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a blog by Chris Barrow


Much fun was had at Hale Grill last night.

I think they may have read my earlier blog posts on the subject of their customer service, as we were told about 6 times in the first 20 minutes that the table was ours for the whole evening.

Followers will know that dinner had been pre-paid in full.

What we didn’t know until Christmas Day was that our friends Simon & Laura Reilly from Vancouver Island had bought us some Hale Grill gift vouchers as a surprise present – so it was always going to be a fabulous night out to celebrate Annie’s birthday.

She, of course, looked lovely and I endeavoured to keep up by wearing one of my new Desigual shirts, purchased in Barcelona last weekend with the fashion help of my daughter Rachel.

So, on this last night before my (now our) dryathlon, we were welcomed with a complimentary glass of champagne and decided not to make the mistake of last year – wolfing down our food in less then 90 minutes – and take it very slowly with the drinks and the ordering of courses.

Our waitress was a delightful young girl who knew just how to “be there” and be invisible at the same time.

Dirty martinis followed, before the more serious business of a good Riesling for the birthday girl and an even better Californian Pinot Noir for me.

Food – excellent.

Wine – excellent.

Atmosphere – excellent – all very civilised and a variety of ages occupying tables just for two or larger groups. A pianist and singer crooned away the hours as we chatted about the year just gone and the adventures that lay ahead.

Perhaps inevitably, the evening was dotted with a series of text and Facebook messages from family and friends – a sign of the times that iPhones were in abundance around the restaurant.

Still there at midnight, 3 scrumptious courses later, we saw the old year out with a final fling – a bottle of champagne that kept us going into the early hours.

We even managed a short waltz around our table as the golden hour arrived – Strictly watch out.

Arriving home very early this morning, a valiant attempt was made to watch some of Jools Holland but by that time my eyeballs were moving independently of each other.

I’ll get back to Lisa Stansfield some other time.

This morning – a predictably fragile version of me starts 2014 with no intention of doing much of anything, other than recovery.

I’m somewhat ashamed to say that there was an untouched glass of Amaretto by the sofa this morning – thank goodness I didn’t have the energy to drink it before we hit the sack.

The first hour or so was spent groaning under the duvet in a wave of self-pity, with the velcro Viszlas either side of me and Annie perched on the other end of the bed reading the Mail on-line for cultural and political world news (Shergar discovered on far side of moon etc etc).

Later, and after the morning dog walk in howling wind and rain, Annie made us egg and bacon baps as a hangover cure. Glorious.

The Bunker will have to wait for a day, even though I note that one intrepid member of the Get Your Year in Gear programme has already emailed me his “high’s and lows” from 2013 – that is dedication and a devout intent to get value for money from his investment.

Today is Day 1 of the dryathlon – tonight will no doubt be a purgatorial experience. However, my return to Paleo living will be delayed by 24 hours, as the only way I’m going to get through is with a Dominos for dinner.

My final comment today is a big shout out for my son Joshua Barrow – I’m very proud of him.

Today, all of us begin a new year.

I already know that my 2014 will be a year of amazing opportunities and some of the biggest challenges I have ever faced – I’m showing up and ready for whatever is thrown at me.

I wish you and yours a wonderful and happy new year.

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