Of all the times we went away last year, to Machynlleth, Hay-on-Wye, St Davids, North Norfolk, and Edinburgh, the one that stands out was the first - an overnight trip to the New Forest. There's a school of thought that says doing something or going somewhere for the first time has more impact than re-visiting the same old stuff again and again, and I think this applies here - all the other places were ones we've frequently visited whereas I last visited the New Forest over 20 years ago.
In two days we visited Southampton, Portsmouth, star-gazed near Mudeford under a sky so dark we couldn't see the sea, went back to the sea the next morning near Milford on Sea, walked round the quaint seaside town of Lymington and spotted the famous New Forest ponies. And the glorious sunshine and blue skies weren't in summer, but January! The sea breeze was bracing at times but for a winter weekend the weather could hardly have been better.
Summer brought several reasons to celebrate - my youngest daughter turned 18, achieved the A level grades she needed for her first choice of university, and passed her driving test! On the downside, of course, she left home but although the place isn't quite the same without her, she has been back frequently with her new venture promoting music gigs.
There's been quite a musical thread running through this year - first at Hay Book Festival, at an evening event listening to Tiffany Murray and David Mitchell read from their books while fireworks exploded over the town and Frank Turner's singing drifted over from another tent. The most enchanting, magical feel ever to a book event!
And in Autumn there was more music! Going along to watch the gigs put on by my daughter turned out to be much more fun than I could ever have imagined. The venue is small, the musicians aren't huge stars and sometimes the noise proved too much for my eardrums, but it's something totally out of my normal rut and I've loved it. The last event of the year was extra special as my daughter decided it was time to perform herself and although I'm heard her play at home, to see her sing in front of a crowd was something special.
In between fall small, sharp memories - of the hot foot-burning beach at Whitesands -
the early morning peace and quiet at our self-catering cottage, looking over Hailes castle and Trapain Law, before heading into the bustle of Edinburgh for the day
and the mix of awe and fear watching my daughter take flight in a hot air balloon
I'm glad to have something good to remember the year by, instead of just the chaos that's broken loose at the end of it.