Writing is hard. Writing in a foreign language is even more perplexing. Writing in a foreign language on an obscure manual typewriter from the 1950s while drinking Bronx with bitters is what I am doing right now, so thou shalt forgive me the old-fashioned style I let to slip through, purely unintentionally of course.

Stories don’t end with the writers, however many started the race. My stories though are more like Rube Goldberg machines: they take time, never bring instant results, but at the same time are elegant in their own way.

In January I was studying British history through the prism of modern oratory, mixing wormwood with Sarsaparilla root and infusing bourbon with pecans roasted in maple syrup, as well as explored the drinking culture from Agave to Zubrowka. In February I had a chance to experience my personal one hundred years of solitude within three days of waiting, while was watching the first snow of the year falling and a small startup I joined more than a year ago growing rapidly.

Spring was met in St. Petersburg. I was soaking in a jacuzzi overlooking the Vasilyevsky Island, ate pyshki and pelmeni. Married in a museum following Max Frei's rules, in English Embankment and with a company which is a perfect fit for such an occasion. Visited Moscow for one week and stayed for six, lived in a bridal suite overlooking the capital, in an old manor, in the "book-like" building on New Arbat. Met with friends at both sides of the bar, smoked a couple of kilograms of pipe tobacco, visited Izhevsk where I was surprised to find some very decent speak-easy's and Salekhard with fish as fresh as always. In April came back to London. Met the sunrise at Primrose Hill, started painting again, woke up on my birthday to find a cake decorated with a selection of mini liqueur bottles. I traveled to Windsor, tried a fudge and crossed the bridge between two cities, two epochs and two philosophical institutions (in both senses). Started to receive wine by subscription in the same way my grandfather used to receive books. In May went to Whitstable, had fresh oysters and walked around the bay, met old friends from another life and learned to play golf in a crazy pub underground.

In the summer, as expected, had fun. Wandered around museums, drank in a rented bar, ate on the roofs and cooked a lot. Had barbecues, introduced people from completely different social backgrounds, taught how to mix cocktails at the bar and sunbathed on a limestone beach, got sunburned on the hills of Moorgate, traveled through Germany, France, and Switzerland. Swam in Hastings and drank beer in Oxford. Showed the capital to my parents and sister, experimented with habits, lose a dozen kilograms (slowly gaining them back though).

September was spent traveling. I studied alchemy and mixology in Milan, lived in a house full of antiques in Verona, celebrated two years anniversary by going to the Lake Garda with the most marvellous one. In October tasted some Nobel spirits, while hundreds of people were telling me stories about them, and partied during All Saints Night under the gaze of beautiful blood-red eyes. In November finally watched Hamilton the Musical: for the first time live, but already knowing all scenes by heart. Went to Turin to give a talk, got a bunch of new friends and an indescribable gastronomic experience. Moved to Barcelona for the next few days, stood in queues for tapas and wandered through the Gothic quarter at nights.

The last month of the year perfectly came through. Gifted a surprise trip to an island and didn't give away the destination till the gate at the airport. Hiked to the top of a volcano on Tenerife, sailed on a kayak in the ocean, traveled on mountain serpentines and spent nights in a cave. Celebrated the end of another milestone with my colleagues: was drinking Minced Pie Martinis, writing in Assembler, and eating a whiskey-infused cheesecake. Bought a manual typewriter and set a few goals for it in the next year, fried marshmallows on a fire, cooked cider and pelmeni. Hosted a few dozens of cocktail parties with the best people around.

Now it's time for 2019. Happy New Year, friends!