I'm writing this on board a Pendolino as I head to my mum's for the Yuletide Visit (2015 Edition). I'm not fleeing the north now it's under eight feet of water, honest, not least because I live on top of a hill on top of a peninsula; if my house ever gets flooded the whole world should be worried.
Actually, the floods have been especially troubling to me because they're happening in places that I know. One of the reasons I started this blog was so that places became more than just names on a map for me, and it's worked. As the captions came up on Sky News and the BBC I remembered being there - horrified at the badly written cafe sign in Appleby, eating my sandwich in a park as a group of schoolchildren filed past in Kendal, Sowerby Bridge's Goth shop. I was brought up as a filthy Southerner, but I'm turning into a plastic Northerner now.
Anyway, the point of this post is: numbers. It's a stat attack! Upsettingly, these usually prove to be the most popular of all the blog posts I do. It seems you're not here for my lovingly formed prose and pithy insights but are just all about the maths. I can't pretend this doesn't upset me.
NUMBER OF STATIONS ON THE 2014 NORTHERN RAIL MAP: 533
NUMBER OF STATIONS ON THE 2015 NORTHERN RAIL MAP: 533
It should be 534, because Apperley Bridge opened a couple of weeks ago, but Northern haven't updated the map. They've lost the franchise - sod it.
NUMBER OF STATIONS VISITED IN 2014: 113
NUMBER OF STATIONS VISITED IN 2015: 107
For the second year in a row, the number of stations visited has dropped. I've also done less blog posts in general this year. It's almost like I'm winding down or something.
TOTAL NUMBER OF STATIONS VISITED: 518
NUMBER OF STATIONS REMAINING: 15
PERCENTAGE OF MAP COMPLETED: 97%
That's the number you came here for, isn't it? Fifteen left. Fifteen. And then my life ceases to have any meaning.
Although I should point out that number doesn't include Apperley Bridge, which has opened now, so technically it's 16 to go. And there's Kirkstall Forge, which is due to open sometime before May, so it's 17. And Low Moor near Bradford is also under construction. So 15, plus a few extras. But they're not on the map so I could get away with ignoring them. (I won't, of course).
MOST POPULAR BLOG POST OF 2015: the one about my visit to Teeside Airport, because it got picked up on Railforums and so I got a load of train experts rushing over here thinking I knew what I was talking about. They were disappointed, and none of my other blog posts appeared there. Or maybe they were just bitter because I got Northern to stop a train for me and they can only dream of such power.
LEAST POPULAR BLOG POST OF 2015: this picture of Northern Rail MD Alex Hynes on a big chair. You people have no taste.
ODDEST BLOG HIT OF 2015: "diana rigg seascale". No idea what that's about, though I would like to know the story behind that particular Google search. Did Dame Diana once visit Sellafield? Is this a lost episode of The Avengers? Oh, and there were the usual perverts looking for "dogging in Wigan" or "Penelope Keith's tits". (Actually, by putting those phrases in this blog, I'm going to get even more weirdos aren't I? THE CYCLE CONTINUES).
NUMBER OF RUSSELL TOVEY MENTIONS: hardly any, really. He's gone all buff and A-Gay and, since the Americans saw him in Looking, he's started fancying himself. Plus he keeps posting pictures of his bloody dog in a hat on Twitter. I've gone right off him. I'm casting around for a replacement gentleman to stalk, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to put them in the comments.
QUANTITY OF NORTHERN RAIL TAT RECEIVED: a big fat zero. They're always handing out stuff at Manchester Victoria - there were Northern-themed Christmas hats in December! - but never when I'm around, and they haven't sent me a goody box full of USB sticks and mouse mats either. Merseyrail sent me some flip flops and invited me to their Christmas party. Just saying.
BEST COMMENT OF 2015: this lunatic.
Keep that freak flag flying, dude.
FAVOURITE CITY VISITED IN 2015: Newcastle. I loved it there, absolutely adored it. I can't understand why I haven't gone back yet. I've also remembered that I took a load of pictures on the Metro, and visited some of the stations, and never wrote about it. Maybe I'll do that in a slow month.
FAVOURITE STATION OF 2015: the one that immediately leapt to mind was Middlewood. It's nothing, just a couple of platforms, but it's buried in a forest and is only accessible on foot. That's pretty damn charming.
LEAST FAVOURITE STATION OF 2015: Derby. It shouldn't be on the damn map. Also, it's ugly.
That'll do I think. There might be another blog post before the end of the year, but if not... see you in 2016!