Looking back – 2020

As another year draws to a close it’s time for me to look back on some of the events which have featured in my life and on this blog over the last twelve months. With dull grey days and almost incessant rain January was very much a ‘nothing’ type of month; good walks and outdoor photography were out of the question and not just because of the weather. Early in the month, and for no apparent reason, little Sophie suffered a debilitating stroke so all my time and attention was devoted to caring for her and helping her to recover in the best way I could.
February was a particularly sad month. In spite of medication and all my care and attention, after almost five weeks of constant nursing and a lovely morning when I really did think Sophie was going to recover she sadly slipped quietly away while sleeping in her bed at the side of mine – the grief and feelings of loss were overwhelming and it hurt like hell that I didn’t get the chance to hold her one last time and tell her how much I loved her. She was buried in a corner of the garden close to Sugar and I always keep a plant of some sort on her little patch. Later that month a break in the weather gave me a sunny Sunday when I was able to visit Hornby Castle to see the snowdrops; under normal circumstances Sophie would have been with me so it was an afternoon out done very much in her memory and after several weeks of not being able to go anywhere it was good to be out for a few hours.
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After my sunny afternoon at Hornby Castle the rain was back and my planned visit to see the snowdrops at Lytham Hall didn’t happen until the beginning of March. By then most of the snowdrops were over but it was still an enjoyable visit. Just a week later I spent a very enjoyable time looking round Lark Hill Place, a reconstructed late Victorian street set within Salford Museum & Art Gallery, followed by looking round the museum itself. It was a grey and very chilly day but by the middle of the month the weather turned sunny again and much warmer, and I managed another couple of visits to Lytham before my freedom was curtailed by various restrictions.
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The good weather which arrived mid March continued into April, getting warmer all the time, and I discovered a few different local walks which I could take right from my own front door. On my Easter walk I was lucky enough to see a small herd of deer in a field not too far from home, on another local walk which I’ve done many times before I came across two adult llamas with two young ones in a paddock at the open farm near home and a walk round the Jumbles reservoir gave me the unexpected sighting of a jay, the first time I’ve ever seen one.
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The first few days of May saw the previously lovely weather turning back to rain but as I was in pain from a pulled muscle in my back I couldn’t go anywhere anyway. Neither the rain nor the pain lasted very long though, the warm sunny weather soon returned and I was back to walking again, both locally and further afield once various restrictions were relaxed. Local walks included Barrow Bridge and a quarry I’d never been to before then during the spring bank holiday I walked along Skippool Creek and a short section of the Lancaster Canal.
The last day of the month, which was probably one of the hottest so far, saw me walking round a gorgeous section of the River Lune at Caton, a place which was completely new to me but which I’ll certainly return to. May was also the month when Poppie slipped her lead on a Jumbles walk and ran into the water after some ducks, giving me several heart-stopping minutes when she wouldn’t come back, and Michael promised to order a pizza for tea one day but gave me a sausage roll instead.
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The arrival of June brought more lovely hot weather and my birthday and a few days later, while strimming the long grass in the back garden, I had the lovely surprise of finding an Elephant Hawk moth, something which I’d never seen before and which prompted me to leave an area of the garden uncut to encourage other forms of wildlife to visit. I had a couple of afternoons in Manchester and walks away from home that month were along the Glasson branch of the Lancaster Canal and round three different parts of Heysham – the nature reserve and Half Moon Bay, neither of which I’d been to before, plus the village itself. I also went just a short drive from home and walked from the lake at Brinscall to the village of White Coppice.
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There was a deterioration in the weather at the beginning of July and the first few days were damp and grey but it didn’t last long and the sunshine was soon back. Early in the month I got wind of a new street art installation on the side of an old mill building in town and the middle of the month saw me returning to White Coppice as part of a walk from Heapey, during which I was lucky enough to see two damsel flies at close quarters. Towards the end of the month I took a drive to Morecambe and walked quite a long distance along the promenade from south to north and back again. July was also the month when Michael decided to rearrange his room and I opened the door to find a scene of utter chaos with furniture and stuff all over the place, though it wasn’t long before everything was tidy again.
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The early days of August saw lots of patchy cloud covering the blue skies and though it meant changing my plans a couple of times as I needed clear skies for the photos I wanted to get it didn’t stop me from going out. A look round the big car boot sale at St. Michael’s was followed by a walk along part of the River Wyre and a look in the nearby church then later in the month I had days out to Knott End and Fleetwood, where I went to photograph the old wrecked boats on the marshes before looking round Fleetwood itself. August was also the month when I picked up the wrong sandwich from a shop near work one day and discovered that I definitely don’t  like jalapeno mayo.
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The last few days of August sent a storm which put down some quite torrential rain but by the beginning of September the weather had cleared again. Early in the month I took the 35-minute drive to see the Singing Ringing Tree near Burnley and this was followed a few days later by a walk along the Lancaster Canal at Garstang, then the 12th saw the start of a 2-week stay-cation when the weather was so good I was hardly at home. As well as various local walks I also visited two churches (one local and one which I’ve still to write about) walked along another section of the Lancaster Canal, went to Corporation Park in Blackburn to find the Colourfields panopticon, had an afternoon in Southport with Michael, enjoyed a day in Kirkby Lonsdale and had a day out in Morecambe which included a ‘behind the scenes’ tour at the Winter Gardens Theatre.
Towards the end of the month and on what would have been Sophie’s birthday Snowy came to my attention, and two days later she came to live with me. Initially a timid, scared, unsocialised little scrap she gradually came out of her shell and has turned into a funny, affectionate and mischievous little character. Call it fate, coincidence or what you will but as Snowy’s arrival coincided with Sophie’s birthday I sometimes think that she was actually sent by Sophie to help fill the space in my heart and my home which Sophie herself left behind.
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The good weather continued into the first couple of days of October and just a week after I got Snowy I took her for her first long walk, four miles along a section of the Leeds/Liverpool Canal. The weather went rapidly downhill straight after that and though most mornings started off with sunshine it was guaranteed to be raining by 9.30am, rain which would last for the rest of each day. Dog walks were kept to a minimum and I only went round the local avenues, with the canal walk being the last proper non-local walk which I did. Also the 9th of the month saw this blog becoming four years old.
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The rain continued into November though there was a very brief break one day in the middle of the month and I came out of work that morning to blue sky and sunshine so I left the van there and went for a walk round the nearby Jumbles to try to catch some late autumn colour before it all disappeared. 
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Unfortunately the sunshine didn’t last and the rain returned the following day, lasting right into this month and almost up to Christmas, though there was just one day early in the month when it did come nice enough to do another local walk and discover somewhere I’d never been before. 
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I had all my Christmas shopping done and dusted several days beforehand so I didn’t have to dash round Asda at the last minute and Christmas itself was a very quiet affair with just the two of us. Michael only really got one full day though as he was back at work on Boxing Day, whereas I’ve been off from my job since the 23rd and don’t go back until January 4th so I’m enjoying the rest. I still have a handful of this year’s posts to write yet though so if anyone wants me I’ll be in my usual place – here at my pc.

