The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

A Very Long Year

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 in Buckinghamshire
A Very Long Year

It’s mind boggling how 2012 dragged on and on as if it would never end and then all of a sudden it was gone in an apparent blink of an eye. I for one am glad to be done with 2012. It’s a year that dished out more downs than ups and more challenges than rewards. But in the end, it was better than it began and I’m content with that. It’s just nice to be looking forward to the new year—and setting the old one aside.

I’ve been in Milton Keynes for several weeks now and the weather has been typical for this time of year. The days are short and the clouds are thick. The rain comes every two hours and lasts about ninety minutes. When it’s not dark, it’s overcast and—as Bill Bryson put it in Notes From a Small Island—it’s like living in Tupperware.

Despite the grey and the damp, it’s been a nice holiday season and for the past ten days I’ve enjoyed a much needed break from work. To top it off, today we received a wonderful New Year’s Day bonus—an entire day of sunshine. We took immediate advantage of the bright weather and went for a walk around Lodge Lake. The photographs I’ve included here show some of my favorite spots along our route.

All Saints Church, Loughton
All Saints Church, Loughton. I’ve taken dozens of photographs of this church over the years but thanks to today’s lovely afternoon sunshine this one may well be the best.

As I do this time every year, I spent some time mulling over my resolutions and then spent even more time complaining about how pointless resolution making can be. Simply put, I don’t like the burden resolutions so often bring. Most of the time a simple list of things to do could serve me far better than a lofty set of resolutions. And why make resolutions in January? Why not June or October or March? Anyway, I suppose the point is to think about your BIG goals in life and that always makes me glaze over and stare off into space.

All Saints Church, Loughton
All Saints Church, Loughton

I finally got over my gripes and came to the same conclusion I did last year—that most of the resolutions I made seven years ago still work quite well now. This might be a sign that I have gone the better part of a decade without fulfilling a single resolution. Or it might be an indication of the timeless nature of my resolutions. I prefer the latter explanation.

Anyway, in the spirit of clarity and not fishing for clicks, here is my list of enduring resolutions—fine-tuned for 2013:

  • Get outside and enjoy nature
  • Go with the flow
  • Be content
  • Meditate
  • Write more
  • Read more
  • Paint with watercolors and oils
  • Practice my violin
  • Practice yoga
  • Practice photography
  • Swim, bike, run
  • Expand and improve my cooking skills
  • Eat nutritious food (see previous resolution)
  • Take online courses
  • Listen to good music
  • Watch insightful documentaries
  • Save some money
  • Declutter

You may notice that my resolutions are not specific nor are they even all that measurable. That’s the way I like it. For me, resolutions are general goals. They’re not a list of things to be ticked off one by one. Such tick-lists already litter my house, I use them every day. For me, resolutions are meant to change the underlying way I manage my time, to alter the overall direction I’m heading—not drastically but in small, subtle, productive ways.

Happy New Year and all the best in 2013. May this year be filled with more ups than downs and may all your challenges be matched by plentiful rewards.

Rosebank Cottage on Pitcher Lane, Loughton
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Assortment

The Lizard
The Lizard
Today, we visited The Lizard, the most southerly point of the British mainland. The weather continued to be unpredictable but for several hours the cloud cover broke and we enjoyed stunning blue skies.
Grand Staircase
Grand Staircase
On Sunday we get a slow start. We eat a leisurely breakfast and then wander around Flagstaff for a while, exploring a few places we have yet to see.
Blue Bird Loop
Blue Bird Loop
At one point the trail disappears onto an exposed stretch of granite. I continue to walk for few minutes across the rock and come to the other side. The giant slab ends at a steep drop-off.