Whewwwwww, what a year it’s been! I remember when I was a kid my mum would always say how fast the year had flown by, and I thought it was because she was old and silly… Yet, here I now am, turning 29 this week and wondering where the hell 2018 went? It’s been mostly positive, with a few disappointments and some raging about my knee but I’ve been so busy, and had so much going on, that I’ve barely had time to stop and breathe. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though!
Without further ado, here are a few of my highlights from each month!
It’s always good to start how you mean to go on, and for me that was working with Berghaus from the get go, on their First Foot campaign. The ‘first foot’ tradition goes back centuries throughout Scotland and northern Britain. Originally, it was claimed that a tall, dark haired stranger entering your house (I didn’t get one of these, where you at?!) after the first stroke of midnight on January 1st (usually armed with coal, a coin, bread, salt, and a drink of some description) would bring you and your household luck for the year ahead. This year, Berghaus decided to add an adventurous twist to this and perhaps start a new tradition in the process! Instead of giving the title to the first person entering your home, they decided that we should make our first-foot the person/people we first GetOutside with. It was a great start to 2018 and a tradition I’ll be taking in to the new year!
Also, in January, I headed to Blackpool, created a loop walk on one of my favourite parts of the South West Coast Path, between Tyneham and Lulworth and, at the end of the month, after having been kept on as an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion, I headed in to the New Forest to meet my fellow champs! Some new, some returning!
Lots of outdoor fun and adventure chat!
February saw me instructing on a Team Rubicon induction for the first time. TRUK is an organisation I’ve volunteered with for a year or so now, and they do fantastic work, so to be able to give back on a few training weekends this year was fantastic.
I just need to find the time to go and help on some more – A resolution for 2019!
And then it snowed in Eastleigh…
The rest of February was spent doing research on the 12th Devonshire Regiment at the regimental museum, ahead of my Sword Beach to The Seine bike ride for D Day 75!
March started with a very exciting email asking me to take part in the filming of a new Columbia advert in the South Downs National Park, which of course I said yes to! They ended up only using a short segment of our mountain biking, focusing more on their trail running and hiking kit, understandably, but you can spot me in the video – here – for a few seconds!
Later in March, I headed to the Brecon Beacons after work one Friday, sleeping in my car and heading up to the summit of Pen Y Fan for first light. The wind picked up and the snow started just as I came back down off the hills, having been blown off my feet, and I headed home, after a brief morning adventure – Just as well, as I was soon unable to head out in my car for a few days – the snow had well and truly returned!
Unfortunately, I buggered my knee on Pen Y Fan again (ongoing injury from 2016) and so I had to take the rest of March and April very slow in terms of outdoor fun! Lots of cycling and not much more!
I worked at the Banff Mountain Film Festival again and got all inspired to do some crazy things, but being injured meant I had to do so in my head. I visited Twickers again for Bath v Leicester in “The Clash” So much cider, merriment and Wurzel-singing!
I also started a new job at the start of the month, my current job, Digital Marketing Exec for a race yacht charter firm. Now, at the end of the year I’ve taken on a lot more and am back doing lots of logistics and things, too, which is always what I loved the most in my old company!
In April I also worked with Ellis Brigham, one of my favourite outdoor shops and headed to the coast for a wild camp at Winspit, a spot on the SW Coast Path that I’ve adored since I did my Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award Exped there!
At the end of April, I was privileged to be able to take a friend from the US Naval Academy on a tour of the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth, which was thankfully very much enjoyed (I didn’t bore him with Nelson chat!)
Into May already? See what I mean about time flying by…? We were blessed with gorgeous sunshine at the start of the month, meaning plenty of trips to the coast for walks and rides. Even a little swim (though it was definitely still too cold for that one. Rookie error!). After the first bank holiday was over, I flew out to join my mum and brother to help with a leg of a yacht delivery from Gibraltar. They were delayed by a storm and so I also got to spend a day on “the rock” taking in the naval history!
2 days after getting back from the sailing trip, I saw The Rolling Stones in Southampton and it was as incredible as I thought it would! I am still a bit overwhelmed thinking about it now…
June started with the National Trust Top of The Gorge Festival, in Cheddar, which was superb. It was a great weekend, nice and sunny, and filled with cider and adventure chat. We hosted a GetOutside Champions Q&A and the wonderful Eli of To Outdoors and Beyond taught me to floss, so there was that! I had also just taken delivery of my brand new tent – The MSR Elixir 2, which I absolutely adore!
We were then hit with the start of the “heatwave”, and whilst the rest of the world laughed at us for complaining so much, I spent most of my evenings after work down on the beach at Lepe, swimming, cycling and reading! My uncle came over from Germany as well, and it was a lovely month filled with outdoor fun and awful tan lines.
