Monday, 31 December 2012

The New Year

I wasn't really quite sure how to go about my New Year post, and so I have just put down a few random thoughts and some of my favourite music, which I hope you will take the time to listen to as you read. For some, this time of year brings with it new hope, for other's sadness, and there are those around us that are indifferent to the whole thing. Over the years it has brought me to a point where I think 'Right! This coming year I WILL get rid of that bank overdraught', or 'the van WILL be cleaned inside and out EVERY week, or even more difficult than both of those is that I promise to myself to be more faithful to the God that has been so loyal to me. The past year has probably been one of the hardest years that I have known, both in work terms and faith, and has also brought many difficulties and points of sadness along the way. Don't get me wrong, just as I have sometimes shared in my blog, there have been many, many wonderful times, and life has on the whole been very good to me. But as the years tick by things are becoming far more difficult to achieve, both in physical terms and because of external influences.

Deacon Blue - 'Dignity'
(Always loved the music from this married couple, and particularly the words to this song)
I remember going into last New Year with that 'up for the challenge' mindset. The previous working year had been very good indeed, with some good new contracts, sunny weather, and a body that still had some 'go' in it. I looked to 2012 with eagerness. But in terms of work, the whole year has been a bit of a disaster. Prolonged bad weather in the UK has hit most in this business very hard indeed. Some have gone to the wall as a result of losing custom due to disgruntled clients unwilling to understand why their gardens haven't been kept quite as pristene as usual, despite the weather. I have been lucky I guess, having lost only one small property during the latter half of the year, as they wanted to save money by tending to their fairly small garden themselves. And then, despite keeping hold of the large garden mentioned in this blog earlier, the nursing home, our second largest contract, have decided to make large cutbacks to enable them to upgrade their internal services, and gardening was one of those cutbacks. This was a serious financial loss to us, and only a fortnight before Christmas! There have also been many deaths during the year, mostly husbands and wives of clients who I have developed friendships with, but also a couple right on the lead into Christmas that have been much closer to home, and their circumstances have left me feeling really quite mixed up at times. So, on a personal level, I am going into next year feeling rather delicate.
The Waterboys - 'The Whole Of The Moon'
(My favourite song by these guys)

Along with so many other things, 2012 has seen troubles in Syria and Egypt escalate, problems in Afghanistan continue, the worlds financial market is basically screwed beyond control and climate change is hitting home big time. There has been the unforgivable murders at the Marikana mine in Africa, the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and just recently the killing of two firefighters lured to the deaths while doing their job in New York. Why is the UK and USA happy to invade Iraq and Libya to rid them of tyranny, and yet has always allowed Robert Mugabe to do as he pleases? The USA still has a gun law that entitles anybody to stockpile AK47's, so that they can 'defend themselves'....against what exactly, Chechan rebels? The 'safe use of guns' training, so often involving children of all ages, in 2011 cost the life of an 8 year old boy, whose father deemed it either fun, necessary or both, it doesn't really matter anyway, to allow him to shoot an Ouzi, which he lost control of and predictably ripped himself to bits. What happened to old fashioned play, or camping and such like. The only safe use of a gun is to not have one in the first place, and I can say that from experience believe me. Sorry if I appear to have strong views on this subject, but it is one very close to my heart.
Closer to home, here in the UK it would appear that no area is safe from corruption of some kind, be it police, government, banks or even the tax office, all have made headline news for major breaches over the last year. The trade in exotic animals and their body parts, dwindling rain forests, over fishing.... the list of abuses seems endless. I sincerely pray that the coming year will see some serious changes in peoples attitudes surrounding all of the above issues.

The Commitments - 'Mustang Sally'
(Excellent film, excellent song!)

