January: the month that looks both ways

Looking back

Until 46 BC the ‘Roman calendar’, with just ten months, was used. Julius Caesar proposed that radical reforms be made and on 1 January 45 BC a revised calendar was adopted with two months added to the beginning of the year. However, by 1582 this calendar was eleven days out of sync with reality due to the exact length of a year not being understood. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII decreed that a correction be made and this new calendar became known as the ‘Gregorian’ and is the one predominantly recognised today.

January became the first month of the year in both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars. Prior to this the first month was March and it is generally accepted that 1 January was chosen as the first day of the ‘New Year’ as this was when newly elected consuls took office.

January is named after the Roman god Janus and there was no equivalent in other ancient civilisations. He was worshipped as the god of beginnings and endings; of journeys and trading and shipping; of doorways and passages; of time and contrasts; of birth and transitions; of war and peace.
His images usually have two faces, looking to the future and the past. With all that responsibility I wonder if he wasn’t forever searching for where the next problem was coming from!

There has been a suggestion that January was named for Juno, queen of the Roman gods: against this idea is that she was already the goddess for June; for the idea is that she was the protector and special counsellor of the state of Rome.

Looking forward

January, like Janus, has us looking forward with expectation while casting a backward glance at the events of the previous twelve months.

For many it is a time of making resolutions when we resolve to do things differently. Always better, as if we’ve looked back and found ourselves wanting. Many of these personal promises will be major changes, ones that may well be fundamental to our being. Changing attitudes, life styles, commitments, careers.
We reject our past and confront the new year in full battle cry.

Looking inward

January’s birthstone is garnet, a deep red semi-precious gemstone that is thought to aid higher thinking and self-empowerment. It also denotes constancy.

Even for those who find this notion fanciful it does deserve a second thought. At the beginning of a new year, indeed at any time, we would all do better to celebrate our positives. What we’ve got right, not what we’ve got wrong.
So looking at self-empowerment and being constant in what we believe seems to be a much healthier way to view future opportunities. Or, to use those wonderfully wise words:
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Embrace what you have achieved, the person you have become, and build on that.

New Year me: confident about the past, hesitantly stepping into the future

I hope you’ve enjoyed the facts and the thoughts about the first month of the year. Do you celebrate a different New Year? Do you make resolutions? Do you break resolutions?
Please share your ideas and comments in the Reply box below.

Thank you for reading my blog. Have a great 2020.

Australia: two-sided coin or multi-faceted gem?

At the moment Australia is headlining in our news, and not for any ‘feel good’ reasons. Vast swathes of the country are being devastated by bush fires. Homes have been destroyed; natural habitats are being wiped out. People have died.

Yet what do we know of this country, set alone in an azure Southern sea? Can we really comprehend its size? The diversity of its landscape, the life experiences of its people?

I guess for many people Australia is a land of two extremes:
golden sands, beach-side properties, barbecues and relaxed outdoor lifestyles; then there’s the barren scrub, strange geographical features, the tough-living people of the outback.
Oh, and pretty amazing but strange wildlife.

These snapshot images come from soaps like Home and Away and Neighbours, movies like Crocodile Dundee. And ‘Fosters’ adverts.

But what is the real Australia? It is much of what is imagined.
And so much more.

I have been very fortunate in that I’ve visited many times, and lived there. I went to school in and around Sydney, know the Blue Mountains area, and visited Adelaide many times to see family and friends. It is an amazing place and for me few superlatives can give it justice.

Here I would like to share Australia’s unique beauty as I have recorded it over the past two decades.

These are only glimpses of its wonder and diversity.
And now it is burning and even from the other side of the world my heart breaks for the people and the land.

I hope you have enjoyed my photographs.
I hope more that you see what may be lost in the present devastation.
I won’t get political – get bogged down with arguments about global warming, climate change, call it what you will.
Something is happening, and needs to be addressed.
I hope we can find answers soon.

I have read that there is fundraising to help the people who have lost everything. If you would like to help, please check it out. I do not have any links to give as I don’t want to presume anyone’s personal circumstances.

Thank you for reading my post. Please share your thoughts in the Reply section below.

Winter's Sleep: a poem on grief

Winter’s Sleep

About her fragile frame she wears her grief,
a comforter of silent memories
that bind her to the past, the golden days
when love sang out from youthful beating hearts
and she would vow from dusk to dewy dawn
the passion of her love eternally.