22 thoughts on “Looking back – 2020

  1. A year that began with the sadness of losing your lovely little Sophie, it does seem that Snowy was meant to be to fill that gap in your life but Sophie will live on in your heart. You did make the most of what has been a very strange year and I’m glad I’ve been able to follow your adventures and enjoy your photos here on your blog. Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year xx

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    1. And the same back to you Eileen. You’ve had it really tough this year so if following my adventures on here has brightened things up a bit for you then I’m glad – hopefully next year you’ll be able to get out and about yourself a few times. I really loved all the good weather we had during the summer – I was averaging three long walks every week and never seemed to be at home 🙂

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  2. It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it? I think we’ve all learned to appreciate the walks on our doorstep (though I admit now I am getting very frustrated – it’s not the same in the cold and ice)! Your photos are all beautiful. Happy 2021 when it comes.

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  3. A funny old year indeed Anabel. If anyone had told us in January what we would all be facing just a couple of months later would anyone have believed it? I don’t think I would. I did enjoy all the good weather though and I like to think I made the most of it – at the moment we don’t have any snow or ice just here but I wouldn’t be doing half those walks if we had! 🙂

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    1. Trouble is Eunice, a few lone voices DID try to tell us at the very beginning of the year that everyone needed to take action immediately, but they were ignored. Perhaps if worldwide travel had been halted at the beginning of the year we might have been facing an Asian-based epidemic rather than a devastating worldwide pandemic?

