I’ve seen people moaning on Twitter about what a long month this is, and I have to agree. Feel like I’ve done LOADS. And the 1st January feels like a lawwnnng time ago.
The month / year / decade didn’t start well. It was a boozey NYE and without going into details, the first of January was a difficult mental hangover to get over. Not enjoyable.
But it was only 10 days – think I passed it working hard in prep for two weeks away, and with Ben’s birthday celebrations – until I went on my first trip of 2020, to Bulgaria.
My January 2020 travels
All my travel was sponsored this month.
Week skiing in Bansko
One my favourite bloggers Dan, from Dan Flying Solo, and I jetted off to Bulgaria for a week’s skiing in Bansko.
Only, I didn’t ‘jet off’ because I didn’t get to the airport on time, and I missed my flight. I should’ve been there 1 hour and 40 minutes before, but thanks to the train cancellations, I was five minutes too late for bag drop. And despite my pleading, easyJet were not letting me on.
And so began 16 hours at Gatwick Airport waiting for the next flight outta there, at 5:50am.
Finally, 30 hours after leaving my house, I arrived at the Diana Ross Chalet in Bansko, shattered, but hyper for the hols. I’ll be writing all about my week with Snomads next week, but in short, it was A LOT of fun. Dan and I had a great time with our fellow chalet guests, Jon and Flossie. The Snomads team were great and I’d totally recommend a week in Bansko for anyone wanting some great value ski in their lives.
Happy to say it lived up to the hype.
Night in Bournemouth
Just before I went to Bansko, I went to Bournemouth. This was a sponsored trip and the work I did is caught up in the approval process, so I’m not really sure what I’m allowed to say. They’re very tight on approvals and I’m contractually bound, so, let’s wait and see when it’s given the all clear to come out shall we?
Week in the Kansai region of Japan
My week in Japan was amazing. I seriously love this country and already want to go back. I’ve already written a few posts about the trip, thanks to my long flights, so you’ll see them on the blog next week.
View this post on Instagram
I need to accept Harry Potter et al back in my life. I’ve denied them for too long. ?♂️ Today I went to Universal Studios Osaka, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was AMAZING. At the entrance our guide surprised us with Hogwarts robes and omg I was SO excited. I’m Gryffindor – I already knew that, and I took an online test once to confirm. Even though the Slytherin ones he had would fit me better.. I just couldn’t. We had magic wands, we had butter beer, I had chocolate frogs at Honeydukes sweet shop and went on the Forbidden Journey ride. Lunch was a medieval feast at the Three Broomsticks. Honestly, it was incredible. ?♀️ I read HP when it first came out. I loved the first three books, and then the films arrived and ruined it. Hermeown was now Hermione, Harry was now really annoying, and Ron was just a terrible actor. My Harry Potter world in my head was ruined. I’ve never forgiven them for that. But, maybe it’s time. I’ve only read as far as the Goblet of Fire, and I even own them all. My excitement today showed me I need to let myself get back into the wizarding world of Harry potter as it was originally made, for the pages of a book, and an open mind. ? [AD] #universalstudiososaka #universalosaka #usj #gryffindor #wizardingworldofharrypotter #harrypotter #universal #osaka #harrypotterrobes #universalstudiososaka #osaka #osakatravel #osaka?? #loveosaka #gryffindorpride
If you’re thinking about going to Japan though, just do it. The food, the culture, the amount of things to do – it’s an awesome country.
I stayed in a temple, dressed up at Harry Potter world, fought like a samurai(ish) and explored more of Osaka. I also ate a curry shaped like a Japanese pyramid, because, Japan.
Plans for 202o
As the month of year resolutions, I made a few.
One of the things I’d been thinking about at the start of the year was the concept of being in control of your life, rather than letting it control you. Of having a plan. And then Michelle Williams said this in her awards speech this month…
“I’ve tried my very best to live a life of my own making, and not just a series of events that happened to me. But one that I could stand back and look at and recognize my handwriting all over. Sometimes messy and scrawling, sometimes careful and precise. But one that I had carved with my own hand.”
Which, is exactly what I want to feel when I look back on any period of my life. In some cases though, I don’t.
I feel like over the years I’ve just seen what’s happened, and gone with the flow. Which has been fine. It’s absolutely worked on some levels, and some, not so much.
