2022 Winter Solstice Update

by on 2022-12-25 | License Permalink

This was a bad Solstice, sadly. It’s unfortunate because up until the last week or so, we’d had a really good half a year; if a stressful one. We moved house, sold my old flat, and did a bunch of walking. We’d already agreed that we were getting married, but we still wanted to do a semi-surprise proposal so I had A’s engagement ring custom made by a local jeweler and had an epic quest to fetch it. I proposed just before I took my first international, indeed long-distance, trip since the pandemic began. It also marked my first holiday with a romantic partner, and we celebrated A’s 30th birthday hunting for the Northern Lights in Iceland.

When we came back we stumbled upon some big news which made us anxious and excited all at once. Unfortunately, we experienced a miscarriage a few days ago which was the sad conclusion of a very stressful Solstice week. There’s not much more to say, other than we’re devastated and trying to look after each other as best as we can.

But the darkest day has passed now. The light is returning. I only hope it brings health and happiness with it; we’re definitely in need of some.

Key Events

  • 2022-08-02, we move into our new home while also trying to move my mother-in-law into her new home
  • 2022-09-30, we finally sell my old flat by the skin of our teeth
  • 2022-10, I have my first really nice birthday in a number of years thanks to my partner A making a lot of effort for me
  • 2022-11-09, I propose to A and she agrees to be my wife
  • 2022-11-10, I take my first trip abroad in a number of years to Iceland to celebrate A turning 30 that week
  • 2022-11-14, after a stressful return trip involving cancelled flights and a comfy-but-sweaty train ride, we discover that A is pregnant
  • 2022-12-23, after a very stressful week involving multiple hospital trips, we lose our early pregnancy to miscarriage


There are not too many changes in the last six months. I am pretty happy and stable with the hobbies I’ve got and they each get a look in most weeks.


My Esperanto is progressing nicely. I still journal daily, or near enough to daily, in Esperanto and I feel that’s something I’m going to do forever. The journalling really helps me summon the language that I need to describe my life, and has cemented in a few words that I was struggling to recall before. So I am pleased with this.

I have successfully read another novel in Esperanto. This time it was the illicit translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I really liked it. The language was clear and I could slip into reading Esperanto very easily. I’ve tried reading some older, free, Esperanto novels from Project Gutenberg but these still seem a little more abrasive. I imagine it’s because the original language was more formal and a more complex style of prose, so the Esperanto follows. I will attempt to read La ŝtona urbo by Anna Löwenstein in 2023 as I am confident that this book will be rewarding.

Finally, I had my first ever spoken convesation in Esperanto! My pen pal, M, visited me to speak Esperanto for a few hours. I was really nervous going in but she is very easy to talk to and I believe we’re of similar abilities in Esperanto. We had to use a dictionary for a few awkward words, but we talked about life and work very smoothly while wandering around a museum. Reading exhibits in English and talking in Esperanto while some Anglo-Saxon audio was playing was very confusing for my brain but we made it through and I believe we enjoyed the day. Thanks, M!


My exercise has actually improved a lot since the last update. I was really worried that, after our move, I wouldn’t be able to find a park to exercise in properly. Thankfully, I now live closer than ever to a suitable outdoor workout space. I’ve already made friends with some dogs there. The park still isn’t suitable for pull-ups, but my partner A took the initiative and got my pull-up bar installed promptly in our back yard. The proximity of the park means that now, I can do most of my workout there and then return to do my pull-ups and grip work in the back yard with only a short 5 min walk in between.

Since I’ve returned to pull-ups, my body has thanked me dramatically. My shoulder pain is almost entirely gone. I’ve also improved my push-up form a lot. A side-effect has been that my physique has been more rounded as my shoulders have widened a little. All-in all, I feel healthy and strong now after nearly four years of neglecting my pull-ups.

My running has taken a slight hit, because I don’t know the local area as well. I’ve found some nice enough loops to run around, but they are not as fulfilling as running around the Dene in Heaton and sadly don’t quite get me to the 10km mark. But I enjoy them and enjoy my runs. I’ve had a few lovely snowy runs this year and I’m thankful I can run at all in my new home.

