I’d just like to take a few minutes here to wish all readers, contributors and friends of the Brownhills Blog and followers of the associated social media a very happy Christmas, and a peaceful and prosperous new year – it’s been a tough year this year, and I couldn’t have got through without you.
This year, as ever I have been impressed and touched by the compassion of the community of Brownhills and the wider area: We had some awful news, but light and good-heartedness shone through, and despite tragedy, anger and irritations, we’ve come through and continue to be a lovely place to live, write about and serve with the blog.
This year with the loss of the Plastic Hippo and Janey Hatfield, coming on the heels of losing Mark Blackstock too this has made continuing to write here difficult. All were good friends and left this place and me personally much emptier for their passing. It is in their memory and on their shoulders I continue.
We had some excellent historical finds this year, and contributors to the blog have provided some astounding material and been generous with their time and patience. I do this every year but cannot overstate my gratitude to them all.You are what makes this blog what it is.
David Evans and Simon, Peter Cutler and others have, as ever, been sterling in their support. I may not always show it but the work they put in is huge and I owe to them the continued success of this thing. Thanks lads.
On the matter of the blog, I apologise for the thin posting rate at the moment. I have been unwell, and had a lot going on in my work life that has often left me too tired to write. This thing is ten years old this coming April, and I’m not getting any younger. Doing this takes a lot of time and energy, and both have been scarce this autumn. Come the decade anniversary, I plan to slow things down a little, but the blog is going nowhere and will continue to grow. This Christmas I have made a conscious decision to ease off and concentrate on family, and I shall do the same next summer. The last one I missed too many good rides by fretting about the blog and I regret that, so I need to find a better balance for next year.
I’m tired. I need to refocus a bit. But the blog will not stop, I promise.
However, don’t worry, I’m going nowhere and there’s still plenty of good stuff in the bag to come.
Traffic was down a little this year for the blog but up for 365days. We shall finish the year at about 900,000. The reason for the drop was an absolutely disastrous change of theme (the appearance and design) of the blog in spring, which cost me a lot of mobile readers, and some change in the way Facebook promotes external links: Along with many other sites, the blog is affected by the fact that Facebook doesn’t want readers leaving it’s site. It’ll be interesting to see how that progresses.
Changing back the theme restored readers. But the damage that bad decision did was very real. On the matter of WordPress, the blog’s host, they continue to be brilliant on the whole but Jetpack is such a bag of crap. Fellow bloggers will understand that.
The 365daysofbiking journal has now been moved to a new home on WordPress following my concerns about the future of Tumblr, its original host. Both sites will continue in parallel for a while before transferring 100% to wordpress. This gives me more control over what is now a huge archive and hopefully can bring it to a wider audience. That alone was a massive amount of work.
A quick note of thanks here to the people from the Local Committee and Councillor Ken Ferguson who apparently managed to get Amey to fix the lights on Tin Man Island in time for Christmas – they had been out but as can be seen above, on Saturday they were looking great. Thank you to Barrie and Ken in particular.
Finally, thank you all for all you have done: My amazingly tolerant family and many close on and offline pals this year have supported me through choppy waters, kept me sane and focussed when the pressure has been on and helped in all kinds of ways. I’d particularly thank Linda, Phil and Richard who help Marshall the herd of cats that is the Facebook group. How they cope I have no idea. They are wonderful folk.
I raise my glass here and now to good friends, both here and absent, and to a lovely, wonderful community I’m so, so proud to try and help. Have a great festive season, there will be a competition (details to come) and please do keep digging for the history.
I never thought I’d still be here today. Thank you.