As the year draws to a close, I’ve taken some time to look back over the year, recounting the highlights, the low lights and everything in between. Take a trip down memory lane with me, and catch up on any content you may have missed.
It’s difficult to think back all the way to January. Weirdly, my biggest memory of January is that it was when HotpodYoga Bromsgrove opened and I think I probably took part in about 15 classes that month.
Although I published this post about Our Date in Birmingham and shared some overdue photos from our Center Parcs holiday, my main blogging achievement of January 2019 was writing The Walk That Didn’t Happen – which would subsequently end up being published in Blogosphere Magazine thanks to the wonderful Mrs Shilts.
The best thing about my blog posts of February are the ones that are still sitting in my drafts! Maybe I’ll get around to finishing them by this next February – there’s a mission. (In case you’re interested, I started writing up some Lightroom editing guides, which I find hilarious seeing as I think I’ve come on a long way since then).
I didn’t blog about it at the time, but a highlight of February was of course seeing my Johnson’s Ambassador buddies in London and being treated to the pinkest and prettiest breakfast at Feya (my only criticism was the lack of bacon… it’s pink! It should have fitted right in, and much craved for after a night of drinking the evening before).
Little Gift at Birmingham REP Theatre
We had a wonderful day seeing an old friend in M6 Theatre’s Little Gift at the Birmingham REP. This charming production had me grinning ear to ear from start to finish, and it’s a good reminder to get scouring the local theatre brochures for what we’d like to see as a family in 2020 too. Jim and I already have tickets booked for Seven Streams of the River Ota at The National Theatre which I am ridiculously excited about.
Wow, just reviewing my blog posts for March and sorry, guys – it was pretty #ad heavy, wasn’t it? I wrote a little bit about our 2019 travel plans and, it’s a little depressing to report that actually we hardly travelled at all. Our tent was only used once (#deadfroggate – I’m sure that’ll come up in a later month!), we didn’t manage to go to any festivals thanks to some unfortunate date clashes and we only managed one family holiday (a Monday to Friday trip to Bluestone).
Look at his little face in this image showcasing the Moonlite Story Projector! It’s scary to think about how quickly he changes and grows up. And you can clearly see the lump above his eye here before it was removed in June.
With spring underway, you can tell the longer days and warmer weather allowed us to explore more outside as all of a sudden, lots of my blog posts revolve around our days out. This month we spent a lovely afternoon at Hatton Adventure (despite Pickle having a three hour nap whilst we were there!) and we ventured into Birmingham for Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom experience at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
April is always a special month to me, as it’s the month of our wedding anniversary. We celebrated this year with a very scrumptious Afternoon Tea at Laura Ashley The Tea Room in Solihull (fitting, as we got legally married at the Solihull Registry Office).
Redditch Hockey Club Awards Night
Celebrating was obviously high up the list of priorities this month as I had a ball at our Annual Awards Night for the Hockey club. Our team, the Ladies 2s, got a special mention as the team who always puts the effort in, training hard each week and seeing lots of improvement. Playing with these girls on a weekly basis during the season is such an absolute honour.
On a professional note, I was delighted to work with Marks & Spencer for the first time. I’ve become a complete convert to their jeans, and now I can’t walk into an M&S Food outlet without checking if they have any fruit picked at Withers Farm. True story.
Our Canal Boat Day Trip
I only wrote one blog post in May, and what a post to write… A Day on a the Grand Union Canal. If I hadn’t have climbed Snowdon this year, this day would have been my most favourite day of the year. My parents were on a week long canal boat holiday, and as they were travelling along a fairly local canal strip, they invited us to join them for a day.
Everything from the weather to the music we listened to was perfect. The only slight inconvenience was that we’d travelled in two cars in order to leave a car at the start and a car at the end to make it easy to get home, but forgot to bring both sets of car keys with us! It resulted in a rather expensive taxi ride (we had to borrow cash off my Dad as we didn’t have any on us) but it was totally worth it.
