I’ve never done a yearly recap before, but this year’s been a bit different. I like to use this blog to record the changes in my life and I think there have been some quite significant ones this year. Maybe you’ll disagree. Maybe you’ll just enjoy the pretty pictures. All valid responses. Let’s go!
Highlights: A promotion for me at work. Hooray! This month was mostly spent building friendships both old and new, a few trips to London and one to the deepest darkest Forest of Dean. Other than that I spent most of it wishing I could go back to Sydney, where I’d been in December 2015. Warm.
Lowlights: The cold. I hate Januarys and this was no exception. I spent most of it hibernating under either my heated throw blanket (best purchase ever) or the electric blanket in my bed (best Christmas gift ever).
Read more: Being gentle with oneself
Highlights: The pancake party we threw for our new Bedford friends on Shrove Tuesday. We introduced more people to the wonders of a crème egg pancake (come round and I’ll introduce you as well).
Recapping some stories from my Australia travels at the end of 2015.
Putting my 2016 ethos into practice by getting contact lenses and an exploratory appointment at the orthodontist…
Lowlights: My staff manager at work leaving which I was pretty sad about, because he was one of those rare, excellent staff managers. He had also encouraged and kicked off conversations with the Australian office for me which I was very grateful for.
Highlights: Visiting Istanbul! I fell deeply in love with the city which you might be able to tell from my posts from the time…
The Hagia Sophia is now one of my all time favourite buildings in the world.
A weekend in London supporting our friend releasing her new EP, at which she wore a dress that lit up.
Deciding to treat myself to a solo spa weekend. Because why not.
Lowlights: Arriving at the very old, very damp cottage in Rutland Water that we were to spend a weekend away with some couples from church in, to discover that the heating a) had been left off for at least a week before our arrival and b) was ineffectual to say the least. Suddenly my over-preparedness against the cold seemed like a stroke of genius. Now I’m not saying everyone should travel with a fan heater and spare duvet, but…
Highlights: Returning to our old stomping grounds in Birmingham to see one of our favourite bands, The Cat Empire. They were amazing, as per usual. We visited some old friends and generally had a big Birmingham hug. I love that place – particularly the
Cannon Hill Park Nature Centre Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park.
We also visited my big sister in Leeds, enjoyed seeing her happier, and explored the gluten free scene in her new locality.
We also had a weekend in Norwich during which we visited some colourful markets…
Time for a weekend flashback. Last weekend we spent wandering around Norwich during the ‘Arctic breeze’ we were treated to this weekend. Still, we spotted some cheery stripy roofs to brighten our day. Have you got any local tips to share? If so, head on over to #TravelTuesday which is now live on my blog. Link in profile, you know the drill…
saw some nice old buildings…
and called in on Oxburgh Hall on our way home, a lovely moated Elizabethan property.
I declined to go down the priest hole…
Lowlights: Having folks around for dinner the same day I had my braces fitted, followed by a family dinner two days later, and another family lunch two days after that. Safe to say a lot of people laughed at my lisping during those meals.
The awful hotel we stayed in in Leeds which was last refurbished in approximately 1975 (judging by the bathroom tiles) where there was a hen party going on in the room next to ours which lasted basically all night. Reception refused to help. This I would expect from a hostel, not a Mercure.
Highlights: I turned 30! I celebrated in Santorini with S and it was perfect.
The first couple of days were quite grey and overcast, but on our last two days the sun came out and lo and behold, there was the blue sky needed for those iconic photos.
I even climbed a big ol’ rock to celebrate the big ol’ 30, and it was surprisingly enjoyable!
I’d say the whole of May was a highlight: I also had a couple of days in London meeting friends, and I also met Kelly IRL for some gluten free treats. Safe to say we hit it off immediately!
I reviewed my 30 before 30 list smugly, and decided not to set myself another one for a while. I did enjoy using the list to encourage me to try new things, but it got a bit stressful towards the end.
Lowlights: I wasn’t a huge fan of the touristy side of Santorini, but that’s hardly a lowlight as I still had a fantastic trip. The crowds at sunset were insane (this was the scene about half an hour before actual sundown). There were more selfie sticks than people on that island I swear.
I was still settling into my braces at that point, but to be honest nothing could really dampen what was all in all a most excellent month for me.
Highlights: New York. New York New York New York! My bestie and I took a trip to celebrate both of our birthdays and to say I had the time of my life would be an understatement. We crammed a lot in, both activity and food wise, and after she left I had a couple of days to myself in the city. It was my first ever trip to the US and I loved every second.
I also fell in love with views from tall buildings. It’s a niche interest.
