulham finished the year eighth in the Championship with only two losses in the last ten matches (unlikely they will finish in the promotion zone, but I live in hope!) and I had my first holiday in ten years! This has much to do with the man in my life.
We met at the end of March and by early April were spending a weekend in Derbyshire to attend a party. The first week in June saw us enjoying a few days in rural France and in October, we ventured to Prague and Budapest. Our Christmas present to each other is a holiday to Cyprus in February 2017. Well, the new passport cost me enough; I’ve got to get value for money!
France was as wonderful as the last time I visited. We spent the time watching wildlife, meandering through local markets, eating and drinking, which the French do so well. My rusty, schoolgirl French was picking up by the end of the holiday; a necessity as the friends we stayed with spoke no English. Unfortunately, I know it would take a lot longer than a week for it to improve more permanently.
Having never visited the Czech Republic or Hungary before, I was excited beyond words! Prague is a delightful city, with something to see round every corner. We had a list of many things we wanted to see while we were there, some of which we did and others time defeated us.
We determined to eat traditional food and avoided the prolific burger joints and franchises. Not an easy task; when arriving in Wenceslas Square we were confronted with everything from Starbucks to KFC! However, we found a lovely traditional Czech restaurant and feasted on goulash and pig’s knuckle. The buildings in the old town are magnificent and strolling across Charles Bridge, looking at the wares of the street artists is an enduring memory.
Budapest, in comparison, was a little disappointing. Where Prague is compact and filled with interesting sights, Budapest is widespread with signs of decay and poverty all around. In order to see the jewels of the city, it is necessary to use local transport and actively seek them out. I recommend the Terror Museum, an important record of Hungarian occupation by the Russians and Germans and the resulting revolution. It is shocking to see the number of people tortured and killed during this time and the lifestyle survivors endured.
If you have never been in a ‘Ruin Pub’, it is a ‘must-see’. They developed at the beginning of the twenty first century in buildings condemned for destruction. The youth equipped them with rejected furniture and they became the centre of nightlife. Each is unique, but vibrant. We visited Szimpla Kert, which a friend had recommended and spent time marvelling at the ingenious items used in decoration. A sure sign that no matter the situation, a way to enjoy life will overcome the obstacles.
Two other consequences of the new relationship are that I have lost one and a half stones in weight and have created this blog site. So far, I have only posted my 100 word offerings for Friday Fictioneers, but encouraged back into writing, I am attempting other short stories and have started a novel. Whilst I am not at all happy with it so far, I am enjoying writing it. I am treating it as a learning exercise.
I love the challenge of writing a story in 100 words for Friday Fictioneers every week and reading the other accounts the photo prompt has generated. Some of my attempts, I re-read and cringe, but others I have been happier with. Each week, I feel that I learn something and try to incorporate this in new pieces. For me, for now, that is enough. Who knows, I may be brave enough to enter a short story competition in 2017! The immediate goal for this year is to lose some more weight to avoid being mistaken for an elephant seal in swimwear on the beaches of Cyprus!
For anyone experiencing the lows that life sometimes forces us to endure, take heart, the highs are sure to follow.