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  4. A really great review of your year Eunice. Lots of fantastic photos taken and local wildlife on local walks. And who could forget Michael promising you pizza and getting you sausage roll. Good to see your Jay in there too, and so nice that Snowy has come into your life. X

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  5. It was unbelievable how much wildlife I saw on my different walks over the months, and scenery-wise the one place which stands out for me was the Lune at Caton. It was a beautiful area and I loved it – definitely a place to return to 🙂 The pizza/sausage roll thing still makes me laugh, and it’s good to have two dogs again even if Snowy is somewhat challenging at times 🙂 🙂

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  6. It’s been a year of so many downs for many of us but we do have to remember that there have been up times too and your post shows this perfectly. I’m sorry you had the sadness of losing your lovely Sophie and I’m sure she did send Snowy into your life knowing full well the love you have to give to another little dog. Wishing you many more ups than downs in 2021 xx

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  7. I suppose with all the ups and downs you could say it’s been a ‘rollercoaster ‘ of a year 🙂 Fortunately circumstances haven’t affected me too much and I think I’ve probably been to more places this year than I would normally do – the good weather did help though 🙂 Snowy could never replace Sophie but she’s adorable in her own way and is certainly keeping me on my toes 🙂

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  8. I love the Lytham Hall snowdrops and, having a late February birthday, it’s a nice thing to do as a treat … but I don’t suppose we’re meant to go from Manchester to Lytham under Tier 4 😦 .

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  9. Lytbam Hall is currently closed but if things change and you can get there I recommend going mid February while the snowdrops are at their best – I went on the 14th last year and they were love!y, I got some good photos for the post I wrote at tbe time.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed my posts Nikki, I’m hoping that next year’s spring/summer will have as many sunny days as this year as I’m looking forward to exploring more places with the dogs and camera. Hopefully next year will be a better time for everyone 🙂

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  10. Well done my dear, you have really made the best of what has been a quite astonishing year, and your photos are fabulous.

    Fingers crossed that 2021 is somewhat less tumultuous, that we can get out and socialise/go camping, and that everyone stays safe & healthy. xx

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    1. Well I couldn’t change things so I accepted them and got on with my life as best I could, and some aspects of the situation actually worked in my favour. The continuing sunny weather over spring/summer/early autumn was brilliant for exploring and photo taking – I’m hoping for more of the same next year, with maybe a bit of camping thrown in 🙂

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  11. Yes, to a very strange year indeed, with highs & lows for all of us. I’ve enjoyed your posts & following along on your adventures in photos & dialogue. Here’s to a some what brighter outlook in 2021, but possibly not till we’ve mastered the art of all being sensible. Thanks, take care, stay safe & warm. Hugs.

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  12. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed following my adventures Susan, I’m hoping to have many more next year. Sadly there are some people who will never be sensible but hopefully things will get better and brighter next year. I hope the weather has warmed up again for you – take care 🙂

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  13. It’s been a memorable year for all the wrong reasons but your beautiful photographs prove there have been some great adventures and many wonderful moments full of joy. Here’s to many more of those in the coming year. X

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    1. This year may have been one which is best forgotten for many reasons but I’ll remember it as being a year when I discovered so many new places which I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. I hope we both manage to continue our walks and explorations next year, and your suggestion of Binsey for one of mine is a good one. Other than Skiddaw I honestly haven’t a clue which fells are which but looking at the map Binsey isn’t that far from the farm camp site, in fact it’s probably one of the ones I could see from my pitch last year, so it’s definitely one to consider if and when I can camp there again 🙂

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      1. You are right – you would have seen Binsey from your site. Have not been there recently but on my last visit the farmer had finally lost patience with the ease of access and popularity of the fell and dogs have to be on a lead, not a problem for your two, but just to let you know the landowner hates visiting dogs (and with good reason, he has had sheep killed due to dog chasing).

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  14. It’s certainly been a very strange year Paul. Hopefully next year we’ll both be able to continue our travels and maybe you’ll finally reach Scotland 🙂 🙂

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