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Reasons to be cheerful (1-4)

Been a bit of a twat of a year, hasn't it? Racists, astonishing political stupidity, hilarious venality, an American presidency of almost unimaginable wtfery, racists, Brexit sucking the life out of every other issue on the face of the planet, including the planet itself (fucked, apparently), a Prime Minister with the lexicon of a three year old, ashen-faced, stricken, only able to repeat three stock phrases, a clueless Opposition, racists, the discovery that one's fellow man consists largely of incredibly stupid people, the removal of the reassuring idea that most people were probably alright, racists, did I mention the planet's fucked, people caring more about Strictly than racists, you know, the usual.

So in amongst the deconstruction of civilisation, I thought it would be far better to reflect on some things in 2018 which leavened the gloom a little, before returning to stockpiling medicines and learning how to carve weapons from my defeated enemy's thigh-bone (you'll all be at it soon)

1) Challenges

I may get a post about this up at some point. I probably won't. Long story short, some of you may recall that I set myself a series of tasks at the start of the year. The surprise will be scant that I failed miserably in all three. But success wasn't really the point, this was the year when I took more notice of my surroundings (as I chased an arbitrary bird-spotting target), re-engaged with culture (as I chased an arbitrary books read target) and became a mite fitter and healthier ( as I chased a less- arbitrary, given previous form, target of miles run). It's the journey, man.

2) My Commute

Now, as one of life's confirmed non-drivers, I've never had much of a commute, arranging my existence so I generally work within walking distance. My current place of employment is a mere 3/4 of a mile from my front door. Pleasant enough in and of itself. But as I ply my trade at what is, to all intents and purposes, a country pub (though not one at too far a remove, clearly), the stroll in takes me past a few trees, a pond (which, to my delight, was colonised by Shelduck this year, thus adding a species to the book I will never write: Avifauna of the Scott Estate, la), a whack of farmland a and a couple of paddocks, so, at most times of the year, my journey is accompanied by a variety of bird species (I grew quite attached to a solitary Lapwing which spent a confused week in one of the paddocks), plenty of exercising horses and the odd sheep or three. This very morning I paused to watch a field wide stand-off between a cock pheasant and a fox. Beats the shit out of the M58.

3) The Sea

A Devonian sojourn in October gave this displaced Cornishman the opportunity to renew acquaintances with the Atlantic ocean, which was as integral a part of my growing up as doodling in exercise books when I should have been studying, vomiting in beer gardens and failing to become a widely adored rock star. Now, the thing to remember about the sea in the south west is it's at its warmest in October, having had the whole summer to warm up. So whilst the weather may have tended towards the dreich, my sons and I had a high old time of it swimming, bodysurfing and generally titting about in the sea, which we had entirely to ourselves, in sharp contrast to the overcoated and hatted dribs and drabs on the beach. They may have though we were nuts, we didn't care. Bit parky when you got out, mind.

4) The Mountains

The boys did their first mountain in this year. Whernside, since you ask. And the reason this memory gives me a warm glow is nothing to do with the achievement (as mountains go, it's not overly demanding), but more to do with how they conducted themselves. Charging up and down it with a zest which the grownups in the party found hard to match (reaching the summit first in lockstep with my eldest was a particular highlight). It was a timely reminder that, with a all the distractions life can throw at them, give a kid a bloody great big hill to run down and they'll be happy as clams.

There are others, but they'll have to follow in due course. 2018 has also been the year of me finishing work too late and not getting any kip. Which I need to rectify now...I hope fervently that each and every one of you has a few highlights that they can look back on and smile, and also that you're well prepared and well armed when society collapses in approx. three months. Happy New Year!


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