Twenty Fourteen, what a year it’s been…

I keep telling friends and family that my life has never changed so much as it has in the last 12 months, and for good reason. Incredible things have happened, from new jobs, to locations, and a whole lot of luck – 2014 was awfully good to me.

In fact, my uncanny luck seems only to have increased this year, so as a way of appeasing whatever deity or figure has hurled such wondrous fortunes my way, I’ve decided to make this, a quick look back at some of the fantastic things that happened in the last 12 months. It’s sort of a step up from Facebook’s ‘highlights of your year’ thing, that only let you post a handful of photos and a bit of text.

Anyway, thank you so so much if you were involved in making my year as wonderful was it was. I love you all.

OVERSTAYING MY WELCOME ON PURPOSE – January 25-February 15

I begin with an exercise in apathy.

The early months of 2014 saw much of the country battered by storms and floods, not least, the Westcountry, my home. I was at home when the worst of the weather hit, and though it was a bit of a cop-out, I decided to use it as an excuse not to travel back to Uni on time. I missed two weeks, and to be honest, I’m glad I did.

It was a wonderful few weeks at home.

Polly Joke; Windswept and freezing cold. Quite simply stunning

I’ll never do it again, but at the time, I was incredibly homesick, and I hadn’t enjoyed my first few months of University that much because of it. The rest of the year, though, improved dramatically, and I’m saddened far less by the prospect of traveling around.

EASTBOURNE HALF-MARATHON – March 2

Myself and my now-flatmate, then-coursemate Andy decided that we wanted to start making videos…about anything. There was a small sporting event held at Prince’s Park in March, and so we both went along to try and cover it.

I also conducted an interview personal hero and mentor of mine Warwick ‘Rick’ Lane, who took part in the race despite a very delicate knee. He’s an example to us all.

What a great ambassador for us all.
What a great ambassador!

The video footage of the day and the interview never made it to an edit because the camera’s processor was so poor, and we nearly missed the start because I overslept.

It was a very good way to learn how NOT to be a sports reporter, but it’s not like we needed press passes or anything, so nobody really minded. Plus, it produced an article for Brighton University’s Sports Blog Overtime Online. Which brings me on to my next highlight…

VARSITY – April 3

However, eager to continue our progress in reporting, we decided to attend Varsity, an annual competition between fierce South coast rivals Brighton and Sussex. My team, or ‘Varsi-team’ as I called them, consisted of my chums, Alex Rees, Andy Element, Emily Magee and Laura Seaman.

With two much better cameras than the one I used for the half-marathon, we hot-footed it over to the gorgeous Falmer campus to report on the 19 sports that were due to take place.

Myself, Emily and Alex formed ‘Team Granite’, and Andy and Laura (once they had finished kissing, the damn romantics) formed ‘Team Cement’

Team Cement, a glorious combining of 'Seaman and Element'
Team Cement, a glorious combining of ‘Seaman and Element’

Mostly, Granite covered racquet sports. Alex was meant to be playing badminton, but had severely injured his ankle the week before the event, so he was spectating, but showing support in the official Brighton Panthers colours of purple.

Myself and the side-lined Mr Rees.

We (Emily and I) left him at the badminton end of the Virgin Active Centre, and went outside to seek the chaps playing tennis in the tennis dome.

This formed our base of operations for the day in truth, we spent most of the day in there, which was probably not the best idea, considering it was so humid in there!

Shout out to Simon Cowell for hair inspiration.
Foolishly, I attempted to play tennis with Emily in the heat… in a suit jacket and chinos. Needless to say, it got pretty sweaty, but you don’t want to hear about that. Trust me. You don’t.

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Brighton’s super tennis quartet of (Left to right) Nick Grimwade, James Craven, Matt Debney, and Rob Peters.

Men’s Tennis was our main focus for the day, and so we interviewed the guys (below) about their performances.

EDITOR, SOCIAL SEC, ACTIVATOR, COURSE REP

Okay, I’m not giving the film ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ much of a run for its money, but these are four titles I’ve managed to pick up this year. Not bad eh?

The first, Editor, pertains to my appointment as Overtime’s F1 Editor, which I picked up around March/April time from outgoing graduates James Dan and Billy Lambeth. The role hasn’t really done that much for me in all honestly – I’m still dreadful at keeping to deadlines because I get side-tracked too easily, and the articles don’t get many views. Still, it’s a string to the bow, and having my own section on someone else’s website is pretty cool. I’ve separated F1 from other motorsport because I think it deserves it’s own section.

It does on the sites of The Guardian, The Telegraph and other top papers, so why no this one?

Social Sec, short for Secretary, means that I’m partly in charge of a Society at University, namely Racquets (Stylised at ‘Racket Sports Social’) Social. It’s a combination of badminton and tennis players, and every Wednesday, we get together, drink, dress up in ridiculous outfits, and have a jolly good time.

