what a year

2014 was both bloody tough, and bloody amazing, in a multitude of strange and mind-boggling ways. It really was an incredible, roller-coaster of a year. There were so many happy moments – a chilly trip to the beach at Brighton with Mum, the St. Peter’s College choir singing the piece by James Whitbourn that was dedicated to her, karaoke in the Bronx and moving in to my mad 8-student house are just some of the many. I bought a bright orange coat (life’s too short not to wear orange) and blew all my savings on a fantastic trip to Peru, involving sleepless nights of Salsa dancing in Cusco, llamas and countless Incan ruins. Successful chemo and radiotherapy meant we could have a last family holiday to Sweden, the most memorable moment probably being the incredibly poignant Alfred Nobel museum. I may not be able to change the world, but boy did that place make me want to.

2014 was also a year plagued by glandular fever and Christmastime in hospital, of scans, duty nurses and ‘news’. Making my blog public in September opened my eyes to the mind-numbing pervasiveness of cancer, as messages of support rolled in from strangers who had or were going through the same thing. It is completely humbling, and your words of wisdom are invaluable.

So thank you, thank you, thank you. For messages of support from all around the world from new and old friends and strangers, to my many fantabulous housemates and Oxford friends for being there (and almost definitely awake at 3am should I ever need a hug), to new and old family. Thank you for taking me dancing even when it was so close to exams. Thank you for bringing Mum over to Oxford to visit, and for coming to see me, again and again. Thank you for letting me quadbike my troubles away. There is not one moment of one day where your support doesn’t make awful things a bit more bearable.

2014 was fabulous and horrid, and I’m certain that 2015 will be even more so, but I have every faith and hope that there will be the occasional orange coat and crazy night of dancing. It did, of course, feature countless cups of tea and scones – a pattern I hope will continue through 2015, because however terrifying and absurd things can seem, they are almost always improved by a cup of tea and by taking them a scone at a time.

Happy New Year! Bring it ON.

And happy birthday, Dad!

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food by rosie

so excited to announce that as well as ‘Rosie’s recipes’ I will also be having another food column this term. Watch this space!

Here’s a yummy winter salad that originally comes from Big Sur, CA, was passed on to me in Connecticut and will soon be washing up on shores this side of the Atlantic. How’s that for trans-Atlantic cuisine?

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mulling at Yale

sitting in New Haven coffee shops and watching the Yale world go by made me ache for Oxford. There’s something deeply nostalgic about watching an Oxford-like university town continue on across the pond, when Oxford is empty of students and university chatter. I envy their hurried conversations about physics assessments and paper deadlines – not, of course, their imminent finals. So we are probably mutually envious – they’d probably despair of me, people-watching at them without much significant to do.

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bread progress

this trip to the States has involved a lot of bread-baking. I haven’t done much bread-baking before, so this Challah was a good place to start. Not too shabby for my first plait (I’m not sharing the ones of my failed leaf loaf. It turned into an appealing, but determinedly lumpy, blob.) Challelujah!

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am I finally falling for New York?

I’ve never really got on with New York. My experiences have tended to be at the height of summer: 104º, rubbish strewn across the street, noise, smells, too many people, aching feet and a lack of decent air con. Now, though, New York is morphing into a new host of delights. This visit included catching up with fabulous old friends, cosy coffee shops serving excellent coffee, Christmas lights, book shops, brunch and people watching, dusky streets empty of crowds – a world away from the neon Times Square I encountered as a child. New York, I think we could get along fine, you know.

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judgement

I like to judge coffee shops on three things: their scones, their carrot cake, and whether a ‘pot of tea’ amounts to more than a tiny slurp. This ‘Organic Deli Café’ carrot cake scored surprisingly highly, given it looks a bit like a failed sandcastle. IMG_1186