Walking and Exploring

We did a cracking series of really tough walks in the Autumn, but we’ve only really had the energy for a few hikes following our house move. Despite this, walking and hiking remains one of our most beloved pastimes. We’ve really only got a few walks left in our Northumberland book, and the Durham book is getting used more and more.

I’m looking forward to some wintry walks across the early New Year, and some springtime walks in the hills as well.

Creative Writing

Not much movement on this front, really. I am writing bits and pieces here and there but nothing solid has manifested from it. I am mostly writing in English, although Esperanto is getting for some projects occasionally. I am not pressurising myself to perform at a particular level, but I would really like to finish something next year.


I went through another phase of listening to some new music, so there are a few new faces here as well as some old favourites. I’ve not included any Lo-Fi albums. Looking back, it’s been a good six months for listening to music but some standout moments were: listening to my first Beatles album and being blown away; getting into some old school rock such as Cream and getting deeper into Led Zeppelin; and going through a Nu-metal phase where Coal Chamber by Coal Chamber and XIII by Mushroomhead steal the show; the new Slipknot album blowing me away; doing an entire run through of Iron Maiden’s studio albums after hearing the amazing Senjutsu; and rediscovering my love of In Flames, particularly Clayman, Reroute to Remain and Come Clarity.

  • King of the Tenors by Ben Webster
  • Maiden Heaven: Volume II by Various Artists
  • Heart Full of Wine by Angus & Julia Stone
  • Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Wednesday Morning, 3 AM by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Ænima by Tool
  • Ten Thousand Fists by Disturbed
  • Appeal to Reason by Rise Against
  • We Are Not Your Kind by Slipknot
  • Collision Course by Linkin Park and Jay Z
  • Take To The Skies by Enter Shikari
  • Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
  • Come What(ever) May by Stone Sour
  • Furiosity by Monster Truck
  • Duke Ellington and John Coltrane by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
  • I Put A Spell On You by Nina Simone
  • Sings The Blues by Nina Simone
  • lately I feel EVERYTHING by Willow
  • Stone Sour by Stone Sour
  • Reinkaos by Dissection
  • Abbey Road by The Beatles
  • Revolver by The Beatles
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles
  • Senjutsu by Iron Maiden
  • So Long, Astoria by The Ataris
  • The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
  • Iron Maiden by Iron Maiden
  • Led Zeppelin I by Led Zeppelin
  • Rubber Soul by The Beatles
  • Killers by Iron Maiden
  • The Number of The Beast by Iron Maiden
  • Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden
  • Powerslave by Iron Maiden
  • Somewhere In Time by Iron Maiden
  • Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son by Iron Maiden
  • Led Zeppelin II by Led Zeppelin
  • Led Zeppelin III by Led Zeppelin
  • No Prayer For The Dying by Iron Maiden
  • Fear Of The Dark by Iron Maiden
  • The X Factor by Iron Maiden
  • Virtual XI by Iron Maiden
  • Brave New World by Iron Maiden
  • Dance Of Death by Iron Maiden
  • A Matter Of Life And Death by Iron Maiden
  • The Final Frontier by Iron Maiden
  • The Book of Souls by Iron Maiden
  • En Vivo! by Iron Maiden
  • Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
  • Heavy Horses by Jethro Tull
  • Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull
  • Balls To Picasso by Bruce Dickinson
  • Accident Of Birth by Bruce Dickinson
  • Disraeli Gears by Cream
  • Tattooed Millionaire by Bruce Dickinson
  • Shogun by Trivium
  • Ascendancy by Trivium
  • Singing The Blues by B. B. King
  • Benefit by Jethro Tull
  • Harsh Generation by Grendel
  • Rock In Rio 2011 (Bootleg) by Slipknot
  • Pastel Blues by Nina Simone
  • Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  • Stormwatch by Jethro Tull
  • The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd
  • Existential Reckoning by Puscifer
  • Mezmerize by System Of A Down
  • Follow The Leader by KoRn
  • Phenomenon by UFO
  • Coal Chamber by Coal Chamber
  • Chamber Music by Coal Chamber
  • Dark Days by Coal Chamber
  • Rivals by Coal Chamber
  • Clayman by In Flames
  • Come Clarity by In Flames
  • Reroute To Remain by In Flames
  • The Crusade by Trivium
  • King Of The Tenors by Ben Webster
  • Skunkworks by Bruce Dickinson
  • The Chemical Wedding by Bruce Dickinson
  • Tyranny Of Souls by Bruce Dickinson
  • The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem
  • Wish You Were Hwere by Pink Floyd
  • Infest by Papa Roach
  • Sketches Of Spain by Miles Davis
  • XIII by Mushroomhead
  • Drif by Heilung
  • Toxicity by System Of A Down
  • Audio Secrecy by Stone Sour
  • Through The Ashes Of Empires by Machine Head
  • Slipknot by Slipknot
  • The End So Far by Slipknot
  • CMFT by Corey Taylor
  • Satellite by P.O.D
  • The Righteous & The Butterfly by Mushroomhead
  • Nymphetamine by Cradle Of Filth
  • Master Of Puppets by Metallica
  • American Capitalist by Five Finger Death Punch
  • House Of Gold And Bones Pt. 1 by Stone Sour
  • House Of Gold And Bones Pt. 2 by Stone Sour
  • The Adversary by Ihsahn
  • The Blackening by Machine Head
  • Alle Lust Will Ewigkeit by Nachtmahr
  • angL by Ihsahn
  • After by Ihsahn
  • Eremita by Ihsahn
  • Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin
  • Genesys by Cyferdyne
  • Fallen by Evanescence
  • Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park
  • Meteora by Linkin Park
  • Unto The Locust by Machine Head
  • Mugzy’s Move by Royal Crown Revue
  • King of The Tenors by Ben Webster
  • Plays Metallica by Four Cellos by Apocalyptica
  • Inquisition Symphony by Apocalyptica
  • Whoracle by In Flames


