So that’s it. 2018 is coming to an end. Tonight we’ll be holding hands singing Auld Lang Syne, shooting fireworks, kissing under the mistletoe and whatever else our local culture and traditions involve (in my family for example, at midnight everyone has to leave the house and the first one to come back in must be a man. Funny coming from a matriarchal family like my own, but then again, traditions).
Hard as it may sound, however, not everyone gets to party tonight. For a lot of people in the world it's just the end of a bad day and the beginning of another one. So between picking up your best outfit from the dry-cleaner, washing your red underwear (once again, traditions) and popping the champagne, do take some time to count your blessings: it is, still today, the most honest thing we can do.
Another thing to do before the clock strikes twelve is your list of New Year’s resolutions. Instead of focusing on problems think on a larger scale and come up with some ideas that might actually improve your lifestyle. Instead of “Loosing 8 kilos” (which in any case is both unrealistic and unhealthy) think of something like “working on my personal appearance in order to feel better in my skin”. Instead of “finding a new job because mine sucks” why not go for “work on my personal growth”? I am in the process of writing my own in these days (the second one, the first one got puked on by my toddler and I am stubbornly refusing to take it as a sign) and so far, amongst other mundane things, I have penned: more travelling and more reading. What I mean by this is not just having more holidays and more me time, but actually doing something that will broaden my horizons (travelling) and make me feel less shallow (I don’t know about you, but when I don’t read enough I feel myself becoming stupid and, unfortunately, this might not just be a feeling).
So, after I’ve nicely planned your pre-festive time for you, let’s work on the dreaded day after. You wake up, presumably hangover, the weather outside is awful and no one is available to talk on the phone and reassure you about the fact that you didn’t embarrass yourself too much last night. What now? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here is a list of cosy, lazy stuff to do on the first day of the year that will actually make you feel like you’re doing something useful.
You might still smell of L’Air Du Temps or Acqua di Giò from last night, but there’s no doubting the fact that you need a proper cleansing. Why not take this as a chance to start working on your well-being from the very beginning of the year? How about a nice, soothing, holistic bath? To go on a pro level, you need two very simple tools: lavender essential oil and a horsehair glove. The scent of lavender has relaxing, detox powers and will pump you up with positive vibes, while the horsehair glove removes all the dead skin from your body (cathartic act of removing the old to make room for the new, of course). Cheers, to feeling better already!
The good thing about stuffing yourself with scrumptious unhealthy food at dinner (and, by all means, do so! It’s new Year’s eve!) is that on the next day you probably feel so sluggish that just the idea of taking in any more fat or sugar makes you feel positively sick. Perfect. If, despite my advice, you actually added “loose 8 kilos” to your New year’s resolutions, today you can kick off your new regime with a healthy breakfast and no major efforts. Welcome to my home orange-juice, muesli and fresh fruits!
As I said before, not reading makes me feel shallow. If you feel the same, what better time than now to do something about this very unpleasant feeling? Useful tip: instead of going straight for the self help guides or for the shortest book on the shelf, pull yourself together and read something that actually has some literary value. Without necessarily going all the way to Dostoevskij and Tolstoj, here are my intellectual suggestions (Ahem…)
The Fountain Overflows, by Rebecca West
Besides being extremely well written (Dame Rebecca West, 1892 – 1983, had a unique pen) this book is also very inspiring. The story of a very eccentric and very gifted family in Edwardian London, which fights against poverty on a daily basis but still keeps the household sounding with music and turns every hair wash into a party.
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, by Gail Honeyman
This is Honeyman’s debut novel and this year it won the Costa Book Award for Best First Novel by creating a new literary genre focused on loneliness (the great illness of our times) and resilience (the great remedy). An unpredictable heroine, capable of winning everyone’s hearts just by being genuine.
Past Imperfect, by Julian Fellowes
If you are wondering where you’ve already seen Julian Fellowes name before here’s the answer: he is the screenwriter of the fortunate TV series Downtown Abbey. As a conservative peer of the House of Lords, Fellowes clearly has a thing for the upper class; as an author, he is capable of depicting it in the most accurate of ways. Past Imperfect (Sunday Times best-seller) deals with the débutante season of 1968, comparing the world then to the world of 2008. You might also enjoy Snobs, his first novel, focusing on the marriage of an upper middle-class girl to a peer.
4: TV series
If amazon failed to deliver your book order on time, or reading is really not your thing, do feel free to enjoy some tv series binge watching. My listing isn’t exactly Netflix’s latest, more like “what got me running home from work and skipping dinner in order to finally throw myself in front of the TV”.
Birmingham after World War I: A family of criminals moves from controlling the neighbourhood to controlling the city to taking over the country. A thrilling portrait of British society in the 20s which covers everyone, from gypsies to royalties. Amazing costumes and spot on Brummer accents. Moreover, personal opinion, leading actor Cilian Murphy is beyond gorgeous.
Moving on from personal judgments, as it isn’t just me who was obsessed with this Tv series. Claire Foy’s interpretation of young Queen Elizabeth II received such a widespread consensual critic that watching The Crown might actually be considered “keeping up with times”. Moreover, with Royal Weddings every other day and Royal Families back in the spotlight (thank you Meghan and Kate), it’s time to revise both the court’s etiquette and British modern history. Seasons three and four will be screening next year featuring Helena Bohnam Carter as Princess Margaret. Need any more convincing?!
Still in London but very far away from Buckingham Palace. Fleabag is a mini- Tv series (one season, 6 episodes). Originally a play, this comedy-drama was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (one of my personal heroes) who also stars as the main character, Fleabag, an angry, confused young woman attempting to navigate life in London, between a tragic sex life, a tragicomic family and a hardly profitable activity. You might also enjoy Crashing, also written and starred by Phebe (we are on first names, by now).
This is a tricky one, as it involves getting dressed and stepping out of the house in the harsh, bitter, First Day of the Year world. However, the rewards should be taken into serious consideration: first of all, pop corn; second of all, when tomorrow everyone says “I spent the whole day in bed”, you’ll be able to boast about actually going out. Of course, the rom-com seems like the easiest option, but why not leave that for the evenings to come and start the year with something more magical? On my to do list:
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Poppins has been the Christmas movie of my childhood. I watched it again and again every year and I am dying to see Emily Blunt’s version of the nanny we would all (including us adults) love to have.
Keira Knightly does know something about costume movies: Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina… Let’s see how she copes with such a complex personality as Colette.
Starting the year with even just a pinch of Freddy Mercury’s energy sounds like a deal to me.
General disclaimer: I have not seen any of these movies yet so please do let me know if they are as good as they seem or if their qualities actually stop bang at the end of the trailer.
Well then, seems like you’re ready to face both the pre and the post. Time to get ready for the actual party!
From myself and from the whole of the Luxos team, a very happy New Year.
For more ideas on Do, Dine andd Spend, visit our Destinations page.