Well it is this time of year again where we all look back over the last 12 months. So following on in the same style as the 2010 review, here is my year in lists.last . I hope you enjoy.

Top 5 Albums

1)Glee – The Music Volume 5

2)Ed Sheeran – +

3)Lady Gaga – Born This Way

4)Noah & The Whale – Last Night On Earth

5)Friendly Fires – Pala

This year I have listened to some great albums and it was tough compiling this list this year. For the second year running I have a Glee album as number 1. Now I know Glee may not be ‘serious’ music and in most cases they do covers, but I do enjoy listening to their versions and have particularly enjoyed Volume 5 by them because it is the first to feature some original songs which are actually good pop songs. The album in second place is by Ed Sheeran. I really like the singer songwriter style of music that is popular at the moment. Ed Sheeran is a joy to listen to and he brilliant with his use of words. Add in the fact that he is ginger and you have a successful combination. The album at number 3 is Lady Gaga. This is a fantastic pop album and has so many stand out songs it is difficult to pick one. It has certainly been the soundtrack to my life this year. At 4 is Noah and the Whale. This is their third album and in my opinion it is their best yet. They some really great uplifting songs just what was needed during such a turbulent year. Finally the album in fifth place is by Friendly Fires. This was an album I just randomly tried and fell in love with. However after seeing them live I do think it is best to listen to the album rather than see them live.

Top 5 Songs

1)Glee Cast – Get It Right

2)Lady Gaga – Born This Way

3)Rihanna – S&M

4)Military Wives Choir – Wherever You Are

5)Nicole Scherzinger – Don’t Hold Your Breath

My top song of the year is by Glee. This is one of their original songs and at the time that the song was released it really fitted in with how I as feeling at the time. The song in second place is ‘Born This Way’. I said earlier that the Lady Gaga album was my soundtrack to the year well then this song was my anthem. It released at the start of the year when I dealing with who I was and this just gave me the reassurance  that I needed. The song in third place was ‘S&M’. Now this is slightly rude but it is a very good song and was also one of the best songs I found to run to while training for the Great North Run. In fourth place was the Military Wives Choir. This was only released late in the year but it is a beautiful song and after watching the TV programme I understand the importance of the song. Finally the fifth song is by Nicole Scherzinger. Now I am not a big fan of her but this is a really good catchy pop song and I have enjoyed listening to it a lot.

Top 5 Books

1)Dark Fire by C.J Sansom

2)Mystery Man by Bateman

3)Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw

4)The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

5)The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman

I planned to read more books in 2011 compared to 2010. I did do this as read 22 books instead of 19 but it is nowhere near what I usually read. I did read quite a few tough going books in 2011 such as The Amber Spyglass and also Midnight’s Children. these two certainly slowed me down in my reading. My top book of the year was ‘Dark Fire’ by C.J.Sansom. This had everything I wanted from a good book, it was well written, had a good plot and it had the crucial ‘just one more chapter feel’ to it. In second place it was ‘Mystery Man’ by Bateman this was a crime novel but with a comic feel to it. It is also the only book in the top 5 which I read as part of my book club. It was a surprise hit with me and I look forward to reading more by Bateman. In third place was ‘Wintercraft’ by local author Jenna Burtenshaw. This is a Young Adult book but is a really good read. It has a feel of ‘1981’ and ‘His Dark Materials’. It is the first in the rapidly successful series by Jenna and is in my opinion a great option for all those missing the Harry Potter books. In fourth place was ‘The Slap’. This was a very contemporary novel set in Australia. I really loved the style of writing in the book although I felt the ending was tied up too quickly. It was still a great read. Finally in fifth place is probably the shortest book I have read this year ‘The Tiny Wife’ (even the subject of the story is small) with only 88 pages. It is a modern tale fairy tale with beautiful illustrations to match. It was a joy to read and proves size doesn’t always matter.

