It's New Year's Eve, 2017 and, as I sipped my morning coffee, I spent some time looking through my photo album and reflecting on the year. This year has definitely had its ups and downs for me, but the downs aren't represented at all in my camera roll. I only seem to capture the highs, and frankly I don't think that's a problem.
Looking back over my captured memories, I realise that this has been a long and adventurous year. As a family we've had some great times and some amazing trips away from home (which is usually when I tend to take the most photographs). Personally, I've had fun and inspiring times with friends and colleagues at home and on my visits to Logikcull HQ in San Francisco. I love taking photos and a change of location always reignites this passion.
What follows is a photographic trip through the highlights of my year, captured either on my Olympus E-M10 MkII, or on my iPhone 7 Plus, which itself is a very capable camera.
The year began with a visit to San Francisco to spend a week working on-site at Logikcull and to attend the company Holiday Party. One of the great things about working for a US-based company is that whenever I visit, a combination of jet-lag and office hours means I do my sight-seeing in amazing light conditions.
I flew home from SF on the day after President Trump's inauguration. I'd hoped to be able to attend the Womens' March, planned for that day, but my flight times meant that I was wandering the city as a quite disturbing anti-abortion rally took place. It really was an unpleasant experience, as more people than I've ever seen in one place marched for beliefs far contrary to my own, but I used it as an opportunity to get a bit photo-journalistic. One of my favourite shots of the day was of this counter-protester, who stood peacefully and purposefully on Market Street receiving verbal abuse.
On the BART train to the airport later, things got better as the stations and carriages were packed with groups of pink-hatted women of all ages, preparing for the Womens' March.
At the end of January, as at the end of every January for the last thirty years, we had our family trip to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest. I started going with my parents, their friends and all of their kids when I was about seven years old. Now all of us kids have kids and there's a whole crowd of us. This photograph is of my Neice, looking out of the glass door of the villa at some passing wildlife (I think it was a swan).
Away again! This time with my wife to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary. It was the first time we'd been abroad without our son and the first time we'd been away for more than a night or two without him since he was born (he's 12 now!)
We went to Tenerife, in the Canary Islands for a week and had one of the relaxed weeks we've ever had together.
Each morning we'd walk along the sea front and around to the next bay where we'd watch the kitesurfers and passers-by with a nice small coffee.
This photograph doesn't mean much to me, other than that I just really like it. We were at Bridlington one Sunday and as my son went on a fairground ride with my wife, I had a little wander with my camera. I saw this old man walking along the promenade amongst the long shadows and I just thought he looked interesting.
Incidentally, the last time I took a candid photograph of a random, interesting-looking man in Bridlington, it turned out to be David Hockney .
We took a weekend away in Coniston in the Lake District. This photograph was taken on a walk up to Tarn How's.
At the end of April we travelled to Northern France to visit my cousin and his family. This was one of my big highlights of the year. I pretty much grew up with my cousin, Paul, and have always loved spending time with him and his family (and animals).
Butler is a handsome hound.
Kellady the hen is a talented bird.
On one of our evening walks, Miles and I found an injured bird (there'd been a fantastic lightning storm and we think it had flown into a wall in the confusion). Miles carried it back to the house and made it a makeshift nest, out of the way of the village cats. He nursed it back to health, feeding it food from his hand and water from an acorn shell.
This photograph of the church in St Hillaire du Harcouet represents to me how differently one can think of a place depending on the circumstances in which it is experienced. This beautiful scene contrasts harshly to the first time I came here, as a thirteen year old on a student exchange, which I hated every second of. My opinion of this lovely town is now entirely positive.
When my cousin took his family to Brittany a decade ago, it transformed their lives. I feel like we got a bit of that when we visited. I love that part of the world and would move their myself in a second. We might end up there at some point. At the very least I'm hoping to visit again in 2018.
In June I was back to San Francisco for another week working on site with my Logikcull colleagues. The development team at Logikcull is almost entirely remote, yet when we get together, it's like meeting up with old friends. A few of us were put up in a fabulous AirBnB - a very comfortable penthouse apartment with amazing views of the city.
The company arranged activities and entertainment for quite a few of the evenings that we were all together. One night we went down to some batting cages pretty much underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. It looked pretty spectacular in the golden Californian evening light.
In 2016 we went to Cornwall for our Summer holiday. This year we decided to repeat the trip, albeit staying in slightly different places. This time we spent our first week in a fisherman's cottage in Looe (South coast) and our second week in a beach house in Mawgan Porth (North coast). The weather wasn't fantastic but we made the most of it. We visited plenty of attractions including a cider farm, a brewery, The Lost Gardens of Helligan (where I took these floral close-ups) and I even managed to get a bit a bit of surfing done at Mawgan.
We ate at a couple of Rick Stein's eateries and a host of other fantastic restaurants over the two week period - almost as though eating was the primary reason for the trip. On the way home we called in at Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre, home to some very smelly otters and some beautiful deer.
We'd visited the year before and Miles had fallen for Dasher, a three-legged deer. With our fingers crossed, we asked the park keeper if he was 'still here'. Fortunately he was alive and well and Miles got to meet him again. Turns out, deer love to eat grapes. The park keeper gave us some from his stash to feed to Dasher.
Earlier in the year my good friend, Nigel, had moved to Vienna, Austria with his wife, Pauline, to take a job with the UN. We pretty much immediately booked flights to visit him once they were settled in in October. It was fantastic to see them, and also to see such a wonderful city as Vienna.
The architecture and history of the place is stunning. Around every corner is a palace or a cathederal, or an amazing church. Museums seem to be on every street. Every government building is its own work of art. Such an historic and preserved well preserved city which at all times felt safe and progressive.
A day trip to Schonbrunn Palace and its famous zoo (which definitely seems like one of the 'good zoos' that values welfare of the animals above all else, not the horrible expoitative ones that are basically freakshow animal prisons) gave me an opportunity to play with nature photography again.
I don't know what was making this fish so grumpy.
This lioness was a beautiful creature and the tiger, pictured below, prowled around its enclosure looking immensly powerful.
Vienna is definitely on the list of places we're going to revisit, not least because my friend is there.
The year in summary
This is just a snapshot of my year. I've had numerous cycling adventures, including snow-bound hauls across the moors, a long ascent (and then a very fast descent) of Skiddaw in low visibility and gale force winds, a couple of broken helmets and even a visit to the second step of the podium in my first gravel enduro race. I've spent time with fantastic friends and my amazing family. I've seen some of my favourite bands perform live.
There have also been low-lights this year for me, my family and my friends. But that's not what this is about. I'm going out of 2017 thinking about the good bits, and the amazing times and adventures that will come with 2018.
Happy New Year, everyone!