2016: the year of the monkey

PUBLISHED: 11:14 12 January 2016 | UPDATED: 12:18 12 January 2016

Witty, intelligent, magnetic personality... whats not to like?

Witty, intelligent, magnetic personality... whats not to like?


Lesley Dolphin leaps into 2016 with her New Year message.

I can’t believe it’s 2016 already - it hardly seems anytime since I was clearing up after last year’s New Year party!

I’ve been doing some research to see what might be in store for us this year. We get an extra day because 2016 is a leap year. It occurred to me I should do something special on that day. It will certainly be important for those of you who have birthdays on February 29. I wonder, do you feel cheated in other years?

The Chinese New Year happens on the February 8 in 2016, the year of the Monkey. I’m excited as it’s said to be a special year if you were born in one of the monkey years of 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 or 2004. I was, but I won’t tell you which one. Apparently monkeys are witty, intelligent and have a magnetic personality!

2016 is also the 100th anniversary of cub scouting. The first group called Wolf Cubs were launched in London. I was never a brownie or guide, but hundreds of thousands of youngsters must have been on adventures with the organisation, and there are lots of activities planned.

Did you know 2015 was the Year of Mud? According to the Geological Society anyway. Sadly I missed their mud celebrations, but here is an early alert to ensure you join in the Year of Water.

VisitEngland are promoting 2016 as the Year of the English Garden to mark the 300th anniversary of the garden designer Capability’ Brown. You can see his handiwork in Suffolk at Ickworth in the west of the county amongst other places. Brown believed gardens should be functional but elegant, and if you want to learn more the Suffolk Gardens Trust has a study day in June.

Suffolk County Council is hoping this year becomes the year of walking and there are plenty of events planned. It’s the 40th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Ipswich East’s Orwell Walk, which follows a beautiful route along the River Orwell to Felixstowe and then back through countryside not normally open to the public. Walkers can do anything between three and 25 miles. It’s well organised with regular drink and toilet stations, plus minibuses to collect those who’ve had enough. This year there is also a route for cyclists and one for ‘wild runners’. I’ve walked the 25 miles three times now. It’s a tough challenge, but achievable.

The Suffolk Walking Festival has been growing in popularity since its start in 2008. Last year there were nearly 100 events across the county, including history walks, bird watching walks and longer rambles. It gets under way on the May 14.

How about celebrating the International Year of Pulses? The UN General Assembly has decided that’s what they’re celebrating in 2016. It’s nothing to do with your heart rate, but about the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production. Coincidentally, I recently met the founder of a relatively new company in Suffolk, Hodmedods. They work with local farmers to produce pulses and grains that would often be imported, and are selling beans and peas with wonderful names like Gog Magog and Black Badger Carlin Peas.

Now I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I’ve decided to learn how to cook with these beans. I often eat vegetarian dishes when I’m out because they are so tasty, but don’t know where to start at home. So that’s my plan for this year! I hope Mark approves.

Anyway, whatever your plans for 2016, whether they involve water or pulses, or walking or none of the above, I hope it turns out to be brilliant. I wish you a very Happy New Year.

Listen to Lesley 2pm-5pm Monday to Friday on BBC Radio Suffolk

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