Sunday, 27 January 2019

Looking back on a good year

2018, you were great, thanks!

I hope that every one of the two or three people reading this had a good year, and that you have another good one in 2019. I've been simultaneously thinking about the high points of the last 12 months, and what the next year is likely to hold for me. Highlights first, goals to be shared another day!

High points of 2018:
Early February - Starting with a literal high, Snowdon (click here to read by post about that). I'd procrastinated this for far too long and it was great to have finally done it. The weather was interesting (snow and ice on the ground) but really great in terms of the sights and experience they offered me. What a way to start the year!

April - Barra, Outer Hebrides. A treat for a significant birthday (but can you guess which one?!) this trip was the fulfilment of a dream I have had since I was a teenager, and it absolutely didn't disappoint. I was only able to scratch the surface of what the Outer Hebrides have to offer, but I will certainly be back to scratch deeper! I haven't even finished writing the blog posts about it yet, but that is not for lack of interest, it is more for concern that I can't do it justice! Parts 1 and 2 are done (click here and here respectively), Part 3 is yet to be completed, but will make an appearance at some point... soon... ish?!)

May - Extended family holiday to Wales. Wife and children, parents, siblings, their families, big cottage, middle of no where in the Brecon Beacons National Park, river in the garden, beautiful weather, whats not to like! Great company, great location, great times. Oh and Wales, which, while I am a proud Englishman, holds a special place in my heart.

June - Another bucket list tick here, a source-to-sea river trip on what has to be one of my favourite rivers (through personal experience) in the UK, the Ystwyth in mid Wales. I've wanted to travel it's whole length for years and this year was THE year. Along with one of my brothers we geared up and set off. We had planned to spend the majority of the journey in the water but between some gear issues and this trip coinciding with one of the driest spells in recent UK meterological history, that didn't quite pan out. But that's fine, because it means we can chalk this one up as a fact finding mission, re-assess equipment requirements and do it all again another time! Yes. Despite the set backs, a good trip! (Read about that trip here

Summer - New Job. This changed a lot of things, most exciting of which personally was the extra time each day I was able to spend with my family. I really enjoyed my old job - I mean, seriously, how many jobs pay you to ride in helicopters and hike round a National Park? - but my new job allowed me to spend more than 2 hours a day extra with my family. That is massive. The new job is exciting too, it is a step forward and up in my career path, earns me a bit more, saves me money on commuting costs etc etc, but the key reason this is a highlight, is the extra family time. (I think I'll be doing an update on my job situation for this blog soon)
July - We stole away for a family micro-adventure. We wanted to take the children to a decent beach and couldn't really think of one (we do live in a land locked county after all) that was close and we wanted to go to, so we just bit the bullet and drove all the way to Angelsey - because we knew there was a beautiful beach there. It was a cracking day out and both parents and children had a good time, even after the canoe capsized, whoops.  

August - 2018 was a year of bucket list ticking! Another one to tick off harks back to Wales again! (Were all of my adventures in 2018 in Wales...? Maybe), This had been on my list probably for as long as, or at least very close to my river walk dreams. Anybody who likes to explore off the beaten track on 4 wheels will likely be familiar with the term 'green lane', and anyone familiar with the term green lane may well have heard of Strata Florida Abbey in mid Wales, or more specifically, the 'road' which runs through the mountains behind it. The woods where this green lane starts were a favourite play ground when visiting my Grandparents in Wales most years and we would often see 4x4's heading up and off into what seemed like the back of beyond. Ever since then I've wanted to drive that route. That obviously required a vehicle which was capable of doing it (don't think my fiesta would have managed back when I first started driving). I've not written about that trip yet, but I intend to. We turned it into a family camping adventure and it was a hit, although by the end of the green lane the children were either bored or asleep. Maybe shorter green lanes if the children are coming along. Anyway, another dream fulfilled. Check. 

October - Finally, more than 2 1/2 years after I first started work on it, I took the whole family up too the Peak District to take a walk along the path which I helped build across Brown Knoll in the Peak District. It was pretty chilly and the whole path was a little too long for the littlest legs among us, but we had a great day out together and the weather as kind - no rain! There children enjoyed looking for fossils and patterns in the flag stones which we had laid out and hearing a few stories about how we laid them. I have some good memories from building that path, despite the cold temperatures and frequently atrocious weather!

December - I stole another quick solo visit to the Peak District with a spare day of holiday before Christmas. My wander round Kinder Scout was much needed to clear my head and give me chance to have some quiet time. I only wrote about that a few weeks backs so won't bore you with details, but you can read about it here if you missed it at the time.  

I've not covered everything. There were other family outings, sunrises and sunsets, fun when visiting family over the summer, but this was a highlights reel, not a comprehensive round up of the year. I'll share some plans and hopes for 2019 in the next few weeks. if your intrigued as to whether I can beat 2018 this year then keep tuned!