As part of my look back on the year gone by I wanted to share 10 of the best moments, events, memories etc of 2006 for me personally. So here goes with my 10 best of everything 2006:
1/. Best Film
Unquestionably Brokeback Mountain. Why? For so many reasons, many of which I have bored people to death with over the last 12 months! Personally, it is a triumph of film-making, a beautifully crafted and told story and a film that tackles some very difficult and challenging issues in a refreshing and open way without being judgemental.
2/. Best Album
Again this is an easy choice. It has to be MeatLoaf's Bat out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose. Just one fab song after another. Okay, so its over the top and sometimes a little camp but you just can't beat these songs for emotional power. This for me was MeatLoaf's most heartfelt album since Welcome to the Neighbourhood. Every song is a favourite and for me at least, an instant MeatLoaf classic.
3/. Best Song
I am indulging myself now! You know its going to be a MeatLoaf song... I was going to say The Future Ain't What it Used to Be (The endless night has got a hold of me, dark days are pulling me forward) or Seize the Night (So open up your arms and then get down on your knees. You're sucking on the darkness and you're ready to seize. Seize the night). But the one that really got me is What About Love, with the fabulous lyric, Once in a lifetime you'll find someone heaven sent for you. For a lifetime you'll feel there's a reason to believe in a love that's meant to be. I hope so.
4/. Best New Discovery
Thanks to Tim for this one and introducing me to Magners cider :-) I have to admit that I had long ago gone off cider finding most of them either too sweet or too dry. Magners though is the perfect balance and a drink that was designed for cool refreshment on a beautiful summer's day. Magic!
5/. Best Cultural Event
It had to be the BBC Proms. The first time I went was this year and I enjoyed two fab concerts. My favourite (and it is a close run thing) was the first on 24 August featuring Samuel Barber's First Essay for Orchestra and Mahler's stunning Fifth Symphony.
6/. Best Week
This is an easy choice, it was the week of 30 April to 6 May. Armed with a Heart of England rail rover I indulged my passion for rails and visiting new places in one. My travels during the week took me all over the Midlands and Central England to places as diverse as Crewe, Lichfield, Birmingham, Gloucester, Worcester, Shrewsbury. Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa. I am convinced that it was the finest week of weather all year and I have the photos to prove it! There was wall to wall sunshine each day and beautiful clear blue skies.
7/. Best Place
I've mentioned it already - Gloucester. Some mildly interesting facts about the place: it has the longest railway platform in Britain and is the most inland port in the UK. Gloucester Docks are a fascinating place to visit and clearly have much promise once all the development of new leisure facilities are finished. The Cathedral is one of the finest I've visited in a long while and the town itself is attractive and steeped in history, which dates back to the Romans.
8/. Best TV
This is a difficult one mainly because there has been so little in the way of 'good' TV this year. One of my highlights has been the second season of Battlestar Galactica, which I am revisiting again on DVD. There have been a couple of one-off programmes which have really impressed such as Stephen Fry's personal and painful exploration of manic depression and a fantastic if often unbearable documentary, Rain in my Heart, about alcoholism and its terrible consequences.
9/. Best Memory
It has to be Tim & Sharon's wedding in October. A wonderful day, a great weekend full of happiness and joy.
10/. Best of all 2006?
I made it to 30! I end the year in a new job and I've achieved and done many other things that I wanted to do during the last twelve months. The one thing that has made 2006 special has been my friends without whom I would not be able to look back on so many of the best and happiest times of the last 12 months.