Other highlights were a last minute birthday supper for my uncle, a Patagonia evening at the Royal Geographic Society, and the fact that I did not do white water rafting with the rest of my company but instead took some hilarious pictures of them all falling out of their boats.
Lowlights: the unfortunate incident on the Jitney that left me with the most impressive bruise (which still hasn’t gone away, 6 months later).
Highlights: My sister arriving from Australia with two small children and a bump in tow towards the end of the month.
S and I taking a trip to Barcelona to celebrate his 30th birthday. We had a day trip to Andorra (and France) just because we could, fell in love with Gaudi, and generally melted in the heat.
We searched for but didn’t find gluten free churros, but we did find some sort of cookie ice cream sandwich thing that I still dream about sometimes.
As well as the most mouth watering displays at La Boqueria.
In other food related happenings, Kelly and I went on a little road trip to have a gluten free picnic under a certain famous tree.
And finally I spilled my guts about my secret wish to emigrate…
Lowlights: The kick off of an awful project at work that I’d quite like to forget.
The fact that our trip to Barcelona ended up being a bit of a shambles unfortunately, because what with the awful project I’d been working evenings and weekends therefore hadn’t been able to plan the trip very well. Pro tip: don’t hire a car in Barcelona, even if it’s free. The hassle of trying to park will take years off your life. It’s not worth it.
Highlights: My sister, niece and nephew still visiting, and the arrival of my brother in law.
S and I throwing a party to celebrate both turning 30. It was quite a turn out and we were both quite surprised about that. I loved having everyone together in one place.
Finally feeling able to go back to one of my favourite National Trust properties, Cliveden. For reasons of sadness I couldn’t bring myself to visit for a long time, but I was glad I was able to go back. The gardens are some of my most favourite.
Thankfully, the awful project coming to an excruciating close just before we embarked for our Big Trip!
Lowlights: Interring my Dad’s ashes with the rest of the family. It went as well as it could have gone, but ultimately it’s a horrible thing to have to do and it wasn’t pleasant for any of us.
Highlights: Our Big Trip! It was epic and I loved it. The trip involved visiting Chicago for the first time ever and me getting an awkward one-arm sunburn…
…taking a train across to Seattle via 7 new states…
…exploring Seattle from on high…
…and at street level – and even underground….
…getting on a big ship where we celebrated our 6th anniversary, going flightseeing over Alaska…
…visiting a new territory…
…and some family…
Lowlights: Arriving back at Heathrow at midnight, 9 hours after we were supposed to have landed. There was no food on the plane for me for the previous 9 hours, and we had to get up and go to work first thing the next morning. Not fun.
To add insult to injury, I was put straight on to doing the boring bits of a project I had asked to be on instead of the awful project. Not amused.
Highlights: Celebrating my Grannie’s birthday with a delicious and very well attended lunch.
My sister coming to stay for a weekend and enjoying Bedford together.
One definite highlight was finding out that my request to transfer to the Sydney office at work had been granted. Let the emigration countdown begin!
Lowlights: My Dad’s birthday. We did make it less sad by meeting up with my mum and sister and going for a curry at his favourite restaurant, but again. Ultimately still sad.
Highlights: Visiting my parents house, Leeds, and Birmingham to tell important family and friends our emigration news.
We visited the new library in Birmingham, which S hadn’t seen yet as it was completed just as we moved away. It’s pretty and I love the Shakespeare collection.
Lowlights: Telling my Grannie that we’re going away for 2 years. Of course she was happy for us but we’re both still sad about not seeing each other for that long.
Highlights: My brand new niece arriving!
Spending Christmas with family, including an unexpected scenic beach walk, luckily narrowly avoiding the Boxing Day swim (brrrr).
Trying to be as festive as possible with various friends whilst S was away in Australia for work. I also played in carol concert at church, my rusty cello playing seeming to go down fairly well considering how out of tune I was most of the time.
Lowlights: Feeling very jealous that S got to meet my brand new niece before me.
So why am I calling this a year of firsts and lasts? Well, along with the obvious firsts like all the new places I visited, the new experiences I had and the new people I met, there were a lot of lasts as well. You may have noticed that conversations about moving to Australia started off pretty early in the year. The time it took for these to come to a conclusion was no accident; after everything that happened last year I didn’t want to rush into anything. After we made the decision to go, things took on a new significance and whilst I don’t think it’s helpful to think of things in terms of lasts all the time, it definitely helped me to mark occasions as they passed.
The way things changed in light of our emigration plans also segued neatly with the thoughts I had last year after everything that happened with my Dad. I think my general philosophy of the year can be vaguely summarised as; if not now, when?
Did you have a philosophy in 2016?