2013 was probably the most momentous year of my life for many reasons. Firstly, and I'm not going to dwell on this too much, after a really horrible illness, I lost my mum in March. We did manage to look after her at home, which I was really happy about. It was something she wanted very much, so that was one small bright light at the time.
Only a few days after losing mum, I had the most amazing news - a message was left on my answer machine to say that I'd won a week long cruise to Norway on the Queen Mary 2 with Cunard. My first thought was that mum would have been over the moon for me - I'm disabled and haven't been abroad for over 10 years as I can't fly, but a cruise would be perfect. My second thought was that I would have to turn it down. My partner and I have a very elderly dog - Buffy - who we've only ever left for one night before, and that was when we left her with mum. However ....
I'm incredibly lucky to have a wonderful friend who until last year, I had never met. Nicky lives about 250 miles away from me. We 'met' online, and chat on the phone and email all the time, but had never seen each other in real life. As soon as she heard about the cruise, she immediately offered to have Buffy for the week. I admit that I did hesitate - I've never left my old girl for that long before, and somehow after losing mum, she seems even more precious. After lots of chats though, we agreed to accept the cruise, and take Nicky up on her kind offer. Because we sailed from Southampton, Nicky was able to hop over on the ferry from the Isle of Wight, collect Buffy and her suitcase (complete with laminated instructions about all her little habits!) and take her off for her own seaside holiday for a week. It was so exciting to finally meet my friend. We got on just as well in real life as we do on the phone, and I KNOW we'll meet again in the future!
The cruise was amazing. I truly couldn't begin to describe it on one short blog post, but Alasdair (my partner) and I absolutely loved it. For someone like me who can't walk far, it was perfect, and so glamorous! I loved dressing for dinner - especially on the formal nights, and the traditional, old fashioned afternoon teas. I can't dance myself, but it was wonderful watching the couples take to the floor and waltz as the band played.The food was absolutely amazing, and the restaurant is beautiful. I fear we've been spoilt so much by the QM2 that no other cruise ship could ever measure up!
We were really sad when we docked back in Southampton, but all holidays have to end, so we collected Buffyand headed back up North and back to normal life.
We did talk about going on a cruise again one day, but only in an abstract fashion until Alasdair proposed! Not only did he propose, but he suggested we get married at sea on the QM2. I cannot imagine anything more perfect. I have almost no family after losing mum last year, no siblings or children, so the thought of marrying the love of my life, and having the holiday of a lifetime at the same time sounds almost too good to be true. We're planning (with a little luck) to get married on a three week cruise of North America in 2015 and I truly truly cannot wait.
2013 has definitely been an absolute roller-coaster of a year. I can't ever remember feeling as low as I did early in the year, but equally I don't think I've ever been this happy before, or felt as excited about the future!