I’m not really sorry to be seeing the back of 2017. To say it’s been a mixed year is an understatement. It started well enough as I spent the first couple of months travelling through South-East Asia. I’d been planning to revisit some old haunts in Indonesia for some time, so – after a holiday in Thailand with my fiancé Dawn and time with friends I headed off solo to catch up with an old friend in Bali before travelling across Java. First stop was Surabaya, where I met Bagus, a Facebook friend and fellow photographer and rail enthusiast. It was my first visit to the city and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it – along with some trips out to the countryside to photograph trains in the landscape. Afterwards, I moved on by rail to Jakarta which I hadn’t visited since 1992. I’ve voluminous notes from the trip which I keep meaning to write up – but I’ve never found the time (yet, but it’s one of my new year resolutions!) Moving on again I stopped off for a week in Singapore to explore the growing metro system and spend time with another Facebook friend – Nicholas Lim, before heading overland to Malaysia and the long train ride from Kota Baru to Kuala Lumpur (another one I’ve yet to write up!) where I explored the expanding metro systems and parlous state of the KTMB suburban network before heading onwards to one of my favourite old haunts – Georgetown on Penang Island, where I enjoyed a bit of R&R.

Moving on again I travelled on a much-changed KTMB network to the Thai Border and  Hat Yai before catching a sleeper train to Bangkok. That trip was aboard some of the new Chinese built sleeping coaches and I managed to blog about it here. You can see all my pictures from the trip in this gallery.

Back in Bangkok there was time for me to explore the expanding metro system before flying back to Brexit Britain, which I wasn’t really looking forward to. My travels through Asia made me all too aware of how backward looking the UK had become and also how out of touch with commercial realities the hard-line Brexit fans who insist we’d be ‘free’ to trade globally really were.

Things didn’t improve on my return. I’d been following the Brexitshambles with increasing incredulity and despair ever since. Politicians from all parties seem incapable of admitting to the public what a disaster Brexit is. The whole country’s been caught up in an internal Tory party squabble over Europe that’s got completely out of hand. The Brexit nutters slogan ‘take back control’ is going to go down as one of the most stupid ever as it’s becoming painfully obvious that we’ve done nothing of the sort. My only hope is that as this truth becomes more evident throughout 2018 we have an outbreak of common-sense and political pragmatism before our relationship with our EU partners and the economy are both wrecked.

Looking beyond Brexit to my commercial work I have to say I’ve really enjoyed the year. I’ve written a series of articles for RAIL magazine, thoroughly enjoyed doing it and I’m looking forward to penning many more. In 2018 I’ll be conducting my biennial rail-tour round the UK which should be fascinating as a lot’s changed since 2016. I’ve had some fascinating photographic commissions too and my role as a Judge for the annual ACoRP awards gave me the opportunity to meet some truly inspiring groups and individuals.

On the personal front life’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. The highlight of the year was Dawn and I getting married on November 11th. It was an event that exceeded both our expectations. The pair of us wanted an informal, inclusive wedding that wasn’t stuffy. We had a fabulous day with family and friends that was a delight. The fact we were asked to cut the wedding cake asap so that the floor was clear for people to dance said it all. So many people have mentioned that they’ve never been to a wedding where the dance-floor was packed all night…

Sadly, the wedding was put into perspective by the sad death of my new sister-in-law, Jo Platt, who died of cancer just a month later. We knew she was terminally ill before the wedding but had no idea the cancer was so aggressive. Dawn and I spent time with her in the days before she passed away. Jo gave us some tasks to do for her which led to what’s the saddest assignment I’ve ever had – to fulfil a dying woman’s wish. Jo asked me to take a scenic shot of a local Surrey beauty spot (Frensham Great Pond) which was special to her and her husband, Darren. Jo wanted it to be given to Darren as a keepsake – but for a week the weather was awful and Jo’s time was running out. Finally, the Gods smiled and we had one glorious Thursday evening where I managed to get a selection of pictures and Jo had the opportunity to choose the one she wanted. We were just in time. Jo passed away peacefully at home the following Monday. I hope I never have another job like that again..

Because of events our honeymoon has been postponed and we’re beginning the New year back home in Yorkshire. Our plans are to make the absolute most of 2018. We’ve a lot of exciting things planned (of which there’ll be more news shortly). I’m determined to get back to blogging, so expect a flurry of blogs on railways, travel, Brexit and of course HS2!

In the meantime, I hope you all have a very Happy New Year and a fabulous 2018. Thanks for stopping by to read my blog and/or visit my photographic website.