Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - a year of jumping for joy and recovering from injuries...

This year has been a bit of a mixed bag, from the highs of exotic holidays to the lows of sports injuries, but you know what, I have a great life and this year proves "I can take a lickin' but keep on tickin'".

Jumping for joy on Oahu's North Shore in Hawaii
At the start of the year I continued to build my Daily Billboard and costume and props blog businesses, train for my fifth consecutive L.A. Marathon in a row and enjoy Hollywoodland's glittering awards season.

Surviving another super hot Los Angeles Marathon
Running Los Angeles Marathon for charity
The 2015 L.A. Marathon in mid-March was my hottest experience to date, warmer even than the scorching 2014 L.A. Marathon, so you can imagine that I was ready for a well deserved vacation to Hawaii this year at the end of March.

Cocktail fun in Hawaii in March
Hawaiian cocktails sunglasses
In fact our trip was the celebrate my husband's 'big' birthday milestone, so lots of fun was had with friends and Mai Tais in the sunshine (and rain) on the relaxing North Shores of Oahu for a few days.

Enjoying our Chiswick garden in British Springtime
Springtime Chiswick garden
Hawaii wasn't our only travels this year, as in mid-April we flew back to Britain and got to enjoy a few days of glorious springtime visiting friends and family, and staying at our garden flat in Chiswick.

Completing my first London Marathon in April
Crossing 2015 London Marathon Finish Line
The trip was also to allow me to run my first ever London Marathon, something I've always dreamed of doing.

I ran to support another HIV/AIDS charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, but to be honest I found the 26.2 mile race itself to be a frustrating experience. No one seems to practice Jeff Galloway's run/walk marathon technique in the U.K. and very narrow London streets made for a race where spectators thought I was flagging in the early stages (hearing "you're nearly there" and "don't give up" along the entire route on your walk breaks isn't very encouraging) and there was little room to maneuver to get out of the way of thousands of other runners.

Fortunately that's off my bucket list, but I do think I injured myself during the race, a calf sprain I think (but foolishly rather than allowing myself to heal, I continued to run over the summer as I won a lottery place into the New York Marathon at the start of November).

Taking in a show in London's West End
Imelda Staunton Gypsy Musical Savoy Theatre London
Anyway, lots of other fun was had during our time in London, like spending time with friends and taking in the musical Gypsy starring the wonderful Imelda Staunton, who was a real showstopper.

Our groggy pup after his leg surgery in June
Labrador Cooper after leg surgery
When we were back stateside in May, we decided to take Cooper to the vet to have the growth on his leg examined by a surgical expert. We'd always been told that it was just a 'Labrador lump', fatty tissue with nothing to worry about, but when it's the size of a tennis ball you can't help but be concerned.

Fortunately the lump was benign and following a successful surgery in June to remove the mass, Cooper was soon back on his feet and bouncing around like a crazy thing like normal.

We skipped the L.A. Pride Parade to look after our recovering pup
Pride Labrador Cooper after surgery
Obviously his recovery didn't happen overnight (we even slept with him downstairs on the sofa cushions for a week or two as he couldn't manage the stairs with his stitches), but it did mean we weren't really in the mood to enjoy the WEHO Pride celebrations in the same way this year.

West Hollywood's Marriage Equality celebration rally on June 26, 2015
West Hollywood Marriage Equality celebration rally
One highlight of the year came on June 26, 2015 though, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled marriage equality for all 50 states. It was no longer 'gay' marriage, just marriage for all. I honesty believed this day would come in the future, but not so fast as it did in America, so it was a wonderful triumph for LGBT equality.

Attended Marvel's Ant-Man World Premiere on June 29, 2015
AntMan movie billboard
Also at the end of June, I was fortunate enough to attend the World Premiere of Marvel's Ant-Man movie which I throughly enjoyed (in fact, it's probably one of my favourite films of the year). Because you also have to check your phone or camera before you go into the theatre (for fear of piracy) I never seem to be able to get any pictures at these events, but that just means I'm able to enjoy the experience and walk the red carpet at the same time as the movie's stars talk to the swarm of press.

A new sectional sofa to help refresh our condo arrived in August
Labrador Cooper wondering what happened to his sofas
This Summer we invested in a new sectional sofa to help give our condo living space a mini-makeover, although it did cause some confusion for Cooper, he wondered where his two sofas had disappeared to. He soon found his spot on the new sofa though.

Disney's D23 Expo on August 14, 2015
Giant Buzz Lightyear inflatable Disney D23 Expo
In August Disney held its biennial D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center and I popped along to see what costumes and props were on display.
Star Wars Force Awakens movie costumes D23 Expo
To my delight, not only did they have film costumes from the new Alice Through the Looking Glass movie, but they also had cool costumes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens on display (out of their reflective cases as an extra bonus).

Still enjoying all the sights that L.A. has to offer
MacArthur Park floating Spheres
This year I continued to try and make the most of living in Southern California, enjoying the beautiful weather and also checking out cool things that popped up, like this spherical floating art installation at MacArthur Park in September and closer to home all the cool sculptures in West Hollywood Park.

Enjoying the delights of Huntington Dog Beach in Orange County
Cooper's leg took a while to heal properly, but fortunately it did, so it wasn't long before we were visiting old haunts, like his favourite dog beaches in Huntington Beach and in Santa Barbara.

October in Palm Springs by the pool
Palm Springs pool
In October one of our bridesmaids and best friends came to visit, which made for an excellent excuse to spend a few days by the pool in our rented house in Palm Springs, providing much needed relaxation in the sun with good company in beautiful surroundings.

Exploring and bar hopping around San Francisco
Coit Tower San Francisco
After a few cocktails around the pool we even dreamed up the idea of cashing in my air miles and doing a two-day trip to San Francisco, a city my friend had never visited before. We had a great time playing tourist, exploring the streets and trying out as many local bars and eateries as we could fit in.

A disappointingly slow 2015 New York Marathon
2015 New York Marathon runner
In November, nursing a calf injury, I ran my second New York Marathon and unsurprisingly I didn't have that great a race. But I accomplished my twelfth marathon and got to add another medal to my collection.

Staying a few extra days in the Big Apple we got to catch up with friends, revisit some of our favourite restaurants and discover new ones, plus even find time to see a musical on Broadway, An American in Paris, which was utterly charming.

Pre-Thanksgiving visit to Hendry's Beach in Santa Barbara
Labrador Cooper Hendry's Beach
Towards the end of November we caught up with old West London neighbours from the U.K., now also living in California, the day before Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara. Obviously we couldn't resist taking Cooper with us to the dog-friendly beach for a good play along the shore to tire him out.

Hosting and cooking Thanksgiving dinner again this year
The next day we hosted friends for Thanksgiving dinner and it was time to remember how to cook a turkey, plus all the trimmings, which I always forget from year to year. The red wine flowed and a good time was had by all involved.

Around this time it was back to physical therapy to try and find out what was wrong with my leg and back, and hopefully get my body back in shape for another marathon (although sadly I'll be missing the 2016 L.A. Marathon).

Enjoying a very Merry Christmas Day
 Merry Christmas Day lunch
Thanksgiving is always great practice for Christmas Day too, when we do it all over again a month later, only this time with Christmas decorations, music, crackers and party hats.

Seeing out the old year in style in Palm Springs
Palm Springs rental
I'm ending the year with the obligatory cold, but spreading it around with friends in Palm Springs to see in the New Year.

Let's hope 2016 brings good health, happiness and success for everyone...

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