Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

December 2007


GeneralMonday, December 31st, 2007, (1:32 am)

So as 2007 comes to an end perhaps you will allow me the indulgence of looking back over the events that shaped my year. I won’t waste my time writing some boring old review of the year like those awful mass letters that your aunt Agnes sends around telling you how bloody wonderful everyone in her family is doing. Instead I’ll let my pictures do the talking and invite you to maybe pick your favorite picture of the year (I’ll tell you what mine is at the bottom of the post).

As ever the first major event on my calendar was my birthday. The food was bad, the service was bad, and we saw far too much of a lady who has squeezed herself into a silver dress that was easily three sizes too small, but that didn’t spoil a great night that was spent in good company.

In February my brother generously paid for us both to travel to Western coast of Istrian peninsula of Croatia to visit his apartment in the harbor town of Rovinj.

In the post about the trip I wrote “With Pete’s familiarity of the narrow streets, Rovinj quickly felt comfortable and warm like an old coat brought out of its seasonal retirement. The buildings are crammed together like marshmallows in a bag, their candy store colors seemingly bursting onto the streets. Behind the rickety wooden doors and shuttered windows hundreds, if not thousands of stories lie in wait.”

I took a vast number of photographs there, and while I’m sure I’ll visit Pete’s apartment in Rovinj again and take more pictures while soaking up the atmosphere some more, this trip will remain special because it was a trip with my ‘bro.’
See the post: Visiting Croatia

In March I met internet blogging buddy, Rachel, in London with her friend Tiffany (aka Zelda). It was the first time I met Rachel whom I had ‘sparred’ with online a few times over a few prickly issues. She was over here visiting friends so we took the opportunity to meet in person.

The very next day I drove back home and managed to crash and destroy my little green MGF.

I wasn’t happy about the fact that I destroyed my green MG, so a few days later I went out and bought another one just like it.

While the summer may have been cancelled due to bad extensive floods across the country, the spring of 2007 was the most spectacular spring I can remember. Maybe I’d never really paid attention to spring before, but for whatever reason this year I really loved springtime which started with a weekend at my friend Romy’s farmhouse in Wales with Jeffrey.

In June I photographed a ladybug that I rescued. I know this isn’t a particularly significant event in the year, but I liked the pictures of the ladybug so why not include it in a photographic review of the year, right?

So as the summer months started so did the rain. I went ‘down south’ to join my parents celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary and at the same time I got to spend some time with another blogging buddy, Heather, and Mark at Cambridge University at the conclusion of ‘May week’. It was a very English weekend indeed.

Being the Best Man for my friend Phil, it was my responsibility to organise the Stag Party which we had in June, a safe distance away from his actual August wedding date! On the day I managed to overturn an off-road vehicle that was apparently impossible to overturn. Worst still I managed to get the thing upside-down in water!

I headed to the States in late June for the first of two weddings I’d be attending in the year. The first was Anne’s Wedding to Michael whom I affectionately call ‘the republican bomb maker’ on account of the fact he works for Raytheon. He doesn’t make bombs, but I refuse to let that fact get in the way of a funny tag for him.

Anne’s wedding stands out among every single wedding I’ve been to because not only was there no noisy party that stretched into the small hours of the next morning, but never before have I been to a wedding where softball is played, and I sucked at softball!

After the wedding I headed to Houston, Texas, to see friends out there. Along the way I photographed butterflies and enjoyed a noisy 4th of July firework display.

Jude told me off for this picture which was taken while I visited Brazo’s Bend in Texas with Rachel. She said “You could have very easily lost your life.” Lucky for me I lived to tell the tale!

In July we had the third annual XangBang, a gathering of people who use the Xanga.com weblog community site. Karen once again played the host and another impressive crowd of so-called ‘Xangans’ turned up to chat with each other in the real world. As a ‘people person’ I can’t tell you how much I enjoy these gatherings!

The 7th of July was said to be the perfect day because the date was 07/07/07, and maybe the stars were all aligned or something I don’t know, but the day very much did turn into the perfect day.

I spent the day with Susan, a friend I met while doing some hurricane Katrina recovery work back in 2006. She showed me around New Orleans, taking me on a journey around some of her favorite places and famous locations in the cities French Quarter. The shutters and bright colors reminded me a lot of Rovinj, though the feel of New Orleans is obviously entirely different. I drank a hurricane, ate a muffuletta, tried raw oysters and had beignets and coffee to round up the day. It was great!

One of the things I enjoy about visiting the southern United States is the noise of the wildlife! At Susan’s house I’d sometimes just sit outside at night just to listen to all the chirping frogs and assorted creepy crawlies. I missed that sound so much when I returned I downloaded a CD of the noise so I could play it on my stereo while I went to sleep! You probably think that’s pretty weird I guess, what can I tell you, we don’t even have crickets in England!