I started July by making it into Cosmopolitan Magazine – I know, you’re thinking it will be something cool and outdoorsy, but no. I was asked on Twitter about my worst ever first date, and lo and behold it made it into Cosmo, albeit incorrectly. What actually happened was that I’d been to a sailing event, and 1 hour in I was told that his sister and her boyfriend were there somewhere too, and taking photos of us for his family WhatsApp group (she didn’t ask, I was just told and it was all sneaky beaky). I spent the entire day on edge and wondering how I could get away as quick as possible, but also wanting to watch the sailing, of course…
Also in July, I spent a weekend on the Gower Peninsula in Wales with Visit Swansea Bay and took along my friend Seanna. We went out on jet skis, walked, had some lovely meals and visited a castle. It’s a beautiful part of the world, and one I can recommend to anyone!
Yep, we’re 8 months in already. In August I went to a fantastic beer festival held onboard HMS Warrior – complete with pirates, dinosaurs, shanties and chaos. I then met one of my favourite Hornblower actors, Lt Bush aka Paul McGann. It was an exciting day, naturally… On a continuing naval theme, I also mapped out and walked Nelson’s Final Walk on dry land, in Old Portsmouth.
Later that month, still mid heatwave (which clearly seemed as though it would never end!), I was fortunate enough to work with The Royal British Legion and Ancestry UK on a campaign to discover more about my WWI Ancestors, as part of the #ThankYou100 Campaign. I found out so much and even discovered relatives I didn’t know I had – info here!
August also saw the annual Palermo – Monte Carlo Race, and so I flew out for work to organise final prep and victualling for one of our teams taking part. Palermo was a beautiful city, the boat was incredible, and I even got a day to be a tourist (the perks of everything being closed on a Sunday, eh?!)
Yes, I did let out an Al Pacino style silent scream here at the opera house… I had to.
I think that was about it for August, Mark Hamill did like one of my tweets though, that was pretty exciting…
September was a pretty packed month… Work was hectic with the Mediterranean season well and truly in full swing, I was having lots of physio on my knee and then, as a spur of the moment whim, I decided to finally apply to do a Masters in history (focusing on the naval side of things, naturally) and so off my application went to Exeter, as I knew it was good for my subject… I didn’t think they would accept me, partly as I hadn’t taken history as an undergrad and partly as I got my 2:1 through sheer luck and a good dissertation. It turned out my worries were entirely misplaced as I was quite literally accepted the next day.
September also saw #GetOutside Day happening, and OS were trying to get 1,000,000 people in to the great British outdoors. I chose to take myself off on a sunrise bike ride in the New Forest, taking in my favourite forest spot, Buckler’s Hard.
In October I started my MA at Exeter and I am already in love with the uni, the course and my dissertation topic, which I’m a solid way in to already, research wise. It’s a long way to drive, but it’s only once a week, so it’s not so bad and is entirely worth it.
Of course the most important thing to happen in October was Trafalgar Day, yep of course that makes the cut of highlights… I went off on my usual pilgrimage to a nautical site, this time HMS Victory, and then a wander through Old Portsmouth.
I also attended The 1805 Club’s Trafalgar Dinner at HMS Nelson, with much singing, drinking and chocolate ships…
October also gave me another MRI scan and a knee diagnosis, finally, and it’s already feeling better now I know what to do to (try and) fix it! The Matterhorn has been postponed to 2020, so whilst I won’t be climbing before I’m 30, it will still be in my 30th year!
November was a lot of work, walking, university essay deadlines, bike rides and remembrance parades.
I was also selected to judge a short story competition for The Trafalgar Way, alongside Dan Snow, Peter Hore, Megan Rix, Adam Preston and Kathy Brown.
University deadlines continuing, I got out on as many walks and bike rides as possible amidst Christmas shopping.
I also headed to London for the judging of The Trafalgar Way competition, where we spent a morning, heads together, in The Admiralty Boardroom. A beautiful room, steeped in history!
In December I was voted Go Outdoors Outdoor Blogger of the Year, which was an incredible surprise. I still can’t quite believe it, so for those reading this who voted for me, thank you so much!
For Christmas, I headed beyond the wall to Scotland for Christmas with my dad and brother. We spent time in St Andrews, we walked the coast path between Anstruther and Crail and generally had a great catch up after 2 years.
I then flew to Somerset for a second Christmas, on Boxing Day, with my mum and stepdad. Which brings us up to date! It’s my birthday on Sunday and then New Years Eve, where I will be kissing a bottle of champagne or port under the mistletoe, as has become the norm.
I couldn’t fit everything into this post, as I’m sure you can imagine. Well, I could have, but it would have been incredibly long… There are hundreds of walks, bike rides, swims, camps, climbs and runs that didn’t make it in (most of which are on my instagram) and plenty of non outdoorsy things, too, but these are the things that have meant the most to me this year!
What’s been your biggest achievement of the year?