The unexpected year


As a new calendar year approaches, we wonder what to expect in the months to come.  For me, this year has been an intense brew of the predictable and the unexpected.  But then, when I look back, isn’t this always the case?  Yes, some years seem to plod on, with nothing much of note happening, so that we wonder where the months went.  Some years meander, as we drift, out of focus, along different paths.  And then there are those years that we look back on as our turning points, when the unexpected happens and turns the year on its head.


The crew of the Donald Duckling weren’t expecting to spend Christmas moored in the north east of England.  And as we approached the port on our Boxing Day walk, we weren’t prepared for this hulking, rusting cargo ship to be docked there.  The ship has been detained at the port since late November, not permitted to leave until urgent repairs are carried out.  It’s crew, who are mainly Romanian and Filipino, had to resort to fishing from the side of the ship when their food ran out on the last voyage, and to cooking the fish on the deck as the galley wasn’t working.  The crew are far from home but have been supported by the local fishermen’s mission, who have given them phone cards, access to the internet and to their kitchen.


And yet on this calm day, when the low sun bounced off the side of the ship, life asserted itself as though there was nothing unusual about the scene.  The gulls took advantage of the mooring ropes to claim a safe river vantage point.  Families and dog-walkers enjoyed the tranquil pause between the rain and gales.  And this is the point.  Life goes on, good or bad, as we prepare to celebrate a new year and wonder what it will bring.


This year I’ve been amazed by the way my creativity has burgeoned, the way I’ve found inspiration in unexpected places.  I’ve revelled in the seasons as never before and in the every day enjoyment of cherishing time with my family.  I’ve found succour in the woods, the sea and a small terrier called Winston.  I have connected with a multitude of fascinating people across the world.  Yet I’ve also been saddened by the loss of a loved one much too soon.  This year hasn’t plodded, or meandered.  It may well have been a turning point.


And so, as I write this, surrounded by the roar of the renewed gales around the house, I want to leave you with some of my favourite posts of the year.  I hope you’ll take some time to follow the links and read them and explore the blogs that go with them.  These are only a very small selection of posts I’ve read that have made me laugh, cry, think or just enjoy.

The season of the floor sun by Laurie at Travel Lightly is a moving account of the loss of a summer ritual after the death of her dog Juno.  Laurie also writes beautifully about nature, landscape and spirituality.

Britt Skrabanek at A Physical Perspective, recently started an inspiring series called The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, which is all about people who, using the example of their own lives, inspire us to live ours.  I’d also recommend Britt’s book ‘Beneath the Satin Gloves.’

The word is create by Marylin Warner at Things I want to tell My Mother, describes the objects created with love through generations and how they become legacies for those who come after.  Marylin’s blog is in the form of letters to her mother, a writer herself, who suffers from dementia, and her posts are warm, touching and insightful.


Sherri, at A View From My Summer House shared a powerful post about her journey as a writer, in The power – how has writing changed you.  In her blog, Sherri shares warm, funny and touching stories of her life in the UK and the US that have been a pleasure to read.

One of the first posts I read on WordPress was by Zen Doe at The Wind Horse Blog.  Captain, My Captain is the touching story of being chosen by a horse while grieving for another, that had me in tears.  She hasn’t posted for a while as life was getting in the way of writing in a good way, but you won’t be sorry if you spend a little time in her world.

I’ve greatly enjoyed sharing the ups and downs of the writer’s journey with archaeologist and writer JM McDowell over the past year.  As well as posting on writing in general, JM has shared some wonderful fiction with us.  Meghan Bode’s Wintry Tale part one (there’s a link on the page to part two) is just a taster of some of her writing, that I hope you enjoy.

Gemma Hawdon is another fellow writer that I have loved sharing the journey with this year at Top of the Slush Pile.  Gemma has shared many great tips and observations about the writing life.  The imagery in Writing the dark and twisted has particularly stayed with me.


Ron Scubadiver shares wonderful photos of landscapes, people, street life, the arts scene, abstracts and more at The Wild Life of Ron Scubadiver. Volcanos National Park has some of my favourites.

Karin Vandenbergh at Ruby Slippers and the Yellow Brick Road often seems to look into my mind and I find we often write on similar themes.  Into the darkness is a beautiful exploration of the power of the dark.

Gabriela Blandy, at The Sense of a Journey, has also been missing from WordPress for a while.  I miss her rich, thought-provoking pieces, with some wonderful titles. What happens when a character’s skirt gets hitched in her knickers is an exploration of characterisation.

Unpeeled, by Helen White at Scattering the Light, is about limitation, self-judgement and the tensions that can appear around the autumn equinox.  Helen is an artist and writer who writes beautifully of her spiritual and creative journey.

I’m constantly amazed at the ability of Scott, at Kindred Spirit, to produce so many pieces of enjoyable short fiction each week, as well as more general posts.  He’s recently started posting longer pieces featuring Carolyn and her struggles in a zombie-infested world, which I’m really enjoying.  Keeping Watch is the first of these.


