Honestly, post-Christmas, I’ve been feeling a bit of a slump. Like I’m not quite myself. Perhaps it’s the excessive brie settling in my stomach, or the feeling of ‘what now?’ after the cheery season has come to an end. I don’t quite know what to do with myself, and have been struggling to mark out any significant achievements I’ve had in the 12 months gone by.
I wasn’t actually going to write a highlights post, to be honest. But after reading what others had got up to, I thought it might be a bit of a fun thing to do, running over the stuff that’s made this year enjoyable (and at points, tolerable). It’s a reminder for me, as much as it is anything else, that good stuff is always waiting around the corner.
There’s also lots of links to lots of posts if you wanna read more. Plus, y’know. SEO.
I managed to co-ordinate three travel shows at work, including one in Dublin, which I flew over for. There wasn’t much time to spend in the city (it’s okay, I’ve been before!), and I was struggling with THE MOST HIDEOUS COLD, but it was nice to do a bit of closer-to-home travel for work.
I kicked off the year pretty well in terms of entertainment – both Cirque Du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall and Black Sabbath at the O2 were on the agenda! I also saw The Wonder Years – aka one of my all-time fave bands – twice (London and Glasgow).
I visited God’s Own Junkyard for the first time, having never been despite it being super close to where I live. It’s a colourful neon playground of awesomeness. And excellent for Instagram shots.
I fell in love with Budapest. Despite freezing my lil’ toes off. Ruin pubs, langos, beautiful bridges, MASSIVE chumney cakes and getting lost in the woods. Six days here were easily filled with obscene amounts of fun and exploring.
I went on my first ever(!) girls’ trip with my Bangarang ladies to Bucharest. Insanely cheap flights, insanely awkward flying hours. Worth it for the cheap eats, excellent streets and brilliant company.
I went to a super fun, cute little sleepover at The Generator Hostel in London – one of the first places I ever stayed on my early visits to the city.
With £10 return flights, how could I resist a little trip to Hamburg? Conor came along too, and we drank lots of beer. After he left to head home, I also took a little night tour of the Red Light District, then spent my Sunday AM drinking more beer at the Fischmarket.
A short (well, not so short as the train kinda broke down…) train journey later, I found myself in Berlin, to explore a little more of Germany. A highlight was the Alternative Berlin tour, exploring the street art and urban bars of the city. I’d definitely love to get to know this place a bit better on another visit too…
One of my best competition wins of late 2016 came through at just the right time – a spa day at Champneys. Much-needed, highly recommended.
I only went and climbed up to the top of the O2, didn’t I? Definitely a leg workout…but the views were SO worth it.
This year, I got to experience the adorable city of Leuven, which is famous for its Belgian beers. It’s such a lovely, charming place – and, of course, the beer is TO DIE FOR. Oh, and the Grand Begiunage is basically total Insta porn.
One of the big trips I went on this year was the annual TrekAmerica iTrekHere tour, this year to the USA’s Deep South. I’d been to quite a few of the places last year – but, honestly, I’ll take any excuse to get back to Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans.
June usually means one thing – Download, baby! 2017 was fun as ever, with some fab bands and the best of company. I’m quite gutted I won’t be able to make it in 2018 as there are some KILLER bands on the lineup. I have other awesome plans instead though, and will definitely be making the most of the other festivals I love over the summer.
I’d never really considered Malta to be high up on my destination bucket lists, but when I won some flights there (business class, baby), I got to discover how wonderful it is. Blue waters, boat trips, BIG ice creams and I even got to meet Popeye. He called me a unicorn. Life made.
Another fave festival, 2017’s 2000Trees festival had a cracking lineup, and was genuinely a bloody awesome time. I love the small size of the festival, the people who go and the atmosphere. Plus the fact you can take your own booze to watch the bands, obv.
