It’s December 30 and that means it’s time to emerge from under this mountain of cheese and mince pie wrappers to pull together my annual highlight reel.
I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to think that this was a TERRIBLE year. Brexit, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Theresa May… ugh.
But just looking back at photos reminds me that life’s more than headlines and politics. It’s the moments and memories and adventures.
And this kid. Come on, just LOOK at this kid and tell me life’s not packed with miracles and reasons to be cheerful?
We kicked off the year with Flea deciding to become vegetarian – quite the bold choice for a child who doesn’t like 90% of vegetables.
12 months and a LOT of macaroni cheese later, the vegetarian in our family appears to have survived. Who knew? Also – Linda McCartney sausages and Quorn lasagne are the perfect option for a picky vegetarian on a busy weekday evening.
February was the month that Flea chose to dye her hair pink during a break from school.
It may not have ENTIRELY washed out before the second half of term, which led to a few interesting comments at parents’ evening a few weeks later.
I love that Flea’s starting to get her own ideas about style – although I’m less thrilled now she can wear my shoes.
On several occasions this year, I’ve seen my new shoes on her feet before I’ve even had a chance to wear them. I can’t decide whether I’m miffed or just flattered that I’m obviously SO cool.
In March we headed off to Portugal where I was attending a conference about female entrepreneurs at the Martinhal Resort.
It was a fabulous trip.
The location was beautiful but perhaps more than that, I was really inspired. Listening to women talk about growing their businesses, and overcoming challenges was really positive. I came home inspired to make some changes to my own business.
2017 was all about not being afraid to stop doing things that were no longer fun, and freeing up the mental space to try new challenges and ideas.
By April I was starting to get thoroughly depressed by the Northern gloom and rain. Do you ever get where you would just give ANYTHING for some sunshine?
Usually, I’d suck it up but this year I decided credit cards were invented for a reason. During the April half-term we headed off to Riviera Maya in Mexico, and a luxury all-inclusive resort.
Our trips usually incorporate lots of adventure but this was purely R&R. We had lazy afternoons at the spa, spent long mornings reading by the pool, and feasted on far too many tacos. It was perfect.
In May, Flea was selected to play for the county hockey team, after being selected for her school and regional team earlier in the year.
Playing for Lancashire was a huge boost for Flea. For many years at her previous school, she was labelled as “not sporty”. The old school had some amazing hockey players and Flea wasn’t even allowed to attend the after-school hockey club.
It was only moving to a new school with a more inclusive ethos that changed things. With some faith and coaching, she’s come a long way. Being a part of the team helped hugely with her confidence, and making friends.
If May was a month of sport, June was the month of exams. This year, Flea took end of year exams for the first time in her school career.
I spent a lot of time telling Flea all anybody expected was for her to try her best. Even so, she was crippled by exam stress.
Flea spent all of half-term revising, then blew her exams through a combination of nerves and poor preparation. It was a really tough lesson to learn, and almost as hard for me to watch as it was for Flea to experience.
Our summer trip is always a highlight of the year. Generally I try and take a month away from the office and we’ll head off on an adventure.
This year, we spent the first couple of weeks of our trip driving down the California coast from Monterey to San Diego. We then made the trip inland to see the Grand Canyon. The night we arrived at Grand Canyon Village the sun was just setting over the rocks, and I was honestly lost for words. It’s SO beautiful and I’m so happy we made the trip.
We rounded off our summer adventure with another bucket list destination. Flea has always wanted to see Hawaii, so we flew from LA to O’ahu, and spent a week at the amazing Moana Surfrider hotel in Waikiki.
September was a return to work and school. For the past few years, we’ve worked from an office just a five minute drive from my house.
Frustratingly, though, we couldn’t get high speed Internet and so we made the decision to move to a new co-working space that’s about 12 miles from home. I’m honestly not loving the new commute, but I hope that it will become more of a routine in 2018. Or we find a new office closer to home!
Flea, meanwhile, moved into Year 8 at school and is really finding her feet. She’s now playing for three hockey teams and it feels like my weekends are dominated by matches, training sessions and tournaments.
October saw us on the move again, this time to Orlando in Florida. This was the first time I’ve been abroad with my parents since Flea was a baby. Taking a multi-generational trip to Orlando was a lot of fun. For all the challenges, it’s wonderful to see Flea spending quality time with her grandparents and making those special memories.
November will forever now been known as the Month I Bought Bella and Edward’s wedding candlesticks.
The story is – honestly – ridiculous, but now that our movie prop candlesticks have arrived, I plan to use them as often as possible. See how pretty they look?
As Christmas approached, we considered taking our annual pre-Christmas trip. This year, though, we scaled back our plans. This was partly because I spent all my money on candlesticks (see above) and the fallout from a car crash.
More importantly though, I spent a lot of December bed-ridden with a nasty virus that morphed into a sinus, ear and chest infection. I was dizzy and thick-headed, which meant I couldn’t drive, or do much in the way of work.
We spent a pre-Christmas shopping weekend in a gorgeous Air BnB apartment in Harrogate. The town was beyond gorgeous. The next day, we drove to York and wandered around the Christmas markets.
It was really pretty but honestly, I was so ill that we didn’t do half of what we’d usually get up to. I was too exhausted to go out to dinner, or to walk very far. Even so, we had a lot of fun, and it was nice to spend that time together.
During the final 10 days of the year, we’ve done basically NOTHING. I’ve disconnected from work and social media. I de-activated my Facebook. I haven’t checked my voicemail or responded to text messages.
I’ve basically been the worst social media professional ever. But sometimes I think it’s important to connect with the real world, and actually – the virtual world doesn’t even notice you’re not around.
For all the downsides, social media is pretty good at reminding us of the good moments in even the toughest of years. I hope your 2017 holds some happy memories too, and thanks for reading and sharing our journey with us.
Happy New Year!