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Looking back over rural Wales in 2011

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Rachael Garside Rachael Garside | 15:00 UK time, Tuesday, 3 January 2012

I've noticed many of the newspapers have published their reviews of the year - so if you can't beat them...

A limit on the number of wind farm developments in Wales, a levy on plastic carrier bags, reform of the Common Agriculture Policy, more delays and deliberations over a proposed badger cull in West Wales, not to mention an Assembly Election and a reshuffle of rural posts in the Welsh Government.

Politically it's been a busy year and all these issues have been hot topics on Country Focus over the past twelve months.

There was also an opportunity to remember the devastation of the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001, ten years after the event.

Even a decade had failed to weaken the strength of feelings and bitter memories of such a tough time for the Welsh countryside and in a special programme, we revisited one of the areas worst affected near Brecon and spoke to people affected by the crisis.

Ten years on, there were still tears, anger and frustration at what happened and a general agreement that if the disease recurred, things would be handled very differently.

On a happier note, my wildlife year has included trying to count Kingfishers on the Teifi River (not one appeared, although I did see an otter), spot seals along the Cardigan Bay coastline (again, no luck), travelling to a secret location in deepest Carmarthenshire to try to hear the cuckoo (we heard one) and seeing a dolphin leap out of the water while swimming in the sea off Llangrannog.

But the highlight for me this year was a trip to record a programme on Skokholm Island off the Pembrokeshire coast back in June.

The weather and surroundings were glorious and the sea birds were out in force.Sitting on the cliff tops, only a few feet away from hundreds of puffins is a memory I won't forget in a hurry.

At the time, the warden Jerry Gillham was coming to the end of his first year in the job and is still there, dividing his time between Skomer and Skokholm during the winter months and blogging about island life on Skokholm.

I'm lucky enough to earn my living mostly outdoors and continue to be amazed at how rich and diverse our landscape and wildlife is in Wales.This year, I've walked along parts of Offa's Dyke, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and joined the writer and poet Owen Sheers for a walk in the Olchon Valley, setting for his novel, Resistance.

I've no idea where I'll be heading in 2012? But I hope you can join me!


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