Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My 2014

So another year passes, and as ever it's been a year full of the usual ups and downs. However maybe for the first time in a few years there have been some pretty amazing events that have happened to me that have blown away the disappointments.

Having just said that the year did start in a disappointing way, as I had hoped to be in Sydney celebrating my brother's 50th birthday. Events during 2013 had unfortunately conspired against me, and it was such a shame to miss out on it. I am hoping I will be able to make a return trip to Australia sometime soon.

As Winter drew to a close I decided that I wanted to put together a second book to raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The first book published in 2012 creeped past the 300 sales mark during the year, and raised £500, but I realised that it had pretty much gone as far as it could. I wanted to try something different with the second book and widen the appeal, so I decided that I would go with the specific theme of photographing people. At first I thought I would mainly go out photographing random people in everyday situations, but this quite quickly developed into a quest of photographing the well known alongside the everyday people. So for most of 2014 I have been on the most incredible journey meeting and photographing some amazing characters. I have been in photo pits at concerts with bands like Status Quo at the Hammersmith Apollo, and in fact I even managed to get thrown out of a pit whilst photographing Clare Grogan of Altered Images. There was also the unforgettable experience of meeting Horace Panter of The Specials and seeing both his worlds as musician and respected artist. I went to the legendary Abbey Road Studios and put a guitar track down on the world's longest song. I have met people associated with bowel cancer such as Ben Richards, Phil Parkes, Matthew Wright, and John Shuttleworth. I had the wonderful experience of seeing a dress rehearsal of the Rock Of Ages play in a rehearsal studio in London. In the world of sport I met Sir Steve Redgrave on the banks of the River Thames, and the real treat of meeting my footballing hero Charlie Nicholas. Mick Channon on the gallops was also pretty special. As the year drew to a close I met the cast of Stomp, Carrie Grant doing voice-over work, and most recently Gail Porter who had me upside down on a ride at London's Winter Wonderland. All these experiences and so many more will be documented in the book, which will be called "Lives & Times" and if all goes to plan the book will be coming out in the Spring once I have done the final few photos. The book has also made a big difference in me, and the meetings and photographing people has made me so much better at communicating with people. When the book is finally finished I am not sure what I will do with myself!

The other fantastic experience was the trek up Mount Snowdon in September where our group raised almost £2700 for Beating Bowel Cancer. It had been a year in the planning, and once the fundraising began in earnest a few months before the climb the support of everyone proved to be quite staggering. For the weekend we were blessed with fantastic weather giving us great views going up the mountain. It was a diverse little group of us bringing together friends from different walks of my life, and the way everyone clicked and got on famously was particularly special.

It has been a steady year work wise, with the business still ticking along nicely. As ever it has been a year where taking any time off has been difficult, but where possible I have had the odd half day here and there, and some of the photo opportunities with the book have meant shutting up shop early and transferring the work phone to my mobile. Maybe moving forwards I might be able to do this a bit more. Holidays are not really possible but the occasional long weekend is something I should aim to do a bit more.

I will gloss over my cricketing summer! To say my form with the bat was disappointing would be an understatement. Rather worryingly I have got a painful elbow injury which doesn't help, and I am hoping the doctor can sort it before next summer otherwise I might have to think seriously about whether I can continue playing. The injury is impacting on being able to lift stuff at work so it needs addressing.

2014 was another great year for gigging. I started the year going on my usual pilgrimage tosee The Alarm in North Wales. Throughout the year I attended gigs on a regular basis seeing Status Quo, Dodgy, From The Jam, Carter USM, The Charlatans, Embrace, The Stranglers, James, Billy Franks, The Rifles, and The English Beat. 2015 is shaping up to be another good year with plenty of gigs already in the diary!

The dating saga in 2014 has been a bit of a mixed bag, but ultimately been unsuccessful once again. I have pretty much steered clear of Internet dating sites, but going into a new year do I try them once more? I have to admit that a part of me is more than ever wondering am I destined to remain on my own, but there is also still a part of me with plenty of belief that there is someone out there for me and it could happen at any time. 

The final bombshell of 2014 was the return of mum's cancer. Having been in remission for a couple of years a cancerous nodule on her lung was discovered at her annual check up in November. This is once again a secondary cancer from the bowel cancer, and mum faces an operation to remove the nodule on January 14th. Typically mum is pretty determined about it, and has put everything to the back of her mind over Christmas before facing up to the operation in the new year. The operation is the best way of removing the cancer, and although the operation is not very pleasant, mum has had the procedure performed twice before after the initial operation on the bowel, so she knows what to expect. Her determination and the way she bounces back from these setbacks never ceases to amaze me, and hopefully she will be back to full fitness and her eccentric ways before we know it!

I am sure 2015 will be full of highs and lows, and I wonder what I will be writing this time next year? I try not to set myself too many goals. The main thing is health and happiness for everyone. I do want to rid myself of the negative thoughts I sometimes allow to drag me down at times, and to try and look for the positive spin on things. A little more self appreciation about myself would not go amiss too! These two things are perfectly achievable and begin as work in progress tout suite! 

I am sure for many 2014 has been a wonderful year, but I know for many it has been a tough and challenging year. I wish one and all a very healthy, happy and successful 2015 x

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