Well, the past 12 months have been another roller-coaster ride but thankfully there’s been decidedly more ups than downs. With rather more medical woes than I could ever have imagined, 2015 was, at times, both a physical and emotional challenge, but thanks to the support from my wonderful family and friends (and a wide variety of NHS specialists) the year has ended with a more positive outlook for the future.
Socially, I’ve been to so many new places that my geography has improved enormously. I’ve enjoyed lots of day trips here, there and everywhere, and been treated to the fabulous Britishness of ‘afternoon tea’. Further afield I’ve travelled to Wales and enjoyed my seventh holiday in the Canary Islands! I’ve been introduced to the concept of pub quizzes and have been fortunate enough to have been on the winning team on more than one occasion. I’ve accepted awards on behalf of a local community project that I volunteer for on two separate occasions and I’ve also discovered a new and exciting genre that I can merrily indulge in – Steampunk.
Financially, things have taken a dramatic turn too, with a brand new job in addition to the freelance work I was already doing. Technically I’ve successfully completed several DIY tasks all by myself and have finally dragged myself into the 21st Century with a new smartphone. I’m pleased that I managed to achieve everything on my ‘To Do’ list for 2015, so for 2016 I’ve set the bar even higher. I now begin a brand new year full of excitement and anticipation, wondering what wonderful new adventures the next twelve months will bring… Happy New Year!
No, I haven’t been doing anything weird with biscuits, I’ve simply been mixing with some Council Bigwigs at an awards ceremony at the local Town Hall. It turns out, the voluntary litter-picking project which I write blogs about had been nominated for a Community Neighbourhood Award in the ‘Action Against ASB‘ Category, and I was invited to join them. It was a very posh and proper affair, with real champers and expensive nibbles, not to mention the fact that a selection of local dignitaries were on hand-shaking duty.
We were presented with a framed certificate for being nominated, so that was lovely. Professional photos were being taken constantly throughout the evening, so we’ll have to see if we can get our hands on some of those for our blog. After spending time ‘networking’ with all the other groups who’d been up for various awards, we all sat down to watch a couple of presentation videos before the actual awards were handed out.
Although the project didn’t win in the end, we met a few old friends, made some new friends, and a jolly good time was had by all. I think I may have consumed a tad too much free bubbly cos I can’t actually remember much after the speeches. Oh well, it would’ve been rude to refuse – hic!
I’ve done my fair share of volunteering over the years, and my most recent venture has been my involvement in a local project to help create a nicer environment in the area close to where I live. A small but dedicated team of ‘Community Wombles’ does all of the hard work, picking up litter and liaising with the council to get larger dumped items removed from the green spaces, woodland and stream, while I simply promote awareness by taking photos and writing regular blog posts. We’ve actually received awards for our efforts, which has been a nice surprise and has helped to motivate us to organise events.
In the past we’ve run a ‘Dog Awareness Day‘ in order to attempt to highlight the unsavoury issue of dog poo, and this weekend we held a ‘Picnic & Planting Day.‘ The aim was to plant hundreds of crocus, snowdrop and daffodil bulbs, along with wild flowers, which will become a floral legacy for future generations to enjoy. We were joined by various other volunteers who assisted with the digging, and it was wonderful to meet so many like-minded people. The weather was kind to us and by lunchtime all the tea had been drunk, cakes and biscuits eaten, the plants were in situ and various contact details had been exchanged with our lovely new friends. Life doesn’t always have to be about making money, it can be just as rewarding giving something back for a change…
Keep The Green Clean Link: Keep The Green Clean
For the past couple of years I’ve been involved in a local litter picking project. I say ‘involved’… I don’t actually pick up dog poop and rusty old beer cans I just take photos of the area and maintain a blog. There’s a very small team of dedicated volunteer ‘Wombles’ who do all of the proper hard work and it would appear that the local ‘In Bloom’ judging panel, have just given the group not one but TWO Royal Horticultural Society Neighbourhood Awards!
This has been extremely exciting news for all involved, culminating in an official ceremony and being given our prizes by the Deputy Mayor no less. We wore our Sunday best and schmoozed with the hoy paloy of gardening circles whist indulging in tea and home-made cakes – Hyacinth “Bouquet” would’ve loved it.
The project was never created in order to gain any form of personal recognition, but to try to make the local green spaces and woodland a nicer environment for local people to enjoy. While it was, indeed, a great honour to be publicly thanked for simply being ‘good neighbours’ the real satisfaction comes from knowing that you’ve made a positive difference to your community. Kinda makes you feel all warm and squishy inside…