Happy New Year!

Posted By: Harriet Brunsdon

Posted: December 31, 2013

I don’t tend to make New Year’s Resolutions. I’m never at my best during the cold, post-Christmas months, and thinking positively amidst snow, credit card bills and the pervading smell of Olbas Oil is a difficult business. Instead, I make my resolutions in September. Maybe it’s a throw-over from school days, when autumn meant the start of a brand new school year. True, we’d just had an enormous summer holiday to rejuvenate and inspire us, with plenty of time to spend trolling off to W H Smith for shiny new stationery. If only it was so easy now!

But to my mind, resolutions are important, whether you make them halfway through the year like me, or tonight on the traditional stroke of midnight. All of us can do with a bit of TLC and a lifestyle spruce-up every once in a while – but I wonder if we’ve become a bit too ‘modern’ in our approach. Maybe it’s time to ditch the diets and gym memberships and the usual angsty Bridget Jones stuff, and go back to basics. This year, why not take a leaf out of the daybook of James Barnes, a forty-niner from Boston who travelled to California to make his fortune in gold and silver mining. This is his entry for 1 January 1858:



‘At night retire at peace with myself and at peace with all the world.’ I’d say he’s got it just about right, wouldn’t you?

Happy New Year!

The James Barnes Daybooks are part of a collection from the California Historical Society, which is being added to Global Commodities in 2014.

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Harriet Brunsdon

I’ve been working at Adam Matthew since March 2013, following several years in magazine and journals publishing. Projects I’ve worked on include China, America and the Pacific, Popular Culture in Britain and America II, Foreign Office Files for China, and Global Commodities – all assisted by copious quantities of tea.

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