Christmas comes around but once a year, they say: it seems the years are passing faster then, as it seems all to short a time since the last News I wrote. The year in the middle has been an interesting one: not great, but not all bad either.
Writing this as I am in the grip of hard frosts reminds me that we spent last Christmas with snow all about; indeed I wondered for a time whether we would be "snowed in". We weren't, and had a good though rather different Christmas at Janet's old house. She had already bought a new one and was working out plans for it. It was different because it was the first time in many years we hadn't spent Christmas in the house in North Curry. We will "Christen" the new house soon, which already looks great.
I had been doing some website design work in 2011, but this had dried up and though I had a week's work in January, and more in April, it hasn't recovered. The job market has improved over the year, but I find that as a generalist I am out of step with the majority of employers who are looking for specialists. I have managed some job applications that have got through to the last stages, but have not come to the point, mostly through other candidates' contacts. My own networking has continued, and I had some success in May when the team I joined (Imvoto) went on to win 3 of 5 prizes at a Startup Weekend event. While the group did continue to meet for a while, the founders preferred to continue alone.
Another high point came in July, when I sold some photos: so far 5 framed and printed. I was very happy that day, and they do look lovely in their new setting. There have been hints of other sales but they haven't "matured" yet.
I helped somewhat with St Johns Players this year; less than before and mostly posters and some help on the set. There was Business of Murder, then Pride and Prejudice, and then October's Calendar Girls: all in all, a very good year for the group. I have, though, been feeling quite downhearted about my role and what contribution from me was wanted. Quite possibly this says more about me than the group, but it feels real.
The "summer", as we call it, was of course one of the wettest on record, though thankfully the floods did not arrive here. My garden has suffered somewhat from all the wet, although I have (finally) laid a small patio on the foundations placed about 6 years ago! In August, while relaxing on the patio in the sun (!) and looking at it all, I decided the honeysuckle had got out of hand and straight away set about hacking it: that resulted in wholesale destruction from which it will all hopefully emerge the better next year...Also during August, I had decided to go to the CPA conference, which I have attended for years, though not recently through lack of funds or time. This year it was in Dundee, the cost was modest, and I decided a break was not out of order. The train turned out to be the cheapest way there, the accommodation was decent, and we all had a good time. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones as well.
After the conference, I had booked a car to go travelling for a few days: I hadn't booked ahead as I wanted to go where the fancy took me, which turned out, initially, to be Perth. The town is fairly modest size and has a very open and pleasant centre. I visited the tourist office for a B&B guide, which led me to what turned out to be a lovely place in Pitlochry, where I stayed that night and the two following.
The Pitlochry area is quite well known, I guess: I had certainly heard of it before, but having visited it is at least as beautiful and interesting as Cumbria or the Peak District. The host was very helpful, and after talking together he made me a map of a circular route, about 40 miles long. The intention was to do it in a day, but there was so much to do and see I did it twice: once anti-clockwise, then again the next day clockwise!
Things that stick in my mind: the Crannog centre; the wild open spaces on top of the Schiehallion,-the sight of runners doing a marathon run on very up-and-down roads; some marvellous ironwork by a local blacksmith; the oldest tree in Britain (a yew between 3 and 5 thousand years old); and views of Killiecrankie gorge.
I have continued to do the newsletter for the Church, and have helped with Friday Friends, the retired people's group. I have also been doing better making models (mostly of buildings, such as Fulbourn's grain silo and Newmarket's old station) with Blender, a 3D computer modelling program, which I can then import into Cambridge Branch Lines. In the hope of meeting others, I am also trying to get a Cambridge Blender group together, on meetup.com, though it's starting slowly. This side of my life has been growing of late: in March I was invited into the moderators group for the forums at UKTrain-Sim, which was good, and in August I was invited into the RailSimulator.com beta test forum, which has also been very good.
Have a very good Christmas and do keep in touch!