Wednesday, December 31, 2014

new year reflections 2014-5

For the past three years, I’ve posted something along these lines as we approach a new year (to remind ME… perhaps in years to come). It’s been a very happy and rewarding year in so many ways, so here’s a rough summary:
My top five, in order (almost impossible to limit it to just five – my SHORTlist was 15 books long!!): This Boy (Alan Johnson); Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes (Billy Collins); The House of the Mosque (Kader Abdolah) and The Shock of the Fall (Nathan Filer) and With Chatwin: Portrait of a Writer (Susannah Clamp).
My top six* (again, in vague order – although we didn’t get to the cinema all that often): The Imitation Game; Dallas Buyers Club; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Pride; Porco Rosso and Will+Testament (*sorry, I've added "Pride" after seeing it on the final day of 2014!).

LOVELY LIVE PERFORMANCES (broken down into various categories):
My top five: 101 Dalmations (Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol); If Play Is Play (Royal Opera House, London); Jane Eyre (Bristol Old Vic); My Perfect Mind (Brewery Theatre, Bristol) and The Tiger and the Moustache (Brewery Theatre).

My top five: Three Cane Whale (twice!)(St George’s, Bristol); Martha Tilston (Colston Hall, Bristol); Eddi Reader (St George’s, Bristol); Seth Lakeman (Towersey) and Merry Hell (Towersey).
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; Rembrandt at The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Open Exhibition 2014 (RWA, Bristol); Pre-Raphaelites (Tate Britain)… oh, and of course, my one-man show at The Grain Barge! Sorry, must do better!

Another rather lazy year as far as live sport goes… I went to Taunton to watch Somerset CC play (probably three times), Bath Races in June (with some of my old Norton Hill School buddies) and, as usual, I’ve enjoyed watching the Six Nations and the Autumn Rugby Internationals on TV (albeit the latter on catch-up, not live!)… but it’s not really the same. Once again, I MUST do better!
Once again, we’ve been blessed to be able to meet up with many of our lovely “special” friends (they know who they are!) on a pretty frequent basis during the course of the year. Also a wonderful visit to The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Houten and Utrecht) and staying with our lovely, generous friends Dick+Dientje in Houten… and meeting up with Harry+Willeke in Utrecht. We also had a lovely time in East Sussex - visiting lovely old friends Felicity+Chris and then going on to re-discover the charms of Winchelsea and Rye. I’ve probably missed some other important people!

Another very eventful and enjoyable year, including:

1. I’ve very much enjoyed continuing to post a drawing or photograph every day as part of my “One Day Like This” blog (with well over 400 drawings and 400 photographs since I started in September 2012).
2. I finished the final large elevation drawing (last of three) for Alan+Lesley - my father’s old Art Junior School in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
3. I set myself the challenge of taking dawn photographs (from our bathroom window!): ten consecutive daily photographs (“Ten Days of Dawns”) each month throughout the year – and culminating in a final image (“120 Days of Dawns”) for the entire year.
4. I’ve completed a series of drawings to illustrate a book by my good friend, Venetia Horton, on the history of Christianity in GB and Ireland.
5. One Man Exhibition (sounds far more impressive than it really was!) at The Grain Barge in October… and I actually sold a number of my drawings!
6. I took a whole series of photographs for an Advent book (in conjunction with poets Ian Adams and Chris Goan – and, crucially, with the help of the brilliant Si Smith) for Proost. It’s called “We Who Still Wait” (it’ll still be available for Advent 2015!!).
Cafes, reading, drawing, photography, walking, cycling, living near the sea (well, sort of…) and, of course, looking after grandchildren remain very important aspects of my life!

The massive bonus this year was that, following my hip replacement in May, I feel as if I’ve been given a new lease of life! The operation was a brilliant success and it REALLY has made a huge difference to my lifestyle.
There’s another Drawn Exhibition at the RWA in 2015 and, after being fortunate enough to get one of my drawings selected in 2013, I’d certainly like to be able to submit something. Who knows? I’d also quite like to produce a colouring book, or maybe two; one for children and one for adults (no, not THAT kind of colouring book!)… but, again, who knows? Oh, and a calendar.
I’m still desperately keen to go back to Ireland… but Moira’s set her heart on a holiday in the Yorkshire Moors. I also long to walk along Porthmoor Beach at St Ives again! Through the AMAZING generosity of two very special friends, I’m also “booked in” for a five day golf tour to Northern France in June (I’ve played just one game of golf in the last two years)!
I no longer belong to a church (or attend Quakers meetings) and, although I continue to read church-related stuff from time to time, I’m really in a spiritual wilderness at present. So, another year of plodding? Who knows…

1. I became a Trustee at the wonderful Windmill Hill City Farm last Spring. It’s an amazing place with some brilliant people working/volunteering there.

2. I continue to take huge pleasure in seeing others grow and develop: loving seeing our daughters creating beautiful work (Ruth’s prints, jewellery and Shaun the Sheeps; Hannah’s posters, workshops and other projects; Alice’s book and her current novel-writing); and watching all our grandchildren growing up and learning new things.
3. I’ve enjoyed getting on my bike again (after my hip operation).

4. I’ve really enjoyed “discovering” (yes, very late in the day, I know!) the various Studio Ghibli films.
5. My beautiful, lovely daughters gave me a simply amazing present for my 65th birthday in February (well, actually, 65 presents to be opened over the course of 65 days)!
My grandfather, Frank Walker (he died 30 years ago, in 1984), was a member of the 8th Brigade Royal Field Artillery during the Great War. I had hoped to get to France/Belgium at some stage to visit one or two of the key battle sites at some stage, but I think it’s probably not going to happen.

It’s been another wonderful year… and we continue to count our blessings.
Photo: one of my 120 Days of Dawns (photographed from our bathroom window!)

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