Activator is the most-impressive sounding moniker of the four – I and Alex Rees (See Varsity for more information/pictures of his cheeky face) run badminton sessions twice a week, because we’re awesome, and it’s fun. We also get a snazzy green Nike shirt for free.

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Nice.

Course Rep? I’m one of those nerds that goes to meetings and dictates how the course is run, and serve as a bridge between students and staff. Stay in my good books, journos. I’ve got a God complex and I’m not afraid to use it.

WORLD CUP 2014

Politically, it was a farce. Financially, the country couldn’t support it. The opening game, and the host team, were dire.

But somewhere in the chaos of FIFA corruption cases, scandals, economic hardship, the odd riot, and David Luiz’ hair, some unbelievably good football was played. A personal highlight of mine was Ghana 1 – 2 USA.

I also had a great time watching Spain (a team that bores me to the point of self-harm) get absolutely mutilated by Chile and the Netherlands. Tiki-taka football is dead. It’s finally dead.

Instead, pacy, end-to-end football was played in a lot of the group games. I guess that means that there wasn’t a whole lot of good defending, but it was bloody exciting to watch! The Netherlands, Colombia and The USA were my favourite teams to watch, with the USA particularly striking a chord given the nation’s indifference to football (the real kind) in the past.

There were a few low points for me – Iran 0-0 Nigeria was one of the dreariest, most eye-bawlingly bad games I’ve ever had the misfortune of watching, which is a feat in itself considering I sat through a Plymouth Argyle 0-0 Wrexham fixture as a 10-year-old in 2004.

Honduras 0-3 France irked me to the point of anger, because of how despicable the Hondurans were. They weren’t playing football – these idiots were hacking at the French players. It absolutely disgusted me, so much so that I swore at the TV.

The final low point was something I wrote about, Messi winning the golden ball as the tournament’s best player. That distinction should have gone to Arjen Robben, or if you’re against people that make a meal out of contact in the penalty area to win soft spot-kicks, the mesmerising James Rodriguez.

Watching Brazil’s earth-shattering defeat to Germany in the Semis truly felt like I was living a piece of history. That said, I’m glad I wasn’t actually at the stadium when they slumped 1-7 to the Weltmeisters, because I imagine some sort of Brazilian chap would have shot the place up.

The final was a bit boring, but you can’t deny that the Germans were deserving champions, and that Joachim Lowe’s long game finally coming to fruition indicates just how clever – and patient – he is.

Red Bull OPENHOUSE

In early June, just after returning from my first year of uni, a very splendid Formula 1 blog called Badger GP (more on that later) had a competition to attend an event called Red Bull Openhouse. Their entry requirement was simple – say why you want to go!

With an itinerary set to include meet-and-greets with Red Bull’s finest, as well as some BMX stunts and of course LUNCH, this was my response:

A week passed and I thought little of my chances of triumph, until this popped up:

Needless to say, I was astonished, and it was probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. I duly sauntered up the road to Milton Keynes, and you can read more about the most incredible day of the year in one of two places – either on my blog, or on Badger GP itself.

They were gracious enough to publish my words about the day, and I made sure I kept in contact with them on Twitter throughout the rest of the year, just in case we hit it off.

The little acorn was planted…

A MINI BREAK IN TORQUAY

I was meant to go to Rome this summer because I won a competition, but it turned out that the company that ran the competition was a bogus load of jerks making false promises. The ‘prize’ was a trip for one person for two days, although they neglected to mention that the hotel, airport, and city itself were all 30 miles from each other, and that I’d be spending all my time and money on transport.

After cancelling that, a task which cost me over £200 (Seriously, F**k you, Husky Events. You suck) I decided that a three-day trip to the English Riviera would be a good way to ease the pain of a pointless two-month pursuit of a cursed holiday.

It was a mighty fine decision, because Torquay was gorgeous and sun-soaked for most of the time I and my lovely girlfriend Iona were there. The one time it rained, we were on a boat looking at wildlife (Cormorants, enormous gulls and the odd seal) on the coastline. There was something amazingly liberating about being out in the sea while it was raining, it was amazing!

I found a very small fish (A minnow, I think) on the beach shortly after we arrived and it produced one of my finest head-shots ever:

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We had a fair few ice creams, and even more liquid lunches, sitting on the edge of the marina with pints of Rattler and Kopparberg. Maybe one day I’ll manage to do it abroad!

We visited some awesome eating places, the highlight of which was a place called Mambo. Everyone eating there was our sort of age, they served the strongest cocktails I’ve ever encountered, and some stonkingly-good food. We also visited a great place called Rock Garden which had an outside terrace/lawn type thing but in the middle of buildings, to give you the illusion of being in a huge city. It was really cool and the food was pretty good there too.

