Welcome to December's Photo Challenge. I think you're gonna like what I've got in store for you. I know I say it every month, but the 25+ photos below are staggeringly good. Give yourselves a pat on the back. Thank you so much. Right, let's crack on.
How great is it to have Alyson back? When this little feature kicked off back in January if it hadn't been for Alyson we'd never have made it to February, let alone the rest of the year.
"This is on a sloped street in the town with loads of cafes & restaurants. In the Summer they use the stepped areas for tables. Hands up, it's not my photo, but I've not ventured out yet, so scoured my phone for favourite pictures. Hope I'm excused?" Of course you are, Alyson! Welcome home.
Our good friend Rol next. He tells me this is very near to where he was born: "Steps down the side of Deer Hill Reservoir in Marsden. I used to walk up Deer Hill every day. Rain or shine."
Here's one I recognise. You will too if you remember that Hovis ad from the 1970s: "A famous hillside in Dorset." (Gold Hill, Shaftesbury.) Cheers, Rol. You didn't fancy cycling it, then?
Rob got a lot of love last month for his surfers' shot. I think the accolades will come pouring in for this too: "A spiral staircase in an abobdoned building I found; I liked the way nature has taken over."
Adam steps up next: "Hi John, I took this in the Summer in Hurley, not far from Henley on Thames. A ramshackle bridge over the river." I love ramshackle, Adam; like this blog.
K has a lovely trio for us this month: "This one is an unassuming set of steps up to a village high street and a church opposite. Bland by day, but at night bathed in the glow of some festive lighting."
"This is an escalator in the Eagle Shopping Centre, Derby c.1994. Quite what I was doing taken grainy photos of escalators in the mid 90s is anybody's guess." If it's any consolation, K, I've been doing precisely that for nearly all my adult life.
"My third one is the family cat (as opposed to The Family Cat; that would be awhile other proposition) staring down from her at Casa K. Eyes that say 'I dare you to go for that toy - I will get there forty and I will draw first blood.'' Probably."
Bendy Ben goes next: "This is the nearest I get! It's pretty much the only photo I have with a ladder in it. Taken in 1995, that's nearly 30 years of leaderless shooting!" I love everything about this photograph, Ben. Not least our little Super Hero. And the ladder, of course.
Time for a newbie - Cooper Senior is an inveterate traveller. I can see that from his Twitter feed. He sent me this from Brisbane. Perfect, Coops.
The Swede has pulled out all the stops this month and has really, ahem, stepped up: "Southwold Lighthouse is 133 years old and stands slightly inland, rising 102ft above the rooftops of the Suffolk coastal town. There are 113 steps between street level and the lantern - I know this because I climbed them one damp Spring morning a few years back. It's not an adventure for the faint hearted, but the panorama from the top completely justified the nerve-wracking ascent, even on such an overcast day. Here's the view from the entrance looking up through the centre of the building, with the palpitation-inducing stairs winding around the wall."
Thank you, TS. I've been to Southwold but have never been up these steps. I must rectify that.
Charity Chic is going up in the world. "My first entry this month is a bird's eye view of the escalators in Glasgow's Princes Square." Brilliant, CC. If a little vertigo inducing.
"Entry #2 - tenament on Queen's Drive opposite Queen's Park." Thank you, CC. Your photos really do document modern day Glasgow.
I'm calling this next one from David a near miss: "I took this last week on a walk pulling in the magical Bennerley Viaduct, part of which is seen in the background. There are stairs to the left leading up to the less impressive nearby railway footbridge." Thank you, David. You tease us with your out of picture steps!
C, over to you: "Hi John - I couldn't find anything remotely current for this month's challenge I'm afraid but a delve back through some proper old-fashioned printed (!) photos turned up this one from a visit to Tintagel Castle over 20 years ago. After walking up, and then back down these steep steps, all 140 of them on a windy Summer's day that pint and a bowl of chips back at the pub certainly felt well-deserved. C x." I bet it did! Thank you, C.
Martin is a real sport: he sent me this: "Brutal, in the best sense. (It's not really the picture I wanted but my phone ran out of charge when I got to the better staircase!)
So I said: ''Go back!'' And, to his eternal credit, he did just that. "Eleventh hour I know, but here are two angles of the other brutal staircase." Now that's what I call dedication! Thank you so much, Martin. And the sun came out for your return visit!
Riggsby next. And who thought we'd get two lighthouses in the same month? Not me, that's for sure. "Hi John, I took this at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, San Diego bay."
"And a stairway of pebbles at Torrey Pines Beach." Thank you, Richard. As always.
And finally. Yes, it's that time in proceedings where it falls to me to wrap things up and to thank you all for your valued contributions. We've amassed one hell of a gallery this year and curating it has been an absolute joy. If you fancy doing it all again next year please I'll gladly keep it running.
Anyhoo, without further ado - my first one is taken in Rock City and is the staircase leading up to the main hall.
The mask dates this one. It's the Blue Monkey pub in Canning Circus, Nottingham.
This rather impressive fire escape backs on to James' flat in Manchester's Northern Quarter. It's got that Physical Graffiti vibe all over it.
A recent visit to QMC - Queen's Medical Centre - and I saw this.
The next couple were taken in the Silver Lake District of Los Angeles. They are, of course, the 'Music Box Steps' - scene of Laurel & Hardy's 1932 classic film. They were a bugger to find and, no, I didn't bring my piano.
Well, that's about it. It just remains for me to say that I'll be compiling a 'Best Of' from this past year and will probably post them this side of the New Year. Thank you again and God speed.