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Renewal



Ben

I hope you’ve had a really peaceful Christmas and New Year. Charlie and I headed down to Dorset on the Thursday before Christmas, leaving behind a deserted London.  The countryside was grey and majestic on the Friday morning. A couple of days ago the tree in this photograph blew down in one of the storms.  Strange to think that something that is so familiar is gone now.

Fog and cloud clung to the hilltops.

Back in the church, the flower arranging team was making progress.  The church looked beautiful when we came that evening for a carol service held entirely by candlelight. 

Beautiful skies that evening.

Our good friend Rose, who runs the bookshop in Bridport (Bridport Old Books, the best) came for the carols, and for supper. Jolly times!

Charlie had decorated a beautiful tree. On Christmas day, we had Mum & Dad staying – and I completely forgot to pull out my camera at all, which was rather a good sign, in a way. A very quiet and happy day.

Boxing day saw the Annual duck race in the village.  Best Dressed Duck competition:

Ducks getting ready to be launched.

And the first intrepid ducks make it to the finish line…

The following day, in sparkling sunshine, my brother and his family came to stay – 

Another amazing lunch from Charlie.

The afternoon slipped into evening, games, more wine, more to eat. We were joined by the best present of the year. Don’t you have a life-size cardboard cut out of the Queen?

Bright skies the following morning;

Tim and Lisa and family left; and our friends Will and Brandon came for a couple of days on their way back up from Devon.  I can’t quite remember but I think another night of far too much drinking ensued.

Huge winds blew overnight and we decided to head to Portland Bill to watch the waves.  

Shining sea and silver road:

But the moment we got to Abbotsbury to see the little chapel, a stinging rainstorm swept in on the wind. 

Showers came and went quickly. Portland Bill Lighthouse glowed white against dark blue skies.

The photographs do little to portray the freezing gale.

I love Portland, its strange buildings and light, and the town of tiny beach huts down by the Bill.

The following morning, bright and early, we went to Bridport for the market – remarkably quiet. As we left, this morning sky glowed, and the Parsonage looked like a dreamworld.

I love Christmas, and its sense of renewal in the darkest days of the year; New Year itself I always find a little melancholy. We drove up to London under grey, grey clouds, and had a brilliant evening with Will and Brandon up at their flat. Too brilliant by far. Today has been a wipe out. Which, if you think about it, is quite a good way to see the New Year. It’s not even 7pm and we’re off to bed.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I like to. Last year, I seem to recall, it was to do something new – however small – every week of the year. We didn’t always make it, but it was a good target to have, and got us out of the flat or away from the garden more times than you could imagine. So that’s one I’d recommend (and will try to stick with this year again, although not quite so religiously perhaps).

This year my resolution is to try to read more and look at screens less (you can make an exception for this blog perhaps?). Charlie gave me a pile of books for Christmas, and for once, I’ve actually started reading them (and, just for a start, can strongly recommend The Village News, by Tom Fort, which I’m loving).

Anyway, I wonder how I’ll get on with that resolve.

For a lot of people, 2017 seems to have been a year to say goodbye to gladly. It was not without its dark horrors.  But I don’t feel quite so despairing; or maybe I just prefer looking on the bright side. I think the trick is – as I’ve said time and again on this blog – to concentrate on the local. What’s the state of your street, your village, your town, or your patch of the city? Some things might not be as good as they could be, but a lot is. And at the scale of the street, whatever isn’t right is generally manageable to fix.  And that’s something to think about as we take our first, tentative steps in 2018.

I suppose this year will rush by just a little faster than the last, which itself rushed by just a little faster than the year before that. Let’s try and enjoy the ride. On Friday, as it happens, Charlie and I are off to New Zealand. Now that is something that I can’t believe has come around quite as quickly as it has. And it’s going to be wonderful to see three things – family, friends…. and summer.

Have a really happy New Year.

 

For those that are interested in such things, this was a funny week in Dorset because I managed to leave all my cameras (normally, for those that are interested, a Panasonic Lumix) in London. So everything was entirely photographed on the new i-phone, and I’d say that’s the last time I need to worry about bringing my camera with me. Amazing clarity. And, just to be clear, this is not a sponsored message!

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