2008 was a year of BIG changes for me: I left my full time position at Glaxstar for the wonderful (and most-times stressful) world of freelancing; I moved 200 miles south from a shared house ‘Cherrytree’ in Walsall, West Midlands to Littlehampton, West Sussex on the south coast; And I proposed to my lovely girlfriend Katie, to which, she said yes.
I had some very good times in 2008, but it’s the people that made my year. I’ve tried to name each and every one of you who made 2008 such an amazing year.
Brr, January - There was snow, My car reached 111,111 miles, and I finally got to see Rob & Bekki Cotton on their barge! One thing that does standout was the trip that Matt Clegg, Ben Marklew, John McNally and I took to the lakes to climb The Old Man of Coniston. A top weekend that, thinking back, makes me want to do more outdoor related stuff this year. You know, like the BIG outdoors rather than the tiny stuff you get in your local high street after stepping out of the kabab shop at 3am.
On January 15th it was a year since Katie’s dad passed away. Tony Sellwood was an amazing man… I tried to write something fitting about him shortly after he died, but couldn’t find the words. Similarly now, I’m struggling, but as the second year anniversary approaches in 2009 I remember him fondly as a joker with more time for people than anyone else I’ve ever met. I know he’s with God.
February was a bit of a mixture. At work, Glubble Family Edition was launched to a somewhat mixed reception. My abiding memory of this time was spending late nights at my parents (when our net connection was down) till 3am chatting with Ian Hayward, pushing pixels around interface designs.
Elsewhere, Katie and I took a long weekend to Bath. I dunno why we did, but I’m sure that we did, as I have photographic evidence. Life at Cherrytree was fun, as always, and Matt Clegg managed to bake a pie with the edibility of mild steel.
As I write this review, it’s now that I wish I’d blogged more and taken a whole heap of photos. What did you achieve in March 2008 Jon? Oh, well, Katie and I dressed up like knobs and went to a party.
April is my birthday month (just in-case you were thinking of buying me a present) and in 2008 I experienced my first ever Coke Float thanks (mainly) to the fine work of Richard Kemp. I have yet to find a way to repay him for bringing such joy into my life. By this point of 2008 I was spending more and more of my time in Littlehampton (something to do with this random girl I met) and in April “LA” got snow! Ah snow on the beach, Mark Wilson, Kamran & Ellie Khan, Katie and I very much enjoyed pelting each other with snowballs.
But by far the best thing about April was going to the Scilly Isles. It was hard to believe that just over a week before we’d had snow as, when we got there, it was hot hot hot! Sea Legs (heretofore know as Cath Hyslop), Katie, Katie’s Mum and I all spent a week in Sea Leg’s Mum’s cottage. Katie and Cath had years of family holiday history on the tiny islands, and had spent 6 months living and working on Scilly before traveling Australia for a year - So they knew most of the locals, but best of all knew all the best pubs.
The start of some warm weather prompted me to take the plunge and invest in some running shoes. And, needless to say, I was less than delighted when my first efforts yielded a total distance of 100 yards and a collapsed lung. Over the coming months though I did get slightly better, and having run an impressive slightly further I took the decision to enter a half marathon in February 2009. Which, actually, now I come to think about it is not very far off at all…Oh dear.
Meanwhile, our lovely (and by this I mean not at all a bunch of money-grabbing jobs-worths) letting agents had informed us that the landlord wanted to sell Cherrytree and we had to move out at the end of July. The hunt was on to find a new place where I, Matt Heaton, Matt Clegg and Steve Clark could live. Not too much effort went into this initially, after all how hard could it be to find a four bedroom house for let in Walsall? To four, very, very clean living young gentlemen…
June went by in a blur. We still weren’t putting in too much effort on the house front, it was hot and not a time for sitting in writing blog posts. So consequentially I can’t recall anything that happened. Maybe the best solution for June would be a sign saying: "scene deleted".
July was a month of big decisions. We still couldn’t find a place to live, and the time was quickly drawing near when we’d have to say goodbye to our beloved Cherrytree. A place in a shared house became available in Littlehampton (aka LA), and it seemed to be a no-brainer. It was certainly a lot closer to Katie than Walsall. But in typical Jon Roobottom style I couldn’t decide what to do for the best. This was it, if I moved it meant I really liked this girl.
Thanks to the sterling efforts of Dan Mayley, and praying more than ever before, I finally saw the light and took the plunge. It was around this time that Glaxstar offered me a deal whereby I’d go freelance, but they’d guarantee me hours for a considerable block of time. How could I not? I’d been itching to get my teeth into some freelance stuff for months - I bit their arm off. God is good.
A week before I left I went camping in Coed y Brenin, Wales with some old mates; Paul Lloyd, Kris Benbow, Jon Ford, Lewis Burden, Lee Nash, Dave Handley, Mark Gosling and Jon Macey. Awesome is all I can say, it came at just the right time. Let’s hope we can do it again in 2009.
The day before I left Hannah Kemp threw me a party at chez-kemp. Having spent the last 4 years in Walsall Community Church, this was above and beyond the best send off I could have asked for. Guys, each and every one of you has made Walsall special, and I really can’t express what it meant to me to have you all there for the party. Chatting, drinking, relaxing and eating part cooked bbq spare ribs with each one of you is an absolute pleasure.