In May, we also returned to Bluestone for a much needed family holiday. In all honesty, my over-riding memories of that holiday are the many tantrums we had to suffer through and the tears of frustration cried (by both Pickle and I!). I have so many gorgeous photos that I’ve not yet shared and definitely deserve space on here, so whilst a few of my favourites are gracing my Instagram grid, writing up our holiday needs to happen in 2020 too.
The Flea Retreat 2019
Another trip I haven’t blogged about from May was the Flea Retreat near Aberystwyth. It was such a lovely weekend for the soul, filled with some truly memorable experiences like canoeing at sunset, waterfall photography walks and, my absolute favourite, gorge walking. Add in a bit of bushcraft, some blogging friends and a hot tub, and you’ve got the recipe for a wonderful weekend away!
I remember June for all the wrong reasons. It was a really tough month for me. It started with Pickle having his second febrile convulsion, followed a couple of days later by a major pre-exam meltdown and a particularly challenging series of events at work. I was, quite frankly, a woman on the edge.
The only thing that made me feel more myself during this difficult time, was being outside. We’d had so many wonderful outdoors adventures in May that I needed to recreate some of that magic to help guide me through, and as I talk about in one of my most recent posts (Combating the Attention Economy with the Outdoors), it’s the best escape mechanism.
I really enjoyed a day in the Peak District courtesy of Blacks and The North Face, and it was the first of many hiking trips I hope to share with my Mom.
I did also spend a very memorable night at The Ricoh Arena with some of my best girls and the Spice Girls. BIG grins all night long, and we really lucked out with some hospitality tickets which meant very easy access to the bar. Thinking about it… I loved the leopard print top I wore that night and I’ve not seen it in ages. Must dig that out and find it!
Sunrise Snowdon Summit
Without a doubt, this was the absolute highlight of my year. Starting from Llanberis at midnight, in the very depths of the night to seeing the sunrise at the top of Snowdon was so magical, memorable and (without wanting to sound super cheese-y) absolutely transforming. I loved it. From start to finish and everywhere in between.
Snowdon aside, as a family, we enjoyed a wonderful day out at Warwick Castle and particularly enjoyed their War of the Roses LIVE tournament and I finally found the time (post exams) to write up our disastrous camping trip. The campsite, Golden Valley, was brilliant and we may return again in 2020 but if you’ve not heard about #DeadFrogGate, take a read of my blog post to find out all the gory details.
August is usually a time for family holidays, but sadly, we didn’t get away as a family. Just before Jim’s birthday, we did get the chance for a cheeky weekend away to celebrate a good friend’s wedding though which was a wonderful chance to meet up with friends for a good catch up, plenty of wine and a healthy dose of dancing.
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What a weekend! I’ve been absent on here, and for very good reason: we had the absolute privilege of celebrating our friends’ wedding on Saturday. Victoria and Ben: such a glorious day for such a beautiful and loved couple. I know the years and decades ahead are going to be filled with lots of laughter, joy and tenderness. One of us was a bit worse for wear on Sunday morning (cough, Jim, cough) but that comes with age I think… Another year older for Jim today! Happy Birthday my sweetheart. Our day’s plans have been a bit scuppered by the lack of car situation, but I hope we can still have lots of fun. The last year of your thirties is here, and I feel very lucky to have spent all of them with you. Now… Let’s make a cake!
August was also memorable as the month my car packed in. I’ve been without a car ever since so I’m glad I’d at least had a Monday spent at nearby National Trust property Baddesley Clinton with Lucy from Real Mum Reviews.
As my studies at college began to ramp up again with the start of a new term, I’m indebted to Louise from Three Little Tinkers for inviting us to join her for a memorable day of water-based fun on the edge of the Cotswolds. Paddling all together in a kayak was so much fun, and I hope there’s more of this kind of adventuring in 2020.
