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2013: A year in Review

Back in January 2013, I wrongfully assumed that my London adventure would be coming to a close in January 2014. Instead, everything has pretty much remained the same from then. Well, there were a lot of ups and downs between now and then but I’m still living at the same place, with the same job and with still the same cat keeping me entertained in the evenings.

lazy cat

lazy cat

I thought I’d done one of these re-caps the last few years, but I can’t seem to find one from last year. My memory is certainly suffering these days. The numerous pints of beer must be catching up with me. Any ways, let’s get this going as I’d like to go bed sometime tonight.

Best Trip: Scotland It was only 5 days at Fyne Fest, Inveraray and the Isle of Mull, but it is the trip I’m still talking and thinking about 7 months on. I hadn’t taken a holiday in the 9 months before then and I was feeling  like shit. But the week I went to Scotland was the week I finally went permanent at my job. The stress and strain of life drained out of me that weekend. The trip ushered in an excellent 2nd half of the year and now flows into 2014. I won’t go on too long as you’ve heard enough. The weather was pretty good. Even warm. And best of all: no midges. Looking forward to the 2014 edition of Scotland.

getting blown off the top of  Dun na Cuaiche above Inveraray

getting blown off the top of Dun na Cuaiche above Inveraray

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Honorable mention best trip: America I can’t choose between my two trips to America. They were both good in different ways. I only really went to Scotland and America for an extended time this past year, so these win by default. It was good for my soul to spend some quality time with my family and some of my bestest friends in the world. Made me feel grounded again.

a pile of family

a pile of family

Best new food: Brussels Sprouts There’s a bumper crop of sprouts in the UK this year. Maybe that’s why I first noticed them. A few months ago I bought my first bag of them to try out. I loved them. Now I buy them nearly every week. I never imagined being a brussels sprouts person, but here I am, a devotee. And they are only a £1 a bag at the co-op. Bargain!

Honorable mention best new food: Grünkohl For those of you who don’t speak German, that’s kale. I got Grünkohl at one of the Christmas markets. It had to be over a pound of cooked down kale with various seasonings  in a wooden bowl and a few brats and potatoes thrown in the mix. I think it costs €6, but a €6 I’d happily spend again. In fact I’ll be sure to get it again next year when I go back to Köln for the Christmas markets again. (Yes, I’m holidaying in the same places again this year. They are excellent, how could I not?) But I’ve thrown kale into a few of my dishes for the first time this year and it’s nice.

Best song: Chris Malinchak – So Good to Me A tough race in 2013. I spent a lot of hours listening to BBC Radio 1 while working, so I was exposed to more new music than I had been over the last few years. So many new bands and singers are now on my iTunes. I love it. But this song, which I heard first in February last year, got me through some cold working days. It was such a summer tune and made me happy. It still does. 

Honorable mention best song: Laura Mvula – She The first time in a long time I’ve heard a voice and instantly fell in love. Laura Mvula’s Sing to the Moon album is ASTOUNDING. I’ve mentioned it here before. Have a listen.

Best bike ride: To and from work. 193 times 4091.6 miles of commuting by bike in 2013. Yes, I counted. And I’m counting again this year. None of those trips were in vain. Not once the whole year did I say in the morning “I don’t feel like cycling today. I’ll take the train to work.” It wasn’t always pleasant. Sometimes I faced 50mph wind and cold rain in my face. Sometimes people would do idiot things on the road and sendBut I would rather be out in the elements or deal with asshole motorists/cyclists/pedestrians than face the battle of the train any day. All that cycling got me in very good physical condition too. I lost 3″ around my *waist (thanks sIRK). Dropped a couple pant sizes. And not one incident to report. Safe cycling all year. Long may it continue into the future. And heck, it’s only when I cycle to work that I get to see stuff like this:

Fog monster eating the Houses of Parliament

Fog monster eating the Houses of Parliament

Honorable mention best bike ride: Spin up in a brewery Brighton to Dark Star Brewery. My co-worker Rob and I did a ride from Brighton to the Dark Star Brewery last May. 20 miles over the South Downs. Luckily for me and my 45 lb Pashley, only about 5 of it was uphill. The rest was on flat ground or racing down hill. It was a beautiful weather day as well. I drank good beer all day and ate some amazing bbq’d food as well. It was a win of a day. And if my Roland Garros watching doesn’t interfere, I’ll be doing it again this year. Below is a few seconds of the uphill bit of the journey. I will figure out a better way to record on my bike this year!

Best pub: the random one I went into on Buttermarkt in Köln I had a few mulled wines by this point. I wasn’t much paying attention to the name of the pub we went to. But I had a few Kölsch in there and they were good. It was great as it was a real German experience. I think I was the only non-German in the place. I immediately took to drinking Kölsch and  I like how it is served. The small glasses keep the beer fresh and cold. And it’s easy to lose track of how many one has had. I highly recommend going to Köln and losing track of your beers in the evening.

