New Year’s Eve: time for reflection.

This post is my little maudlin indulgence, so don’t read on if you’re feeling a bit blue (unless misery and company are your thing):

I always look back, on new year’s eve, rather than to the future – I’m not sure why, but it’s something I’ve always done. In my teens, I’d sit and scribble furiously in my diary, and as I got older (before the advent of blogging), I would sit for a few hours, just pondering the year gone by. I’m a little bit fearful of the new year, in case it’s worse (after all, the old don’t get younger and the sick don’t miraculously get well on the strike of twelve) and I’m wary of looking forward to the good things (the weddings, the events, in case I can’t go – M.E. robbed me of the thrill of anticipation many years ago). I sat and filled out my diary and calendar for the forthcoming year and had to stop myself adding a birthday (the friend we lost earlier in the year), an anniversary (the marriage that is over) and the dates related to family that we no longer see.

As I poured through the pages of my 2016 Filofax, I saw the arrival of the three foster dogs we looked after last year. In 2015, I sat here, as now, realising that I felt the need to contribute to society and give back, somehow. I had tried to volunteer before, only to feel I was more hindrance than help, so I had a think and knew that I could do something to help dogs. My dogs were the constant that made me happier, so couldn’t we pay the species back? Sadly, it backfired a little, when I found flaws in the charities’ ways: rules that were too loose and those that were written in stone, where the dogs weren’t necessarily put first. I found, quickly, that you can’t criticise charities. We waved off our first foster, a beautiful, happy puppy: she was being driven 400 miles down the country to a family who had no experience of a pup (but it was a first come, first served basis) even though she’d genuinely been offered a life on a farm up here. We weren’t in the loop as mere fosterers, but found out she’d been returned within days. Who doesn’t know that pups poop occasionally in the house? She went to another home soon after, only to be returned after a week – ‘she has separation anxiety’. Well, who wouldn’t after that. I’m happy to tell you that she is now in an amazing home, but it could have been so different. I resigned after that and moved on to a better-known charity, thinking I could help more where my love lay: Cavaliers.

We were made to feel unwanted by the rescue, due to our location and lack of transport, so that didn’t bode well…until they needed holiday cover for two Cavalier boys. Older, vocal, one of whom had only one eye – they were adorable! I made it my mission to find them a home. Not just any home but one that could make them forget about their years in the puppy farms. I found two amazing families. Amazing. I thought the rescue would be overjoyed but I encountered barrier after barrier. I cried several times, wondering whether they would spend their lives without a forever home. I was hugely frustrated but fought for the boys. Luckily for those dogs, their prospective families fought harder against an unfair system and, happily, they both are rehomed to those amazing people, having the lives they should have always had (and were entitled to). This soured us on being fosterers, somewhat, as despite using our time, money and resources, we certainly weren’t an asset. So, I’m still thinking about what project I can do in 2017…

Each year, I try to learn something interesting, so thought I would try and do more with my writing (actually writing would be a good start). Sadly, I was gently turned down for the one-year PhD at Huddersfield (the gentlest rejection ever, I should imagine) and the OU didn’t seem to think I’d benefit from their MA programme. I am still working on my current novel (I could blame my dodgy shoulder or the M.E., but laziness is a factor). My laptop is still holding out, barely, so I’m hoping I’ll be more focused in 2017 as the characters want their story told!

In know this post is a little miserable, but I also had a lot to be grateful for in 2016: a great family (who help us out a LOT), five beautiful dogs (and we appreciate how lucky we are to still have Amber, in her 15th year), friends who still bother with me (even though I’m not reliable in the slightest), friends who live in my computer (especially those who don’t ask me to share their statuses or click ‘Like’) and the opportunity to get out and about a little ( saw Michael Bolton, James Martin, to name a few, although I still didn’t make it to the seaside – that was a little too far again this year). I became a godparent for the first time, my grandma turned 90, my dad 65 – lots of things to be thankful for.

I’m not going to put pressure on myself to make resolutions (the things that I would like to do cost money and of that, I have none) so we’re just going to try and start cooking more from scratch. Oh and eating more fresh veg and fruit. I don’t think you’re likely to see me doing the Great North Run, but I can maybe make a Thai egg roll from my new cookbook.

So, as I (finally) draw this post to a close, all I wish you in 2017 are the things I’d wish for myself and my family: good health, happiness and £1 more than you need. Best wishes for the forthcoming year. x