Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - a fabulous year in review...

Well it didn't end, according to Mayan prophecies, and lots of other fun things happened in 2012. Here's what crazy misadventures and how this man of leisure has been keeping himself busy this past twelve months.

Looking back on 2012
Road to Hana Maui
In January we kicked off the year just we meant to go on by making the most of living in Southern California and taking Cooper to his favourite off-leash dog beach in Santa Barbara.

Starting the year at Hendry's Beach, Santa Barbara
Hendry's Dog-friendly Beach Santa Barbara
The rest of January was mostly filled with long marathon training runs at the weekend, whilst February saw us jetting off once again to Vancouver in Canada for a couple of days.

Having an A-maze-ing laugh in Vancouver in February
A-maze-ing Laughter sculpture Vancouver
Not only did I enjoy a 20-mile training run around Stanley Park and the rest of Vancouver's scenic seawall, but I also got to see more of its fantastic public art, like this quirky A-maze-ing Laughter installation. Later in the month we also enjoyed watching the Oscars live, which has become a new annual tradition.

Running my second L.A. Marathon in March
Running down Rodeo Drive L.A. Marathon 2012
One of my biggest achievements this year was completing three full marathons and raising around $8,000 for AIDS Project Los Angeles in the process.

On March 18th I set a new personal best time at my second L.A. Marathon of 3:47:50 (this time conditions were far dryer than the previous year).

Unfortunately I didn't win the lottery for the New York Marathon in November, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise after it was cancelled following the devastating Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.

Running the inaugural Hollywood Half Marathon in April
Final sprint Hollywood Half Marathon
Rather than let my legs rest like a sensible person would, at the start of April I ran the first ever Hollywood Half Marathon, which started in Universal Studios Hollywood and ended with a horrible 2-mile hill, which probably contributed to a lot of my knee injury problems this year.

Thor's Chris Hemsworth at The Avenger's World Premiere in April
Chris Hemsworth Avengers World Premier Hollywood
Another real highlight of my year (and of living here in L.A.) was attending the World Premiere of Marvel's Avengers in Hollywood along with the all-star cast of the movie. Not only was it a privilege to see the movie early, but it was awesome and definitely one of my favourite movies of the year too.

Hunting down the best billboards around L.A.
Madagascar 3 special extension movie billboard
People often ask what I do with my time as I'm not able to work, the answer aside from looking after our demanding labrador Cooper, is my blogging empire.

My Daily Billboard blog continues to go from strength to strength and I still love discovering and sharing all the crazy and creative ads that fill L.A.'s skyline.

Time flies as Cooper turned 4 on April 18, 2012
Happy 4th Birthday Labrador Cooper
Speaking of Cooper, our gorgeous, lovable boy turned four in April. He's has another year packed with beach visits, swimming pool play-dates and almost daily walks at Runyon Canyon.

London's preparations for Queen's Diamond Jubilee in May
Queens Diamond Jubilee Union Jack flags London
In May we flew back to the U.K. to see friends and family (and sadly for a funeral), but we also got to see the patriotic preparations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. You could almost feel the excitement and anticipation for that national celebration and the impending Olympic Games taking place in London.

The T.A.R.D.I.S. installed at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay in May
Installing TARDIS Cardiff Dr Who Experience
Whilst visiting my family in Wales we even ventured to Cardiff Bay and caught a glimpse of the space-time traveling T.A.R.D.I.S. being installed at the new Doctor Who Experience exhibit.

Jubilee celebrations on our West Hollywood roof deck in June
Jubilee Labrador Cooper
Upon arriving back in L.A. we were awoken one morning by a drunken Kiefer Sutherland staggering about the street no doubt after a big night out, plus I also got to meet Darby Stanchfield one of actresses from the TV show Scandal at a charity Bingo event at Hamburger Mary's in West Hollywood in May.

Meanwhile at the beginning of June we had our own rooftop Jubilee celebrations in West Hollywood with our friends, some cucumber sandwiches and our own royal hound.

The Levitated Mass sculpture arrives at LACMA
Levitated Mass sculpture LACMA
I still enjoy seeing interesting public outdoor art and I just had to go see LACMA's (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) newest addition, a giant rock which had traveled for miles to get here, The Levitated Mass.

Taking part in the LA. Pride Parade in June
L.A. Pride Parade June 2012
In June I joined my fellow T2: Team to End AIDS running teammates and AIDS Project L.A. clients and supporters in marching in the West Hollywood's annual Pride Parade.

Scissor Sisters play the Hollywood Palladium in June
Scissor Sisters concert Hollywood Palladium
Another highlight in June was the fabulous Scissor Sisters concert at the Hollywood Palladium, where a kiki was had by all. They were truly electric live.

The Oval Office recreated at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
Oval Office Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Museum
I ventured to Simi Valley in July to visit The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum which not only houses his Air Force One, but a recreation of the 40th President's Oval Office.

My main reason for visiting was to see the fantastic Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives movie exhibit, which had hundreds of original costumes, models, props and memorabilia from the world of Disney on display.