On the final day we met an old school chum by the name of Hayley Coates, with whom we had a nice little lunch at a pub right next to the harbour. She was gracious enough to take this nice photo of the two of us:

WP_20140717_010It was a lovely little break.

Shortly after, we celebrated two years together (On August 3rd, if you wanted to send flowers for next year) and went to another great eatery called C-Bay, overlooking Crantock bay. We ate some damn good food, and then sat outside and watched the sea, and because it was cold, one of the waitresses brought us a big candle in a bucket and a blanket. You don’t normally get that kind of service, so it was really quite special to be treated so nicely. Thank you, C-Bay!

A WHOLE LOT OF SWIMMING

I found a liking for swimming in the sea this summer, nothing beats the refreshing cold, the waves that slap you in the face, and the lack of veruccas and plasters at the bottom of many swimming pools. Yum.10628603_10202591618419569_2582214699184878199_n

On occasion, I actually couldn’t help myself and simply had to get in the water. One such occasion was at Fistral, where I was having a meal with Iona. As I looked out on the water, a fever came across me, one that could only be quelled by a(n hour long) dip in the ocean. In my aqua-lusting frenzy I went downstairs to Ann’s Cottage, to purchase a beach towel purely for the occasion, a towel that I use still now, so I guess I’m not totally crazy.

The best swim I had, and the best day of the whole year as far as I’m concerned, was down at Polly Joke in the middle of a very warm July. I’m not telling you where it is, because it’s a tiny hidden little beach that tourists don’t know about, and hence, don’t spoil with chubby sunburned, freckly backs.

Iona and I swam in the cooling sea for hours, drank Strongbow Dark Fruit Cider (new favourite of mine) and capped it all with a couple of freshly-BBQ’d burgers; quite simply the perfect day at the beach.

MATT EDMONDSON

In 2013 I was lucky enough to get a text read out on Matt Edmondson’s Radio 1 Show in a segment called ‘News before the news’, where people send in mundane things that they have seen, or that they’ve done in. Back then, I sent in a text saying I had created a smoothie at work because I was bored.

This year, I went one better – I talked to Matt on his show!

It was another boring day at work with few customers – except one. The lovingly-named ‘Cowboy-Hat Man’, who comes in, without fail every day to buy a small tub of Ice Cream.

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The man himself.

His flavour of choice was at the time Cornish Cream Tea, so I sent a text in to Radio 1, and shortly after, they phoned me back! However, I had my second customer of the day at that time, so on the second attempt I was patched through, given a quick transcript of what Matt would say, and after the current song had played out, I was on.

We discussed whether his outfit was entirely Cowboy-related, his flavour, and whether I had enjoyed being on the radio, to which I replied (as is par for the course on his show) “It’s been the worst experience of my life.”

It wasn’t. I loved it.

MY FIRST GIG

It was mid-October when a certain Craig Norman (fantastic guy) of Badger GP sent me an e-mail entitled ‘Writing Opportunity’.

I damn near fainted when I saw that.

Here was an e-mail letting me know that my foot was well and truly in the door, and that this whole journalism shabang might just be my thing. After discussion, my role was identified, and I now write a piece called ‘Badgerometer’ every Tuesday after Formula 1 races, and whenever I can think of something clever otherwise.

It essentially picks the top 5 talking points from a Formula 1 race weekend. The thing I love about Badger is that its content is slightly less-serious. That’s not to say the content is silly; it’s fantastic, but there’s an edge of humour, and that suits me down to the ground!

It’s early days yet, but I’m starting to settle in to the role, I’m incredibly excited about all the things we’re going to do together.

 FANTASTIC FESTIVITY

As I write this, the New Year has just begun to roll in and a lovely Christmas has been had. I managed to get people some nice presents and received some myself. I managed an impressive feat of 4 roast dinners in 5 days at one point. Personally, the highlight of my Christmas was getting my Gran and Papa drunk on Christmas Day and playing Consequences with them and my parents.

I’ve loved catching up with old friends, and despite the conversation starter “How’s uni/your course going?” grating on me a little now, it’s been a wonderful couple of weeks home.

Thank you to everyone who made 2014 so very special for me. I usually look back on years as a whole rather than taking them by single days, weeks or months, and I have to say that 2014 was the best year of my life so far. I’m going to stop reflecting now and go and seize 2015 to see if I can possibly surpass the last one, and continue the momentum of the things I’ve now set in motion.

Signing off for the last time in 2014, I’ve been Charlie Eustice for Overtime Online, Badger GP, Brighton University, and Charlie Eustice Media Zone. Love you bye!

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