Top 5 TV Programmes

1)Glee (Season 2)

2)Merlin

3)Torchwood: Miracle Day

4)Strictly Come Dancing

5)Downton Abbey

This year has been a good year for TV with some surprise hits such as ‘My Life In Books’ and new dramas such as ‘Case Histories’. My top 5 programmes feature 3 programmes that were in the top 5 for 2010. My favourite show of the year is the same as 2010, it is ‘Glee’. It is however only season 2 I am on about as season 3 is now only showing on SKY so it means no future top 5 slot while this is the case. However season 2 of Glee was brilliant but one of the main story lines that was happening did seem to echo my own life  (but with less singing). It seemed to prick my conscience and make me address things I was trying to ignore in my life. So it is only fitting it is my number 1 show of 2010. In second place was ‘Merlin’ This has been going for four series now and shows no sign of waning. It just gets better and better and I enjoyed the whole series this year and I am looking forward to the next series. In third place was ‘Torchwood:Miracle Day”. This series made up for such a poor series of Dr Who this year. I was worried before it started as I was concerned it would have had too much of an American influence which would have spoilt it. I didn’t need to worry. It was well done and a really clever plot but it could have been a shorter series as some episodes just seemed to drag it out when it wasn’t really needed. In fourth place was ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. This series had everything you want from the show, comedy, good dancing and a good range of dancers. Finally in fifth place is ‘Downton Abbey’. The second series was not quite as good as the first but the Christmas special certainly made up for it. It is Maggie Smith’s character that makes it though.

Top 5 Films

1)Black Swan

2)Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows part 2

3)The Kings Speech

4)Tron Legacy

5)The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

This year was a poor year for me watching films. Instead of hoping to go to the cinema more I actually went less. Just 4 times. all I can say is thank goodness for DVD’s. My top film of the year was ‘Black Swan’. Now i know some people loved it while others thought a lot differently. I thought it was well shot and well acted my only criticism is all the shots of bleeding feet “Ewwww”. I also think one of the reasons I enjoyed it was because it was part of my big 30th birthday celebrations and I was able to share in the experience with lots of friends and the whole day of celebrations was brilliant and this was part of it. In second place was ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2’. This was the end of an era basically as it was the last of the films and it was good and I even managed to sort of overlook the differences between the film and the book. In third place was ‘The Kings Speech’. Births films know how to do films about royalty and make the rest of the world love it. It was a great film and well acted by Colin Firth but not necessarily his best work as I preferred him in ‘A Single Man’. I do think that Geoffrey Rush should have got the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role though. In fourth place was ‘Tron Legacy’. I wasn’t expecting much from this film but i loved it. They captured the 80’s feel very well and I just loved it. In fifth place was ‘The Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. This was also a surprise hit for me. It had a great cast and some brilliant action scenes. It was also the first time that I have been to the cinema on a date. Basically I think its best watching films with other people and I need to do this more.

Top 5 Live Acts/Productions

1)Muse

2)Elbow

3)Sarah Millican

4)Glee Live!

5)Patrick Monahan

2011 saw me see lots of live productions/ gigs etc. so it was quite hard to just pick my top 5. 2011 saw me go to my first ever festival where I saw some brilliant groups and artists live. It was at Leeds Festival where I saw my top 2 live acts of the year. In first place it was Muse. Now I do like their music and have odd tracks but no albums. After seeing them live I have now got their albums as they are amazing to see live. not only because of their brilliant music but because of the visual show that they put on. The first half of their set was the entire ‘Origin of Symmetry’ album which was then followed by their other big hits. It was 2 hours of brilliance and utter joy. In second place was Elbow. They were also on at Leeds Festival and were one of the bands I wanted to see. Their performance clashed with Ed Sheeran who I also wanted to see and originally I planned on leaving half way through Elbows set to go to see Ed Sheeran. However once Elbow started I realised I just had to stay to watch and listen. Guy Garvey the lead singer is a natural live performer and you just don’t want their performance to end. In third place is a comedy act. Following on from last year my love of watching stand up comedy continued to grow in 2011. The highlight comedy act for me was seeing Sarah Millican do a preview gig in Darlington. It was great to see such a top comedian in my home town in such an intimate venue. It was a really funny show and I even got involved. In fourth place was Glee Live. I love the music and I love the show so when I got the opportunity to go to see them in Manchester I just had to say yes and go. It was a great gig and fun to watch but it could have done with being a lit longer. Still glad I went though. Finally in fifth place was Patrick Monahan. Now I saw him in 2010 at the Edinburgh Festival where he was the MC for a show. This time he was headlining his own show. It is hard for me to say what it was like to watch his show as I didn’t exactly watch the show it was more being on stage with him and some other so-called volunteers. It was brilliant and I actually did love get involved I even felt comfortable telling a room of a few hundred that I was gay just months after coming out.. Patrick Monahan is not only a brilliant comedian but also a great guy who loves hugging (well don’t we all).