I say yes to things that come along, I wait to see what comes in rather than seeking what I want myself, and I want to be more proactive in shaping my year. Both in travel, and in life.
This year I’ve already been more organised, assertive and strict in moulding my 2020 to work more for me, rather than just letting it happen. Mainly thanks to the following goals.
– Trust my instincts
– Say no if it doesn’t fit my plans (even if it’s an awesome opportunity)
– Have a healthier work / life balance
– Cut down on social media
– Enjoy my other interests
I’m more than travel
It’s safe to say I’m obsessed with travel. I have so many lists and ideas of places I want to go, so many I’ll never achieve them, unless I leave everything else in my life behind.
I used to be into so many things, but for the last few years my life has revolved around travel. It’s all anyone asks me about too – Where next? Where’s your favourite? Where shall I go?
Travel is a huge part of my identity. But there’s more to me than that. I want to try new things, and spend more time being creative and enjoying hobbies, rather than in airports and on buses.
I had some really good chats with Dan in Bansko. It means a lot to have all that time with someone who really understands, and can see where I’m coming from. Many of our D&Ms revolved around us both saying ‘me tooooo!’.
So, this year, the plan is to not travel abroad quite as much. This is going to free up a lot of time.
Books I read in January
The main New Year’s resolution, and the one that really shouldn’t be too hard to keep, is to read more. All that time spent scrolling on my phone will now be spent actually enriching my mind, with books.
Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life, Katherine Ormerod
Ooo this was a good one. Verrry disturbing. The main reason I loved this book was that I can now spout social media facts in all those ‘we hate social media’ conversations people love to have in the few minutes they’re looking up from their phones.
Honestly though, social media is 100% ruining our lives. Ormerod looks at the effects on mental health, physical health, politics, community and relationships, and her findings are not good. Social media is screwing us all, and we’re letting it.
This book confirmed the many reasons why I’m taking a step back from social media this year. Fun that I decided to spend less time on social media and then read a book all about it, hey?
Very insightful, 5/5.
From £3.99 on Amazon if you wanna check the reviews.
Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney
God this book was tedious. Millennial drivel about destroying a marriage. I don’t know where I’d got the recommendation to read this, but they’d said it was the best book they’d read all year. Nuh uh.
I got through it all, but only because I had so much time on public transport this year. That’s a few hours of my life I’ll never get back.
Indulgent, pointless, pathetic and uninspiring – description of every character there.
It did get me thinking though, if this book can win awards, maybe I need to give writing a book a go…
Rubbish book, 1/5.
From £6 on Amazon if you wanna check the reviews.
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, Catherine Gray
So after the aforementioned boozey NYE, and a night of cheap drinking in Bansko, I decided that enough was enough. The mental hangover I was enduring from nights of drinking was just too much. The paranoia, the self loathing and the anxiety were too much to deal with.
I found this book.
It was exactly what I needed and I read half of it in one sitting – on the way back from Bansko.
Gray is sober. After boozey teenage years, and then a job in magazines that meant free parties, and then using alcohol to cope with boring / overwhelming networking, she took the whole party drinking thing too far.
Errrm, soul sister?
She goes through some of the awful things she’s done drunk, and the depths she reached before she realised that yes, she, was an alcoholic.
As well as being biographical she gives all kinds of help and resources to help you in your quest to either not drink, or cut down. It’s a lonnnnng book, so she has all bases covered. Including the big reason for not being able to cut down on drinking, and one I fear, your friends and the social pressure in this country to drink.
Such a good book that has totally inspired me for life – I’m currently 14 Days Sober.
I give it 4/5 (bit long and repetitive towards the end).
From £3 on Amazon if you wanna check the reviews.
Plans for February
I don’t actually have any travel plans for Feb, which after the hectic last few weeks, feels joyful. I do have a few day trips in England.
– Can’t wait to see my friend’s new baby next week.
– My parents are house sitting in Brighton, so I’ll go and see them.
– I’m off to the Portsmouth Games Festival this weekend. Think, board games, computer games and VR. And then I think we’re going to a friend’s’ laser quest party in the evening. Yes, I’m in my 30s.
And that’s it in the calendar!
Basically I want to spend the month catching up on work, sorting the damp problem in my lounge (and redecorating, woo!), and enjoying my life in Southsea.
Going to be a good month!