When this time of year comes around I’m reminded of the lyrics of John Lennon’s 1972 hit ‘Happy Christmas (War is Over)’ and the line ‘And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?’ It’s that moment when I begin to think back over the previous twelve months and ask myself ‘yes what have I done?’
To be honest 2019 has been a pretty quiet year, although there have been a few unforgettable moments. Thankfully it has been nothing like the chaos last year brought with my broken ankle. That happened in May and took a huge chunk out of 2018. I was in plaster for six weeks, swapped it for an orthopaedic boot for two weeks followed by six sessions of physio. During that time I got used to a walking stick and then progressed to walking without any aids. Happily by January I was walking normally, although it appears my days of wearing high heels are over – and being only five feet tall, heels have very much been an essential part of my wardrobe since my teens. The op I had left my right ankle slightly larger than my left which means any high heeled shoes tend to rub under the ankle bone. However, it’s not all bad. I haven’t found myself checking out all those sensible flat shoe styles available in shops . Far from it. I can still wear heels, maybe not as high but still smart and feminine, which my three inch heels aren’t missed. It seems every cloud has a silver lining.
So back to 2019 and those memorable moments.
a) Stratford on Avon in April to celebrate OH’s birthday with friends and a boys’ visit to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. We stayed at a great pub with rooms called The Bell at Alderminster – highly recommended not only for its accommodation but for it’s restaurant as well. There’s a bus stop outside just in case you don’t feel like trying to locate a car park in Stratford, which can be pretty busy even in April.
b) Suffolk in early June. A whole week at Aldeburgh where we caught up with friends who’ve retired just over the border in Norfolk. A lovely relaxing holiday. Loved the fresh fish cabins set up along the beach front…
c) Mid-June also saw the publication of my first novel for Choc Lit/Ruby Fiction A Cornish Affair. The end of a long journey, but well worth all the hard work to get there…
d) Early July for three days in North Wales just outside Dolgellau in an amazing B & B called Pandy Isaf. Tucked into a sheltered valley and reached by a narrow single track road, it was an ideal base for touring.
My previous experience of North Wales had been in 2001 when we spent a very wet week in a cottage in Maentwrog not far from Blaenau. I remember catching the train at Blaenau down to Porthmadog. It wasn’t just raining that day, it was pouring. I had a glimpse of Portmeirion towers in the distance as the train approached Porthmadog station. This year, in complete contrast, we had three days of hot sunshine and cloudless skies and we made that visit.
e) Portmeirion. A magical place and with blue skies above it felt just like the Med. This was probably one of the most special moments of 2019 for me. It’s not only quirky it’s beautiful in it’s own special way. The flowers were amazing, especially the hydrangeas which lined the road on the way in. If you’re in the area and planning to visit it’s best to arrive early as by noon it’s packed. Back in the 1960s the series The Prisoner was filmed her and there’s a bust of Patrick McGoohan, the lead actor in the series (see picture below).
f) September. Dartmouth. Our annual trip to South Devon. This time we took the ferry up to Greenway House and Gardens – Agatha Christie’s house now managed by the National Trust. Her husband was an archaeologist and the house is full of items brought back from countries he visited. It’s an unusual house and although empty now it still feels like home – as if Agatha and her family might walk through the door at any time. To see her first editions and some TV scripts plus her typewriter and the place she used to write gave an interesting insight into her life. All in all a great afternoon.
g) October. Falmouth. Although I grew up fifty miles from the sea, I’ve always loved everything about the coastal towns of Devon and Cornwall. Unlike Dartmouth, Falmouth has a working dockyard so it has a slightly more commercial feel. But the views across the estuary to Flushing are still as atmospheric. The Greenbank Hotel where we stayed has great views, an excellent restaurant and relaxing atmosphere. We had misty mornings and pleasant calm sunny days and made the most of the weather by taking the ferry across to St Mawes as well as the train to St Ives and Truro.
So that just about wraps up 2019. There have been some great times this year, although there was one sad event.
We had two cats, Max and Mollie. Sadly Max disappeared and despite extensive publicity and searches he was never found. Mollie had problems with our new neighbour’s two cats which saw her taking refuge with another neighbour three doors away. We weren’t able to entice her back so settled into an agreement that we would pay her insurance and vet’s bills and our neighbour would pay for her keep and holiday boarding in the cattery. This was supposed to be short term, everyone thinking she would eventually return to us. She didn’t and this summer my neighbour suggested after all this time, if we were agreeable, she would take full responsibility for Mollie.
In truth Mollie was no longer our cat. True she would come into the garden and stop for a while, roll over to have her tummy tickled and then wander off. But anytime she returned she never made any attempt to come into the house. So we made the decision to sign her chip registration over to my neighbour and transfer ownership. It was something of an emotional moment but as I mentioned above, she’d stopped being our cat some time ago. And at least I know she’s happy where she is now.
We’d put a hold on having another cat because there was always the chance Mollie might come back and she really is a loner who doesn’t have feline friends. Now we know that’s not going to happen who knows what 2020 will bring. Another cat? Or maybe a dog? The jury is out at the moment.
So that’s it, a year of travel, writing and animals. It only remains for me to wish everyone reading this health and happiness for the coming new decade.
See you next year