2015 was a difficult year for me. It was an emotional rollercoaster and much of it was too personal to publish on my blog. I started the year with mental health problems and I finished the year as a single mum. I should point out that the two things are not linked. I’ve not blogged much in the last few months and there are very good reasons for that. However, I read a blog post recently, from a blogger and entrepreneur I’ve always admired and felt inspired by, looking back on the best parts of her year. This post, inspired me to leave all the negativity of 2015 firmly in the past and reflect simply on the highlights of 2015, before leaping into a fresh start in 2016.
So I hope Sally “Who’s The Mummy” doesn’t mind me taking her post as a prompt, to launch myself out of my writing slump and back into my passion for blogging, and here are my highlights of 2015…
I started the year with a trip to the beautiful Isle of Man to visit someone who was, at the time, my best friend. He and I no longer speak, but I still think there is a tremendous amount of beauty on that island. The views from the top of Mountain Road (where the TT course runs) is spectacular. The beaches are clean and pretty and you can see the sea from so many parts of the Island. The traditional myths and legends of the Island can be seen too when you cross over “fairy bridge”, where apparently it’s bad luck not to wave at the fairies! And whilst Douglas is a very small town, I grew quite fond of some of the restaurants and nightlife there too.
The twins started nursery in January, which gave me two mornings a week of free time and it gave them a chance to bond with other children their age. Their development has come on in leaps and bounds since they started there and they absolutely love it.
Bunny also won her school appeal in January, meaning she could leave the school where she was unhappy and start a new school which is within walking distance. She too is thriving in her new setting and I know that I made the right decision to fight for her place there.
February saw me treating my mum to afternoon tea at The Ritz for her birthday and we enjoyed a luxurious stay at the five star Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, where we felt truly spoilt. It was lovely to spend two days in London having some mother-daughter bonding time.
We also took a trip to Belfast for a few days, where we caught up with some good friends, explored the Titanic Museum (somewhere I’ve wanted to go since it was first built!), caught a decent football game, had some fun in Bangor and had a blooming fantastic few days in general, with stress free sailings on the Stena Line ferries both ways.
March & April
March and April were months where we used and abused our Merlin Annual Passes. Between March and September we visited Warwick Castle, Birmingham and Weymouth Sea Life Centres, Weymouth Sea Life Tower, Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, LEGOLAND, Madame Tussauds, The London Eye and Shreks Adventure. We certainly got good value out of them!
I also went to Blog On Cymru in Cardiff and Blog Camp UK in Birmingham. I love blog conferences, because as well as picking up a few odd tips to help improve my blogs, I love the social element. A room full of like minded people, usually lots of cake, coffee and booze, goody bags and many many many hugs!
Bunny and I went for a mother-daughter bonding session in London this time. We went to do the London part of the Shaun in the City art trail and over the course of two days we walked over 20 miles around London. We were unstoppable and we didn’t leave until Bunny had been photographed with every single Shaun! That weekend really opened my eyes to the fact that actually, there are many beautiful places and beautiful eccentric and talented people lining the streets of London.
May also saw us taking a week’s all-inclusive holiday at the fabulous Royal Son Bou Family Club in Menorca. This hotel was so amazing, that I’m not even going to waste my typing fingers by trying to put it into words. If you want to read more about it – pop over to my family travel blog.
In June, we decided to buy a hot tub and chose a LayZspa Vegas which has seen a LOT of use in just a few short months. I loved sitting outside on warm summer evenings, under the stars, in the hot tub at 38 degrees, with a glass of wine and Netflix on my laptop.
I went to Britmums blog conference in June, for my third year running and it was still just as much fun as the first year I went.
We took the girls camping in Dartmouth for three nights, visited Paignton Zoo, Woodlands Adventure Park (if you get the chance to go – it’s an immense amount of fun!), Dartmouth harbour, Paignton beach and lots of other places. This was the twins first ever camping trip and we all had a great time.
July saw me doing a workout with Kimberley Wyatt from the Pussycat Dolls, Bunny and I appearing on TV talking about parenting and technology, and two whole days of Christmas in July press events, which included far too much alcohol and so many goodybags that we had to carry suitcases around London.
I also took on the Race for Life “Pretty Muddy” 5K to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I was thrilled with my time and the fact that our fundraising team raised just over £2000 between us.
After completing the London trail in May, Bunny and I completed the Shaun in the city art trail, by finding the 70 Shaun’s which were scattered around Bristol. Some of these were a bit easier to find as we had previously done the Gromit Unleashed trail there a few years ago.
We also day tripped to Dawlish and many other places around the UK, as well as enjoying much of the summer in the aforementioned hot tub!
September begin with the utterly UNMISSABLE Blogstock festival which is where blog conference meets music festival and I absolutely cannot recommend it enough to bloggers – it was a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to go again next year!
One of the highlights of my year, which I have been SO unbelievably lucky to attend three years running as a finalist… is The MAD Blog Awards. I didn’t win, but I was so thrilled to be there as it is always such a fantastic night, in the company of many very talented writers.
I also started my new job in September, which I love and has given me my independence back.
October was a very busy month for me.
I ran the 5k Monster race, which was much tougher than I expected, with over 25 obstacles and I came away with a medal and many many cuts and bruises. I did this for FUN and not for charity!
I spent 24 hours locked up in HMP Shepton Mallet Prison for charity, which was probably the single most unusual experience of my life, and one I am SO glad I did. It was an unforgettable experience of highs, lows, psychological pondering and instant acceptance of conformity. It also raised a serious amount of money for SOS Africa – a very worth charity!
This was also the month I went on my very first cruise, as we boarded the Royal Caribbean’s quantum class ship, Anthem of the Seas. Stopping in France and Belgium, the cruise was every bit as luxurious as I expected a cruise to be.
The day after I disembarked the Anthem, I then boarded Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Escape – currently the newest cruise ship in the world. This ship was also fantastic and I could write for hours about the two cruises and how badly I’d love to go on a long cruise to a warm and sunny destination.
October was also the month I started seeing someone. It was short lived.
We were very lucky to be invited to Gdansk in Poland as family travel ambassadors for RoomAuction.com and had a lovely time exploring the beautiful town. We had a tour of the old town and it’s stunning architecture, sampled traditional polish food, spent our zloty in the shopping centre, learnt through interactive play at the Centrum Hewelianum and were invited to dinner with the director of RoomAuction.com and his lovely family.
Whilst on a spa break, Pinkoddy and I went tubing for the first time at Gloucester Ski and Snowboard centre, which was exhilarating. We enjoyed a lovely stay at the Hallmark Hotel where we had a three course meal, a full buffet breakfast, a swim, a chat in the Jacuzzi and fantastic back, neck and shoulder massages! It was lovely to be pampered and relax for a bit.
My baby dating scan… Ah yes.. Did I forget to mention… I’m 14 week’s pregnant?! Yes that person I mentioned in October’s highlights… He may have accidentally left a bun in my oven (because yes – even at 29 years of age – people can be reckless). And regardless of how people wish to judge me for that, so soon after my marriage ending, I am keeping the baby and now that the shock has worn off, the excitement is kicking in. I will refer to that man, from this point on, as SD (sperm donor).
So on New Year’s Eve I decided to wave goodbye to the bad shit, raise a glass (of non-alcoholic beverage) to the good times and welcome a brand new year with a heart full of optimism… and a baby on the way!