I went to 12 different countries in 2017. It was brilliant. I took video, I’ve not really done anything with it though, soooo, I thought, montage!

I wanted to look back on an incredible year, and think about what I’ve learned along the way.

“This is basically the script I wrote for the video above but what didn’t make it in, thanks to timings I’ve put in italicised quotes like this. The best thing to do is probably just to watch, and then skim through for these quotes after. If you like!”

Watch the Video!


It started with my school friends, at a house party in Sheffield. We talked about our wishes for the year for most of them, it was to have a baby, which they’ve all happily done, but for me, it was to buy a house.

I just didn’t know where.

But first, Vietnam

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I started the year as I’d lived the last two, as a digital nomad, travelling and working as I went.

I met a great bunch of people and cycled from Hanoi down to Ho Chi Minh City with Intrepid Travel, before flying over to the little island of Phu Quoc. I had a great time.

Despite this, I knew that my enjoyment of travelling solo was coming to an end.

During my week in Phu Quoc I really would’ve loved someone to travel with.

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How to See the Grand Mosque

I came back via Abu Dhabi and had a few hours to explore the incredible Grand Mosque, the most famous building in the country.

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Week holiday in Barbados

My next trip was to Barbados, and one of the best collaborations I’d done. I worked with Skyscanner to show off the best of the island, and with free reign to do what I wanted I loved driving round in my moke. Dving a wreck was cool, so was the catamaran party.

The end of that trip was a milestone for me. Not only a huge point in my career, being paid to do what I wanted on Barbados, but also the end of 2 years and 9 months of living out of my suitcase.

I was definitely ready.

After an overnight flight I was desperate to sleep but with no bedding, not even a duvet, I had to go shopping.

“I spent the next month seeing friends, going to the gym, catching up on work and just revelling in the fact I didn’t have to go anywhere, and I had a room to myself after all the hostel stays. Some friends thought I was nuts – why come back to England when I could live anywhere in the world. While others thought I was mad to stay away for so long.”

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Loving life in Lisbon

Helen from HeleninWonderlust came to Lisbon with me.

Gawd it was a boozey weekend.

Helen is literally the most hardcore person I know and by day 3 I’d lost my phone and couldn’t even work out a simple train schedule to get to Sintra. It was a lot of fun though. Buuut, what happened in Lisbon stays in Lisbon, so let’s move on.

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I went to Amsterdam to the VidCon conference and was treated like a famous YouTuber with private dinners in the Rijksmuseum, boat rides on the canals and even a fancy dinner courtesy of Calvin Klein.

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Durdle's Door England

But one of my aims for coming back to England was to see more of my homeland, so my friend Chloe and I travelled the south coast courtesy of Vauxhall Mokka and explored Dorset and Devon over the Easter Holiday.

In 2017 I had a few UK mini breaks – from Bristol, to Brighton, to Pennyhill Spa in Surrey, and the Manor Western in Oxford.

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May was all about the girlie holiday though. Jayne from Girl Tweets World and I went to Antigua, thanks to Elite Island Resorts. We had fun up at the Shirley Heights sunset party, on the lake doing Aqua Fit and just generally having a lovely time exploring the island and eating and drinking in the sun.

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Food in Greece

A few weeks later we went to Greece – I loved this trip. We went island hopping between Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos with Olympic Holidays. We rented a car on each island and I loved the freedom we had to explore the beaches.

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“And then festival season started – Eroica Britannia cycling festival in Derbyshire, the Isle of Wight Festival, Gin Festival, Atlas Travel Festival, Henley Festival, MS Dockville Festival in Hamburg, the Culinary Mile Festival in Saas Fee Switzerland, the awesome Victorious Festival in Southsea and an incredible week at Glastonbury Festival. Gawd I was ruined by the end but I had a brilliant time.”

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Reasons to Visit Knysna

In among festival season I had a last minute trip to Knysna Oyster Festival in South Africa. It only enforced the fact that I really need to get back to South Africa and spend some serious time exploring independently. It’s a beautiful country.

Weirdly though, this trip was when I reached a point that I was in the same position as the year before. I wanted something to change.

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I started looking around at houses to buy.

“I loved Southsea and knew I’d be happy to buy here, so just put the feelers out as they say.
The house I bought was only the second one I looked at. The process of buying the house turned me into a nervous wreck, but I did it. I’d achieved the goal I‘d set myself at the start of the year.

It was tough. I panicked. I was doing it alone, as a self employed person on an unpredictable salary. I got scared and started to look at stable jobs, just to get me through the first few months. I had callbacks but I just couldn’t face not being able to work on my blogs, and giving my creativity and passion to someone else. It was a good wobble. It made me appreciate the job I have, the benefits and autonomy. It made me more determined than ever to make it work.

And so I had a new vigour for work thanks to a touch of schadenfruede, a new interest in travel thanks to being on the bench for a while and a new excitement for creating a home, thanks to handing over my entire life savings to buy this place.”

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What is Papua New Guinea Like?

And a day later I flew off to one of the most exciting places I’ve ever visited – Papua New Guinea. I learnt about the different beliefs of a few of the villages, I saw the beautiful landscapes and I fell in love with scuba diving again, at the Walindi Resort. From what I could see, there’s no reason why Papua New Guinea is so overlooked by travellers.

I came back and moved in to my home.

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Malawi Safari Elephants

After weeks of working on the house and trying to run my business at the same time I set off for Malawi. A dream trip that excelled anything I had in mind. The trouble is, its’ totally whet my appetite to see more of the country, and of Africa in general.

I came home, put the Christmas deckies up, went to the Portsmouth Freelancer Christmas Party, invited some friends round for Christmas Lunch and quickly caught up, before jetting off to my first European Christmas Market experience in Basel, Switzerland.

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Christmas 2017 was the first year I’ve ever spent Christmas away from England, and my family home. Luckily they came with me to Tenerife. The traditions of years gone by were gone but we had a brilliant time doing something different.

If I look back on 2017 I’ll remember it as one of the fastest of my life – how has it been a year since I cycled Vietnam?

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“Internet dating all summer was hard, starting again in a new place where I didn’t know anyone was difficult, and moving on from a life of constant travel took some getting used to. I had money stresses, job insecurity and had to get used to living on my own for the first time ever.”

This year I’ve learnt the importance of focusing on your own path though and how destructive and pointless self doubt and comparison can be, in every aspect of life. Seeing how people live in Papua New Guinea and Malawi reminded me just how hard life can be for others in this world. I can’t moan.

Victorious Festival Review

The failed promises made – losing weight, getting healthy, better working practices, blah blah, blah, pale into absolute insignificance when I think about what an incredible year it’s been and the opportunities I’ve had.

For 2018 I am promising myself to help others more and to practice a little more self care and life appreciation in every way. Also, to remind myself that all it takes is the right attitude to know that the grass will always be greenest for me, because I watered it myself.

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Countries visited in 2017

1. Vietnam

2. Barbados

3. Lisbon

4. Amsterdam

5. Antigua

6. Greece

7. Knysna

8. Hamburg

9. Switzerland

10. Papua New Guinea

11. Malawi

12. Tenerife

 

Thanks for joining me,
and I hope 2017 was a great one for you too

xx

2018: Time to Be Kinder to Yourself
My Incredible Malawi Safari in Liwonde National Park