There have of course been many good things happen, and the Olympics perhaps being the biggest, and for once drew this country together, when it is usually blown apart by politics, faith and anti-social behaviour in all of it's various forms.Through contact with fellow bloggers from around the world I see good things happen all of the time. They can be from the smallest, such as a type of seedling that one of you has managed to grow to fruition, to things like new members coming into a family, travels to exciting places, or just stuff going on around you, told in an amusing way. The day to day trials and tribulations of every day can be hugely entertaining to those who read about them, and for some quite literally a lifeline of communication. Not everyone has family or friends, or can use a phone, or even hold a pen. I suppose that what I am trying to say is that regardless of any bad stuff going on, never underestimate who reads your posts, or why, and what they get out of them. I for one will try to continue to be a regular blogger, who will attempt (and no doubt fail more often than not) to be more faithful to how God wants me to be. My plan in the coming year is to become fitter and healthier, and control my stress levels better.
David Gray - 'Babylon'
(Usually play thissong when we load up the van and go on an adventure. Saw him in the Deli at St.Davids once)
I have also compiled a list of the blogs that I follow the most, and why they keep me coming back, so here it is:
'25 Acres'
Judi was the first contact I had when setting up my blog. I would love to have a cabin in the forests of North America, but can't, and so I follow her life doing it instead.
'A Chef in the Garden'
I admire Tim for the way in which he has changed professions completely, to become not only a keen gardener in his own outdoor space called the Stepchild Garden, but has also applied his skills in a truly beautiful private garden that encompasses both indoor and outdoor gardening techniques.
'Adrian's Images'
This man takes me to various, at this moment in time usually wet places around the UK in his camper van. A photographer 'par excellence', he allows me to share in his often humorous, but always informative stories surrounding his wonderful picture taking.
'An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener'
Over the last couple of years I have watched John move from a hesitant and nervous novice, to someone like the rest of us professionals, confident in what he does, but fraught when things don't go as planned. I have loved watching his garden form and mature, and the way in which he has tackled various problems.
'Antique Art Garden'
Gina has shared some very delicate areas of her life on her blog, to which I am personally grateful. I have travelled with her to the stunning town of Charleston and visited massive antique markets, which as you can imagine has me looking into the background for glassware! I've enjoyed personal glimpses into her exquisite garden, and loved following the hands on brick path laying a while ago. Her son's fort is really something as well!
'Falkland Island Adventures'
I have always wanted to go to this area of the world, but as funds don't allow, I enjoy reading about these crazy people who actually live and farm down there.
'Garden In Paradise'
Kimberley just simply takes me away to that place of gardening dreams, in which ones own garden is filled with exotic colour and greenery, and life gets no busier than casting out the odd line into the azure ocean.
'Garden On Sherlock Street'
I always call this lady 'Sherlock' because I don't know her real name (hint,hint!), and she brings the occasional video tour/talk about her garden. I love videos as they introduce another personal level to a blog. She is a gardener determined to meet whatever plant challenge is sent her way head on. I also enjoy the potted plant preparations for winter, and have borrowed a couple of her ideas...but don't tell her!
'Going Gently'
I have only just recently started to follow John, who is from a small village in North Wales. I enjoy his realistic take on various aspects of life, and of course his chicken picture header as well.
Well, what can I say about Jane and Lance? They bring adventure, style, humour, and an elegance that is fast disappearing from this world that we all live in. The people that they meet and places that they go to provide constant intrigue for me. So come on you two, where have you gone to this time?
'Las Aventuras'
Chris takes me away on bird spotting trips, shares his wonderful skies and weather at El Presidio, and has kept me hanging on with baited breath concerning the changes to the garden of the aforementioned oasis in Tucson. He also sent me a very funny picture of himself when I had the competition!
'Life and Godliness'
This is Rebeccas blog, and it simply and plainly keeps on reminding me of who matters in all of this stuff going on around us.
'Miss Cellany'
One of two blogs by Rosemary that I follow. This one is generally about her exploits away from home, and I enjoy travelling with her to places that I may not have seen yet. Always with a personal touch and lovely pictures. I also discovered this year, albeit too late this time, the Willows Annual Ball here, and shall hope to attend next year!
'Occasional Scotland'
Linda lives in Edinburgh, a city that Amanda lived and worked in earlier in her life, and to which she took me for one of the most amazing times of my life a couple of years back. Linda continues to show us both what is going on there, the festivals, scenery and general day to day life. A lovely blog to follow.
'Share my Garden'
Rosemary's other blog that I follow, and this time letting me enjoy her and 'himself's' work and rest in their own garden, and beautiful and peaceful walks through their surrounding countryside, albeit now without cute little Maisie, whose antics I will now miss.
'Small Blue Thing'
I happened upon Cheryl's blog a few day's ago, and it has already caught my attention!
'The Idiot Gardener'
Mr IG faces the troubles of gardening life with a club in one hand, and let's face it, a club in the other hand too! Although the air is usually blue, he continues to reassure me that I am not the only one to mess things up in the world of horticulture. I hope to grow veg as big as his one day! His latest post on garden centre shopping was a cracker, and so true to life as I know it.
'The On Going Adventures At Fox Paw Lodge'
I have followed Gary and his life in his Virginian forest haven for some time now. Always humorous, I enjoy reading about how he has managed to carve a garden out of this type of terrain. Unfortunately, weather hasn't been good to him, but I look forward to his updates. He also has just about one of the tidiest Christmas decoration storage sheds that I have ever seen, and I want it!
And finally there is 'There's No Place Like Home', Melanie's blog about her family, and their life and adventures together. I just get pleasure in reading about their life together as a family. She also sent me a very funny photo for the competition....I hope that spade didn't find it's target!

