Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Vintage Year

I have been standing watching the rooks dancing in the dusk. It is a sight that never fails to move me, even though it is repeated every 24 hours. Their morning flights are wonderful too, but at twilight they circle and turn and flood across the sky like waves rushing up the sand, and I am always left wondering how each rook knows which move is coming next, where he is supposed to be, which way to turn.
Who, I wonder, is the lord of their particular dance?

I was thinking, as I closed the shutters against the coming night, that tomorrow will allegedly be a whole new dawn, a fresh-minted world, a slate wiped clean and ready to be rewritten.

New Year has never been my thing. I love Christmas, with its lights and twinkle, well-worn traditions and cosiness,  but he idea of setting out on a pristine, crystalline adventure doesn't always fill me with eager anticipation.

I was listening to a very interesting documentary on the radio today as we drove into Sligo. It was about sound - music, notes, all kind of sound. Apparently when some people hear sounds, they see colours or shapes, or both, and, as everyone knows, sounds come across differently to each of us.
I think the year is like that. For lots of people, the year is like a circle, so December melds seamlessly into January - it is all a continuous whole.

For years, I didn't think about it at all, until someone described their vision of this circle to me. It was only then that I realised that my year was a long, straight line, and when I got to the end of December, I sort of metaphorically fell off, and had to flail around trying to find the start of the next year to grab onto.

It isn't quite as bad as that anymore, but I certainly see the year in colour, and I guess part of the glitch for me is that December and January are starkly different, and don't meld together at all. December is multicoloured with warm, golden overtones - but January is a pale icy blue, hard and light. There is a definite break between the two swatches, almost a chasm that has to be leapt, and let's face it, it's hard to leap when you're full of Christmas cake and chocolate.

I'm not great with the New Year Resolution bit, either (though I do have something in mind this year), but perhaps the best thing about the end of December is taking a moment to look back over the months gone by. They seem to fly more and more swiftly - if that's possible - and sometimes one can only be glad to see the back of them. Only yesterday a friend said it had been a ghastly year for her household, but I feel very blessed because, looking back, 2013 seems to have been a wonderful year in so many ways.

Not as far as the economy is concerned, it's true. Most of us in Ireland have had another really tough twelve months, but I've given up thinking about it - I've certainly given up worrying about it - which leaves a lot of head-space for all kinds of other things, most of which bring happiness in their wake.

It's been the year of the Wwoofers' return. Our gorgeous Frenchman came in January; lovely Heather and Aaron brought their adorable baby Gavin to meet us in April, and my beautiful Chloe returned in July. It was wonderful to see them all, and we felt honoured to still be part of their lives.

 And we've met a whole new batch of Wwoofers who came to help us in the garden this summer as well. Olivia and Marie Christine, sweet Jil and Marko. A new set of lives entwined with ours. 

Amazingly, we had our first holiday in years - we went back to one of our most favourite places of all, Paris, thanks to our friend, Sarah.

A vast 'family' of dogs playing in the Seine

And the In-Charge went to Berlin in the spring and Venice in the autumn on 'School Trips' with his college.

Plus we had a brief but wonderful weekend in Dublin for the opening of a friend's sculpture exhibition - a quick reminder of the joys of cosmopolitan life. Thank you all over again, Jil and Marko, for looking after all the dogs and cats and hens and household while we jumped ship!

Dublin's wonderfully quirky, but boringly named new Theatre

I've spent more hours gardening than I care to catalogue, but it repays me, over and over, for all the time I put in. And other peoples' gardens are all the joy with none of the work, so it's been great to see lots of those this year, as well as visit garden shows.

Sadly, my parents have both been quite unwell recently, but it's meant that I've spent more time with them in Suffolk this year than in the last I-don't-know-how-many. I was with them for my brother's wedding in August.

And at home we celebrated the In-Charge and dear DodoWoman's birthdays in style, with a wild, windy, wonderful party. The greatest compliment of the day came from the ten-year old son of a friend. 'Great Venue!' he said, nodding enthusiastically. It still makes me laugh now.

Moreover, I've learned to crochet, found my old knitting needles, have taught 6 people to knit, and have been immersing myself in colour during every spare moment of the year. Heaven! I've even made a few extremely bright throws, and actually sold some of them to raise money for Irish animal charities.

Two friends and I helped an animal rescue re-home a load of battery hens back in September, and as a result, in November the three of us set up Creating Creature Comforts on Facebook to raise money for Animal Charities. Just this morning I  worked out that already we've raised over €500 each for two charities (with our Animal Calendar), and passed on donations of €100 each to two further charities. There are a lot of animals in serious distress in this country at the moment, so it feels good to be doing something to help.

Best of all, No 1 son came home for a brief visit with a gorgeous young lady. Alas for us, but not for him, he is currently working in the Caribbean, so we haven't seen him since. His beaches are even more beautiful than ours, but hopefully he won't be there forever and we'll see him again soon.

We haven't been lucky enough to see No 2 son this side of the Pacific this year, but he's well and happy which is what matters most, and can be found on a slackline somewhere down under in Oz.

And - hard to believe - in 2 days time, we will have had the SuperModel TeenQueen for a whole year! It barely seems possible, but what a difference the year has made to all of us. She is so much more relaxed and happy, so much fatter and fitter, and she has helped to fill the enormous gap left by our sweet boys.

A good year!
A vintage year, even - to be laid down and re-tasted often.
I hope 2014 will be just as wonderful - for us, and for you, wherever you may be.


  1. Happy New Year to you and yours. I said down to write a post and discovered that you had said (and said much better) some of the things I was going to say. (But I'll say them anyway). So glad you had a great year - it's good to hear of people enjoying life despite all the doom and gloom.

  2. I love your photos, I love your words. Hope this year we will meet up in a real place, though this virtual place is a good second best. Love to you and yours skippyXXX

  3. A perfect post.
    At the start of the year I see it as a line, but by the end it is curving into the as yet colourless new year. it's a bit like one of those painting books which you wash water over and the colour springs out.
    My ex GP sees sounds in colour and when she retired from medicine found a whole new career painting what she heard.

  4. I just found your blog - I love when that happens! - and I love it. Happy new year and thanks for the intro via your look back at 2013. Wonderful photos...wonderful words and thoughts.

  5. A very good read from a crofta in the caingorms Scotland.

  6. A very good read from a crofta in the caingorms Scotland.

  7. A very good read from a crofta in the caingorms Scotland.

  8. A very good read from a crofta in the caingorms Scotland.

  9. A very good read from a crofta in the caingorms Scotland.

  10. A very good read from a crofta in the caingorms Scotland.


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