An extraordinary year in so many ways. The world was still reeling from the shock election of Trump and the UK from its Brexit decision. Things felt topsy-turvy and unsettled. My own situation seemed to run in parallel. By mid January I had moved out of my house after nine years in Braunston but had nowhere to go after my property purchase in Hay on Wye fell through.
A friend came to the rescue with the offer of a house loan until Easter in Lewes, a town I had always fancied living in. Lewes was a revelation, from the South Downs walks to the pubs to the independent spirit of the place. While I was there we convened the first Campfire Conversation of the year, held in a very same room in a hotel where Thomas Paine used to meet with members of the Headstong Club. It seemed somehow emblematic. It also set the tone for a year of being footloose and fancy free, living most out of my motorhome as I went roving around the country, joining and talking at Campfire meetings, from activist strongholds as disbursed and diverse as Ashburton and Edinburgh.
The open road was mostly a delight, even with the naff weather that arrived, on cue, for the start of the summer holiday season. I made many new discoveries - it that sense, 2017 for me was about places and people. I did a lot of thinking and writing and because of my somewhat fluid situation, I gave a lot of myself in social situations often without a room to retreat to as I was in company much of the time. I also learned to live with the bare minimum of possessions, so much so that I now feel anxious about the amount of 'stuff' I wall have to bring out of storage when I'm soon back in a bricks and mortar scenario.
I was lucky enough to travel this year - not just all over the UK (except East Anglia, for some reason) but also to the Dominican Republic, Portugal and France as well as spending several glorious weeks in my beloved Greece, including a rare mainland excursion in mid October and a few days in Athens.
Bring on 2018 with its promise of being another edgy, interesting year. With the world at a crossroads, we need to be pulling out all the stops to make sure we're doing our level best to keep the dark forces in check. With another financial crisis looking ever more likely and the big unknowns associated with Brexit still to play out, things have never felt so unpredictable, anything but the strong and stable mantra that May parroted at us at every turn. I can't deny that Campfire has an important part to play, especially in bringing people together via its Beacons and that's my set to be my priority for 2018.
Here's a random digest of some key moments. Please add yours either in the '2017' Project or by voice here.
Lewes, Sussex - my home for the first three months this year
Moulsecoomb Wild Park, Brighton - 'For The Birds' was staged there during Brighton Festival
Axbridge - a fascinating oasis of architecture, creative energy and open country on the doorstep
Frome - my new home from next week
Tavira, Portugal. Ten enjoyable days spent there in high summer
Around Porthtowan, Cornwall. A week in August working from the van, swimming and enjoying warm weather
East Prawle, Devon. A campsite with a view! (and The Pigs Nose nearby too)
A swim in warm sun at 6am during the June heatwave on a glorious, deserted beach in Almouth, Northumberland
The spontaneous joy of the Campfire Circle Singers conducted by Tobi Hug at our November Convention 002
Eat drink and be merry
The wonderful setting of The Sheppy Inn in the Somerset Levels, overlooking Glastonbury Tor
The superb box of fresh, organic vegetables I was given by @Richard Garnett (TCF)@ at The Organic Farm
Wonders of Nature
The crop circle I chanced upon at Cley Hill, near Warminster
Friends with a heart
Too many mention that all but special thanks to Ruth and Robin, Bill and Jannette, Katherine, Kimm, Anthea, Bruce and Nina, Kate, Sharon, Barry, Lizzie, Leigh, Anthea, Mat, Josie, Sarah and Robbie, and Cathryn for putting me up and putting up with me at various points throughout the year
Story of the Year
Pranging my van on a post, Coventry Bees speedway team not competing for the first time in decades, Bob Dylan at Wembley and not managing to get another summer Convention together despite trying very hard!
Loving It Live
Musical highlights were the sessions at Sidmouth Folk and in the pubs of Lewes, Shirley Collins at Bristol Colston Hall, Kokomo at Milton Keynes Stables, Rhiannon Giddens at Birmingham Town Hall, Melrose Quartet in Bedworth
George Monbiot - Out of the Wreckage
Kate Raworth - Doughnout Economics
I'm biased but I have to pick our own Campfire Beacon Conversations - all outstanding for different reasons. Frome, Axbridge and Winchcombe were memorable but all were very worthwhile.
Has to be the new 'portrait' setting on iPhone camera
Albeit tentatively, I especially enjoyed doing my first yoga in Paros.