Michael Green - 'The Path'
We parked up alongside Michael Green on a beach once. He had who I suppose was his lady and two young children with him, outside their rather battered motorhome. He was trying to convince one of the kids that although the milk on the cereals was so off that it was lumpy, it was in fact just like yoghurt, and she likes yoghurt does she not? She ate some of it, because times looked tight. We saw him again some days later, he was sitting on the pavement in town playing 'The Path', the young girl was beside him. This song always takes me to Polperro or St.Davids, places where I always find 'me'.

So how do I wrap up this whole New Year message thing? Well, I had come to a bit of a block in that respect, that is up until I was having a coffee after church with Amanda this morning. Yes, you heard it correctly. I have taken the first tentative steps back, and it was High Anglican, Nicene Creed, Sung Eucharist and Communion...the full works. After life in the Baptist church it was good to have some calmness and order. But I digress, and back to the coffee. I was talking about the fact that I couldn't think of a way to end this post in a way that it would sort of begin the New Year, and Amanda merely suggested that I remember that it is first and foremost about my life as a
The nursing home has sadly gone, and along with it half finished planting schemes that I was hoping to share with you all, and indeed was getting a pretty good feel from myself, but that is now history. January and February are times of serious rest, with only about ten full days work each month as far as the general maintenance goes. January does also have planned a couple of extra jobs. One is simply the removal of a ghastly conifer hedge that is dying, to be replaced with a border of Aucuba japonica Crotonifolia, Skimmia japonica Reevesiana, Nandina domestica and Agapanthus africanus. Also in this garden, but in another border, a Magnolia that is now too large, is to be replaced by an Acer palmatum 'Senkaki'. The other scheme is only small, and involves a border to be emptied of two old Yew trees, some Hebes and a Holly, and the ground to then be turfed over. I always find the type of latter job a little sad because I think of whoever it was who carefully planted these shrubs in the first place with that new sense of excitement and expectation. They are now long gone, and soon their border shall be, and turfed out of all existence for ever.

But then there is the rest of the year to come. The house in Sandbanks will be needing plans drawn up for the completion of their front garden, with a modern water feature, borders of mixed colour Cornus, and blocks of yellow Phormium and Agapanthus to name but a little of the general ideas forming in our heads even now. At another place there is to be an existing water feature turned into a tiered garden, and new fruit trees planted in place of older and tired existing ones. Indeed, our own garden will need some serious attention, as it has become a little overgrown (see picture above), and then there is the allotment (don't want to even go there!). And so, as far as gardening goes, there will be plenty to do, and tell about. For now though it is still more chocolate to eat, whisky to drink and cats to stroke. And so my fellow bloggers, I look forward to reading about your continuing gardening escapades, life tales and general adventures. I wish all of you a good, peaceful and prosperous New Year, and leave you with this piece of music, in which the words are good, I think! It reminds me that whoever we are, wherever we live and what we do or whatever our circumstances, we can make a difference to this planet, the people, and the world in general around us.

The Waterboys - 'Spirit'


  1. Shit always comes before Christmas. The knobs have their's paid for.
    Waterboys. Brilliant!
    Relax a bit and I pray to me. ...fat lot of good that will do God doesn't have 3G or even 1G
    I don't believe. I couldn't care less whether you are a perfect Christian or a woad covered druid.
    I am an agorhibblenostic. When I'm gone I'm gone. I have upset folk but never would on purpose. Well maybe a bit I'd give the odd one a slap.
    I'd never dream of earning a living out of poor people..Unlike the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury and all his minions and vicars.
    Have a great year but I can see us differing.
    Blues Brothers much appreciated.
    Michael Green is okay.
    I'll pray for you. Give up the gobbledygook. Grab yourself where it hurts. I am away to Scotland. I'll be back swap you one of my prayers for one of yours and you can borrow the lens. Look up Stephen Quig he's great a bit falsetto. I wanted to but it wasn't me.
    Cheers and Happy New Year.

    1. PS. Gary I have not been a National Geographic Photographer. Thought I'd made that clear....You is asking for a slap... Which cheek. Only so often one can turn the other. You only have four.

  2. Adrian, you can be an agnostic all you like, it's entirely up to you, and you won't find me criticising you for it. Don't worry, you don't have to get so worked up, you won't catch christianity by reading about it you know. I may mention my faith from time to time, just as you have mentioned your agnostisism, and so all I can say is cope as best you can without throwing your rattle out of the pram eh? I enjoy your posts, and although being an agnostic isn't something I personally buy into, plenty do, and I have always respected their beliefs. As for the Nat Geo thing, sorry but I thought you were being serious, lesson learnt. Have a good New Year.

