As 2016 draws to a close in a couple of days I’ve found myself reflecting on the last year – all that has happened, all that has changed and all that has been achieved (despite often feeling like that last one is a big fat zero). I always enjoy putting together these round up posts at the end of one year and the eve of another, because even with those so-so years, or the periods that seem really tough, looking back over 12 months allows you to see clearly how much things have moved on and how much you’ve progressed. Chances are, looking back, you might see more good times than bad and more reasons to be thankful and celebratory than you perhaps felt while living through it.
2016 was a full on, crazy year for us, and I have a feeling that 2017 might be even more so. There’s no doubt that there were hard times, and stressful points, and periods of uncertainty. Points where I really wasn’t sure where I was headed, whether I was on the right path or what the future might hold. But at the same time there were great times, and surprising events that made our year, and periods of true happiness. The last year was a very reflective one for me personally. I feel as if I learned a lot about myself, accepted parts of myself and my life that previously I might have been keen to change and came to terms with the fact that not everything in this crazy ride of life can be planned and organised and prepared for… and even better that I don’t want it to be. The things we don’t account for often turn out to be the best of all and letting go of the organisation sometimes can lead to beautiful wonderful moments.
I know there’s been a lot of unrest in the world this year, and there’s many who might be keen to close a door on 2016 and move into brighter, fresher waters in 2017. But despite all that’s happened in the greater spectrum, I know that I really do have a lot to be thankful for and I’m beyond excited to begin a new year and a new set of adventures with my growing family in the next couple of days.
I for one, will be closing 2016 with a very happy heart.
So here’s a look back at just some of what 2016 held – in blogging and in life.
When I look at this photo, I realise just how long a year really is. Even though it seems like only yesterday I felt that Bornean sand beneath my toes, I look down at the protruding bump that has now replaced my waist and I know it was far from it. We started 2016 in the best possible way – seeing in a new year as newlyweds on the honeymoon and holiday of a lifetime. If ever I feel a little down I only need to close my eyes and put myself back on this trip and I’m immediately reminded of how lucky I am. To bring in a new age with the one you love in an exotic location you feel privileged to have been able to see, really is an incredibly special experience. To all of those on honeymoon right now (and I know a few) enjoy every last second of it and know that you’ve picked an amazing time to get away. This trip, which consisted of 4 different destinations and a multitude of different experiences, is one I know I’ll treasure forever. Here’s hoping I can get that figure back by next summer hey?
All good things must come to an end of course, and by February our trip was over and we found ourselves back in a very cold and very dreary UK, trying desperately to pick up the pieces and adjust back to reality after months of wedding and honeymoon madness. When this photo was taken I was in the middle of two long weeks of jury duty in between trying to get my freelance work back on track after a long stint off. February was a tough month all round for me as I found myself suffering a serious case of the blues and unable to work out what my next steps should be. I questioned the career path I was on, and began re-evaluating my work completely. I can remember feeling like a fog was in front of me for most of February and March and wondering if the whole of 2016 would feel this confusing and uncertain. But life just has a habit of carrying you along with it somehow doesn’t it? Whether you’re conscious of the movement or not…
March is always a time of renewal for me – it brings my birthday and the first glimpse of spring and this year that renewal was much needed. I turned 31, gave myself a drastic new haircut and some less drastic but oh so fun pink tiped ends, found what has to be my favourite charity shop purchase ever, had a major spring clean in various aspects of my life and decided to stop wallowing and start acting. These photos were taken on my birthday and after a month of feeling a bit rubbish and worn out, I really felt like I was myself again in these shots. Sometimes all it takes is a pink dress and a bit of lippy, but I felt as if I’d got my mojo back in a big way on this day. GB took me out for dinner that evening and after a few too many cocktails and a bit of a crying sesh at the dinner table (where I’m sure the waiters thought he was dumping me) I let everything out and let it go. I drew a line under all of the negative emotions I’d been feeling since the wedding and honeymoon and we left the restaurant in fits of giggles, ready to take on the world.
And take it on we did. By April, spring was in full bloom, the cherry blossoms were lining the streets, that early spring sunshine was making an appearance and things were looking a whole lot more rosy. Normally I find April a bit of a meh month, but this year it was just lovely. We made the decision to move out of London and began our search for a new location to call our own. We visited Rochester (the town that little did we know would become our home) for the first time on a beautiful sunny day and fell a little bit in love with it (let’s not mention that it took us until October to actually make the move shall we? Indecisive so and so’s we are). We spent the Easter break surrounded by family and laughed and cried as I saw one of my closest cousins get wed. I set myself some new career goals and starting working on projects that made me happy and saying goodbye to some aspects of my freelance work that no longer felt right for me, we booked a few city breaks and generally started gearing up for a productive summer!
