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Another year that I won’t be sad to see the back of to be honest, despite the fact it wasn’t all bad – although did any of us expect the year to end in the way it has? After the year beginning in a lockdown did we seriously think we’d be be seeing the year out with record numbers of Covid cases, even if it does seem that Omicron is less lethal a strain? The amount of my social media friends and real relations that I’ve seen report contracting Covid has been sobering to say the least, but at least Dawn and I have managed to dodge infection so far – and plan to stay that way!

I’d hoped 2021 would see me finally being able to escape the clutches of ‘Brexit island’ and head back into Asia. I’d planned to do so early in 2022 but Omicron looks like it’s put the mockers on such dreams for now at least. Instead, I’ll be stuck here, watching the UK’s international reputation continue to disintegrate as Johnson and his Government lurch from farce to scandal and back again on what looks like an endless loop. A year on from leaving the EU the realities are becoming obvious. Far from getting Brexit ‘done’ Johnson’s embroiled us in a protracted blame war with the EU in order to detract from the fact the Brexit unicorns and ‘sunny uplands’ were always a fantasy. Covid’s helped him in that but he can’t hide from the reality forever and it seems (according to polls) even many Leave voters have come to realise what “Caveat Emptor” means. Sadly, far too late and the shambles will continue for years to come…

We may have the ‘fun’ of the Tories ditching Johnson in 2022 in order to save their skins in the 2024 election, but let’s face it – the field to replace him is hardly attractive. I mean, Liz Truss? Seriously?

Workwise, 2021 has been enjoyable. The gradual wind-down of restrictions meant that press trips and events resumed so there was plenty for me to photo or write about and the COP26 Climate Change conference in Glasgow in November kept me very busy indeed. I also added a mixture of 7,924 new pictures and old slid scans to my Zenfolio website, the most I’ve ever achieved in one year which beat last year’s previous best of 6200 plus so Covid’s proved to have some benefits. I’m now well on course to have all my old slides scanned in 2022 a mere 33 years after I first switched to that medium! 2022 promises to be an exciting year on the photographic and journalistic front as the construction of the HS2 high-speed railway will be in full swing. Over 20,000 people are working on the line at the moment and next year will see work start in earnest on the section from Birmingham to Crewe. Phase 1 is already well underway with three tunnel boring machines in action, the huge Colne Valley Viaduct under construction and work started on the stations at Euston, Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon St. There’s far too many landmarks to mention but HS2 Ltd have put out this helpful video which showcases much of what’s happening.

We’re ending the year as we began it – at home. We’re having a quiet one just to ourselves, enjoying good food, a drink and time to relax – ready to hit the ground running in 2022 as we’ve both got a lot of things we want to achieve next year. Let’s see how that shapes up.

In the meantime, thank you to all the people who either keep popping in to read my rambles in these blogs or who visit my Zenfolio picture website. I’ll be keeping both well-stocked in in 2022.

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year and let’s all look forward to one where we finally cast off the madness and tragedies of Covid and return to a much more normal life. Onwards to the next challenge – whatever that may be….

Happy New Year!