Another awesome O2 related activity – this time, I got to go BACKSTAGE at the arena and check out the bits I don’t normally see when I’m there for a gig. Highlights? Poking around the dressing rooms, taking a sit down in the VVIP area and discovering a very secret room that you’re not even allowed to take photos in…
I absolutely LOVE immersive theatre experiences, and Alice’s Adventures Underground was no exception. Performed by Les Enfants Terrible in the Waterloo Vaults, the set was just epic and I loved the stories that unfolded as I chose my path and made my way down the rabbit hole…
We got to nerd out at the midnight launch of Force Friday!
I had a lovely time in the (miraculously appearing) sun at Katy’s garden party, with some of my favourite girls and straws to match my hair.
I got to hang out with AJ at London’s Neverland – such a fun, summery place which brought a bit of the beach to the concrete jungle.
I basically got to live out my ULTIMATE DREAMS. Eating a cheeseboard in bed on the beach, while watching Moulin Rouge at Brighton’s Big Screen.
I went to Leeds Festival with AJ and got to see Eminem for the first time ever. Plus, we were in guest camping, which meant no noisy teenagers running around at all hours. Yep. Getting old. But I slept like a baby.
Had a drink and checked out the super-pricey tea sets at the Foo Fighters Arms, the band’s pop-up pub in London.
I took Conor to Thorpe Park for his birthday, and we stayed the night at the Thorpe Shark Hotel too. Unfortunately quite a few of the rides were closed due to high winds, but we still got plenty of coaster time in and even got free Ultimate Fasttrack tickets for next year as compensation!
Got arrested for the first time.
I kid. This was actually at a super cool Brexit exhibition we stumbled across when having a London wander after our Open House London plans went a bit off track…
Went to one of the BEST MEALS EVER, where I experienced a seven course pork extravaganza at The Orange. We were so full, we decided to call a taxi to take us home rather than walk to the tube station.
I paid a lovely early evening visit to London Cocktail Week, drank a fair few fabulous concoctions, and was home in bed by 9pm. Top Saturday evening skills.
I FINALLY made it up to the top of The Shard. Not in the sense that it took ages to get up there, just in five years of London living, I still hadn’t been.
We had a lovely little city break to York, and did ALL THE THINGS. And I got to be part of the show in the York Dungeons!
Big trip number two of the year, Mexico! It was HOT, which was handy for bragging on social media to everyone shuffling round the cold England streets back home. I did a road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula, taking in Mayan archaeological sites, stunning beaches and charming colonial cities. I absolutely loved every second. Apart from maybe Cancun.
After five years of not driving, I finally got back behind the wheel for my first EVER drive in London. I didn’t kill, maim or otherwise injure anyone, the car was returned without a scratch and I even drove into Zone 1. Owned it.
As an early Christmas present, Conor took me to Rome – a city that had been on my wishlist for ages.
Spending my first Christmas in London was quite a big deal for me, as for 28 years I’d always been at my parents’ – my childhood home, which they moved away from this year. I spent this Christmas in London, seeing Conor’s family on Christmas Day and doing some volunteer work for Crisis at Christmas (which I 100% recommend if you’re in the city for the festive season next year).
Things I’m Looking Forward To in 2018
I already have some travel plans in place for next year which are pretty exciting – I’m off to Iceland in a couple of weeks, Cyprus with the Bangarang gals in February, Montenegro with Conor’s family in May and somewhere pretty awesome in June!
We’re also putting money towards *hopefully* buying a house at the end of the year. Okay, a flat. Shared ownership. But it’s a step. So I’m trying to cut down on the spending and flight-booking. I’ll let you know how that one turns out. HA.
I also have meet-ups with friends in Manchester and Nottingham planned, as well as FINALLY seeing The Cursed Child in March. ABOUT BLOODY TIME. I’m off to the BFI Harry Potter exhibition in January too, and have a few festivals planned as well as plenty of gigs.
I hope you all have a wonderful New Years, and that 2018 has some awesome things in store for you! If you’ve done a highlights post like this one, link me in the comments – I’m super nosy!