I was  thinking of writing a short post wishing you well in the year to come.   Then I wondered, what will I actually wish them?   Peace and prosperity?   Health and happiness?   Your heart’s desire?

I remembered the proverb which advises:   Be careful what you wish for, as it shall surely be yours.

I asked myself, What is my heart’s desire?    I’m not sure.   I can describe it in the negative.   I don’t wish that I had been more beautiful, cleverer, stronger, richer, famous.   I don’t regret that I chose not to pursue a career, nor am I particularly disappointed that I didn’t publish novels.   I don’t wish I’d had more lovers, married a different husband, had more children, owned more and bigger houses, bought couture clothes, owned an art or jewellery collection, driven fast cars.   I never meet anyone whose life I would swap for my own.

Then I asked myself, so, you’re content with your own life, but would you like it at a different time from now?   Definitely not as a teenager: that was not the best of times.   In one’s twenties: too much still to be accomplished.   in one’s thirties:  too exhausted from having and rearing children.   In one’s forties?   I pause, slightly tempted.   At 40, you’re perhaps past the peak of physical perfection, but you know you have only to exert yourself a little and  you’ll still cut it (should you want to),    Forty is also the age when it first dawns on you that you’re NOT going to live forever.   But you still have children living at home and your life is an exhausting treadmill.   Fifties – no.   Sixties – no, definitely not.    (Don’t get me wrong, I’m emjoying them and I’m grateful to be having them, but it’s NOT the Time of your Life.)

Then I think of our losses, and that what I want is all I’ve got now, but the people who have left us to be restored to us.    I don’t want not to have the lovely grandchilden, but the great grandparents, old but still themselves and vital.    Friends who have gone: how one would rejoice to hear their voice again.    Our pets:  Heidi, the lovely dog whom John brought to our marriage and who welcomed me with unreserved joy;  Honey, the golden retriever of our children’s growing up; and our two cats, Sacha and Bib.   I’d make room for every one of them.   Even people whom one didn’t especially like you could take back with the loved ones: you would handle it so much better now.

If I regret anything, it’s that I was not kinder to other people.   (My father told me this would happen but I did not believe him.)   These days, I speak perhaps a third of what I think.   I also don’t intervene so often, but trust that the person  I’m looking at has the strength and gains the wisdom to do what is best for themselves, and it is heartening how ofen they do.    In my youth, if someone annoyed me, I issued a warning and if they did not immediately desist, I shot my arrow at their heart.  I have not led a peaceful life.   And while I do not regret this exactly, faced with the same circumstances again, and knowing what I know now, I’d sue for peace for longer.   (Probably what this means in pratice is that I’d issue TWO warnings!)

But what I am actually wishing for in this impossible longing, is not to be mortal;  and it is in our mortality that we learn and grow.    So I’ll thank you for walking with me through 2015, and wish an Irish blessing upon you for 2016:

May the road rise up to meet you;

May the wind be always in your back;

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rain fall softly on your fields and,

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.









We recently attended the 80th birthday party of a much loved friend in Scotland. The party had been carefully planned for the comfort and convenience of guests and was a very happy occasion. We met some people we had not seen for over 20 years and we recognised the grown up children because for a brief moment we thought they were their parents (as we had remembered them.)

On the long drive home we were trying to calculate the number of miles we had driven in journeys back to Scotland over the years of our living in the beautiful South, but when we had counted enough to encircle the globe, we gave up.

We went annually while my parents were alive. We have enjoyed my brother and sister in law’s hospitality far more than they have availed themselves of ours. We have attended nine funerals, 3 marriages, two eightieth birthday parties, 2 golden weddings, the arrival of three grandchildren, helped with house moves, scattered ashes. We despatched and collected Joanna from Glasgow University. We ‘attended’ the Referendum. We’ve attended Golf Opens and Scottish Opens.

We’ve had two holidays in Orkney were we viewed the latest astonishing archeological dig, and one in the Western Isles. We’ve thoroughly explored Glasgow and returned to Edinburgh.

Sometimes, when people are so inconsiderate ! as to die in the depths of winter, and we’ve had to power through the darkness in wind and rain, I’ve thought crossly that the Northern dwellers of these islands seem to regard the trip north as a mere afternoon excursion, whereas on the other hand their venturing south represents the equivalent of David Livingston’s exploration of Africa!

But this time I enjoyed staying in my daughter’s comfortable house and her warm welcome, and spending time with my three grand-daughters. I’m glad the friends we left behind have been so kind as to maintain an interest in us and have always been warm and hospitable, inviting us to their great occasions.

Next year, deo volente, will be our 40th wedding anniversary, and we thought we’d like to take a little holiday to celebrate. Africa? Australia? France? We love all these places. But we think we’ll perhaps visit some of the beautiful Scottish islands that we have not yet explored.

Though we’ve lived in Sussex for 28 years, and I knew when I first saw it and fell in love with it that it would prove a faithful lover, there is still a song in our hearts that cries NORTH!