Month: December 2019

2019 in review, with highlights!

As the New Year approaches rapidly I always think it’s interesting to look back at the 12 months that have passed. Not in a congratulatory or self-pitying way. Just as a round up and reminder. And of course to pick out my 2019 highlights.

I couldn’t possibly do my decade in review, because that would be way too long and detailed, but needless to say the biggest and most life changing event was losing my Dad. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to lots of places and build a strong marriage (at the beginning of the decade I was fairly new to being a wife, whereas now I’m a veteran!)

In a nod to the decade “thing”, I will post a comparison pic – it’s actually my old vs new passport photo. I’m not doing too badly!

2009 vs 2019 - passport photo

My passport, on the other hand, is no longer European, sob…

So, 2019!

I started the year full of gusto, in a new job that felt very promising and full of great people, with travel plans afoot (as always) and hoping for another incredible summer after the great wonder that was Summer 2018.

I’m ending the year feeling a little more jaded, in a different (temporary) job; having learnt life lessons, employment lessons, and intuition lessons. If something feels wrong then it probably is! That said, an amazing Christmas holiday has made me happy and content, and that’s the most important thing.

2019 highlights

Every year has its ups and downs, and 2019 was no exception. But when I think of the best things, off the top of my head, these are the three that come to mind.

The birth of my nephew

After a really shitty pregnancy during which she was pretty much constantly poorly, and a 3 day labour, my sister gave birth to a 10lb 2oz beautiful baby boy by C-section on Saturday 27th July. It’s my first time being an auntie and it’s filled me with a new sense of pride and delight. Jacob is a joy (now he’s stopped crying when he sees me, and rewards me with smiles instead!) Being part of his first Christmas was incredible. I love him so much!

2019 highlights - my nephew

Easter weekend in Paignton

This was totally unplanned and very last minute! The weekend before Easter we were watching Four in a Bed on TV and I said how nice it would be to have a short break at the English seaside. We haven’t been to Paignton for many years. The husband has happy memories of childhood holidays there, so we found a B&B and off we went.

Last time we were in Paignton it was quite run down. Lots of places were closed and not much going on. We were thrilled to see there’s been some investment in the area, with seafront pubs reopening and lots of people around. It helped that the weather was unseasonably excellent for Easter. We went to the zoo, went on a steam railway, went on the fairground, met up with friends who were staying in Torquay, and had an absolute blast.

2019 highlights - a weekend in Paignton

Read about our weekend here.

Buying a campervan

The highlight about this was seeing my husband’s face as he lived a childhood dream. He’d gone on and on AND ON about it for months; looking for the right one and umming and aahing about what to do. Then we found Bodhi Bongo at the end of September. We picked him up in early October, and have already had some great times with him. No overnighters yet, but watch this space in 2020!

2019 highlights - Mazda Bongo campervan

What are your 2019 highlights? Thanks, as always, for reading!

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Autumn winter in the great outdoors? Go on then!

Any season that isn’t summer is not my bag. Summer is the absolute dogs danglies. Autumn is, in my opinion, the worst season. Spring means summer is coming, and winter at least has Christmas. Autumn? To me it just signifies the end of the good stuff (summer) and the beginning of the cold of winter. I don’t understand how people get excited about autumn.

I’ve already posted about my dislike of September (the beginning of Autumn, if so many are to be believed!) a few years ago.

I read about pumpkin spice lattes (I don’t drink long coffee drinks), jumper season (I prefer t-shirts), wrapping up in hats and scarves and boots, sitting in front of the fire and going for autumn winter walks.

And I Just. Don’t. Get. It.

You don’t really see autumn colours when you live in the suburbs of a city. Sure, my garden is covered in leaves and they’re a range of colours, but that doesn’t bring an appreciation of the beauty of autumn. It just brings a mulchy mess that ruins the grass!

And as for winter, it’s barren and cold, with no greenery, dull dark days and the only brightness in months of darkness is the excitement of Christmas.

Confession: I may have changed my mind a little bit, all thanks to Bodhi Bongo!

Overnighters in our campervan are very much for longer days and warmer weather. But as a day van, Bodhi has opened up new possibilities for us outside of summer. Our van has a twin gas hob, we have a kettle and a griddle pan and lots of space, which brings a whole new dimension to going out for the day.

Our first trip out was to Sudeley Castle which I posted about here.

November

In November I experienced a whole new take on Autumn. The husband suggested driving down to the Forest of Dean for a scenic drive and a wander. I was enthusiastic but wary. Autumn isn’t really all that, right?

The drive alone was beautiful. Being in the campervan you’re much higher than a normal car, so you can see a lot more. More colours, more streams, more bridges and tree lined roads.

Bongo drive to the Forest of Dean
Bongo drive to the Forest of Dean
Bongo drive to the Forest of Dean

We parked up in Speech House Woods, which is maintained by Forestry England, changed our shoes, and off we went!

Autumn Winter Bongo in the Forest of Dean

It wasn’t long until I stopped in my tracks, looked all around me, and declared “this feels like an autumn fairytale!”

I’ve never seen such beautiful shades of orange, rust and gold, interspersed by blue skies and evergreen leaves. The air was crisp, there was a blanket of leaves underfoot and trees of all shapes and sizes.

Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean
Autumn Winter Forest of Dean

It definitely turned me into a fan of Autumn walks! So much so, that, a couple of weeks later, we headed up to the Clent Hills, which is just a short drive from Birmingham. At their highest point, Clent Hills rise to 1037ft, with 360 degree views over multiple counties.

Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills
Autumn Winter Clent Hills

December

And so to Winter, where surely the drop in temperatures and bare branches would hold no interest for me? Well, such is my new zest for outdoor life (!!) that the suggestion of a post Christmas drive to the Wyre Forest was jumped upon by me. I adorned myself with coat, scarf, hat and gloves (all the things I sneer at!), packed our campervan bag with all the essential (teabags, sweeteners, kettle, bread and sausage) and off we went.

Autumn Winter Wyre Forest

Turns out that even winter in the forest is a joy! There’s a surprising amount of green thanks to coniferous trees, and the low winter sun creates beautiful shadows and casts a glow through the trees.

Autumn Winter Wyre Forest
Autumn Winter Wyre Forest
Autumn Winter Wyre Forest
Autumn Winter Wyre Forest
Autumn Winter Wyre Forest
Autumn Winter Wyre Forest
Autumn Winter Wyre Forest
Autumn Winter Wyre Forest

How does our campervan make autumn and winter walks more enjoyable?

When you’ve been for a walk in bracing temperatures, you (I) need a little downtime before bundling back in the car to go home. Having Bodhi Bongo means we have plenty of space to take off all our layers, change our muddy boots and stretch out (and stop sweating!) before we head back. We can have a cup of tea and some food sitting at a proper table. So far we’ve cooked bacon sandwiches, cheese and ham toasties and sausage sandwiches, all fresh and hot. It’s a real novelty and makes it so much fun. Who thought I’d look forward to watching a kettle boil on a gas stove?

Buying our campervan at the “worst” time of year means that we still have the very best to come! But,, rest assured, when autumn rolls around in 2020, I’ll be chomping at the bit for days out. This is a year round hobby for us, and I’m excited to see where we end up in the future!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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