Monday, 28 December 2009


It's been a strange old year, one way or another, but as it draws to a close I can't help but feel positive about what lies ahead. Choosing my favourite moment of 2009 was quite simple; that's not to say there hasn't been many of them.

My favourite sporting moment arrived, once again, in the FA Cup. If you're a Kettering Town fan then it's this competition that offers the most joy. Facing a Leeds side that continues to run away with League One was a daunting prospect, and holding them to a one-all draw at home, 13 minutes away from actually winning the tie, would have been my top moment if it wasn't for what was to follow. The draw would see the winners face Manchester United at Old Trafford, and although we feared nothing but a hammering at Elland Road, the boys were 10 minutes away from a penalty shoot-out and that dream-tie, until it all went horribly wrong. Elding's strike against his former club to level the tie was pure theatre; the ITV cameras fully rewarded, twice, for finally seeing sense.

Musically, my favourite gig was Frank Turner, supported by Fake Problems, my favourite movie was Let The Right One In, although I've yet to see Up!, Avatar and Where The Wild Things Are. My favourite album was by a band called New Device, and my favourite trip in the UK was to Wast Water, Cumbria, despite the imminent floods.

However, easily my greatest adventure was my husky trek across the Arctic tundra in Norway. The Ice Hotel, the sauna, my first taste of reindeer and the dogs welcoming us on our first night would easily make it into my top ten, but the finest moment of the year would have to be the following...

'Suddenly the white becomes a perceptible image; bursting through the curtain of snow is a great big tree and it’s heading straight for me. I’ve lost control of my sled and as it roars on, leaving snow swirling in the bitter draft, a question hits me harder than the piece of magical terrain I’m supposed to be travelling across… why am I doing this?

The dogs refused to answer. Instead, fantastic looks as I walked shamefully toward them to retrieve my sled; they reveal unmistakable grins as yet another sucker gets picked off. And then they're off, sprinting away without me. I had already discovered this demeanour on day one of our adventure to Alta, Norway, 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, but now, three days in, wiser than Yoda, I was determined to get the better of them.

Luckily, my guide wasn’t far behind. Ryan Hatcher, a man slightly taller than the Jedi warrior but with the chest and limbs of Action Man, told me to jump on his sled so his six powerful huskies could chase my five. I felt like Skywalker battling the At-At’s on planet Hoth, catapulted into my very own western.

We charged across the snowy woodlands, weaving left and right, a shift in gears taking us ever closer to the outlaws. Struggling to find my footing on his sled, we overtook the surprised fugitives with some verve. I somehow managed to leap off, compose myself and catch the sled without ripping my arm from its socket.

I will never forget their disapproving faces as we galloped past them, neither will I forget their grumbles to one another as we continued our epic journey. Finally, I had my revenge. Revenge for all the defecation I had the pleasure to witness.'

As for next year, as long as England win the World Cup I don't care what happens...

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