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A twelvemonth of images

December 31, 2011

At the end of the year, the newspapers are always in reflective mood, looking back at events over the past twelve months. Personally I rarely find time for reflection at this moment in the calendar. On the last day of the year, we host a football (soccer) match for several families. It is now in its twenty-ninth year, having been started by my husband’s mother, and many of the original teenage players are now fielding their own children as participants. It is usually played in the snow and can be anything up to thirty a side. Our oldest player was a decorated hero of World War II who was still playing in goal into his late seventies: our youngest – not counting babies in slings – about two years old. It is chaotic, friendly and a great way to see out the old year. But it doesn’t leave much time for reflection.

This evening, however, I have a few spare moments while the boys are playing Pirates (the result of Santa giving one of them the DVD of ‘Treasure Island’ for Christmas). One son has a blunderbuss and a round Viking shield, the other has an orange plastic revolver and a wooden sword, and they are fighting each other around the sofa. Boys, eh. While they are occupied, I can take a few minutes just to pick some favourite photos to share with you, one for each month of Dancing Beastie over the past year. They are only snapshots, illustrating aspects of our lives here, but I hope you enjoy them.

January 2011

A snowy dawn at Eilean Iarmain, Isle of Skye.

This is one of my favourite photos of the year. I travelled alone in horrendous road conditions to attend the funeral of a friend on Skye. Even in these saddest of circumstances, the beauty of this special corner of the isles could soothe the soul.


the edge of the woods

February for me brought the fleeting excitement of having my blog ‘Freshly Pressed’ on WordPress. A huge spike in visitors led to some lasting friendships in the blogosphere,which have immeasurably increased the pleasure of writing. The post in question was just a typical Dancing Beastie one about walking in the woods, observing the forest floor.


damaged plasterwork awaiting restoration

Like every old house in a damp climate, Castle Beastie suffers occasionally from dry rot. Last winter we were battling an awful outbreak of the stuff in some of our most historic rooms. By March, however, we had turned the corner: having successfully killed off the fungus, we were starting on restoration of the interiors. The team dealing with all of this did a tremendous job, enabling us to look forward to spring and to get our wedding season underway as scheduled.


York Minster seen through early spring green

In a year of flat-lining temperatures and indifferent-to-rubbish weather, April stood out as a memorably wonderful month. Weeks of warm sunshine brought us an early spring, with trees in leaf well before their usual time, blossom bursting on the trees and brilliant green everywhere. Our family spent a happy – and hot! – long weekend in the beautiful medieval city of York. To round off a lovely month we had the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate, an excuse for happy celebrations for all but the most cynical. (And what place is there for cynicism in April?)


cheerful freesias at a friend's house: flowers always help.

May is usually about bluebell woods as far as I’m concerned. For 2011, however, this photo which I chose to illustrate a post on brain injury is most characteristic. Reading that post, I see that my recovery has progressed at a glacial pace since then. This year has been a quiet one, resting after 2010’s struggle to reach ‘normal’ again after the accident. In autumn this year I suppose I did a fair bit of psychological work, coming to terms with the fact that ‘normal’ may in fact never be quite the same as it was before the accident. But flowers always help – as do bluebell woods.


Midsummer on the river

Midsummer is always beautiful, even if it is as wet as this year’s was. We had only the occasional sunny day this summer but we enjoyed it anyway, with barbeques at the river and days out in the Highlands. June also brought the surprise gift of a beautiful picture (see right hand column), which has become my talisman and symbol of Dancing Beastie. It is worth more than any blogging award: I treasure it. Linda, eternal thanks!


a beach at the end of the world

A few days of sunshine while we were on holiday in Brittany kept us happy through the rest of the wet summer in Scotland. Finistère (‘World’s End’)in Brittany was perfect for a family holiday, with beaches for playing on, historic monuments to get us thinking and crepes to eat at every meal, given half the chance. Much as I love our rather extraordinary home, it is good to get away sometimes.


encounter with a hedgehog

Whatever the weather, one constant of my life is motherhood. The long summer holidays bring one’s parenting skills into sharp relief, where the scuff marks show. August gave us rain, hedgehogs, the beginnings of autumn, more rain and our annual Highland Games, all experienced together with our two boys.


apples from the garden, ripening on the larder's windowsill

September was a reflective month after the end-of-summer rush. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 gave pause for thought. On a personal level, I found myself taking a step or two backwards in my recovery from brain injury, and needing time to come to terms with it all. The quiet domestic chores of early autumn brought some sense of order and comfort.


season of mists

In a typical year, October brings crisp mornings and a sense of new beginnings. This year it was as damp and insipid as every other month (April being the honourable exception). A fleeting half-term trip to Skye was a lovely break, but I failed to find the inspiration to write about it properly. The eerie autumnal mists crept in as always, however, and I had fun at Hallowe’en with the idea of haunted castles.


details, details

Much as I love photographing wide woods and hills, the details that make up this rich wildscape fascinate me just as much. In November, which was dark in every way for me, it was these minutiae that kept me enthused. The variety of toadstools that appear in the autumn, in all sizes and colours, never fail to appeal.


midwinter silver and gold

And here we are back at December, which brought, at last, a return of optimism despite the destruction of storm-force winds. Christmas never fails to cheer me with its promise of hope renewed. We have even had a little more snow today to round off the season.

