Goodbye to 2023 and here’s to a better 2024

As the year grinds to an ending I offer an apology for my several absences this year. This last month especially I’ve not written anything though a fair amount has happened. Well, I say a heartfelt goodbye to 2023, which ends with a bang – several bangs actually. About six weeks ago I fell backwards off a ladder whilst cleaning out the gutters on the Majestic. I miscounted the steps down and as I was wearing bifocals (yes, time is definitely catching up with me) didn’t focus properly on the ground. The ladder came down too and Jacqui caught it before it could land on me though she got a bruised arm and it did dent my shin. It left me with a stiff right shoulder and neck and a bump on the head so I was a bit more cautious for a few days.

Not cautious enough I fear. The weather turned very cold at the start of December and one morning I was hurrying out to herd the dogs in first thing clad once more in red clogs and a yellow dressing gown. The ground was wet as it was raining so I didn’t expect any ice. Alas, one of the new paving stone was frozen, my foot went up like a cartoon character and I flew backwards onto the gravel of the new soak away. This time my left shoulder took the brunt of the fall, along with the base of my spine. I realized when I tried to stand up I’d hit my head again as I was very dizzy. Time had certainly caught up with me and we were heading for the doctor – and then the hospital.

Thus I ended 2023 with a bruised spine, a torn rotor cuff, sprains and strained ligaments and mild concussion. I can now sit down without flinching and have had a steroid injection in my shoulder. The neck whiplash is much better though my balance is still uncertain. So it is a stern goodbye to 2023 from me!

Overall this has been a rather dreary year as far as the weather is concerned. They say it rains every day in Ireland, though not in the same places. Well, since the 10 days in June when the sun shone it’s rained here every day. The land is completely waterlogged and unworkable and the high winds and winter storms have loosened some of the more fragile trees. A couple of smaller boundary trees have blown over, though fortunately into the wood rather than out onto the road or adjoining fields.

We are so glad the kitchen roof is repaired, even if it did cost 40% more than we were quoted. I must add a special thanks to Robbie who reset the guttering properly once they’d gone. The roof men left a big gap under the tiles that would have caught the wind and ripped it all off again. Fair to say I won’t be recommending them to anyone else. The whole of 2023 reminded me of a story by Ray Bradbury, set on Mars where it rains all year apart from one day. The callous children locked one girl in a cupboard on that day so she never saw the sun. We feel like that poor girl!

It’s not been all gloom however. We’ve had some lovely visitors, including my sister who ventured over the Irish Sea for the first time. We are part of a remote quiz group and have made some friends through that too. The Majestic is taking shape and now has some benches and shelves, mainly fashioned by Jacqui from the old roof battens. She’s also been crocheting up a storm making blankets, little bags and pots, boot socks and a range of multicoloured beanie hats. She even made a coffee cosy for my cafetiere. A local friend does some work for a dog rescue group and a lot of these items are destined for their fundraising stall.

We are looking forwards to the next year, hoping for some health improvements and maybe a bit more energy. The house is being knocked into shape gradually and in 2024 we would like to replace the small orchard that was on the land at the back. Nothing spectacular, just a dozen mixed trees for the birds and us initially. We’ve had sterling support from a number of local people, which helps make life so much easier. There are a couple of ways we hope to give something back in 2024.

Well, a short summing up at the end of a slightly strange year. I hope your 2023 was better and wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2024.

Thank you for reading and I promise I’ll try to get back to the 2-week format!