Matt H, Matt C, Adam, Steve, AJ,** Kemp**, Hannah, Minnie, Esther, Sarah, Dan & Erin, Andy & Sue, Raz, Paul, Lee, Kirsty, Katy & Ben, Lou and Paul & Esta… Thanks for turning up to say goodbye… or maybe just making sure I leave. So on Saturday 26th July 2008 Kemp, AJ, Steve and I packed up a big van and moved my stuff into my new house.
I love the summer, and August didn’t disappoint for once - or it may have done, depending on how reliable my memory is. But I recall August as hot. Katie and I travelled back to my Mum & Dad's place in Walsall for his 60th birthday. I think he ended up paying for the meal, so, thanks dad.
It was also the big fruits’ birthday, so we celebrated Angie Tuffill being another year older in style with an American themed party. I think prizes went to Kamran Khan for the best costume as Uncle Fester, although he’s not a million miles away from that normally.
I also got to relive my youth by finally getting to see The Levellers live at Arundel Castle. By the looks of some of the older gentlemen in the crowd, they’d been reliving their youth from just after lunch and by 8pm they’d relived so much they were probably going to regret that one in the office on Monday morning.
September saw Annie & Christian Powell get hitched, which was good news for all of us as we knew they’d throw a decent party. And they didn’t disappoint, with not one wedding party but two. Apparently the rave on Sunday night went on till 3am. I’m sure the 3 huge barrels of ale that Christian had invested in helped there.
Kamran Khan and I decided to service my car, I mean, how hard could it be? We got all the stuff and set about the task. 6 hours later we’d changed the air filter, just about managed to swap the spark-plugs and put a hole in the drivers side floor. Well, I say "we", but the hole was mainly my fault. Still, my car seemed to run all the sweeter for our efforts.
Cath Hyslop got baptised! Admittedly I was supposed to get dunked too, but I’m not all that great at making decisions.
October is Katie's birthday month, and in true southern style we and a few others went for an all you can eat Chinese. I feel we really didn’t take full advantage of the ‘all you can eat-ness’ of the thing, especially Katie who powered her way through starters only… Well, OK she had about 2 tonnes of fried seaweed, but that’s not the point.
The month was also memorable for a day trip Katie and I took to London. I’d been to London so much for work related stuff over the last few months, it was really nice to spend some time (and LOTS of money) exploring the city.
October was also the month when our new cell really took off. I’d arrived in LA at a point where the cell-group was in flux, Claire Jones had decided to take a well earned break from her leadership role and we were waiting for a someone to step into the breach. But in October we decided that we’d take our cell in a new direction, each week we’d take it in turns to lead with whatever God had put on our hearts to share. So far it’s worked extraordinarily well.
November was awesome because of the WCC men’s weekend away at Standlake Ranch in Oxfordshire. Like the weekend away in 2007 it was an amazing time with God, and He did so much in my life that weekend, perfectly building on the previous year with perfect timing for everything that was going on in my life.
Flix & Maryanne Gillett got hitched too! Gotta say guys the bangers and mash was inspired, and Flix’s speech is possibly one of the best I’ve ever heard.
The early part of December saw Katie and Cath jetting off to Hong Kong “Hongers” for a few days. Was I jealous? Yeah, a little, but I flippin’ hate flying with a passion so avoiding the 12 hour flight was some small consolation.
Later in the month Katie and I took a week’s holiday in Scotland. I’d told her that I’d booked a B&B and found a suitably crappy looking random guest house on the internet to fool her with. I’d actually booked a private cottage with a hot tub as I’d hatched a bit of a plan. When we got there, the post code on the cottage website took us to some random housing estate. Not to worry I thought, it can’t be far, I’ll just drive around til we happen upon it. An hour later I was getting a little stressed as all my plans for a surprise were rapidly going down the toilet. In the end I had to confess all and Katie knocked doors until we found someone who’d heard of the place.
When we eventually arrived at the cottage I thought I’d booked (as there we’re two on the website, a one bedroom place and a three bedroom place) the lights were on, and we could here voices in the garden. “Hello?” I shouted as I walked around to the rear of the cottage. I was really fuming now, over an hour to find the place and the owners had double booked it!
I was greeted with sight of a naked couple in the hot tub, she quickly moved, but he just sat there, and I couldn’t help but glance at the thing that was floating in the crystal clear, illuminated, water. “Erm…” I said, "Have you booked this place, cos I think I have". He was actually quite polite, and as we made a quick exit we noticed that the driveway continued on to a larger property just around the corner. In my haste and annoyance I hadn’t realised that the place I’d booked was actually the three bedroom cottage. Oh well, you live and learn.
That night, Katie and I relaxed with a bottle of wine and the promise of the hot tub bubbling away outside. I couldn’t wait any longer, she was clearly impressed with the way I’d handled the naked man and the iron was hot to strike. I sat her down, got on one knee and asked her if she’d be my wife. “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… really?!” she said. And then just kept on saying it. Eventually I had to ask her if that was a 'yes’. The ring didn’t fit, we’d seen too much nakedness, and all we had for dinner was fish fingers and chips. But it didn’t matter, the place was brilliant, and she’d said yes. I couldn’t be happier.
As 2008 drew to a close, 17 of us played a murder mystery and then on Florrie Fuller's suggestion we played musical statues to the small hours. Thanks to everyone who made my year so awesome, you know who you are (even if you’re not mentioned by name here). Here’s to a brilliant 2009, and look out for your wedding invites coming to a post box near you sometime in '09… We promise!