Doing ‘something’ in 2023

Goodbye, 2022!

I hate the phrase ‘Good Riddance’, but I’ll not be sorry to see the back of 2022.

It was a year which started under renewed Covid restrictions and has seen a terrible war in Ukraine, plus three Tory Prime Ministers and outrageous political turmoil.

We’re in the throes of an economic crisis, with unprecedented levels of inflation and soaring energy costs. Families face the choice of whether to eat or to heat their homes. Foodbanks have never been so busy.

The workers we applauded in 2020 – nurses and teachers – have been forced to withdraw their labour to try and illicit a pay rise that will help them to make ends meet. And the impact of their strikes has not gone unnoticed, with cancelled operations, and missed education for our children.

We’ve also just had it confirmed that 2022 was the warmest on record in the UK. Slowly, and surely, we are raising our planet’s temperature, depleting its natural resources, and polluting its atmosphere.

Does it feel hopeless?

It can all feel pretty hopeless, can’t it? Because other than each doing our own bit to counter global warming, there’s not much that we, as individuals, can change.

Those of us who follow the news (that’s you, thank you!) do so for a myriad of reasons. One of those will be out of a desire to remain informed about what’s going on locally, and across the world, so we can make an educated decision about how to vote next time round.

But that’s a lot of misery to absorb and hold onto between elections. Digging our heads in the sand is tempting, but that’s how we ended up with Brexit.

Channelling Obama

So, what should we do? Of course, I’m not going to tell you to stop being informed. Instead, in 2023, to make myself feel a little better about the state of the world, I’m going to take Barack Obama’s advice.

There’s a quote of his that pops up every now and again on Instagram, and which I flick past in much the same way as I do most motivational quotes. But this morning it finally hit home.

It’s this; “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

Pick one thing and be the change

Sound words. And it’s going to be my mantra for 2023. Instead of complaining, we can each be the change we’d like to see. Pick one thing that we can do something about, be it poverty, global warming, litter on beaches, or homelessness, and do something – however small – to help.

It might mean joining a protest or writing to our MP. It might mean raising money for Shelter, donating to the foodbank, or befriending a lonely neighbour.

I’ve not decided what I’ll do first, but there will be less talk and more action. I feel better already. Let’s make 2023 count.

Tom’s Tab. Beer in Bruges.

Beer that makes you laugh, on a tab? There’s nothing not to love about Volkscafe Sint-Jakobs in Bruges.

People don’t remember everything you say, but they will remember how you made them feel.

That’s a lesson that applies particularly in hospitality. Our best experience of that from 2022 was in a tiny, quirky bar in Bruges, run by a guy called Tom. Among Tom’s ‘house rules’, were ‘cash only’, something along the lines of ‘maximum four beers per person’ and ‘be respectful of the locals’.

On our second visit to Tom’s we sat down and picked up the huge beer menu. As we made our choices, I remembered I’d left our cash back in the van. We made to leave, explaining why we were going.

‘I’ll make you a tab’, he said ‘We’re friends now’.

We protested; Tom insisted. Beer had never tasted so good. We returned the next day to pay our debt, and the next day too.

In case you’re ever heading to Bruges, it’s the Volkscafé Sint-Jakobs. Tell Tom his pal Nicky sent you.

A proper break at between Christmas and New Year

Spot the Silent Knight Christmas cake? (I’ll get my coat…)

I have a plan for next year – can we move either Christmas or New Year (maybe both?) so there’s time for recovery in between?

We’ve had a lovely time, but I’m exhausted. Five nights of close family at ours were followed by the Annual Grand Tour of the rest, ticking off Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Stonehaven, before returning to the Highlands for Hogmanay.

Fuelled almost entirely by wine, whisky, Christmas cake, and cheese, I need a walk in the fresh air, and a salad. And a week off, before I go back to work.

Next year I’ll be celebrating 1st February instead. Either that, or reverting to the Julian calendar, and celebrating with Burghead’s Clavie-burners on 11th January. Who else is in?

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