Goodbye 2017…

So how was 2017 for you? Did you achieve goals, fulfil your resolutions, make a fortune and experience satisfactory or heart-warming life events? Or were you mired in failure, misery and crashes and burns?
Most years, of course are a mixture of these experiences, both in our personal lives and out in the wider world.
In our own little bubble 2017 was mostly a great year. We had adventures, travelling first to Mexico [underwhelming], later to Italy in an extensive and audacious camper-van journey involving numerous ferries and taking in a number of different countries en route; we made our familiar late summer trip to South West France.
Then our family was expanded by a new member, an event that few could consider anything but joyous.
The negative aspects of 2017 consist mainly of those health issues which come to be such a feature of ageing and which [of we are not careful] become the mainstay of discussions between ourselves and friends of a similar age. Even Husband, who, in his typical male way likes to brush ill-health under a proverbial rug has succumbed to medical intervention. Matters of corporal dysfunction must be accepted, acted upon and then shrugged off.
In 2017 events in the world arena were disquieting. Despite progress against extremists the world became a more brooding, xenophobic and intolerant planet as global threats, hatred and prejudice jostled with polluted atmospheres, floating ocean debris and catastrophic weather events.
World problems often seem too huge to contemplate. We re-post information about beach clean-ups and re-using plastic bottles. We add our digital signatures to campaigns about famines. We make contributions to crisis funds like homelessness. And yet the problems persist, reminding us of how insignificant we all are, how helpless.
But it is always best to look forward and to be optimistic. I’ve long ago given up making resolutions, although I am determined to complete a project I began two years ago and to get it out into the public domain in some respect. I’ve high hopes for a return to my gym regime once a certain foot issue has been resolved and in the meantime we are busy planning 2018’s round of expeditions, the first of which takes place next week. We’ll be without access to internet for a couple of weeks, conditions which will certainly do us a power of good!
The next two blog posts will consist of a brand new two-part story. This is my new year gift to you, readers. If you enjoy it, please let me know in the comments [and share it with others]. If you don’t, please let me know that, too-and why. After that we will have returned and hopefully with more traveller tales! Happy New Year to all my readers, old and new!

Advertisements

There’s no Place Like it

What marks the beginning of 2016 for you? Is it the weather? Overindulgence of any kind? Resolutions you’ve made? Perhaps you’re beginning the New Year with some regrets about how much Christmas has cost? Or are you planning which world destinations you’ll be visiting?

For me the departure of 2015 is stained with the enormous blemish of homelessness, both near and far. Much of it has been caused by the weather-climate change, which we can no longer attempt to deny. Here in the UK there are many who’ve been put out of their homes by floods three times. I admire the spirit and resilience of these unfortunates as they mop up yet again, but you have to wonder if it might not be time to re-locate those who inhabit vulnerable areas.

Elsewhere-in the USA for instance, weather conditions are no kinder, with lethal tornadoes reducing everything to matchwood, followed by blizzards. Then in Australia searing temperatures have produced ideal circumstances for the punishing fires they’ve had to combat. We hear less about the enduring droughts in countries such as Namibia, where families are unable to keep the few animals they depend on alive.

We know that the conditions that have caused climate change are mostly man made. And so are the conditions that have brought about an exodus of Biblical proportions as a flood of another kind spread across Europe in the form of refugees.

Those who survived their grim voyages in defective vessels provided by corrupt and ruthless traffickers might be considered to have been the ‘lucky’ ones; but after a traumatic and exhausting ordeal on inhospitable seas they have had to traipse across one country after another seeking refuge. Of all these unfortunate, desperate people it is the mothers with tiny children who elicit the most sympathy from me. Their plight must have been dire for them to leave everything behind and risk the lives of their small children in un-seaworthy boats then plod miles with them, sleeping in the open along the sides of roads and railway tracks and depending on the unreliable handouts of local communities. What did they know of Northern European weather? Not enough to prepare them for the cold and the wet. A sick child is a worry to a mother in a warm home with food and medicine available. What can it be like for a mother camping out in a strange environment with no access to facilities?

I’ve only once experienced the unnerving panic that homelessness provokes, when evicted from a rented flat in London. But I was single, in my twenties and in paid employment, needing only to look through the flat-share ads for a new home. The anxiety then was fleeting. For the children growing up with the uncertainty of having been displaced and little hope of a warm, safe place to live the repercussions must surely last a lifetime. Under the circumstances ‘Happy New Year’ is tainted with a hollow ring…