Jenny Pellet at Characters from the Kitchen shares some wonderful and amusing thoughts on life.   The imperfection of memory is about how we remember things, sometimes not in the way they happened.

Sarah Potter shares wonderful haikus, inspirational photos and more.  Sun Haiku #2 is an example of one of my favourites.

Kourtney Heinz has generously shared her journey with us as a new author on the promotional trail.  This post is a trailer for her book, which I would highly recommend you read: The Six Train to Wisconsin book trailer.

Jack Flacco writes about zombies, strong women and a miscellany of other things.  So if you’ve ever wondered how you’d survive a zombie apocalypse, try one of Jack’s ‘what-if’ posts to see how you’d do: Zombie what-ifs.  Also check out his new book ‘Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse’.

I only read The necessity of beauty by Valerie Davies today and it is such a beautiful story that it makes a perfect end to my selection of favourite posts of the year.  Valerie writes beautiful posts that also always include fascinating information and insights.

Thank you to all of these bloggers and all of those I regularly follow but haven’t mentioned here, for making my world a richer place this year.

39 thoughts on “The unexpected year

  1. Thank you so much for the lovely mention, Andrea! I truly look forward to each of your posts and your views and experiences with writing and life. May 2014 see the continued flourishing of your creativity and spirit.


  2. Thank you so much for the mention. I feel very fortunate to have happened upon your wonderful blog, Andrea- your posts are a magical joy to read and I look forward to many more. Happy New year to you. 🙂


  3. Thank you so much for the link, Andrea. Much appreciated! I’m so happy to have discovered your blog this year and it’s been such a pleasure reading about your thoughts on life and writing. Wishing you a very creatively blessed new year and truly looking forward in continuing the journey together. Much love, xxx


  4. Andrea, what a lovely post; I’m still smiling at the “fishermen’s mission” that is helping the crew with phone cards, use of the kitchen, etc.–very touching. Your ups and downs, the good and the not-so-good, reminds me of my own. One of the very nice end-of-year surprises, though, was your endorsing link to Things I Want To Tell My Mother. Thank you very much.


  5. For me, this has been an insanely fast year. I could barely keep up with the changing of the months and I am astonished to find we are teetering on the last gasp of 2013! One of the definite highlights of my year has been finding and reading your blog. Your articulate words on the magic of the seasons are helping me find my way into a more defined spirituality, a personal charge I asked of myself this year.

    And I look forward to more of your words…teachings, really…and to checking into the blogs you mentioned above.

    Thank you for the kind mention of travel lightly 🙂 I wish you and your family, and if I may, a particular mention to Winston, a happy, healthy and magical New Year!


    • Thank you for your lovely words Laurie, writing about them has made me more in touch with the seasons this year, which has made my life so much the better. You’re very welcome for the mention, that post particularly touched me and I look forward to many more seasons with Winston…


  6. It took me awhile (I am ashamed to admit) to track your trackback here. I am not used to those. Thank you so much and know how much I enjoy reading your posts and works as well. Your praise of Carolyn has been of much value in my continuing efforts to lengthen the story. I love where it’s heading and you can take some credit for keeping me to my post (so to speak).


  7. Oh Andrea, what a wonderful post this is. It really captures that feeling we all encounter, that even when sad, bad, terrible even things happen to us or others, life moves on relentlessly. Life’s rich pattern. Your posts are so evocative and cause me to stop, take time out and ponder the beauty of your writing.

    Thank you so much for mentioning me here, I am honoured that you would do so. I very much look forward to reading all the other posts you have shared here too as soon as I can.

    Wishing you a very happy, peaceful yet exciting 2014 🙂


  8. I’m sure I already thanked you for mentioning my blog in this post, but obviously I only thought my thanks and didn’t pen them! So thank you, Andrea 🙂 Also, I really enjoyed checking out some of the other blogs you mentioned.
    Wishing you a wonderful and creative 2014 xoxo


  9. Pingback: Britt’s in the Bloggerhood | a physical perspective

  10. What a beautiful post. I’m sorry for your loss this year. I hope the new year continues inspiring you in unexpected places. With your lovely border by your side (I have a border terrier too, lovely companions). Thank you for sharing these wonderful posts and blogs – I will explore the ones I’m unfamiliar with, a wonderful way to start of th first week of the new year….


    • Thank you Letizia and thanks for visiting. Having our BT come to live with us is one of the best things we’ve ever done – they really are great dogs and there’s a whole community of fellow BT people out there. I hope you enjoy reading the other blogs, there is some great writing there.


  11. Thank you for sharing your selections–I can’t wait to check them out. And congrats on a year in which your muse has been generously visiting. Am going through a period like that right now and it’s heavenly.


  12. Andrea, I didn’t know you when you made this post, but it is every bit as lovely as I expected. I have to comment on the coincidence (synchronicity) of this mention of the “Donald Duckling” and the Donald Duck charm you found in your December 2017 post. 😀 Maybe white ducks should be your totem. Hugs on the wing!


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