Rooftop installation to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics
West Hollywood Olympics rooftop display
The World went Olympics crazy in July, but as we had terrible Olympics coverage on NBC we lived vicariously through our friends back home attending the games themselves. That didn't stop some locals from joining in on the fun over here though.

Running my first San Francisco Marathon in July
San Francisco Marathon 2012 final dash
Doing my part to win gold I ran all those hills of my first San Francisco Marathon in July, achieving a personal goal of racing across a misty Golden Gate Bridge, and finished under four hours in 3:57:09, which was a real surprise and delight after a tough race.

After the marathon we used the opportunity to catch up with some friends in the City by the Bay and enjoy the wonderful food on offer there.

Charlie & I celebrated 13 years together in August
Labrador Cooper kisses
In August my partner Charlie and I celebrated 13 years together and after some significant wins for gay rights this year we're hopeful that California's Prop 8 will be overturned in 2013 and Federally recognised gay marriage will follow in the future.

Watching Anita Baker sing at the Hollywood Bowl in August
Anita Baker sings Hollywood Bowl
We made it to the Hollywood Bowl three times this Summer season and saw soul jazz singer Anita Baker in August and the legendary Barbra Streisand, still wonderful at 70, in November.

In August we enjoyed a whirlwind trip to New York City and after visiting the High Line Park I ventured to the top of the Rockefeller Center for the first time to enjoy the view.

View from the Top of the Rock in August
View Rockefeller Center New York City
Three of our lovely British girlfriends came to stay this September and made our Summer complete. We had a great time playing tourist guide, eating, drinking and dancing our way around L.A. and Southern California.

Finally went wine-tasting in California wine country in September
Firestone Vineyards California
We enjoyed the delights of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, plus trips to Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Paradise Cove, The Getty Center and of course The Abbey for the strongest cocktails on Earth and lots of go-go boy fun.

Enjoying a sunset in Santa Barbara with our visiting British girlfriends
Santa Barbara sunset Stearns Wharf
I also got to take one of our friends for her first ever visit to Disneyland which was great fun.

Enjoying the delights of Disneyland in September
Ice cream Disneyland
With our friends safely home in the U.K. it was back to marathon training for me and this time for the Honolulu Marathon.

Surviving the 18-mile Hollywood Sign training run for the Honolulu Marathon
Behind Hollywood Sign
There was lots of hill training this Summer season but nothing was harder or more inspirational than our 18-mile run up to the Hollywood Sign. Great teammates made this another fun and enjoyable season.

Wicked fun at West Hollywood's Annual Halloween Carnaval
West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval costumes 2012
Forget New Year's Eve, in October it's my favourite party of the year, the annual West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval. This year I recycled my Wonder Woman costume, shredded and distressed it in fact, and tried out some zombie makeup for the first time, which I think was a resounding success on the night.

Relief as President Obama was re-elected in November
Pro-Obama Once you go black rooftop display
In November after a scary campaign trail we breathed a huge sigh of relief when President Obama was re-elected. It was nice to see common sense, tolerance and progress win the day instead of hatred, bigotry and greed.

Vancouver's festive Lights of Hope in November
Festive Lights of Hope Vancouver
At the end of November it was back to Vancouver for a short visit just before Thanksgiving and a chance to start getting in the holiday spirit.

Crossing the Honolulu Marathon Finish Line in December
Honolulu Marathon Finish Line 2012
At the beginning of December we traveled to Hawaii for the first time to run my first Honolulu Marathon.

It was great being there with Charlie and my T2 running teammates, but on the day my knee played up and it was a hard, hot and painful race. Fortunately I finished in 3:55:06, achieving my sub-4 hour goal.

Relaxing at the Sheraton Waikiki infinity pool afterwards
Sheraton Waikiki Infinity Pool Honolulu
After the race it was time to relax in Waikiki and then Maui for a few days. In hindsight a few more days to be able to really enjoy the islands would have been nicer, but we made the most of the trip and ventured along the scenic road to Hana to see a bit more of Maui than just poolside at the Ritz-Carlton.

At the base of the 400-foot Waimoku Falls in Kipahulu, Maui in December
Waimoku Falls Maui
After Hawaii it was back to L.A. for the last minute Christmas preparations and a chance to indulge my love of movies with the Gangster Squad exhibit at the Petersen Auto Museum
and more besides at the ArcLight Cinemas.

My love of movie costumes and props continues
Gangster Squad car Emma Stone's gown Petersen Auto Museum
I still love discovering new movie exhibits featuring original costumes, props and even cars, plus all proceeds from my Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props blog goes to fund my marathon training for AIDS Project L.A.

A very Merry Christmas Day
Christmas Day dinner
This year we had another lovely Christmas Day together with our wonderful pup and Santa was very kind to us all.

Christmas Labrador Cooper
Santa Hat Labrador Cooper
Let's hope that 2013 is as eventful and full of excitement and achievements as this past twelve months.

Let's raise a glass to the past and more importantly to a bright, fun and successful future...

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