Heroes of 2016

Ah, 2016. You poor thing. Has a year ever copped more flak? 

Poor 2016 didn't invent the Gregorian calendar and had no choice but to be part of it and accept the 366 days allocated to it. And yet...

Some people decided Britain should leave the European Union. The result was initially blamed on the people who voted, as well as the people who didn't vote. 

By the end of the year, the blame had shifted to 2016. 

Some people decided a billionaire should run the United States of America. 

The result was initially blamed on the people who voted, as well as the people who didn't vote. 

By the end of the year, the blame had shifted to 2016. 

Famous people died. Non-famous people took it personally and blamed the nasty year for 'taking' actors, comedians and musicians that they had never met. Some of them had cancer, some were actually rather old, but still. Shouldn't have happened.

War and terror played its usual horrifying role. Human beings definitely had something to do with this - I am absolutely convinced - but guess who bore the brunt of the outrage?

So most people would declare 2016 to be the principal villain of 2016. But then most people, faced with the barrage of abuse directed at 2016, would have conceded defeat and slunk into a hole, waiting for 2017 to come shimmying along and make everything better. So I'm going to award 2016 hero status for keeping going until December 31st, if nothing else.

In less worldly, more personal news, here are some of the other 'heroes' of the year (actually more likely to be heroes of the last six weeks as I have memory issues):

Most Likely To Have Me Humming the Neighbours Theme Tune...

My neighbours! This has been the year of the neighbours! It is awesome to have those neighbours you see on TV, who actually chat to each other and stuff. This Christmas we were lucky enough to be invited to two neighbouring houses: one for festive festiveness, the other for Christmas lunch, of all almighty events. I'd say it has been the best Christmas ever and I'd also say my neighbours played a significant role in making it so.

Neighbourly neighbours also checked our mail whilst we were on holiday. We have a recycling rota (and they helped us out when we were away for some of our weeks), and the neighbourhood pets make our block an altogether lovelier place. We also frequently enjoy chats in our kitchen, en route to the recycling bins, in the courtyard...it's a micro-community! Here's to good neighbours becoming good friends. 

Most Likely To Make Me Look Like I Just Stepped Out of a Salon...

Oh, my new hairdresser wins all the follicular awards I can come up with. I highly recommend chopping off your hair and getting it made into a different colour in 2017. After months of boring long hair, I had the snip in November. Yippee! How many times a day do I now let down my mini golden tresses, without them getting in the way or making me too hot within seconds? Lots of times, that's how many! And how many times do I look in the mirror and grin at myself? Every time!

Do you want to grin at yourself every time?

See above tip for details!

Short blonde: it's the new long dark.

Most Likely To Win Repeat Business in 2017...

Seafolly (they make swimwear) made me very happy this month. I had a week-long swimsuit hunt a few weeks back, resulting in the purchase of two costumes (or one-pieces, as they're known here) from their Milea range (really pretty swimsuits! Not that I chose the really pretty ones, but you could. I like mine, though. Very much, in fact). Each came with detachable halter straps... 

Of course I lost one of the straps in record time. But I emailed Seafolly, asked if replacement straps were available, and received them about a week later, with no fuss and at no cost to me! Excellent customer service. (Mr Mulberry, if I end up buying more fancy cossies in 2017, I'm just expressing my gratitude, okay?)

Most Likely To Sport Pompoms (Shade: Mulberry)...

Chief Mulberry Rd supporters for the year include Helen, Lisa, Mike, Auntie Clare and my husband. It makes me so happy when I see that you have shared a link to one of my posts or commented. Thank you very much. I know there are lots of you - four? - who regularly read the posts, too, without being identifiable (and that's fine, God knows I probably wouldn't admit to this as regular reading, either). I thank you all, of course. 

Most Likely To Make Me Do Something

Joint Award: me and Liz Gilbert

I can't go into the magic of Big Magic again, can I? No, but here's the overview for those for whom my blog and its every word isn't absolutely crucial to their existence. You may have done other things since I last waxed lyrical about what may be my book of the year. 

So. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. So far, so self-helpy, so naff, yes?

Quite. Terribly marketed for a person such as, well, me, who abhors that crap. But beyond the cover - and it is barely rescued by its colourful cover, though points are salvaged for the use of hot pink and for the partial obscuring of the title - lies a secret. Maybe two. Reading this book has done more for my productivity than anything else this year. It reminds me of a book I read more than ten years ago. That one was called Run For Life, and I read it and started running. And it really was that simple. 

Same here: I read Big Magic, and lightbulbs started having their moments even as I turned the pages. I was living its messages before I finished the book. Six months on, it's still working and so am I. Huge credit to Elizabeth Gilbert for creating a self-help book worthy of a better genre. And to me: presumably there's not yet a law against being your own hero. Here are some old words I found whilst poking about in My Documents: 

Big Magic is teaching me everything. Building my own website is teaching me some things.
If I love it, I will find time for it. If there isn’t time for it, I’ll make time. If I can’t make time, I don’t love it. (See how easy it is?)
There’s not much I really can’t do. Of course Mulberry Rd isn’t going to be the slickest, but I am happy with what I have done. No web designer required (would have been nice, perhaps, but it would almost certainly have taken longer – as she/he would have done stuff I didn’t like that would have had to be explained, redone...and redone again).
I love my photographs. I have taken so many without realising and 95% of them make me happy to look at.
Everything definitely does not need to be perfect. What is perfect, anyway? I can guarantee my mum will look at my new website and be astounded by its beauty and the fact that her daughter wrote every word, took every photograph and created every page. It will be perfect to her.

Yes, I forgot that during the year 2016 I built my new website and called it Mulberry Rd and you are reading it now. It's a virtual achievement, but more noteworthy than, say, a high score on Candy Crush Saga (or whatever the kids are playing these days). Naturally, I've also been my own villain at times this year. But here we are, tipping into 2017 and, overall, the heroism wins out. I have surpassed myself. 

Yours in 2017 (with a bit of luck) x