I’ll try not to say too much here, but I have really enjoyed this six months of reading. I took a little break around the time we moved because my brain couldn’t focus much on reading, and I am taking a sort-of break now after our recent bad news.

The novels that stood out to me were, surprisingly, the Star Wars books by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. Death Star as well as the MedStar books were phenomenal character studies and I just drank the writing. Really impressed and I loved them a lot. Reading through His Dark Materials with my partner was another highlight. There were several moments in The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass where we were both reduced to tears. It was A’s first go through the series and my fourth or fifth, but it’s so beautiful it got me good. I also read my first western novel Shane by Jack Schaefer and my first horror by Steven King, Carrie. I enjoyed both of them a lot, although I might need some more convincing from the western genre before I slot it into regular rotation. Toad Words by T. Kingfisher deserves a very special mention, and Ursula Vernon is pure magic. I also read through Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks to get back into the Culture series, and enjoyed it although it was longer than I remembered. I also thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion of Era 2 of Mistborn with Brandon Sanderson’s The Lost Metal. I felt that this book really rewarded me for reading around the Cosmere and I got a lot from it. It was a longer book but Brandon’s prose always makes reading these fantasy door-stops very easy. Junk by Melvin Burgess was a mind-blowing book and it’s, quite frankly, important that more people read it. For me it was probably my favourite book this year. Finally, The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell was by and far one of the most memorable and unique books to finish the year on. Some books you race through, some you drink, but The Winter King simply washed over me. I’m currently striving to finish the next book before the close of the year.

