So many ups and downs in 2016! It’s been a topsy turvy year – a year of sadness and upsets for my family and a deeply shocking year in global politics. I have travelled through the year with a pervading sense of loss.
But, in the last few days I’ve been indulging myself drawing up a #bestofnine2016 for my Instagram feed. I’ve looked through all the pictures I’ve posted online, and selected the nine pictures that most capture 2016 for me. It has taken me quite a time to finally make a selection, but it was a good exercise because after that, I didn’t feel so bad. So many little ordinary happinesses and pleasures that I have taken for granted! Here are my chosen nine:Top left: That’s my dearest husband Stephen and our lovely cat, Poe, who passed away in her 20th year, this August. This photograph was taken on her last night of life, when we knew she was extremely ill and would have to visit the vet next day, probably to be put down. She is curled up asleep, comfy and trusting, next to Stephen, on the sofa, as she regularly did. RIP Poe, faithful friend.Top middle: Lots of little pleasures here. My knitting, my nails – and my travel knitting bag! Those of you who know me well will know I almost always have my nails painted – and doesn’t this colour match the knitting so well! The Solace bag was a generous gift from Rebecca of Needle & Spindle and symbolises to me the constant comfort of knitting, and the friendliness of the wonderful online community of knitters and makers.Top right: This is our lovely local beach, just five minutes away from our home, and my very grown-up children, visiting from London, on a beautiful blustery day. Stephen and I walk here several times a week, and watch the tides and waves and sands move, the holiday visitors with their families come and go. To share this with my own family is the greatest of all pleasures.Middle right: A golden GiveWrap, made with the Japanese and Indian silk scraps I was given for my birthday, and mixed up with some very treasured pieces of old clothing. It’s been another year of GiveWrap making, sharing the ideas with my cousin Polly, and spreading the word about sustainable wraps.Bottom right: I wrote about the poppies that we grow here in a recent blogpost. They are the best of our gardening in this wonderful place, right up on the north Northumbrian border, exposed to all the elements. Lots of plants won’t grow here – it’s too salty, too windy, too cold. But poppies flourish, and best of all, they self-seed. They grow where they will, not just where I choose. Don’t they adorn the view so very well …Bottom middle: In the turmoil of family events earlier this year, two little cats, Eggy and Ilsa, found themselves needing a new home – so they came to Seaview! And look how these little smilers love it here! These little London softies have become Northumbrian toughies. They’re good at mousing, chasing the neighbours’ cats, exploring their territory, and finding the comfiest places in the house to sleep (usually some special fabrics I have carefully laid out).Bottom left: Nothing says Seaview to me as much as the big skies with their endlessly-changing weather stories. Through the winter months, we are privileged to watch the sunrise as it moves over the south-eastern horizon. So often it is explosively dramatic and exciting. Perhaps best of all, the sun doesn’t rise until a decent time (8.38 as I write on 31st December), so I don’t sleep through it … You never tire of these skies.Middle right: On the 23rd June 2016, Great Britain voted in a referendum on their European Union membership – and we all now know the result. In the days leading up to this referendum, those of us who hoped to stay in the European Union became increasingly worried about the result – as indeed there was good cause – and I was inspired to stitch my Love letter to Europe, incorporating some lines from John Donne’s poem No man is an island. Embroidery isn’t really my thing, so this was a textile experiment for me. It wasn’t, of course, an earth-shaking contribution – really rather feeble – but it was very comforting to stitch at the time. Now it hangs up our stairs, and it speaks to me of our continuing membership of Europe, even if we lose the membership of the European Union.Centre: We saw this little 18th century ladies patch box on display at Traquair House – a very happy daytrip to a most interesting place to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. So there are lots of things bound up in this picture for me: my very happy marriage to Stephen, the pleasures we have out and about exploring this beautiful part of the world, and above all else it speaks of hope. More than anything else in these unsettled times, the message of this little box comes back to me, and I find in it great, great comfort. At some time in its history, it must have given hope to another person. Now again, it is holding a hand out to a dodgy future.Goodness knows what I will be writing at the end of 2017. But hope isn’t a bad travelling companion. So thank you for your company on the journey through 2016, and may you all be sustained by hope in whatever comes your way through the next year. Happy New Year!