214. Three years of Roads of Stone

past and present high street rye east sussex england by roadsofstoneThings have been slow around here, for a little while now, and in more ways than one.

I’ve had less time for running, and less still for writing. I’ve been unfit, distracted and slow.

And yet — there’s been real progress, too, hidden not far beneath the surface.

Our 95,000 visitors this year may have found only 22 new posts to read, but it’s been a momentous year of change, both in London and abroad.

the old mill horsham sussex england by acirfa virtual tourist comThe great crash formed the backdrop to the year, but it was in America that destiny was decided.

A changing political landscape marked the 2008 US election and the new opportunities that brings, for America and the whole world beyond.

My critical writing in the divided by an ocean section has now given birth to an entirely new chapter entitled united in a future. And let’s hope that we are.

horsham 10 km 2009 sunoak lane st leonards forest horsham sussex by roadsofstoneThe war in Gaza was the year’s lowest moment, pointing to new hazards ahead and mistakes not far behind us.

Yet there are some signs of a new mindset emerging. As the Arab-Israeli Peace Process begins once again, a reconciliation of the past may yet hold hope for the future.

Change in the world of sport gave us a glimpse of a new world order at the Beijing Olympics, and a return to the dominance of the US in the Ryder Cup.

stair hole inversion monocline lulworth cove dorset england looking west by roadsofstoneMuch closer to home, a new office location last autumn has seen me running and racing in a new town, whilst reflecting on the geology of my own.

February saw me chase Sussex shorelines, and run through rain and desert landscapes in Spain, before returning to the wintriest weather seen in England for two decades or more.

After blizzards came a Snow Patrol concert, and a pure nostalgia-fest from Radio Luxembourg — the most popular post of the year.

I ran beside Shakespeare’s Avon from winter into spring, and then before a long summer break, I explored the extended impact of the economic crisis on the energy market, as well as wider concerns about peak oil ahead.

Wall Street New York USA 30sep2008The fourth year of Roads of Stone sees us awaiting an end to the recession, whilst pondering the future of London as a financial and banking centre for the world.

Across the twelve months ahead, I’ll continue my Cuba series, and fill in some footsteps left this year without write of passage. You can expect to return to Houston, to run by the lake in Geneva, and to climb the Chalk downs with Tennyson.

waves in almeria spain by roadsofstoneIt may not run fast around here, and it may not always run pretty. But I’ll keep our feet moving forwards, as we run on towards the future.

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17 responses to “214. Three years of Roads of Stone

  1. Hi Roads, beautiful post, great recap.

    Time seems to fly now more than ever. Good luck in this new year with all your different ventures.

    Hope that fat, preoccupied and slow can turn into better adjectives in the months to come but after all, it is a road of stones…

    Thank you for sharing this journey. Looking forward to read more about Houston, Cuba, Geneva and whatever you decide to bring to the table.

    Regards from Mexico,


  2. Thank you so much, Patricia, and it’s good to hear from you again.

    You’re entirely right, of course — a few good new adjectives are all we need to set us on our way.

    Muchos recuerdos a Mexico, desde un otoño seco y dorado aquí en Inglaterra…

  3. Well, I know it’s not as easy as selecting a different state of mind to change everything but I do hope that soon you can say that you are unfit, relaxed and slowly moving again. Not everything has to change at once!

    Enjoy the beautiful, dry and golden autumn. It’s the perfect time to think about what we’ve done the last few months, make plans for the times to come and specially, to take time to enjoy the present.

    I’ve just returned from a trip to Rhode Island and the leaves are already changing. It was a gift to the senses.

    Have a very good week!


  4. Thanks again, Patricia. I’ve been strolling today under perfect warm, blue Sussex skies. Our Indian Summer is forecast to last the week. Qué perdura!

  5. A short update to say that I’ve now added a link above to some of my writing from last winter on the War in Gaza. This originally appeared in response to a review of the 2008 animated film Waltz with Bashir.

  6. Congratulations on starting your fourth year. And sorry I’ve been so out of touch these past few months. I’ve somehow had a harder time keeping up with things now that I’m un(der)-employed than when I was working full time!