Top 5 Most Played Songs On My iPod

1)Glee Cast – Get It Right

2)Glee Cast – Don’t You Want Me

3)Glee Cast – Touch a Touch a Touch a Touch Me

4)Lady Gaga – Born This Way

5)Cast of Shrek – This Is Our Story

They usually say you can tell a lot about someone from the most played songs on their iPod. Basically my top 5 says that I love a bit of cheesy music with a good show tune thrown in for good measure. My top 5 most played songs are probably quite stereotypical for a single guy but hey I enjoyed listening to them.

Top 5 Personal Disappointments

1)Still living at home

2)Being Single

3)Not having a Holiday 

4)Not taking every opportunity that comes my way

5)Not saving money

This time of the year we all look back at things that have worked and haven’t worked out for ourselves. I thought I would look at disappointments first and then end on the highlights. My biggest disappointment is that I am still at home. I am single and 30 (almost 31) and this is big deal. I realised this year that if I want to move on with my life and start seeing people it will all be easier to have my own place and give me some space that I probably need and I will be certainly hoping to do something about this in 2012. The second disappointment is that I am still single. Now I know things happen when they are meant to and to some extent i just need to go with flow but it is still frustrating. I have been on dates this year and now that I have come out it does make it a bit easier as I can be more open with friends and family. A friend of mine said recently that it will happen and chances are they are probably in my life already or I have met them some how. I hope that’s the case and if they are reading this then please do get in touch. The third disappointment was not having a holiday. Now this was choice I made as I used the time I had for holidays for training for the Great North Run but it certainly did nothing for my well-being and I am going to make a big effort tot have a holiday in 2012. My fourth biggest disappointment is that I haven’t always made the most of all opportunities that I have had. Sometimes i have but not always and I need to say yes more and get myself out and maybe just be more spontaneous and act on my instincts more. finally my biggest disappointment is not saving money. when I get down I decide to treat myself to things which is fine but it’s not going to help the bigger picture is it. So I need to improve this especially if I want to get my own place.

Top 5 Personal Highlights

1)Completing the Great North Run

2)’Coming Out’

3)Going to my first ever festival

4)Trying something new.

5)World Book Night 2011

Ok so the bad things are out-of-the-way I can now end this blog on the positives and look at my highlights of 2011. My biggest highlight of 2011 was taking part and more importantly completing the Great North Run. Now I am not a runner in fact most forms of exercise are avoided by me. But as I turned 30 I wanted to do some big challenges and this was one of them. It was tough but so rewarding to do and even now i occasionally put my medal on. It proves that anyone can do anything. It wasn’t the quickest of times. I did it in 3hrs, 9 minutes and 9 seconds but I was certainly not last and I didn’t do it for the time I did it to push myself and that’s what I did. My second highlight was ‘coming out’. This was another big thing I had to address. People asked me how long had I known I was gay and I suppose I always did know but I realised in 2011 I had stop blocking it out. It true what they say. You have to come out to yourself before you can come out to others. I am so pleased I have done this and I can’t thank those who helped with this during the year with this. The third highlight of the year was going to my first ever festival. I had always wanted to go to a festival as I think it is one of those landmarks you have to don at some point in your life. I have now done this as I went to Leeds Festival. It was just a day pass but I certainly got the festival experience as there was so much mud and I still can’t get over the hill we hat to climb to get out of the site. Still a brilliant day with friends and some even better music. This year I also did try some new experiences such as Zumba and going to see my first professional ballet. I only went once to Zumba and it was fun but a lot of work but a bit off-putting as I was the only guy there. I might do it again sometime though. The ballet I went to see was Matthew Bourne’s  Cinderella. Now normally ballet just doesn’t appeal but this is a very modern interpretation and I actually forgot it was ballet I was watching. I hope to see more of his productions. the final highlight of the year was getting involved in World Book Night. This was where people were chosen to hand out copies of a book to members of the public. The aim was for 1 million books to be given away in one night.. I was successfully chosen and gave away copies of ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls at my local hospital which was also part of a special Hospital radio show that we did. It was a great thing to get involved in and hopefully will do this year.

Overall its been an OK year. It has had some highs and lows and I have tried to make the most of the things but I could have done more.  Thanks again to everyone I met or spoke to in 2011. Hopefully 2012 will be my best year yet.

My usual weekly round up blog will be out tomorrow. So many blogs at the moment I am almost spoiling you all.

Any way for now all I will say is…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

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