Honorable mention best pub: Queen’s Head in King’s Cross. The Queen’s Head is our failsafe pub for a good night of drinking after work. It’s always packed, but the beer is very dependable, if sometimes way over priced. It’s a great traditional type of pub if you’re looking for a place to go in Central London. Filled with locals and workers in the area. I had drinks there a few times in 2013. Always happy to settle down there for a session. It’ll be one of those places I miss if/when I go back stateside for sure.

Best meal: Kedgeree and a pint of Oldham Citra at Fyne Fest. Please let this be around at Fyne Fest 2014.

I could eat and drink this every day.

I could eat and drink this every day.

Honorable mention best meal: Lobster roll and a pint of Newport Storm IPA Hell yes! It’s good eating local, especially in New England with all their fine seafood.

Lobstery. And I don't really care for lobster that much.

Lobstery. And I don’t really care for lobster that much.

Best tree happening: removing the path from around this Holm Oak I don’t often get to make a situation better for a tree. But for this old, bad ass Holm Oak, I got to make things slightly easier. It probably won’t seem like a big deal to most of you, but I got the path removed from under one half of this tree in the hope of prolonging its life. Not that it’s even close to falling over, but I hope the remedial efforts we’ve done will make it stand for an extra generation of people visiting this park. I’m glad I suggested it and it became a reality. There is hope for trees in London after all!

The before

The before

The after.

The after.

Alright everyone. I think I’ll stop boring you and end this post. Best thing as I am planning another post tomorrow. 2013: pretty good. 2014: gonna be a whole lot of awesome. And there better be many more visitors this year people! Get over to London already. Looking forward to recapping 2014 in January 2015, likely sitting in the same place but ok with it. Happy 2014 everyone.

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Young Adults Learn to Climb City Trees. Without Elevators. – NYTimes.com

Young Adults Learn to Climb City Trees. Without Elevators. – NYTimes.com.

A great article about some inspiring tree climbers in New York City.  The video is good too if you can get it to play.

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$120M suit in 'Google' tree bash – NYPOST.com

$120M suit in ‘Google’ tree bash – NYPOST.com.

This tree incident involving a Google engineer in New York City’s Central Park is exactly the reason it is so important for cities to maintain a regular pruning schedule and to keep a look out for hazard risks in trees.  The city now faces a $120 million dollar law suit after the branch fell on the man.  I know Bend has almost completely wiped out any money for tree maintenance this year due to budget constraints.   It is definitely much cheaper to keep up with maintenance than to pay out such crazy amounts on lawsuits.

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Protecting the Forests, in Hopes of Countering Global Warming – NYTimes.com

Protecting the Forests, in Hopes of Countering Global Warming – NYTimes.com.

Here’s another article regarding carbon banking from our own backyard.  The article focuses on the Deschutes National Forest.  It presents the whole concept of carbon banking as less cut and dry than the other news story I posted a few days ago.  There is a lot of contention as to how the carbon banking is measured and how to achieve the best results.

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BBC News – Council axes real Christmas tree

via BBC News – Council axes real Christmas tree.

This is a good debate to discuss with the Holiday season now upon us.  Real or fake?  In my opinion I think you should always go real, as there is no plastic which could replace the smell of a freshly cut fir tree.  I usually get my tree from the Deschutes National Forest.  In years past it has been up by Bachelor and out by Sisters.  I’m not sure where we will be heading this year, but I do like going out and cutting it down.  For me, I’m just thinning out trees which wouldn’t have necessarily made it to full height any ways as we usually just cut one that is 12 feet tall.  This year, in our new home, we’ll be limiting it to 8 feet.  More cuttings for wreaths I guess!  Obviously the people of Poole, England are not happy with the addition of a new artificial tree, but I guess it will save them money over time.  I think the magic is lost when you cross over to artificial.  Opinions?

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Carbon Banks

There is a story that ran today on NPR about Carbon Banking with trees.  They are researching it in Northern California amongst the redwoods and will be looked at closely in the upcoming Climate Summit in Copenhagen as one possible solution to our climate problems.  This forest could be a model for carbon banking in the emerging Carbon Banking Market.  Have a listen…..

Scientists Turn Trees into Carbon Banks

I wonder if something like this could be utilized in an urban forest environment or if it is just not efficient enough.  Also, what are the ideal tree species to be used?  Could it work with Ponderosa Pines?  Maybe it could be instigated in a bigger park in Bend such as Shevlin Park.  It would be pretty excellent to offset the emissions by city vehicles by planting a carbon banking tree grove in the city.

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