Goodbye 2011

Me pointing from the highest point on the Gothenburg archipelago
Me pointing from the highest point on the Gothenburg archipelago

I’ve been reading Caught by the River a lot at the moment and I was quite taken with their Shadows & Reflections posts – brief reviews of the past year by various people – and decided it would be a good idea to do a similar thing on my own blog.

All in all I’d say 2011 was a good year. It was a year of travels and new places. On 1st January I was in a quiet corner of Maine and enjoyed more snow than I have probably ever seen before. I had the chance to go sledging with real sledges (as opposed to tea trays), but didn’t build any snow men. As if one trip to the US wasn’t enough I also had the chance to go over again later on in the year. On my second trip I saw Baltimore and Washington D.C. The White House was smaller than I expected, but the Lincoln Memorial was bigger.

I lived in Cornwall for the first three months of the year. They were months that smell of coal fires and the sea. Months of brilliant sunlight and heavy rain. Of long walks and hibernations. Cornwall is an odd and incredible place. It has some of the poorest towns in the country, as well as some of the richest. It is a place of edges, stretching out in to the sea, and yet it also feels distant, as though it is turning its back away. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to live there and to know my way around a small corner of it.

I also had a spring of Arrans. In May I went to Galway in Ireland and from there I explored Arrain, the largest of the Aran Islands. I rode down hills on a bike, without a helmet, and saw the late afternoon sun on the wide Atlantic. I spent hours hoping from rock to rock on the beach and realised I was playing. I drank Guinness and laughed and was sad to leave.

In June I visited the Isle of Arran. I woke up early and went for walks along the beach, trying to name as many seabirds as possible. I saw the sun setting behind mountains and walked on Viking ruins. I ate too much, drank too much, and circumnavigated the island, by car.

I also visited Gothenburg, in Sweden. Probably my favourite part of the trip was taking a tram and a boat out to the archipelago. I visited one of the largest islands, its name lost to memory now, and stood at its top looking out over the other islands. Some large enough for bridges, others small enough for a single house. And I remember the old man, who dropped his flowers. I picked them up for him and he said tak.

It’s been a year of travels, but also a year of sitting still. I have spent a lot of my time in Manchester, looking out over the garden from my desk. When I was looking I should have been writing, and when I was writing I was probably missing things I should have been looking at. If I only make one resolution for 2012 it will be to look and to write.

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