I’m just going to take time here to say a few words to wish all the readers, supporters and friends of the Brownhills blog – as well as those in our wider community – a very merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and above all, peaceful 202o.
This year has seen the realisation of something I always wanted to achieve but never could – thanks to Susan Forster, Dawn Hayton and others, Brownhills now has a Christmas Tree for the first time in years – and jolly beautiful it looks too. We have this precisely because people worked hard to achieve the aim and just got down to it; my thanks to all who donated, too. This is community at work.
Also demonstrating great community have been Back the Track – Brian Stringer, Bob Cooper, Tim Kitchen, Micheal Roseblade, Barry Roberts and others who have worked so hard on the principle that it’s quicker to act in haste and apologise than first seek permission, and just gone ahead and turned a stinking, rubbish filled rail cutting into a beautiful greenway through the heart of Brownhills. We could all learn from these people. They are stars.
Add to this all the fantastic litter picking work done by local Wombles groups and by other enterprises at the Community Centre and elsewhere, and it’s clear to see that will live in a place with a thriving sense of community. It’s beautiful and inspirational to see.
It’s been a year of ups and downs for me, and one which has, through necessity and tiredness mainly, seen me ease up on the posting rate on the blog. I’m not getting any younger, and I must admit juggling everything – work, the family, other social media and the blog – takes it’s toll on me and I’ve not been in the best of health for much of the year.
But that aside, we’ve continued to find great history and document a bustling community here on the Brownhills Blog with the aid of all the lovely collaborators, contributors and commentators who enjoy sharing the history we shine a light upon.
Since it’s Christmas, I once more feel the loss of the Plastic Hippo, his and my great pal Mark Blackstock, Janey Hatfield and now the very individual Stuart Williams – grief which still makes continuing to write here difficult. All were good friends or online pals and left this place and me personally much emptier for their passing. It is in their memory and on their shoulders I continue.
David and Simon Evans, Peter Cutler, Andy Dennis, Gerald Reece, Ian Pell 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.
Don’t worry, I’m (still) going nowhere and there’s still plenty of good stuff in the bag to come.
The 365daysofbiking journal has now settled into a new primary home on WordPress following my concerns about the future of Tumblr, its original host. Both sites will continue in parallel for the foreseeable, as to my surprise, a huge number of active followers still use Tumblr. Having the journal in parallel on WordPress is easy with some online magic via IFTTT and an instance on WordPress gives me more control over what is now a huge archive. Hopefully the dual existence is bringing 365daysofbiking it to a wider audience.
Finally, my huge gratitude to you all out there for all you have done: My amazingly tolerant family and many close on and offline pals this year have, as always, 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, Richard and Susan who help manage the herd of cats that is the Facebook group and real world presence when required. 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.
I never thought I’d still be here today. Thank you.