Coming towards the end of the year, it’s easy to focus on the things I haven’t done, the goals I haven’t hit, the problems I wasn’t able to fix.
Those things aren’t on this blog, of course. Call it blogger’s creative license. We all do it (or at least I hope we do, or my life is seriously lacking compared to the blogs I read).
We blog the gorgeous holidays and the special days out and the funny stories and happy memories we made.
We don’t blog the days we hid under the duvet and cried. The time we realised that being over 40 doesn’t mean you can’t get your heart broken. We don’t blog about the losses, the illnesses, the moments when we were scared, or enraged. We don’t even blog the average days, the ones that slide by in a routine of rushed breakfasts, school, work, dinner, TV, collapsing into bed at 1am after spending too long stalking Twitter.
But I don’t regret that. It doesn’t make me value my blog any less.
Actually, I love that at the end of the year, this blog is here to remind me that there are a lot of kick-ass days in between the other days. That yes, my skirting boards are collapsing and my personal life’s best described as “complicated” these days, but me and Flea? We squeezed a lot of fun out of 2015. Here’s some of my favourite memories:
In January, I kicked off my year with a tour of Central America with Thomsons. I got to see the rainforest in Costa Rica, drink cocktails at sunset in Colombia and ride across the Panama Canal on a vintage rail car. And I got to spend time with Rachael, who is one of the smartest, funniest and kindest people I’ve had the chance to meet in recent years.
And of course, January was the month our dog joined out little family – it feels like Teddy has been with us forever by this point! Although I should note, that kitchen floor? Was eaten by the dog within months of this photo being taken.
Not all our adventures this year were far-flung – in February we were invited down to Wales with Visit Wales, to visit Folly Farm and film a YouTube commercial showing the fun adventures to be had.
I’ll be honest – it was colder than a polar bear’s toenails and my abiding memory of the day is trying not to fall over on the icy pathways, but we got to feed penguins and get close to giraffes and best of all, we got to pop in to see my friend Ruth, who has been a work chum in one way or another for many more years than I care to remember!
This year saw Flea head off on her first ever overseas school trip, when she spent a week skiing in Switzerland. Of course, she had an amazing time, and picked up some great skills. I, meanwhile, grew at least 200 new grey hairs and spent a week torturing myself with all the Terrible Things that might be happening while I was too far away to be of any use.
One of my highlights of the April half-term break was getting up to the Lake District with Flea, my brother, my niece and nephew.
We tried out the fab Go Ape course in Grizedale, and headed off for a picnic and some climbing. It was such fun to share a day out in the fresh air with all the children, after what felt like a very long, cold winter, and despite the time of year, I managed to get sunburn – again!
In May, Flea and I headed off to France to visit the bonkers and brilliant Puy du Fou theme park – quite unlike anywhere we’ve ever been before, and a must-see if you’re in the Vendee during the summer months. It’s a chance to see live historical shows with flames and birds and lions (I kid you not) and more (fake) blood and guts than I suspect would be allowed anywhere outside France.
At the end of the month, we headed off to Majorca for some much-needed sunshine.
We stayed in an impossibly lux villa in the gorgeous town of Pollensa, and tried out every beach we could find for a glorious 72 hours.
This was a GREAT month for both of us. First up, I took Flea and three of her friends to the Capital Summertime Ball courtesy of Vodafone and then probably one of the highlights of my year – seeing the Taylor Swift 1989 concert in Manchester. I took Flea and my niece and sang to EVERY song and danced and wanted it to last forever. Perfection.
In July, the garden makeover was finally finished, and that meant Flea could have the trampoline she’s been asking for since she turned six – it was so lovely to finally have a real, usable outdoor space after living in our house for seven years – and the tramp has been used weekly ever since. Thanks to the ever-helpful Vicki over at Honest Mum for the recommendation – we bought our trampoline from the site she recommended and have been SO pleased with it.
July also saw Flea head off on a PGL break at the start of the summer holidays, and I took the opportunity to book into Champneys – it was great to have some solo time with no phones, no Internet and nobody to talk to for 72 whole hours – it sounds miserable and anti-social but it was so relaxing, I’m thinking of making it an annual retreat!
I was lucky this year that I was able to take most of August off work, and we headed out to California for a four week road trip, from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and San Diego. We swam and surfed, and rode jet skis and jumped into rivers. There were tacos and theme parks and oh so many reasons to laugh. We loved it.
Back to school and I was panicked by the realisation that yes, this is Flea’s last year of primary school and we’d better start thinking about what comes next. So we started booking in secondary school visits and ordering brochures and reading up on the (frankly) terrifying decision of secondary education.
One of my favourite memories of September, though, was how excited Flea was to see her friends again – and we celebrated with a sleepover attended by four of her best friends. There was lots of giggling, far too much candy was eaten, and it reminded me that I need to help Flea really enjoy this precious last year with her friends – some of whom she’s been in a class with since she was barely three!
Another month for adventure, as I headed out to Thailand to attend the TBEX Blogging conference in Bangkok, followed by a four day food tour with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Jet lag aside, it was the most amazing opportunity to meet new people, and have some fantastic new experiences.
Home from Thailand, Flea and I were on the move again, this time to Jamaica, where we got to experience an all-inclusive holiday at two luxury resorts on the island with Beaches, the family holiday specialists. Probably the highlight of this trip was Flea becoming a fully-fledged scuba diver, with two open water dives under her belt!
It’s my Mum’s birthday in November and we celebrated with a family get-together. I also took a day off work, and Mum and I headed to a local spa for a spot of pampering and afternoon tea. My Mum is pretty much my rock – she’s wise, insightful and unfailingly kind, and I thank my lucky stars that I’ve been able to live close to her while raising my own child.
This has been a great year for spending time with my family. Everyone’s healthy, happy and safe, and I tend to think that’s about as good as you can get, isn’t it?
Flea and I like to take a pre-Christmas adventure and this year we did it in style, with a 5-day break in Chicago, for no real reason other than the fact we wanted to go somewhere really cold. Chicago delivered – it was minus 3 when we landed. There was plenty of skating and hot chocolate. We ate pizza pie, we shopped at Macy’s, we strolled around museums and galleries – it was a blast.
So there you have it – our highlights of 215 and, on reflection, we’ve had an amazing year of new experiences and adventures and on balance, a lot more reasons to count our blessings than not.
Here’s hoping that your own annual round-ups show the same – I’d love to read, so please do leave a link in the comments if you’re done your own round-up of the year. And I hope that 2016 brings us all more good moments and memories.