The first of those city breaks took place in May, where after an impromptu binge on cheap flights one evening, we found ourselves in Copenhagen on a gloriously sunny weekend and serendipitously celebrating 6 months of marriage. Honestly? It was probably one of our best weekend trips to date, and Copenhagen swiftly got ranked amongst my favourite cities in Europe. It’s a beautiful city, with the friendliest of people, and the weekend was just full of great food, brilliant weather and lots of laughter. It was exactly what we both needed and is probably one of my favourite memories of 2016.
And then just like that we were in June and half way through the year. Summer arrived early and we got treated to some fantastic weekends in London. There were picnics galore and more trips to towns and areas on the outskirts of London as we continued our search for a commutable location to move to. There were catch ups with friends and generally lots of good times that a summer in the city always brings. June also goes down as a pretty special little month as when it drew to a close, we took a pregnancy test and found out we were expecting a baby!
In July we were pregnant. Very early days, and at that mind boggling, anxious stage where it’s kept under wraps and you find yourself fretting about every little thing and wishing the days away so you can reach a more stable stage and breathe a sigh of relief. It ended up being a quieter month socially as I shied away from meeting friends in fear of being found out, found myself worrying endlessly about EVERYTHING and questioning every symptom I had. The first few months of pregnancy are tough but that very first month – it has to be the hardest. A mixture of true excitement and utter fear, along with confusion and exhilaration as you try to get your head around it all. But I kept myself as busy as I could, buried my head in work and even managed to fit in a photo shoot where I donned my wedding dress again, which was amazing! I look back at these photos now and I remember that there was a very little baby along for the ride with me!
Summer was hotting up by August but I was so pre-occupied with the early throws of pregnancy that in some ways I feel as if it passed me by slightly. I was being hit with the typical first trimester symptoms by then and slept my way through most of the month, feeling rather zombie like for the rest of the time I was awake. Despite feeling pretty pants though, I remember these summer days fondly as we truly were just so giddy most of the time as we carried our exciting little secret around with us every day. We took a little trip to Margate, which again turned out to be a scorcher of a weekend and a really enjoyable jaunt and then on the 16th August we finally had our 12 week scan, got told all was ok, saw our baby for the first time and got to let the secret out to friends and family.
September was a busy old month as we ramped up our search for a new abode and slowly but surely told all of our friends and family our news. We toured around visiting parents and catching up with friends so that they could share in our excitement and I hit another Scandinavian city on my travel list with a long weekend in Stockholm. It was a fantastic trip but it’s also bittersweet for me, as I ended up losing all of the photos from the break (every last one bar a few I had on my phone, which is why this one is such bad quality) during our house move and thanks to some rather comical stupidity from me. I still have the memories of course, but the photos were so damn GOOD.
October brought our big house move, as we waved goodbye to central London after 8 years and moved to a much quieter abode in Kent. Things seemed to move at warp speed and a new chapter in our lives began as we settled into a new home, a new location and a new set of challenges. GB left his current job to go freelance, and ended up travelling for most of the month while I began working from home more frequently, learning that I could no longer do it all. Pregnancy brought new challenges almost daily, baby started to show themselves more and autumn arrived.
Somehow a year had passed since our wedding and while GB was working abroad for the first part of the month, November ended on a high as we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a weekend away in Durham. I entered the third trimester of pregnancy, and finally said goodbye to some of the tougher symptoms and began to feel like myself again. We took one last city break for GB’s birthday at the end of the month (before my flying ban hit) and visited a wintery Belfast for the Christmas markets and a brilliant gig seeing Romesh Ranganathan. Winter arrived, the festivities began sneaking in and the weather turned. We settled into our new home, began some decorating and generally started nesting ahead of our new arrival coming.
And now here we are at the end of December. Always one of my favourite months, December was mostly spent gearing up for Christmas with a touch of house decorating and a busy month of work thrown in. Family visited, we had Christmas get togethers with friends, presents were bought, trees were found and our home got a festive makeover. We’ve had a lovely relaxing Christmas break in our new home, have eaten all the food, watched all the movies and are now Scotland bound for a Hogmanay celebration with friends. I’ve reached 32 weeks pregnant and have almost come to terms with the fact that a small human will be in our lives in only two months time!
Well when it’s written out like that it really does feel like 2016 has gone by in a flash doesn’t it? It’s been a memorable year that’s for sure.
So tell me, how was your 2016?