New beginnings are often described as painful endings.

Here I am on the cusp of a New Year and new beginnings and looking back, 2012 was certainly an eventful year! I finally got my divorce after three and a half tumultuous years and I threw a party to thank my friends and family for all of their support.

During the past twelve months I have travelled to Paris, Spain, Turkey and Cyprus.  As I reached the top of the steps of the Sacre Coeur and turned to look at the rooftops of Paris which lay sprawled below me it began to snow. With perfect timing, large, fat flakes of snow drifted down across the landscape.  It was like an old Hollywood film – the sounds of Paris muted by the flakes which lazily fell with impeccable timing; whilst in Turkey, I conquered some of my fears and took a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia.

I began Spanish lessons, completed my Open University degree and I qualified to teach English as a foreign language.

I had another tattoo.

I owe it to myself and to my friends and to my family to be happy.  With this in mind, I have taken steps to move onwards and upwards. I have researched the logistics of working and travelling abroad and I have identified an NGO (non-governmental organisation; a charity) which is based in Peru and has ethics which I believe in and which I would love to be a part of for at least a short time.

I spent this New Year’s Eve celebrations with some of my very best friends, in a small Spanish village.  Close to midnight we all gathered in the village square with the majority of the residents from the village.  Popping the cork from the cava we clinked our glasses together and prepared to follow the local custom and eat grapes.  At the stroke of midnight a great roar went up from the crowd, the crack of a rocket exploding up into the sky and the church bells began to strike twelve.  All around us, people were rushing to eat their grapes – twelve in total – one for each peal of the bell and drinking cava, then somebody let off strings of firecrackers around the feet of the crowd and the catherine wheels pinned to the side of the church fizzed their way around the letters in the shape of ‘2013’.  Then everybody began to move; mingling and kissing one another on both cheeks and wishing each other a Happy New Year, Feliz Anno Nuevo or Bon Any…depending on one’s heritage. The teenagers had appeared from their own parties and were standing in flocks, the boys looking mean and moody, the girls in their new party dresses and they all joined in the melee greeting everyone with Spanish gusto.  It was a truly magical moment, and I took a deep breath and embraced my friends, strangers and my future.

Finally, the square began to clear and we all piled back to continue partying in the hall where Pepe the street cleaner had fired up his version of a disco and there was a rush for the dance floor.  The music was Latino style with a twist, but it totally suited the region and the people.  The men held their partners close, as they salsa’ad, meringue or cha cha cha’ed their way around the dance floor, whirling around like the Waltzers ride at the fairground, groups of friends were sat at long trestle tables eating and drinking whilst everybody was noisily chatting to everybody else.

We partied until three thirty in the morning before leaving to slowly wind our way back up the mountain and to our beds.  In the past I have felt melancholic and unsettled at the New Year, but this year I decided that it was time to put an end to my grieving for what is missing and to allow myself to be excited by what is to come.

Adios to 2012 and welcome 2013.

Watch this space – it is going to be exciting

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