Having seen Waveland in 2006 some six months after Katrina I was interested in seeing it again, this time nearly 2 years after the storm. On my return to Waveland I saw varying degrees of progress, some impressive leaps, and some disappointments too. Nevertheless it was great to catch up with people I had met back in 2006 and see how they were getting on.

This is a photograph I took on the beach in Waveland. Out in the Gulf of Mexico a rainstorm is brewing. It was pretty spectacular to stand and watch the weather gather and fade like that.

Back in the UK I was the ‘best man’ at my friend Phil’s wedding. That was such a fun task, I loved it, and if I’m honest I didn’t think I would! I don’t think I have ever seen two people look happier than those two did that day. I usually find weddings a little tedious but Phil and Kerry-anne’s wedding was brilliant.

I got a little green fingered in 2007 and planted some sunflower seeds that turned into giants. I was tempted to find a 6 year old and have them enter the plants into a competition of some sort!

Despite 2007 being the worst year for Americans to visit the UK in something like 35 years due to the currency exchange rate, this was the year I saw more American friends in the UK than ever before. As the soggy summer drew to a close both Susan and Missy made their first trips to the UK and allowed me to be there hosts for the adventure.

I love playing the host to visitors from overseas, it allows me the opportunity to look at my country through different eyes and to experience things anew. Susan was the first to visit, and in an impossibly short amount of time we managed to squeeze in a tour of the area where I live, a visit to the rolling hills and mountains of North Wales and then the highlands of Scotland!

Wales

Susan likes Scotch, a drink I’ve never developed a taste for, and she wanted to do the famous Whisky Trail in the highlands of Scotland. So when she came here that’s exactly what we did, and I loved every moment of it!

You don’t have to like whisky to enjoy the whisky trail. Scotland is a breathtakingly beautiful place and the whisky trail also happens to follow the trail of some of the countries most spectacular historic sites including castles and ancient monuments. Along the way though I did pick up a taste for whisky liqueur!

Scotland

Scotland

No sooner has Susan left when Missy arrived. This time we headed to the famous Lake District then back to Liverpool before heading south through Wales, Oxford, and onto London. Of all the London sites to see one that is a must if you have time is Camden Market and Camden Lock. Missy and I spent an entire day there and in one day I completed all of my Christmas shopping!

In what seemed like a heartbeat the evenings began to draw in and the trees began to change color and lose their leaves. Autumn had, as ever, arrived too soon for my liking.

The year ended as it began, in the United States. While England shivered I enjoyed a little sunlight and warmth in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Another trip to New Orleans French Quarter allowed me the opportunity to increase what is becoming an impressive collection of pictures that feature shuttered windows and doors! I have so many that I really should create a calendar!

And that’s it. A quick round-up of 2007 in pictures. As I looked back over my posts I wondered which picture I would choose as my ‘Picture of the year’. I love the Croatia photographs but in the end I think my favorite picture of all would be the hilltop graveyard and church of Cille Choirill in Scotland. The rich colors in that picture give a sense of how lush and peaceful that location was, and I guess I like the fact that like so many of the best places one finds, we came upon Cille Choirill quite by chance.

So now as 2008 begins, the journey continues. Don’t you just love life!

GeneralMonday, December 24th, 2007, (6:00 am)


Merry Christmas everyone!

Found on the webFriday, December 21st, 2007, (9:06 am)

“Ladies and gentlemen, we kindly ask that you please pay attention to the brief safety instructions which the cabin crew will now demonstrate for you.”

With the holidays upon us loads of people will be flying and going through the routines that entails, the first being the safety instructions given by the cabin crew. I would imagine that cabin crew must get tired of standing there showing everyone how to work a seat belt clip, and so on occasion maybe they mix it up a little.

Sometimes they have a video do the safety demonstration don’t they. Those always make me laugh because they are so unreal. For example, the moment when the oxygen masks appear. In the video when that happens people are always calm and collected, looking positively delighted at the prospect of what lies ahead.

I’m not sure if the cabin crew member in the video above will have gotten into trouble. But I found it on YouTube and thought I’d share it with all of you.

Meanwhile articleSaturday, December 15th, 2007, (8:43 pm)

Meanwhile : Articles written by Simon Jones

As I sit here with a blank page before me, I feel like a pilot who is about to embark on the final flight of a beloved plane that will thereafter be retired, set aside as a museum piece, engine removed and wings clipped like a raven in the Tower of London. The words I put down now will be the last words for ‘Meanwhile’, after this there will be no more. This is the final article, the final flight if you will.

I began writing ‘Meanwhile’ ten years ago. The thought that my words could perhaps find their way to places far from my bedsit in Birkenhead where this all began was somehow liberating for me. Their freedom was my inspiration, and as the occasional email from a reader would find it’s way to my inbox, so I became more inspired…. [Click here to continue reading this article at ‘Meanwhile’]