I thought about a negative title for this post as 2014 has, in general, been a horrible year. Speaking to others, many have also said it was a bad year in so many different ways, so we're not alone. But that's not how we're feeling, so instead we're looking ahead to good times, not back to difficult times.
But a quick retrospective is called for, to look back before turning and moving forward. By far the worst event was losing Cathy's Mum - Flo - in March. Although 90 years young, her loss was still sudden and hard. RIP Flo as you and Ted dance the night's away. Our son Chris also had a rubbish year, having suffered a serious leg injury which didn't respond to treatment, he was invalided from the Army in July and now has to start again to find work - better luck next year son. We both suffered from ill health this year; Cathy with fibromylgia although she refuses to let it stop her keeping active and me with sinus problems, which an operation in October has hopefully resolved. Others close to us have also suffered ill health and we hope we can in some way help them get well, with humour and friendship. And then there's been the ongoing saga of our van conversion. Ripped off by a cheating conman, the legal case continues. Although we don't expect to get any money back, at least we can try to put him out of business and hopefully prevent him killing someone with his dangerous work.
The year wasn't all bad though. We managed to enjoy a couple of trips away, albeit in a hired motorhome (thanks to Dave & Lesley at Live the Dream Motorhome Hire). In July my cycling buddy Ray and I camped out in Yorkshire to watch the first two stages of the Tour de France and ride some of Stage 1 - great times. Later that month Cathy and I had a week on the Llyn Peninsular in North Wales, much like Cornwall only quieter; it's an area we'll definitely return to. In August we had a great weekend away at the Rewind Festival with our great friends, Steph and Ian. And in October our (thrice delayed) 'summer' holiday was spent in Northern France and the Loire Valley - hopefully a taste of things to come.
So what will bring 2015 bring? Well, first of all we wish for good health for ourselves, our family and our friends; as we get older keeping fit and well is all the more important. We hope both our children (and their partners) will enjoy luck and good fortune on their chosen paths. For us, we wait with baited breath for the arrival our campervan, already christened "El Nido" and are finally starting to actually believe he'll be ready soon and we can get out and about at weekends and holidays. Next year we're talking about taking our main holiday exploring the Moselle Valley in Germany, with perhaps a week in Norfolk, plus lots of weekends away in the van. And we both continue to learn new languages; I struggle through French as Cathy makes great progress with French, Spanish, German and some Italian and she's just downloaded Greek too! Next year will be the start of our longer journey as we prepare to make the leap in a few years' time into stopping full-time work and living a simpler but more fulfilling and enjoyable life - more sunshine, swimming, reading and relaxing (oh and the odd bike ride or three for me!). For me, this seems all the more scary - I've worked full-time since the day I finished my last O Level in 1979 and giving up a secure and well paid job is a bit like standing on top of a very high diving board and willing myself to jump! But I'm sure once we get to it we'll adapt to our lower income and enjoy the freedom of travelling where we want, when we want.
So, we'll not be sad to see the back of 2014 and look forward to a much better year in 2015. Happy New Year to all our family and friends and we hope it brings you good times.