Is it me, or has 2016 gone by really fast? I think I say that every year.
I think a lot of us can honestly say 2016, in the grand scheme of things, has been a bit of a shitter. Brexit, Trump, lots of people dying that made us all pretty sad. I definitely struggled a bit watching the Harry Potter films and Love Actually over Christmas…
Although, honestly, for me personally, 2016 has been a bit of a cracker. I’ve had my own struggles, and it wasn’t the greatest start in some ways. But as the year has gone on, things have seemed to get a lot better – and I’m ending it on a pretty big high. There are so many highlights to mention, so here are some of the biggies.
Landing what’s basically my dream job
At the beginning of the year, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I worked with a great team doing some pretty fun things, but I knew deep down what I was doing wasn’t right for me. And the part that got me down the most was having no actual clue what would be right for me. Until I discovered TrekAmerica, fell into a bit of a hard-work-finally-meets-right-place-right-time situation, and landed myself a job that, six months on, I’m still so excited about. So for anyone going into 2017 lost, confused or disillusioned with their future career – keep going. You got this.
In April, I headed out for a bit of a big adventure on my first (but, unknown to me at the time, definitely not my last) TrekAmerica trip. Hopping in a van with a bunch of strangers, we headed from Los Angeles up to San Francisco, via the bright lights of Las Vegas, a challenging hike in Yosemite and, of course…the Grand Canyon. I’d actually really only developed an interest in travel over the past couple of years – but the hunger to explore the world was pretty huge, and after this trip, which I’d been planning for just under a year, it only got bigger…
My second trip to the States was a little more out of the blue than meticulously planned – I found out just over a month before that I’d be heading out on a two week Atlantic Dream adventure. FOR WORK. Cause, y’know, my life got that good (disclaimer: honestly, most of my working days are spent at a computer writing lots of words, rather than adventuring around the USA. But it’s still pretty amazing).
From eating an epic cheesesteak and wandering the streets of Philadelphia and exploring the monuments of Washington, D.C, to line dancing in Nashville and getting jazzy in New Orleans. Oh, and the constant squeals at everything Potter in Universal Studios, obv. It was basically a pretty damn incredible two weeks. Here’s to more in 2017, I hope…
Moving into my new flat
At the beginning of this year, Conor and I moved in together. BIG LIFE DEVELOPMENTS. Private stuff is private, and something I like to keep a bit to myself so I’m not going into mega detail here. But living with a v.important person? It’s pretty freakin’ awesome. Even if they do have a penchant for shooting you with a Nerf gun while you’re on the loo.
The flat itself is lovely too (here’s hoping the rent doesn’t skyrocket in Jan and we have to leave, eh?), and I couldn’t be happier with our location. It has a 24 hour Tesco and Maccies just minutes away…what more do you need?
Solo adventuring in Morocco
There were definitely some ups and downs on my November trip to Morocco. I’d travelled by myself before, sure, but never to somewhere as unknown to me as Morocco. But I threw my swimwear into my newly-purchased cabin suitcase (and ended up wishing I’d taken a backpack) and spent a couple of days in the small town of Taghazout, enjoying some sun, sea and surf.
Embracing the awesomeness of pink hair
PINK HURR, DON’T CARE. Okay, I did initially care mildly, as I was actually aiming for purple. But I actually fell in love with the accidental pink (for a start, it makes me more like Erica which is always an awesome thing). This one’s for keeps, guys…for a while, at least…
Festivals old and new
Annoyingly, I didn’t get to head to quite as many festivals as I’d have liked this year. Mainly as I missed Download, my usual June weekend staple, thanks to having my pesky gallbladder ripped away from me (spoiler alert – it really wasn’t that bad!). And I also spent a lot more time and money on travelling, which in itself is a pretty decent trade-off, I suppose!
I did, however, get to experience my first European festival when I headed out to Groezrock in Belgium. I booked the tickets from San Francisco airport, booked a Megabus and slept on a ferry floor using my handbag as a pillow to make my way there. I explored Antwerp, met some of my best pals, and had the best time listening to awesome bands. And managed to make it home, despite being lost in Belgium and getting shouted at by strange Belgian men.
2000 Trees is also fast becoming my favourite UK festival, and this year was totally no exception. Apart from when I drank some really strong rum and coke and nearly threw up everywhere, but you live and you learn. Oh, and I discovered the Cheese Truck, who do the Best. Toasties. Ever. Fact.
Oh, and I spent a fun day hanging with the awesome I Heart Wines gang at Truck Festival. Despite not really knowing many of the bands on the lineup that day, I mostly revelled in soaking up the festival atmosphere. And the epic view from the big wheel.
Embracing the best friendships
Friendships have always been pretty important to me, but this year’s been all about embracing the best friendships and making them stronger. The amazing ones who I only see every couple of months but speak to every single day; my amazing, kickass Bangarang squad who keep my WhatsApp buzzing with love, amusement and providing the most epic support network anyone could have; and old friends whose weddings I’ve been to this year who’ll always be a constant and wonderful part of my existence.
Basically, pals rock and I love you all. Thanks for making my year as amazing as it has been.
Exploring more of the UK
Closer to home, I’ve been pretty busy enjoying the UK too. On a regular visit to Nottingham, I actually spent a bit more time appreciating the city rather than just getting drunk and falling over in Rock City, as the usual weekends there tend to go. And another one of my travel highlights has actually been my visit to Bristol in December – it had been on the hit list for a while, and getting the chance to properly explore it didn’t disappoint.
This year I can’t help but love what my blog’s turned into. I’ve had a few crises of confidence over the year for sure – is my content the best it can be, why aren’t more people reading? But I have found my readership has grown, I feel like my content is improving all the time and I’ve definitely taken an unintentional but happy move towards being more of a travel and London focused blog than I’d been in the past. I’ve had the opportunities to work with some awesome brands, and like to think my photography has improved somewhat too.
For 2017, I’m looking at improving the actual editing of my images, as well as exploring more unique ways to write my posts. Sure, I love a good top ten – but I actually really enjoy writing long-form, story posts just as much.
Assorted other awesome bits
Because I could go on for hours about how many other highlights there have been this year and I’ve got The Sims 3 to play, here’s a big ol’ list of other things I’ve loved this year. Mostly with links to blog posts, because I have an insane compulsion to write about pretty much everything I do. In case you hadn’t realised that already.
Seeing Matilda the Musical with my mum
Getting spooked at Goosebumps Live – twice, including a backstage tour!
My team winning the best venue award at a student events conference in my old job
Making cocktails at Ascot with Appletiser
Funeral For A Friend’s last ever show (I cried, so much)
Spending Easter with my parents at Barton Marina (such good food!)
Eating delicious steak with an amazing view of St. Pauls
Buying a badass new TV on Black Friday and feeling like a proper grown up about it
Punting and having ‘girls time’ in Cambridge for one of the most amazing people I know’s hen do
Cooking up a Japanese feast at Jamie Oliver’s School of Cookery
Staying in the stunning Grosvenor Hotel as part of a competition prize
Camping out in the Surrey wilderness on a staff trip
Eating in the sunshine at Pergola on the Roof
Having a picnic at Somerset House
Getting retro at Little Nan’s bar
Other than the aforementioned blog goals, I honestly don’t know exactly what I want to achieve in 2017 yet – other than being the best me I can be, and travelling as much as humanly possible. I already have Budapest and Bucharest booked in for February next year, as well as a flying visit to Glasgow and a work trip for Dublin, and another yet-to-be-determined work adventure in May. Anyone see a #12in12 on the horizon? HMM indeed…
How was your 2016? Tell me your highlight in the comments!