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It’s been an afternoon of on-the-water fun thanks to @three.little.tinkers today. Ever since I saw her Paddleboarding on her Instagram stories, I’ve been itching to give it a go (let me tell you, she makes it look very easy… I was shaking like a leaf!) and she very kindly invited us to join her family in the Cotswolds. The three of us went on a little kayaking jaunt (happy to report Pickle was very well behaved), we were taken out for a ride on a speedboat (Pickle’s favourite, and a treat for me too – those things GO FAST!) and I had a somewhat successful first attempt at Paddleboarding (it’s a good job I took a change of clothes! Evidence to be shortly uploaded to Stories!). In-between, Pickle loved playing with Lily and we were so touched by Louise’s family’s generosity. All in all, an absolutely lovely afternoon. Just my cup of tea.
We also took the opportunity whilst visiting family near Portsmouth to spend a day at Paulton’s Park again. We fully expected to spend the day in Peppa Pig World again but Pickle surprised us by prefering the bigger family rides. He still talks about the Caterpillar ride. Another thing I can’t wait to do again in 2020.
From now onwards, there aren’t many more blog posts to share. After having such an exam meltdown in June, I knew I needed to devote more time to studying to prevent the same thing happening again. We still enjoyed some lovely days, including a very magical day when I was bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding.
Taking some time out from writing was a good thing. And in all honesty, I didn’t feel guilty about it. There have been times when I’ve put a lot of pressure on keeping this blog of mine updated, but in reality, contracted work aside, it doesn’t have to be high up the priority list.
My personal highlight for October was our day out at Conkers. I’ve been trying to write up our day ever since but the best days are often the hardest to write as I feel weird pressure to do the day out justice. When I do finally finish it, there’s something exciting for you too – I’m delighted to have a family ticket to giveaway so that one of you can experience it for yourself too.
November flurried by in a blur of revision and hockey matches. With the season in full swing, Saturdays were spent getting cold and then hot on various astro pitches around Worcestershire, and evenings were for learning various accounting treatments by heart. (Minimum Revenue Provision: Debit General Fund, Credit Capital Adjustment Account!).
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Another successful hockey Saturday! Today was GOOD. A win at home was just what we needed to shake off the loss from last week. More of the same next week, please. Very proud of the girls today. What a team! If you’re at all local to Redditch and are intrigued about playing, definitely drop me a message. It’s always lovely to welcome new players to the team – if you fancy a run around, want to make some new friends and enjoy a hefty dose of fresh air, I can’t recommend it (and @redditchhc) enough. It’s been the best thing for me over the past year. 💕 #hockeyfamily #hockeyplayer #hockeysaturdays #womeninsport #getoutside #lovelifeoutside
I barely took any photos in November, which shows both how little we did and how focused I was on getting through the next exam sitting. I did, however, run a brilliant giveaway with Regatta and one lucky follower on Instagram won four sets of waterproofs and wellies for their family.
Thank goodness that my exams are always at the beginning of the month. As of the 6th December, I was exam free and fully able to get into the Christmas spirit. We enjoyed some lovely family time visiting Father Christmas at Attwell Farm (I would 100% the experience there, we’ll definitely be back next year) and Pickle and I had a lovely trip into Birmingham to visit the seals one last time too.
I also rounded off my second year as a Johnson’s Ambassador by writing about some of the things we learned at our August meet up. If you’re at all interested in mindfulness and the attention economy, this one is worth a read: Combating the Attention Economy with the Outdoors.
Christmas has been a magical week of toys, excitement and far too many mince pies. Pickle’s understanding of the festivities has been gorgeous to watch and, as always, we celebrated Boxing Day with a walk up the Clent Hills. Over the last few days, I’ve been making lots of plans for 2020, and I’m excited that our year is already peppered with some lovely things to look forward to: running races, trips away, theatre trips and more.
Roll on 2020
And with that, roll on 2020. I’m always excited for the possibilities a new year brings, and 2020 looks set to be a big year for us. Within the next few weeks, we’ll become homeowners for the first time. By the end of the year, I’ll hopefully be a fully qualified accountant. And in September, Pickle will start school! It’s going to be a good one, and I can’t wait to share it all with my gorgeous family.