old beginnings

It’s the first weekend of a new year. Whether you think it also counts as a new decade may depend on whether you’re the sort of person who’ll get lost down a rabbit-hole if they google “why numbering should start at zero”.

The fact that last sentence took me over an hour to write would tend to suggest that I am a rabbit-hole explorer who thinks 2021 will be the start of the new decade. But I also think I really can’t justify the year 2020 not being part of the Twenties, so it looks like I’ll stay sitting on the fence.
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the calm before the storm

I think a lot of people feel that 2019 hasn’t been the easiest of years. There have certainly been highs and lows in my own life, and I gather that even the Queen recognised something of the sort in her Christmas speech. I didn’t watch the speech, but the report on Time website says:

Talking about the need for reconciliation and forgiveness, Elizabeth says: “The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.”

Perhaps that’s why my attention was caught by the weather forecast this morning, which showed a constant and unexceptionable temperature all day long.
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maculate

I moved back to the UK some years ago, but the time spent in Spain, and in particular, the years spent en el pueblo, still influence my thoughts. Today, for example is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a fact I would never have paid any attention to before living in a Catholic country, but which today has prompted me to feel nostalgic.

When we signed the papers on the house in the village it was early autumn, although we continued to dither between Madrid and the country for quite a while after that. So we were still not really on top of the intricacies of rural life as that first year wound down towards las fiestas de navidad.
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neighbours

It’s Sunday; it’s the first of December. Which means that here in the UK, some people are celebrating the first day of Advent.

But the first day of December is cause for celebration for other reasons and in other places. In Chad, it’s Freedom and Democracy day. In Romania, it’s Great Union Day, celebrating the Union of Transylvania with Romania. It’s Myanmar’s National Day, and it’s Military Abolition Day in Costa Rica.
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thistles & things

Today is St Andrew’s Day, the national day of Scotland.

So, since Andrew the Apostle, also known as the First-called, includes among his patronage, fishermen and rope-makers, it seems reasonable to mark the day here on the blog by posting a selection of images of ropes, fish, fishing boats, and fishermen.

As well, of course, as thistles, which are the national flower of Scotland.
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mostly monotone

We all know that, as the year turns, Mother Nature’s palette of colours changes. But while we indecisive mortals might hum and haw about redecoration for weeks or months on end, visiting different shops, compiling mood boards, comparing colour swatches, holding fabrics alongside wallpaper samples, and trying out tester pots of paint, she just gets on and gets the job done.
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of taxis and trees

Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken a number of photos of trees in their autumnal finery, but for the last few days it has hardly stopped raining and most of the trees are now bare, which makes them less photogenic. Not only that, but when it’s pouring with rain, it’s not always easy – or appealing – to stop and take a photograph. So this post intersperses some thoughts I had during the recent rain with photos taken during brighter weather.

I was brought up in a London suburb, but taxis were not a common mode of transport except when we went on holiday as a family, or on occasional excursions in the capital when we would hail a Hackney in the street – always the old black cab that could turn on a sixpence and that was driven by a bloke who had done “the knowledge”.
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