Well, it’s Christmas Eve. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few days now, but it’s a bit cheesy and it feels kind of awkward. I’d like to wish all the readers, contributors, followers and friends of the Brownhills Blog a very merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year. This has been a fun, engaging year for me which has seen this blog go from strength to strength, and I’m buggered, to be frank, if I know why.
This time last year, the hit count stood at about 96,000 after 17 months of existence. Right now it’s a shade over 255,000, a huge increase. I wish I knew why. I thank you all for your engagement, interest, help and criticism. I still have no idea what I’m doing and readers continue to surprise and delight with the sheer expansiveness and warmth with which they contribute. I don’t know what it is that makes the followers of this blog, and our area in general so generous with their time, creativity and memory, but I wish I could bottle it…
I’m an amateur, I have no experience of writing other than here and remain, as ever, a cycling geek generally being nosey and asking stupid questions. I don’t always get stuff right – often, re-reading stuff makes me wince – but the continued exploration of our environment and collective history has been a great experience and I continue to be amazed at the stuff I learn from readers. I may not be able to answer a fraction of the comments I receive, but I can assure you that every one is valued. They make this thing what it is. Thank you.
I’d like to point out here that in the wider Walsall and South Staffordshire area, the Brownhills Blog is just a tiny part of a burgeoning online scene. Because of the vision of top bloke Mark Blackstock at The YamYam, our area has had a central focus for online content, both commercial and amateur, that has enabled a diverse and disparate community to form. This hasn’t been the case in many other areas. There are many surrounding blogs and bloggers for whom I have immense respect, of every possible stripe – Jayne Howarth’s hyperlocal Common People for Pelsall, the surgically precise, beautifully literate excoriations by The Plastic Hippo, the remarkable craft of Stuart Williams and his Bloxwich Telegraph and Borough Blogs. I count these people as friends, people writing great content for no other reason than they care. The loving Clayhanger wildlife journal of Chaz Mason, the often deeply personal essays by Linda Mason in Aldridge. Kate Goodall adopted a dog and went on to write top-notch accounts of her life. The Stymaster continues to explore his loves of real ale, local history, cars and technology, whilst Chasewater Stuff – John Daft, and Oakparkrunner Godfrey Hucker continue to document local history and their love of old transport. The excellent and slightly mad LichfieldLore and Tamworth Time Hikes continue to amaze me.
Amongst the readers of the blog, I’d like to thank particularly David Evans, Andy Dennis, Roger ‘Ziksby’ Jones, Caz, Dave Fellows and David Oakley who’ve all helped and provided fantastic material over the year. Walsall Local History Centre have also been indispensable, with the whole team, but especially Paul Ford and Stuart Williams going well out of their way to help.
This whole thing wouldn’t work or be possible without the support, legwork and ready discussion of [Howmuch?] – whose inquisitive nature, intelligence and humour inspires and helps create much of the material here. Last night I asked, ‘Do you remember Fletcher’s Tackle?’ – he replied ‘Yeah, he was a big lad’. That’s how this stuff starts. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth…
A final hat-tip goes to @hapdaniel for just being a top, very geeky bloke and very good friend.
If there’s anyone I’ve missed, please don’t be offended. As you’ve probably realised by now, I’m very absent minded.
I don’t know where this thing is going, or what lies ahead. Every time I sit vacantly at the keyboard, thinking there’s nothing more to write, something pops up. I don’t know how long that will continue, but it’s a lovely ride. Thanks for your support.
Have a great time, folks. And thanks.