But now that love – her love through time – has gone
and all the world’s clothed winter, bleak and grey;
each sleepless night breathes hoarfrost cold and still,
and wearisome and loveless pass each day.

She wanders vacant rooms with tired step,
each place where he has walked she treads again;
she clasps each book to touch where he has touched,
sits in his chair, now empty of his pain.

Her fervent wish to quit this endless hell
to follow in his wake, and all pain quell;
relight the passions shared since her first vow,
true mainstay of her tranquil life till now.
For hollow are her days, and death does creep,
but she’ll step smiling through the veil of sleep.

Grief takes many forms and we deal with it in our own way. That may be through acceptance or denial, celebration for a life well-lived or despair at a good life lost. There may be regret at words not spoken or thanks for wonderful times shared.
There is no right or wrong way, only the way that is best for the individual. At that moment. In that situation.

Thank you for reading my thoughts on this very personal experience.

Christmas Diary: Day 12

5th January


Woken by sound of twelve young lords leaping wildly about in garden. Geese non-plussed. Others far too serious for such nonsense. Lords did look wonderfully handsome though, and very colourful.

I had an idea and invited them in for coffee. One of them mentioned a little indiscretion between Rob and one, if not two, of the dancers.  Obviously unaware of relationship Rob and I had.

Yep. Had. Not going down that road again!  No wonder he was so willing to put them up.

All I have to do now is choose right moment to tell him the wedding’s off.


Thinking over past week, I’ve set up links to supply milk and eggs and formed home-help company from scratch. And sold swans.
Also collecting management fees for dancers, drummers, and pipers. Made sure contracts signed and sealed.
Surprised by natural business acumen!

Planning to start Escort Agency with the lords.
They’re overjoyed, and I’ll be set for life!

Finally realised I’ll survive without a man in my life.  Admittedly I’ve Rob to thank.
And Charlie. In first few days I was floundering. Then she stepped into my life. Now can’t bear thought of her stepping out.
It’s mutual.
Double sweet.

Christmas Diary: Day 11

4 January

Feel I’ve hit jackpot!
Rob himself came around with fine dance troupe in tow. Eleven absolute stunners and they’re definitely a class act – contemporary and classical dance. Already under contract to a studio, and as their manager the fees come to me. I’m not complaining.

Rob’s putting them up at his place – more convenient he says. I get lumbered with pipers and drummers. Maybe not Rob’s type? Strange that.
I’m taken with the drummers to be fair.

Charlie took last swans. Stayed for cuppa and talked about the smallholding. So interesting. Great life choice.

Early days, but business picking up.

Mountain walking. Why don’t the authorities make it easier?

Complaints by some holiday makers beggar belief

I live in North Wales within the Snowdonia National Park named after Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales with an elevation of 3560 feet / 1,085 metres above sea level.
To get to the top is definitely not a stroll in the park.
No-one has said it was.

And yet there are some people who think it is. Or should be. And have been very critical.

What have the complaints been about?

“the path is relentless … (you) clamber over rocks, steps, jagged rocks”


“even the easiest route up the mountain was not wheelchair accessible.”
The clue is in the complaint: ‘up the mountain’.

“quite a steep hill and it could have been improved by concrete paths and maybe some toilets halfway up.”
It’s NOT a steep hill. It’s a mountain.

Does this look remotely like a ‘steep hill’?
And what are the logistics of getting concrete up and toilet waste down?

Even the lack of a Costa Coffee was mentioned.
Why stop there? What about a Theme Park?

In over 40 years I have never walked up Snowdon.
I’ve climbed Haystacks and the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District, and Kinder Scout in the Peak District.
But Snowdon always seemed a step too far. Sorry about the pun.

Children climb Snowdon with their families. Schools arrange visits to the area – and pupils climb as one of their ‘forced’ activities. There are 7 designated paths each with a different grade of difficulty. The safer, more accessible paths are marked.
At the top is a well-stocked café with panoramic views and toilets.

For those not so young, not so agile, not so able? Well, there’s a train.

Do you live in an area of magnificent scenery? And do visitors moan about inaccessibility? Even though it is a natural phenomenon, and not a constructed edifice?
Are you upset by it, or do you just let them get on with it believing that the loss is theirs?
Please share your thoughts. And thank you for reading mine.