A look back at 2013

MX-5 Number Plate Changed
2013 has been another great year, at times it has been very full on trying to fit in work, holidays, house stuff and keeping some time for me, but I seemed to find a balance and have really enjoyed 2013. Aside from all the DIY skills I’ve picked up the new skill I’ve learnt is smoking on the BBQ, I’ve cooked some awesome ribs and am looking forward to trying pulled pork next summer. 2013 was also the year I got into watches, it started fairly innocently with a Casio GShock to replace my old watch which had broken, but ended up with buying an Oris Swiss automatic watch as a 30th birthday present to myself. Ooops.

Having friends round to see in 2013 meant that plans had been made to keep us busy over the next few months, the first thing we had arranged was a trip to the Autosport Show, which was a great way to fill the winter motorsport void. While I was there I had a few viewings on my flat – one of which lead to the sale, but more on that later! I also managed to break one of my wisdom teeth, which was probably the low point of my year, especially as I had to fly to Germany the next day. Fortunately after a few weeks of painkillers and soft food I was able to get the tooth removed and could get on with fun things again. Like travelling to Paris, this had been another of the new year plans I’d made with Partho, although we hadn’t planned on staying an extra day, which due to the bad weather we ended up having to do.

After Paris, the next few months were taken up with the biggest change of the year, selling my flat in Rugby and buying Jen’s granddad’s house (aka the 119 project) in Coventry (with Jen). Both the sale and purchase seemed to drag on, which gave us plenty of time to carry on with the renovations. The peak of the stress was the run up to easter weekend, when we had been told that we would be completing/moving, so we were juggling painting, fitting skirting boards, packing up my flat and dealing with carpet fitters, removal men and solicitors, only to find out the day before we were due to complete, that we wouldn’t. After the panic to get the house just about habitable, we decided that we would move anyway. It was sad leaving my flat, I’d lived there for five years and had many happy memories. We had a few weeks where we technically squatting, but eventually it all worked out. I lost a lot of money of my flat in the time I’d owned it, but it is great living in the house with Jen, we’ve now got off-street parking for both cars, can have BBQs in the garden and being able to walk to work means I’ve got more free time.

As I was walking to work my MX-5 wasn’t really getting much use, until the end of June/beginning of July, where we had back to back roadtrips planned. The first was to Scotland, for my wee brother’s graduation and a bit of exploring in the highlands, followed almost immediately with a trip to Devon, with a day trip to Cornwall thrown in too. That was almost 1,800 miles in about 10 days and the MX-5 had been faultless and fun to drive; the reality sunk in that I would only have the car for another 8 weeks – time to go car shopping!

The MK-5 was going to be a difficult car to replace, especially given my lowish budget, even though I’d said I didn’t want another MX-5, I was seriously tempted by a mk3, as my current car had been so good. They were just a little bit over budget for a good one, as were the Nissan 350z or the Lotus Elise I really wanted. While I was searching for a car, my criteria was that it would be suitable for travelling to Monaco, but I also wanted something fun, as the car would mainly be for fun drives out at the weekends. After looking at everything from Subaru Imprezas to old Mercedes SLs, I kept coming back to the mk3 MR2, despite the meagre luggage space it seemed to be the best car for what I wanted. After viewing a couple I eventually found a nice grey one locally, and for most of August I had two sports cars (the picture are the top of this post). Actually for the bank holiday weekend I had the choice of 3 sports cars, as I had a test car from work, which I took to North Wales, which was possibly my highlight of the year.

It was sad to see the MX-5 go back to the lease company, it was to be auctioned at Bruntingthorpe, so whoever bought OV11 EBO has got themselves a brilliant little car. Having said that, the MR2 is great, being mid-engined, it is snappier than the MX-5, but feels faster. One of its first trips out was to the PistonHeads Sunday Service at Silverstone, which for some reason I didn’t blog about, but included driving a few laps of the Grand Prix circuit, which was thoroughly enjoyable! Shortly after I bought my MR2, Evo magazine ran an article about which car to buy for £4k and the MR2 fared well. In the next issue they published a short write up of my 2012 trip to the Outer Hebrides in the MX-5, I was extremely proud to have my words and pictures in my favourite magazine.

In November things really cranked up a notch, I had another business trip to Germany, another business trip to Japan, including the Tokyo Motorshow, which I haven’t yet had a chance to blog about – or even look at my photos from. Then, after a day back home it was off to New York to celebrate my 30th birthday with Jen! We had an amazing time, ate lots of lovely food and saw the sights. We haven’t really stopped since, with work on the house, exciting projects at work, Christmas celebrations with colleagues, friends and my family before Christmas, then we spent Jen’s 30th and a lovely Christmas day with her family. The usual void between Christmas and New Year has been filled with decorating our front room and all of a sudden it is New Years Eve and I’m sat here writing this with an Edradour single malt (bought from the distillery earlier in the year) seeing the new year in with Jen & her best friend!