As the old year ends and the new begins, we’re drawn to reflect on happenings from the past 12 months, and start to ponder possibilities for the future. It’s an odd position for me, as I’ve had an unpredictable employment situation for the past few years, working short-term “filler jobs” whilst I tried to get back into conservation. Things that made planning tricky, if not an impossibility.
However, 2015 was the year where I learned to embrace the challenge that a complete lack of structure offered, and to jump at any opportunities that turned up. These are some of the highlights of my adventures.
Tring Reservoir, Hertfordshire
Lymington Keyhaven Nature Reserve, Hampshire
Reedbeds at RSPB Minsmere, Suffolk
Marbled white butterfly in a wildflower meadow, Hampshire
Ryde Sands, Isle of Wight
I visited lots of nature reserves and national parks across Britain, and beyond, and indulged my love of the natural world. I got a job, just for the summer, as a Ranger in the idyllic New Forest National Park. Then when that seasonal contract ended I got another, just for the winter, as a Ranger watching migrating birds visiting the coast of the Isle of Wight.
The Old Railway Trail follows the route of the railway for several miles connnecting communities, beaches and pockets of woodland.
Resting my feet by Barisdale River, Knoydart
World War II memorials, Lepe Country Park, Hampshire
I did a lot of walking this year. I walked most of the way across Bermuda on the Old Railway Trail. Then hiked to the volcanic summit of the island of Faial in the Azores. And I completed over 100 km across Scotland too, taking in a couple of mountains on the way, on the TGO Challenge. (I had to withdraw halfway to go for an interview, but I did get the job, so it was worthwhile). I got to know the more out of the way parts of the places I visited, learning their secrets and hidden histories.
Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a tall ship
Watching the sunrise nearly 1000 miles from land.
Tall ships racing on the Solent
I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, from Bermuda to England, via the Azores, on a tall ship. I moved house, twice. Three times if you count living on the ship, as I stayed on after my voyage to do maintenance work. I joined the crew of another boat for a while too. I caught up with old friends all over the place, and made lots of new friends along the way.
One thing that really didn’t keep up with the momentum was this blog. Oops! Ideas for improvements dragged on without ever happening, and several weeks without communications didn’t help either (I have a fat handwritten journal from my sailing voyages beyond the realms of wifi). So my big resolution for 2016 is to get writing and really make an effort with making this blog brilliant.
And, as for the rest of the year? Well, I know my current job will end at the end of March, and most likely there will be another house move on the cards. And there’s a couple of things in the pipeline for the summer, fingers crossed. But although I don’t know exactly what’s to come in 2016, I know I’m more than ready for it.
The final thing left to say is a massive thank you to all that read my blog. These Vagabond Shoes started life as a journal of my travels for family and friends, but since then it’s continued to grow, and my adventures have been read by more people than I ever though. Thank you so much for the support, and I hope you stick with me to share the stories that the future has in store.
All the best for 2016,