As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
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Goodbye 2014, hello 2015 !


At the end of each year I have been blogging I have written a post about how the year went, things I have learned or what I am looking forward to for the next year. It's good to take some time out to look at the year, see what I have achieved and sometimes what I would have done differently.

It's also interesting looking back at these, because never in my wildest dreams would I have expected a year like 2013, in which I have achieved far more than I could have imagined. Read on to see what lessons I have learned this year !

Hard work is hard, but it pays off

I think only bloggers know how hard blogging is, and how much goes into it, which is why I have so much respect for anyone who blogs regularly. It's hard work.

For me, 2014 was the year it really paid off, where I finally got to see my words in print, not just on a screen, and to have so many people excited about my book and wanting to go out into the countryside. (You can see a full list of my media coverage in 2014 here)

I was so pleased how many people enjoyed the talks I gave this year, especially the one at the Bath Children's Literature Festival - if only they knew how much hard work went into it, though !

Teamwork is important

Whatever you watch or read - whether it's a blog, a newspaper, a magazine, a book, or a TV programme: there's always a lot more happening behind the scenes than you could possibly imagine.

I knew this already because of my book, which was actually finished in 2012, six months before it came out in the UK, and that it took seven incredible people a year to produce it: that's me, my brilliant editor Jo Bourne, the designer Ian, Paolo the fact checker, Fabio the cartoonist, my dad who did most of the photographs, the art directors who found the rest - and that's not including all the other people at my publisher TickTock (part of Octopus) who arranged publicity, sold it into bookshops, arranged talks and so on.

I realised this more when I did my TV appearances throughout the year. If you thought I looked good, it's because a presenter, a cameraman, a producer, a sound recordist, and editor and a runner all put in a lot of hard work to make it look that way.

Pine martens may not be that rare

Traditionally, people have just accepted that pine martens are rare, and I think in some parts of the UK they are. But it's difficult to know how many there are of a type of animal when it is small, nocturnal, solitary, and doesn't like humans very much.

Up until last summer, I was filming pine marten in one wood. I thought that was remarkable,  then I moved the trail camera to another wood four miles away to film a red deer herd, and I filmed another pine marten without even trying. Then when further into the same wood when filming for Wild I spotted some more pine marten poo on a track. When I moved it into the wood it is in now, another four miles away, I filmed...another pine marten. Some people think that pine marten are rare, but judging by the amount of times I've seen them, I don't think so.

Adults: get your act together

If we want children to respect bones, wildlife and the countryside, then adults need to set an example. Putting massive ugly powerlines through beautiful parts of Scotland,  or treating human remains like they are a cheap bottle of wine at a church fete is not a good way to do it.

Stand up for what you believe in

The most controversial blog post I did this year - well, controversial to some people, but certainly not to me - was the one about the human skull which was a raffle prize. I thought this was wrong - as did a lot of bone experts, just I was the first one who got round to blogging about it. As a result I got a lot of abusive comments on that post, but in the end the prize was changed as a result of my blog post. I was inspired by Chris Packham standing up for what he believed in when he campaigned against the hunting of rare migratory birds in Malta.

It's great to inspire others

One of the greatest parts of my year was walking into the Guild Hall at Bath and seeing so many people waiting to hear me speak, then afterwards when people were queueing up across the hall to meet me, or me to sign my book, or to have a photograph taken with me. It was a privilege to have helped inspire so many amazing people.

All the amazing child naturalists

Every now and again there is a newspaper story about how children now are not involved with nature, and don't take an interest in wildlife. I think there are so many amazing naturalists out there of all ages, and CBBC Wild was great in showcasing some of them out there. Some of my favourites are Findlay Wilde, Sophie Bagshaw, Georgia Locock and Emily (who is interested in jellyfish, but who doesn't blog), but there are so many, many others. Thanks to all of them (you !) for the inspiration !

My blog is still very popular

In 2014, I had:

  • 235,330 visitors to my website (compared to 148,658 in 2013)
  • Visitors from 15 new countries, bringing the total to 210 different countries that have visited since I started.
  • 642 web comments (2,065 in total)
  • 1,035 emails about Jake's Bones (compared to 796 in 2013)
  • and I now have 1,546 Facebook fans (it was 938 at the end of 2013)
  • and 1,102 followers on Twitter (it was only 389 a year ago)

Thank you to everyone who visited, commented, followed me, or emailed me. It meant a lot.

Next year will probably not be as exciting

I don't know what 2015 holds for me yet. But in 2014, I had a book released, I presented a copy to  the Duke and Duchess of Strathearn (that's Prince William and Kate if you're not from Scotland), and I did live television with Sir David Attenborough, Chris Packham, and Nick Baker - as well as a clip with Ben Garrod, and on CBBC's Wild. This last year has been excellent and I don't think I will have many years like this one.

People to thank

There are so, so many people that I can't possibly thank them all, but in particular I would like to thank Ben Garrod, Jo, Sir David, Nick Baker, Chris Packham and many more for making this an amazing year.

Happy new year to you all. I couldn't have done it without you !

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Ric said...

Tremendous stuff Jake; well done as ever. You're a legend already.

Sam Misan said...

Great Past year and may you have a new year full of excitement and learning

braxsten said...

Hey Jake my name is Braxsten. I live in the state of Iowa. We have a lot of bones on our farm from cows,deer,rabbits,coons,and a lot of other things. I am 14 years old. I like to take walks on the farm to look for new or different bones. I wish that I could find a bird bone but that would be super hard. Here is the link to my blog. http://kidblog.org/class/MrBoylens2014-158thGrLAClasses/posts?author=u5222921&status=published

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