As this year draws to a close it’s time to look back on some of the events which have featured in my life and on this blog over the last twelve months. January started with a New Year’s Day walk round a large local park which I hadn’t been to for many years but for once I was on my own ; Sophie was on the long road to recovery following a recent major operation and couldn’t go out so it would have been unfair of me to take Poppie and leave Sophie behind. Also that month Michael was rewarded for ten years continuous service at work with £100 of ‘extra dough’ to be paid as either a tax-free lump sum or vouchers to use wherever he wanted.
February started off with a few days of snow and though it was bitterly cold there was also lots of blue sky and sunshine so the first of the month saw me taking a very snowy local dog walk to Smithills Hall ; although not too far from home it was Sophie’s first post-op walk of any distance and she was absolutely fine. Later in the month I got the surprise, and much appreciated, gift of a beautiful dog quilt hand made by my blogging friend Jayne and I had my first visit to Lytham Hall for a snowdrop walk. Then in contrast to the cold start to the month the weather became so unseasonably warm and sunny that I was able to wear a t-shirt and cycling shorts on my dog walks – something previously unheard of in February!
In contrast to the unseasonably warm weather of late February March was mainly grey, wet and windy so decent dog walks were few and far between. At the beginning of the month I treated myself to a new camera and on a dog walk round a local nature reserve tried out some of the settings on shots of various wildlife around the lake. March was also the month when I found myself locked in the front porch at work one day and spent quite some time sitting on my upturned mop bucket while waiting to be rescued by the boss’s son.
April started off with a beautifully pleasant sunny day on the 1st of the month so taking advantage of it I visited a local park which I hadn’t been to for over 40 years, then a week later I discovered the very lovely Ashton Gardens at St. Annes, gardens which I hadn’t known about until someone at work told me about them. The good weather continued for most of the month although the early mornings were a bit chilly, then a long sunny and very warm Easter weekend saw me making my first foray into the north western Lake District, camping at a wonderfully peaceful farm site north of Bassenthwaite Lake and actually coming home with a suntan.
May brought more good weather and after finding out about it on the internet I paid two visits to the secluded village of Sunderland Point on the River Lune estuary. The only road access to the village is by a tidal causeway which is several feet under water twice a day so I timed my first visit for when the tide was out, then to get a different perspective I went again when the tide was in, parking a mile or so away from the village and walking the rest of the way along a footpath. May was also the month when my pc decided to give up the ghost big style and I had to work from a borrowed laptop until I could get a new desktop model.
Early June saw the arrival of my birthday and a cash gift from Michael gave me the opportunity to buy a much-longed-for and rather expensive folding camp bed, then later in the month I returned to Cumbria for a 10-day holiday, camping at the same site I’d stayed on at Easter. The weather was mainly good and taking some suggestions from the book ‘111 Places in the Lake District You Shouldn’t Miss’ I discovered and photographed several places I wouldn’t otherwise have known about.
I don’t, as a rule, frequent cities as they hold no attraction for me at all but mid July saw me going to Manchester, not once but twice. The first time was a visit to the Cat Café which, given the not-exactly-cheap cost, was a one-off experience, then after some internet research my second visit to the city was to track down some of the many murals and works of street art dotted around the Norther Quarter. July was also the month when I accidentally managed to get a large and very solid traffic cone wedged firmly under the back of the van when I was at work, and being unable to free it I ended up calling out the AA. Fortunately there was no damage to the van though the situation did give the AA guy a good laugh.
August started off well with a lovely walk along a section of the Lancaster Canal and a wander round Garstang, plus two visits to Blackburn in search of some street art, but the month went badly downhill when my van was stolen complete with all my camping gear which was packed in it ready for a planned holiday to Anglesey. However, in spite of the emotional and practical upset I was determined not to let it stop me from getting out and about and the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend saw me having a lovely day out at Arnside, and after driving everywhere for ten years it made a change to go by train.
September started off with glorious weather and two weeks after my day out to Arnside I went by train to Morecambe and walked from there to Heysham Village, another lovely little place I hadn’t been to for many years. Three days later I went over to Ireland for a week where, among other things, I spent two days roaming round Dublin photographing street art and other things, climbed six near-vertical ladders up the inside of Kildare tower, visited the Irish National Stud, explored a haunted castle and went to the lovely little village of Dromineer on the east shore of Lough Derg. Over the course of the week I took 951 photos and once back home it took me a month to edit them all and write my holiday posts on here.
October for me was very much a ‘nothing’ sort of month. The good weather of September had finally disappeared and with the exception of just a couple of dry days it rained almost constantly so any dog walks were kept local and short. The highlight of the month was the day when a large tree fell across the lane leading down to one of the places where I work, completely blocking any access ; it took several items of heavy machinery and half a dozen guys with chainsaws to cut it up, move it and unblock the lane.
October’s rain continued into November and made it another ‘nothing’ month with no good dog walks and no days out. My camera card somehow decided to corrupt itself and I couldn’t download the most recent photos to my computer, and though it was mildly annoying it wasn’t the world’s greatest disaster as the photos were only local ones which could be taken again another time. After getting a new media card I took the camera to work one morning and got a couple of nice shots of the early morning sky through the trees ; it had the makings of being a nice day but less than two hours later the rain was back. November was also the month when a cute little mouse (fortunately already dead) ended up not as the dinner of the cat which caught it but as the dinner of one of my two dogs!
And so to the events of this month – another short holiday in Ireland where I photographed lots more Dublin street art, and a visit to the Trafford Centre to see the Coca-Cola truck. Michael came back from Ireland on the 14th and brought his girlfriend Laura to stay until after New Year ; Christmas was a quiet affair with just the three of us. More damp and gloomy weather has prevented us from having a decent day out though yesterday we actually had some sunshine and blue sky so we had a drive to Southport and back. Tonight we’ll probably go up to the moorland road near here and watch the fireworks going off all over all over town – Michael told Laura about our annual ‘tradition’ and she specifically asked if we can go.
So there you have it, some of the highlights of my year. All that remains now is to welcome any recent new readers to my blog and thank everyone for visiting ; if it wasn’t for my readers there wouldn’t be a blog, so I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year – have a good one!