  3. Gary,
    Truly the most inspirational message for a New Year I have ever had the opportunity to be witness to. You have so eloquently brought us proof that there are still sparkling bits of humanity that continue to lighten even the darkest day. You have always inspired and enlightened and now as we stand on the precipice of a New Year you have given the rallying call, Thank You.

    I sincerely hope that the coming year will find you telling wondrous stories of grand and beautiful gardens, great times spent with family and friends and adventures taken both near and far. Best wishes to you and yours. – gary

  4. Hi Gary...and Happy New Year to you and yours.
    Thanks for the kind comments. So much trouble throughout the world, and still so much complacency to go with it. Here's to a good 2013 eh?! Look forward to more about Fox Paw.

  5. Great post. I am one American who has been an anti-gun advocate since I was a small tike. They have brought much evil and destruction, more than they have helped. I believe only guns in the hands of active law enforcement and military. Anyway, hope work picks upfor you,I understand the angst of not being able to do ( even a smaller amount) of what we physically could do...and each decade is less...but such is life.Good to know you are heading to church with Amanda, and I strongly encourage you to openly profess your Christian faith you have on your blog , regardless of any agnostic followers in internetland.Thanks for mentioning my blog, I need to post again, seems to be harder every year. Take good care! Gina

  6. I read your post slowly .... and thought to myself that "still waters do INDEED run deep"!

    Continuing to blog in a thoughtful way is one of those on-going resolutions I referred to along with yours "to become fitter and healthier, and control my stress levels better." This last one I will accomplish by working more diligently at the goal of "graciousness". :)

    Thank you for the kind inclusion in your list of blogs. There are three or four you mentioned that I am unfamiliar with - so I'm on my way to check them out.

    Happy New Year, Gary.

  7. Hi Gina, and thanks for such kind comments. I agree with you regarding guns, and when younger was a member of a gun club, but the other members just got freakier and freakier. They started to dress like paramilitaries, wear dark glasses, and use shop manakins for targets, so I quit and have never done it again. There was more to it than just target practice, and I felt a change in me that I didn't like. As far as agnostics and atheists go, they always claim not to believe, and yet seem strangely obsessed with faith for some reason, but it never bothers me while they keep their opinions polite. As long as God is on their minds, He is on their minds, if you get my drift? Look after yourself.

  8. Rebecca, lovely to see you here, and I hope you weren't too put off by my choice of blogs to follow? To keep a blog that is thoughtful and full of graciousness can be difficult at times, particularly when one has had a bad day, or some world issue is troubling me, but when my mind feels fuzzed with stuff like that I do at least try to back away from the keyboard and think/pray. Take care.

  9. Gary, you are a deep thinker, so rare these days :) We take in the news from all over the world and I often think it's just too much for us. We don't know what to do with all the bad news, economic hardships and horrific events that happen. No matter what religion or non-religion you follow, it's all about making the most of the relatively short time we have on this glorious planet. If only we could live off the beauty all around us and turn our backs on man-made money and the crap that comes with it...

    I wish you joy and peace for 2013, oh, and maybe a little less rain, eh?

  10. Hi Rosemary,
    Thanks for your nice comments. The world around us does appear to be completely out of control, and who knows what can put it all right. Nothing I guess. I do hope that this new year of ours is at least going to have a lot less rain.

  11. Oh, Gary, I am honoured - two mentions on your blog list! I am wishing you a far kinder year than the one that we have just left behind, filled with lots of sunshine.

  12. Rosemary, I do so hope and pray that this year is going to be better! I am looking forward to seeing how your garden does as well. TTFN

  13. Aw. .you are so kind!! I have enjoyed getting to know you over the last year. .and look forward to seeing how people across the world live and garden! I am so thrilled for you to be searching for where God wants you. .I think in these end times. .we must all be ready to meet Him. .I personally, can hardly wait!! Oh, and. .the shovel didn't hit the mark. .Had he wanted to REALLY take me out. .he darn sure would have made it look like an accident so the life insurance would have paid. .haha! It's our ongoing joke! That. .or the fact that if one of us murdered the other one. .we would have to handle ALL FOUR kids by ourselves. .reason enough to put the spade down! Wishing you a VERY BLESSED 2013!! And if this happens to be the year that God takes His people to be with Him. .be sure to look me up. .I can't WAIT to meet you!

  14. Hi Melanie,

    Your family are so lively, they keep me entertained whenever I read your blog. I am glad that the spade didn't find it's target, and maybe we may even get the chance to meet before the big day eh? One never knows what is around the corner, and I have learnt to expect the unexpected!