  7. Thanks, Silver Fox. It’s been a busy summer here, too, extending into a long and hazily warm September. A season of mists and mellow fruitfulness lies in sight, and we’re gathering sunshine while we may…

  8. Best of luck in this fourth year, R. I do enjoy reading your beautiful articles although I don´t have much time to write anything or going for a run as often as I´d love to.

    Saludos desde Almería, Spain.

  9. Thanks very much, Antonio — and it’s good to hear from you. Here’s hoping to see you in Almería in the New Year.

    Saludos desde Londres, Inglaterra.

  10. Antonio L. R.

    Looking forward to seeing you here next year, R.


  11. Belated congrats on the 3 year milestone.

    Rereading the Aberdeenshire morning post I’m minded to recommend Tutti Frutti on DVD (now available, finally, after 20 years). It’ll bring back some memories whether you saw it the first time or not.

  12. Many thanks, Wombats. I haven’t seen Tutti Frutti, but I should.

  13. Lovely post, especially the feeling I got of optimism grounded in reality.

    Congratulations on the blogaversary. Here’s to 3 more!

  14. Many thanks, Ella, and how good to hear from you.

    As you settle into a familiar yet revitalised Washington this autumn, it’s interesting to look back over a year since the 2008 US election.

    President Obama has not disappointed. With his Cairo speech, one of the most remarkable and significant feats of oratory in our times, he has set out a new role for the US in the world. The importance of that shift is impossible to underestimate.

    The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, and this will surely become a key issue through the year ahead, both in the US and increasingly also in Britain, where we face our own election just a few months away.

    Yesterday’s Guardian carried an interview with Noam Chomsky, describing the invasion of Aghanistan as “one of the most immoral acts in modern history”, which united the jihadist movement around al-Qaidan sharply increased the level of terrorism and was “perfectly irrational — unless the security of the population is not the main priority”.

    Viewed in those terms, the goals of the war are hard to define. And its winnability looks worryingly uncertain as well.

    I’m increasingly sure that this tale, unfortunately, has much further to run.

  15. It’s now clear that UK support for the Afghanistan War is crumbling. Here’s the leader column from yesterday’s Independent on Sunday entitled Why we must leave Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, this article by Patrick Cockburn in the same edition sets out the full background to that view, including intriguing news that the US military leadership is now looking to move British troops out of Afghanistan’s strife-torn Helmand Province, in recognition that the cost in young British lives is politically too high.

    When military operations in a war start to be run on political grounds, it’s clearly time to end that war.

  16. I think Chomsky is absolutely right, but I usually do. I was a bit surprised this week when Obama told the military, in effect, “Nope, not good enough. Bring me something better.” re: Afghanistan.

    His approval rating is beginning to sink here. It’s around 46% and I’m not sure why although I suspect the economy. Have people forgotten what an enormous plate he inherited and how full it still is? Of course the wingnuts hate everything about him and if he walked on water they’d say, “See? The loser can’t even swim.”

  17. Thanks very much, Ella, and many apologies for this slow reply. Afghanistan is occupying more and more of our news time. Yesterday saw the 99th British soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2009, and unfortunately we all fear the loss of the 100th won’t be many more days away.

    I’m sorry to hear that Obama’s honeymoon period has ended. It had to end some time, and you’re right that the naysayers will now have their day. Here BHO’s stock has never been higher, with Afghanistan seen as the one big blot on his copybook so far — this now being compounded (in a somewhat unlikely way) by the damaging reports leaking out from the UK’s Iraq Enquiry this week indicating that war was stitched up during Tony Blair’s visit to Camp David in 2002, as indeed we had all long ago suspected.

    Obama had nothing to do with that decision, of course, and indeed he spoke vehemently against Iraq at that time — yet the perhaps simplistically unjust feeling here is that Iraq and Afghanistan are somehow linked as two US-led wars where Britain is playing a soldier-sacrificing poodle without any bones being thrown her way to chew.

    Meanwhile, how interesting to see Sarah Palin setting off so early along her road towards the White House. If she wins the nomination, as must surely be a possibility, then that might well hold the GOP back for quite a while…

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