There were a few slogs and duds as well. Gardens of the Moon was tough but incredibly rewarding. My intention was to read through the entire Malazan series as a challenge, but I actually had a DNF this year with regards to Deadhouse Gates. I was enjoying it, for the most part, but Malazan books almost have to be read with a guide to figure out what’s going on and I was reading it as we moved. I ended up abandoning the book about halfway through. I may return to Malazan next year but I am in no hurry to do so. World War Z by Max Brooks was incredibly disappointing. I have a love-hate-fear relationship with zombies and I had never gotten around to reading World War Z in my youth so I have it a try. Most of the books was great, but there was just this thread (more like a rope) of pure anti-communism running through the entire book. I don’t know Max Brooks or his politics very well, but I was very disappointed and it really took my out of the book when Max threw yet another dig at China, the DPRK, or Cuba to make a “communism bad” point. He all but flat-out blamed the zombie outbreak on the Chinese, although I think at that point he had already indulged his Usonian fantasy of breaking up the PRC into a capitalist-friendly federated states of China. Eurgh. I also picked up How to be Good by Nick Hornby and it was the first time I almost hate-read a book because of the protagonist. Like Bunny earlier this year, I don’t know if How to be Good is a masterpiece or dross. I’m not sure what message Nick was trying to send, and the book ends on a really jarring poetic / literary line which didn’t fit the tone of the book at all. It felt like Nick had come up with a great line and wanted to use it regardless of the surrounding book. For some light, trashy, fantasy I also grabbed the first three Legend of Drizzt books by R.A. Salvatore as a starting point into the sprawling corporate fantasy world that is the Forgotten Realms. They were… pretty bad. In a trashy-inoffensive way. I chewed through them because they’re incredibly simple to follow but Drizzt is such a one dimension character and the final book in particular was… yeah. It felt like Salvatore was just telling me things rather than showing me. I wish I’d read these as a child as I’m sure I would’ve loved them, but going from Sanderson’s wonderful storytelling to a ham-fisted ferris wheel of “look at how cool/skilled Drizzt is” was not fun. I also tried out the Partials sequence by Dan Wells. I was really looking forward to this but sadly they fell a little flat. They’re not bad books at all, and in fact are very good books, but for some reason they didn’t gel with me as much as I was hoping that they would. I will be trying out Dan’s other work soon, though.

  • White Sand (Prose Version) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Star Wars: The Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes
  • Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
  • Star Wars: Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  • Star Wars: MedStar - Battle Surgeons by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  • Star Wars: MedStar - Jedi Healer by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  • Star Wars: Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves
  • Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks
  • Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones by R. A. Salvatore
  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
  • Say Cheese and Die! by R. L. Stine
  • The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb by R. L. Stine
  • Let’s Get Invisible! by R. L. Stine
  • The Night of The Living Dummy by R. L. Stine
  • The Girl Who Cried Monster by R. L. Stine
  • World War Z by Max Brooks
  • The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
  • The Invasion by K. A. Applegate
  • The Visitor by K. A. Applegate
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • How To Be Good by Nick Hornby
  • Forgotten Realms: Homeland by R. A. Salvatore
  • Forgotten Realms: Exile by R. A. Salvatore
  • Forgotten Realms: Sojourn by R. A. Salvatore
  • Hari Poter kaj la Ŝtono de la Saĝuloj by J. K. Rowling
  • Partials by Dan Wells
  • Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  • Fragments by Dan Wells
  • Ruins by Dan Wells
  • Shane by Jack Schaefer
  • Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno
  • Star Wars: Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover
  • Star Wars: Dark Lord - The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
  • The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson
  • Junk by Melvin Burgess
  • Eric by Terry Pratchett
  • Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Toad Words by T. Kingfisher
  • The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Total books read since last Solstice: 44

Currently reading: The Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell (solo) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (with my partner)


There isn’t so many films here because we’ve actually mostly been watching TV shows, which are sort of hard to log; do I log seasons or episodes? Other than Prey which was delightful and beautiful, Richard Linklater is the only real standout for the films; I watched Boyhood by myself on the advice of A before I realised it was Linklater, and I immediately began showing her the Before trilogy which she adored. We watched them a week apart. It’s interesting to see how my empathies shift from 20 year old Jesse and Celine towards the 30 year old pair in the second film as I’ve left my twenties and entered my thirties.

  • Treasure Planet
  • Onward
  • Serenity
  • The Mummy
  • Flatland
  • The Incredibles
  • Jumanji
  • Spider-man: No Way Home
  • Boyhood
  • Prey
  • Before Sunrise
  • Before Sunset
  • Before Midnight
  • Robocop
  • Hot Rod
  • George of the Jungle
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  • Planes Trains and Automobiles
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Shallow Hal

Total movies: 20