For me, life is all about little moments.
I’m not one of those people who thinks happiness is a destination – it’s a moment, a day, a feeling. One of my favourite things about blogging is the ability to capture those moments and turn back to them during times when life isn’t quite so much fun.
2014 was a pretty good year.
My resolution for 2014 was to get a better work/life balance and I made a decent stab at it – we’ve had a proper break at Christmas as well as taking a month off for summer. The one sure and certain truth of my job is that the longer I sit at my desk, the more work I’ll find to do. This year, I really made an effort to walk away from the computer and take time to visit friends, or just hang out and watch TV box sets.
That has meant treating myself better, too. In May, I started swimming three times a week, which I think has made me more relaxed, as well as working wonders on my fitness. Losing more than three stones in weight has been a pretty good bonus (let’s not talk about the half stone I’ve gained since injuring my leg a few weeks ago, and being advised to take a few weeks off. Although to be fair, the 5,000 festive mince pies might also be a factor, here…)
Anyway, for 2015, my resolution is to make more time for my friends.
I know I’m guilty sometimes of prioritising work over my social life. I’m guilty of investing too much time and energy in people and relationships that don’t really make me happy. My hope for 2015 is that by letting some of those relationships go, I can devote more time to the people and things that DO make me happy.
Of course, top of that list comes Flea. This year my girl turned nine, and I’m loving seeing the steps she’s taking towards independence. And we are the most fantastically, ridiculously fortunate pair, really – our year has just been packed with fun experiences. As is traditional, I’ve pulled together some of my favourite little moments from the past year:
It was Spring. It was sunset. We were barefoot on the beach. Throwing stones. And everything felt … perfect.
We’d taken a trip to Grizedale. We got hopelessly lost. But while we were trying to find our way home we had a few adventures. Including an hour on the most amazing playground. Sometimes the best adventures aren’t the ones you plan.
Nobody was more surprised than me than when First Choice invited us to review a bunch of holidays, kicking off with a trip to Mauritius. I remember snapping this photo just after we’d arrived, following a 12 hour flight. I looked at it and thought, “If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was Photoshopped.” It was the most amazing week, and all the better because we met Alison Chino and her incredibly smart, funny and Lego-obsessed son Simon.
Yep. That’s us. Parasailing. After 5 seconds of terror, it’s wonderful. And the views? A-ma-zing.
This photo was taken on an incredibly hot Sunday afternoon just after Easter, after our first session practising for the flash mob that we organised at the MAD Blog Awards. Everyone had danced their socks off, and I remember thinking, “Bloody hell. I think this might actually work!”
In blogging, things come and go. But these three ladies have been some of the best friends I could hope for. I hope they all have an amazing 2015, because they’re all properly Good People and deserve it. Although Ruth might shoot me if I make her play Pictionary again…
I confess, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect when First Choice invited us to Ibiza in July but we had a complete blast. The weather was glorious, the island laid back and much more glamorous than I expected. But for Flea, things didn’t get any better than this – high wires with a view of the beach.
Our month in California kicked off with a rafting trip on the Russian River, north of San Francisco. The sun was beating down, the water was refreshing and we spent the most amazing day paddling down river, stopping off to swim whenever it got too hot. It really was a perfect day.
My little surfer dude. I think a year ago, Flea would have been too nervous to paddle far from shore and then fall off a surf board 20 times before managing to ride her first wave – but this summer, she ADORED it. I had such a lot of fun watching from the shore.
Highway One. Scariest. Road. Ever. But memorable. Very, very memorable.
Our last day of summer vacation was spent in the Lake District with Flea’s cousins. As you can see, they had a great day of being incredibly violent to one another. Actually, this was Flea’s birthday present – a game called Mashinga that involves hitting one another with foam sticks. Best. Fun. Ever.
In late September, I nabbed some great tickets to see Ed Sheeran live at the NEC. It truly was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. How one little guy with a guitar can captivate an entire stadium really is quite something.
October half term and a really lovely day out with Flea and my niece at Chill Factor-e. This photo makes me laugh because I was getting impatient trying to get Flea to pose and finally growled, “Can you just TRY and look pretty?” I deserved the face she gave me, frankly.
November saw me realise one of my life ambitions – appearing on the Today programme on Radio 4 – I took Flea along with me for the experience, thinking she’d find it interesting. She spent the entire time watching old episodes of Castle on my iPad. The magic of radio is clearly lost on her.
December saw more travel – this time to Tanzania. This photo reminds me that even in the most beautiful of places, life can be hard. One in nine children in Tanzania don’t make it to their fifth birthday, which is a truly shocking statistic, isn’t it?
This year saw us kick off what I hope will be an annual tradition – a Mum and Daughter weekend in London to kick off Christmas. We stayed in a hotel, saw a show, explored Covent Garden market, and ate in some gorgeous restaurants. It was so lovely to spend time together and I find as Flea’s bigger, she has the stamina to keep going and really pack a lot into a trip like this.
And Christmas. We had a lovely Christmas. There was family and friends, great food, lots of fun presents, movies, special days out and we wrapped up with a long country walk on a frosty, sunny day. Perfect.
So that’s it. Another year done. Another year of memorable moments, and thankfully one with more reasons to smile than to shed a tear.
Here’s hoping your 2014 was filled with the same – and we wish you a peaceful and fun-filled 2015.