16 things

1. Getting glammed up & going to the National Television Awards with Fletch, arriving on a boat & being in the same room as Aidan Turner (more here)

2. Meeting Gary Vaynerchuk – a big hero of mine (more here) The actual moment is captured in his vlog (here) He later shared the photo of us with his bazillions of followers on his social channels and included it in an article on emotional intelligence (here) It was good to know that our moment meant as much to him!

3. Finding Pamela whilst looking for bedside tables on Gumtree & realising a puppy would make our family complete much more than furniture would. The joy & cuteness & exercise she would subsequently bring has changed our lives hugely and I will never tire of people stopping us for selfies whenever we go out for walks. Things got a little scary in July when she became unwell and the vet discovered she was born with a liver condition, however she has responded really well to her ongoing medication & special diet and is now doing great. She definitely came to the right family to be looked after. We still haven’t found our perfect bedside tables.

4. Another brilliant trip to Hay festival, one of my favourite places on Earth. Sadly this year I was battling an awful chest infection & had a horrendous coughing episode during Ruby Wax’s pin-drop-quiet mindfulness demonstration (Sorry Ruby)

5. Pam’s first trip to the beach. She loves sand! 

6. Coldplay at Wembley Stadium. Fletch’s first proper gig and one I’ve been desperate to tick off my list since Parachutes. It was absolutely incredible and hands down the best live concert I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Magic. 

7. Our annual Hamm family reunion in Brum. Each summer we get together for a lovely Sunday roast at The Belfry and with Dad’s rapidly declining condition (no sad talk here in my happy list) it was an extra-emotional day. Making memories.

8. Dancing & singing our heads off with Barry Manilow. Me & my Mum & my sister never miss the chance to see Bazza whenever his tour hits Cardiff. Mum turned 70 this year and making sure she had the best night was even more important than ever. We had the best seats. We all cried at “Memory” because the lyrics mean something different to us now. I just wish Barry would bring back the “Can’t Smile Without You” bit where someone gets to sing with him….I’d be gentle with his hip replacements, promise. 

9. Fletch got to drive a Lamborghini. He’s 13 & had never driven a car before so heaven knows what I was thinking when I arranged this one. He was absolutely brilliant & (again) much braver than me. My favourite bit was when the instructor asked him if he’d ever driven before & he answered “Well, I’ve been on the go-karts at Legoland”. The in-car footage is hilarious as he kept being told to slow down….yeah right, he’s a 13 year old boy in a Lambo, he ain’t slowing down! As always I was so proud of him & he got to be like KSI for a day. 

10. Joining a Samba band. This year Velindre turned 60 & one of the ways we celebrated our milestone year was with a family fun day. Never one to do things by halves, preparations turned the event into a mini-Glasto and true to form it absolutely poured with rain. I don’t mean just rain, I mean hurricane-named-after-someone rain. The weather was truly awful but what made the day brilliant for me was everyone’s attitude & spirit. Not one volunteer complained & my team pulled off the most entertaining event for those who came along & braved the weather. One of the many highlights on the line-up was Samba Galez who kindly gave us the opportunity to grab a big drum & play along with them. You can see how much joy I found in Samba and a hot pink high-vis vest. 

11. My Dad. As previously mentioned there will be no sad stuff in my list, so instead I am going to share the positive things that Dad’s dementia has brought this year (I know that sounds a bit weird but go with it…like a Pollyanna Glad Game?) I’m really glad that I’ve had the chance to spend much more time with my Dad this year & that I am still able to tell him every day how much he means to me & how much I love him (he tells me too). Early in the year he came along to one of my Dementia Friends sessions and told me how proud he was of me. I’m glad that we got to dance together before he was unable to walk anymore. I’m glad that although on one day when I was with him he didn’t remember me, he remembered my favourite biscuit and that’s ok by me. And I’m glad that he has my Mum to take such perfect care of him. 

12. Feeling fancy at the Races. Another first to tick off my list thanks to my lovely friend Lisa. I had never been to the races before so a VIP experience at Chepstow was such a nice way to do it. I learned that I am expertly skilled in picking losers based on in-depth & total nonsense criteria and also what a “Guinea” is.

13. A lovely trip to the Cotswolds with my sister Lucy. We watched the rugby from our four-poster bed and sipped cream teas like ladies. 

14. Me and Fletch. Every day I’m so proud of this boy I made. He’s now taller than me, has a voice deeper than Barry White & turns 14 in a few days time. He’ll always be the best thing I have. 

15. Cheltenham Literature Festival. Another first. It was made extra-special with a bulging bag of proofs from Transworld for CwtchUpBooks (yeah, that’s me too) and spotting some pre-release signed copies of My Dad Wrote a Porno in the festival shop. This podcast has brought me hours of commuting hilarity this year & I’ve been bigging it up to all my friends so we were well chuffed to get our sticky fingers on the book too. 

16. Meeting the Sidemen. This was a long & tiring day in London but seeing my boy so happy to meet some of his YouTube faves was well worth it. A few weeks later we saw them again at Upload festival and I know it’s a Mum-thing to say but I was really impressed with the professional way they handle themselves, their internet fame and influence. A lovely bunch of lads. 

Yeah it wasn’t all that bad. 

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