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Bye bye 2014

And with 2015 fast approaching, big thanks to some special people from 2014

To Jo, Haley, Becks and Declan at Jo Sarsby Management (www.josarsby.com) for all the hard work they put into making my presentations so successful. Two big tours and one small, from Dorset to Shetland and 54 other venues in between, culminating in the Highlands and Islands over November into December.

Very big thanks to S & JD Robertson in Orkney and Fourth Element Dive Gear (www.fourthelement.com) for sponsorship of this one.

The tour had all the variability you’d expect from taking on the far north of Scotland at that time of year – days of dreichness (fine Scottish word, think miserably dank) when I never saw the mountaintops at all and the wipers barely cleared the rain from the windscreen, other afternoons like between Thurso and Ullapool where the skyline outline of Stac Pollaidh was reflected in a loch by the road like something out of Jurassic park, the sun crazy warm for late November on my face and even the midgies out biting. One library when they only discovered as I hit my first image that they had no way to switch off the main lights at the venue (don't worry I’ll spare you the blushes!) and then finishing at Mareel where the sound and picture quality was as good as any London west end theatre.

Thank you to Pippa and Gavin at Ardfern for sharing your lovely house and your hospitality, to Sinclair for the same in Orkney, for Paul and Kate in Ullapool and Tony way north of Stornoway. You’re good folk.

There was a lot of driving – 3040 miles in all – and I didn't have a lot of time to go looking at nature, but Brydon Thomason made my very last day of the tour memorable. We drove to Yell in north Shetland in search of otters and he didn’t disappoint. Just off the ferry terminal across to Yell, a mother and three cubs fishing and landing their catch on the beach, running along the pontoons, scurrying in and out of the crannies on the rocks while we sat and watched from the car with the heater on only 50m away. The rain pissing down. The way I like to watch nature, all mod cons. Brydon offers lovely personal and intimate wildlife tours in Shetland, he’s one of those natural storytellers who really knows the place, born and raised there. Well worth checking him out at www.shetlandnature. net

Sincere thanks to Falmouth University for awarding me an Honorary Fellowship in August, I felt very privileged.

Thank you Hannah for bringing out the best of my ruggedness when Springwatch gave me a few days to get acquainted with the seals in the Farne Islands.

Thanks to Andrew Graham-Brown, Ruth, Bertie and Dave for being grand company on the yacht Pelagic when we were down doing the BBC Natural World Penguin Post Office in Antarctica. No big thanks however to the leopard seals who hadn't read the script and didn't turn up.
Over several dives, Neil Brock brought me up to speed and beyond with the Poseidon rebreather (www.bristolchanneldiving.co.uk/training). Now there’s a tool I look forward to using this year, could make a big difference to staying warm in cool waters.

And of course it’s the biggest sounding cliché out there, but thanks a heap to all those reading this, those who came to the talks, those who bought the Freeze Frames, watched the movies and wrote kind comments. I hope that 2015 brings all that you hope for and deserve.

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