My few minutes of reflection have stretched into many indulgent ‘few minutes’ snatched here and there through the evening. The young pirates went to bed hours ago: it is time I followed their example. The football match awaits, and the Hogmanay celebrations marking the passing of the old year and the arrival of the new. However this old year went for you, I wish you a better one in 2012, with good health and happiness for you and yours.


18 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2011 9:07 am

    Beautiful pictures and words as always. Your blog is so refreshing and thought provoking. You definitely have a gift with words. I do not but I can read and comprehend. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the time you spend with this blog. I consider you an important part of my life experiences.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      December 31, 2011 12:54 pm

      Your extraordinarily generous comments leave me lost for words, for once! Thank you so much, I am profoundly touched.

  2. December 31, 2011 12:59 pm

    Some of the posts you’ve reviewed here seem as if they were yesterday. Where did this year go? And how amazingly bright the sun seems, and how luxuriant the flowers and grass and leaves. All still to come again.

    You are making me blush with that particular Scottish sort of embarrassment!

    Wishing you health and healing and joy in your family for the New Year when it comes.

  3. December 31, 2011 1:02 pm

    Happy New Year to you all very soon!

    I’ve just indulged in a photographic journey through 2011 too. It turned out to be a very satisfying way of spending several (cold!) hours.


  4. December 31, 2011 1:47 pm

    Beautiful photos and lovely memories of your blog. Thanks for sharing! And may your recovery continue through 2012.

  5. Bea permalink
    December 31, 2011 2:26 pm

    Thank you for this lovely summary of your year. I don’t often comment on the blogs I read, but you have given me so much pleasure with your beautiful photos and touched me so often with your open and honest observations of your life. Thank you.
    May the new year bring you blessings of health and joy.

  6. Toffeeapple permalink
    December 31, 2011 2:58 pm

    Wishing you a return to full health for the New Year and joy and cheer for you and your family. I have enjoyed reading your words very much and enjoying your images too.

  7. December 31, 2011 5:38 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing with all of us a little of your corner of the world (and yes, some of us are just a teeny, tiny bit envious!). I have enjoyed reading and discovering through your eyes the wonders of a beautiful land surely blessed!
    Here is wishing for you and your loved ones a healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2012!

  8. December 31, 2011 9:57 pm

    Such beautiful photographs! Thank you.

  9. January 1, 2012 2:49 am

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos. Best wishes for the New Year, I hope your recovery continues & that you keep sharing your life with us, your lucky readers.

  10. Erika W. permalink
    January 1, 2012 2:45 pm

    You have chosen beautiful photos from all your always good ones. I wish you a very happy New Year and that your health will gradually y get back to where you were before the accident.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 1, 2012 4:38 pm

      Feeling a little ‘left-over’ from the night before this new year’s day, I hope you will forgive me for writing a joint but heartfelt thank you to each of you for such kind comments. I am very fortunate to have found such a wise, warm and loyal readership here.
      Happy New Year! 🙂

  11. hmunro permalink
    January 1, 2012 4:32 pm

    What a gorgeous, marvelous retrospective, db. It seems a fitting occasion to thank you for taking the time to share a bit of your life with your readers. It’s been a true pleasure — and a privilege — to live vicariously through your stories and photographs.

    May 2012 bring more healing, more happiness, and more of the good things life has to offer.

    Happy new year. xo

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 1, 2012 4:42 pm

      Our comments overlapped, so you get a special thank you for giving me so much inspiration and encouragement over the past year. Wishing you true happiness and good health in 2012! 🙂

  12. January 4, 2012 2:51 pm

    Finding your blog was one of the real bonuses of 2011, DB, and this beautiful retrospective post reminded me wonderfully of why I enjoy every visit here. The marriage of words and pictures was surely made in heaven. 🙂

    May 2012 bring you much happiness and a return to full health.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 4, 2012 10:50 pm

      That’s very kind, Perpetua. Thank you very much. I look forward to continuing crossing of paths with you in Blogland in 2012!

  13. January 6, 2012 4:12 pm

    I love your photos. I visit from time to time to have a look at your past posts, as I didn’t know about your blog when you first started it (and I hadn’t realised you’d been freshly pressed either) so a post like this is lovely for me as it gives me a chance to catch up in a ‘potted’ way.

    Thank you, and I hope your coming year is filled with as much beauty as the last.

  14. January 27, 2012 9:40 pm

    Good read and you have been bookmarked on Digg under “A twelvemonth of images Dancing Beastie”. So hopefully our friends can give you a visit. Cheers!

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