I was reading an article in the Independent Magazine the weekend before last written by someone just a little younger than me (I think) & was struck by the lack of similarities her life seemed to have with my own. She was trying to recollect what highlights she had to reflect on during the year & was hard pushed to come up with any. She lives & works in London & summed up that 2016 needed a new approach ‘to be more alive in each moment’. This realisation was a positive reaction to negative thoughts, I am sure we could all see something of ourselves in her reflections. I for one after some years of turmoil firmly believe life is for living whilst you can & am lucky to have a partner in Dorina who both understands & encourages me to do so. Responsibilities & problems still occur but they must be put into perspective & more importantly kept in their place. So what does all that mean, my year in a nutshell:
Running as ever took up much of my thinking & time throughout the year but leaving that aside for a moment other highlights began with a trip to South Italy with Michael to complete the sale of the house I’d owned there since 2004, this was emotionally tough but practically a very positive change to my circumstances & future goals.
Hot on the heels in February was Skiing in Morzine with Dorina & Chris where we experienced perfect conditions throughout the 6 days.
In April Dorina, Titi, Fraser & I were thrilled to see Tryfan’s outline lit up on a Friday evening as part of the OVMRO 50th anniversary events.
In May Fraser & I made our annual pilgramige to Keswick for the Mountain Festival it is so sad to see the damage later inflicted by the recent storms.
July brought on my 3rd successive ‘Alpine Season’ with mixed results, a spectacularly poor plan by 3 people who should have known better (namely me, Kean & Tim) still left me with plenty to be proud of be it the reaction of loved ones back in the U.K. to the photo of me on the Aguille di Entreves or the massive back to back days on the Aletchshorn & it’s huge glacier. Pulling out of the Monch on the last day I remember Tim’s wise words ‘Paul never see a sensible retreat as a failure’. Kean & I both learnt a lot on that front.
August saw Phil, Sian, Dan & I win the Oggie 8, good cause, great mountain day!
Late summer brought an unusual sense of satisfaction as long days with filler knives & paintbrushes in hand slowly brought Aber Eden’s rotten windows back to life, it’s going to be a long haul but seriously good progress has been made & that feels good in a different sort of way.
September brought the World Masters & World Mountain Running Champs to Betws, we were delighted to play our part in hosting an extra mid-week race up Siabod.
With turmoil in Europe Dorina & I changed plans in September cancelling our road trip to Romania & heading for the wilds of Scotland. Plenty of highlights including Ben Lomond & Ben Macdui, wild camping, cloud inversion but all trumped by a fabulous drive of a lifetime on a beautiful Sunday around it’s North West coastline.
Then came Patagonia in November with John, 2,000 photographs with good company, icy swim & airplane turbulence give a taster of the experiences but for me the over-riding reflection is that for me at least at this point in my life my future playground must be the Alps & all the tests, fears & rewards they have to offer.
November also saw Dorina & I in The Lakes to pick up TGO’s Highly Commended award in The Best Outdoor Cafe category (see I do mention the Cafe occasionally, in truth it is the un-sung hero in my day to day life). A memorable day on the Kentmere round & an evening with Fraser at the Kendal Mountain Festival rounded of the trip.
November & December also brought Alan Hinkes & Andy Kirkpatrick to ‘town’. Alan re-ignited Cho-Oyu in my mind, the Alps will be my step towards this (well in my best layed plans at least) & Andy simply stimulated & stimulated!
Within all of this I fitted in 21 races, more than normal with progress still being made. Out of the 9 races with previous history I PB’d in eight of them, my nemesis as ever was Moel y Ci, just what am I doing wrong? Race highlights were a third successive win in the Mountaineering class of the Welsh 1,000 metre race (that said this will be put into perspective next year when I’ll no doubt finish well down the field in the Fell runners race) & a 7 minute PB in the Snowdon Marathon.
However the run highlight of the year can be no other than the day I spent with Phil in June going up & down Siabod, it was brutal, for a very good cause & had so many emotions, a true one-off to be cherished for life. The support of so many on the day simply put the icing on the summit!
So there you have it my year, a little different from that Lady in London. I could also reflect on some less enjoyable experiences & duties but I won’t, they are where they deserve to be, in their place! I, like her plans for 2016, am doing my best to ‘be alive in each moment’, that said I will be 50 next year & feel I could do better.
Of course, Dorina needs to be thanked as do those (mentioned or not here-in) who’s encouragement & support helps me so much. Thank You & enjoy 2016 whenever you can!