Looking out over the AlHambra in Spain 2016 image

 

Wow, it’s been a funny old year. All we hear in the news is how terrible it’s been, which in all fairness, it has, but I think when most of us look back at what’s happened, I’m sure we can say that it’s not been all bad.

As much as I feel I have been quite driven by anger and hurt over worldly issues over the last few months, on a more personal level, I’ve had quite an amazing year. The kind of year I never dreamed I would have. I’ve absolutely loved reading everyone’s round-up posts (and I want to read more so send me your links!) Even though they’ve been from bloggers I have followed all year, seeing everything condensed into one post, well it’s really something. I feel like the year has flown but at the same time I can’t actually get over how much has happened!?!?

So, I’m jumping on the blogging bandwagon and I’m going to take a few moments today to look back at my highlights:

 

Best Travel moments:

I hate choosing these, because I absolutely love them all!! Until I started looking back, I didn’t realise just how much we actually did over the year. We started off with a big trip to the Middle East with Mo’s family, where we spent time in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and then finished off with a spiritual trip to Saudi Arabia – which was absolutely amazing.

 

 

A few weeks later and I headed off for a weekend in Rotterdam with my Fantastic Four, which surprised us all and this city definitely captured our hearts. We originally only went for the Pal Mundo festival but managed to cram in a heck of a lot of sight seeing in the short time we were there and realised that Rotterdam is an exceptionally cool place.

 

 

Following that, I was then up and down the UK for a bit, Cardiff for Traverse, London – had a few trips here this year, Saltburn by the Sea with my wonderful familia, Leeds, Harrogate… list goes on.

 

 

In September, Mo and I decided to tick off micro-adventure on my 2016 to do list, and we flew to Spain, hired a car and spent 10 days exploring the South. It was fantastic and so different to our normal holiday agendas, we planned very little (which was evident when we couldn’t get in to certain attractions!) but we loved having the freedom to take each day as it comes (took a bit of getting used to but it was worth it).

 

 

Copenhagen and Stockholm (for Eurovision weekend!) were the other two city breaks we managed to cram in. Hopefully try and fit in a few more budget weekends next year (Denmark and Sweden aren’t the cheapest of places to visit).

 

 

Looking back I’ve realised I haven’t even finished blogging about half of these trips yet, I’ll have to play catch up and tell share some of my tales in the new year.

 

Best Food experiences:

So even though I travelled more than I thought I had, 2016 was definitely my year of food. I can’t think of anything I like more than trying out new dishes and discovering new flavour combinations and I definitely expanded my palate over the last 12 months.

 

 

Some of my greatest meals have been right here in Manchester, I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to many an opening and sample night and I’m so proud that our Northern city has really pulled out all the stops when it comes to the food scene.

Best food discovery? I know it’s not really a discovery, but considering I don’t have much of  sweet tooth, my love for poffertjes ever since our trip to Rotterdam has been ignited. I literally can’t get enough of those things.

Best food experience? Now that is tough. In April, I was amongst 12 winners to spend an evening at the School of Wok with the Macau tourist board. It was hosted by Jeremy Pang, founder of the school and the legendary Jonathon Phang, and it was such a lovely evening of cooking, eating and general merriment. That same trip I also had the pleasure of having Aldo Zilli join me for breakfast the next day. It was so nice to spend time with these two chefs that I’ve watched on various TV shows and listen to their stories and tales of working in the industry.

 

 

 

Celebrations, challenges and life lessons:

Oh, I’ve had plenty of these. I feel like it’s been an absolute emotional rollercoaster; from Brexit, to Trump, to war zones and the refugee crisis. It’s been a tough old year. I learnt that I’m not as organised as I thought I was and that sometimes you just need to take time to chill out.

Award ceremonies, weddings, launch nights, brief TV appearances, lots of dinners with friends, family… plenty of merriment! And it was a year where Mo and I found ourselves surrounded by people who were going through some seriously tough personal times. It made our friendships and love for each other tighter and made Mo and I grateful for having such wonderfully strong friends.

 

 

You know the best thing to come out of 2016? Amidst all the chaos, the drama, the headlines, the reviews and trips… I think this is actually the year I discovered who I am. For the first time in forever (I think that’s a Disney song line but I’ll roll with it) I feel like I know EXACTLY what I want to get out of my life. And what’s even more fantastic is for the first time in forever I think my Mo does too.

And none of that would have been at all possible without my family, my friends but I’m afraid most importantly… my BLOG!!!!

So, massive thanks to the world wide tinterweb for giving me a space to say what I want to say, to offload all my stories, learn lots of new and exciting computer skills.

Hope you all have a fantastic last day of 2016, and can’t wait to get cracking with the New Year 🙂

 

** Still time to send me over any ‘this time next year’ resolutions if anyone was still thinking of joining in! **

 

How’s 2016 treated you? Anyone sad to see it end? 

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halfway through 2016 update on upcoming trips

 

Wow is it really July? Already?!?! These last six months have flown past, I haven’t even had time to fully catch up with everything. The paperwork piles get higher, blog post draft lists are building up and not to mention all the half finished craft projects I just can’t seem to find time to sit down with.

There have been some good positive times and some bad ones. So I thought rather than look back and reflect on everything thats happened, why not look ahead at some of the super exciting things I’ve got coming up: (maybe you’ll want to join in?)

 

Tatton Park Foodies Festival

For the last few years this Food festival has always fallen during the fasting month of Ramadan. But not this year! As one of the official foodies festival bloggers, I’ve been reading up about what’s involved over the last week and it’s going to be a goodie.

Just some of the things I’m looking forward to seeing:

Street Food Avenue

An array of international flavours are being served on Street Food Avenue. Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, Argentinian, Turkish, Indian, Korean, Mexican, French and African are just some of the cuisines on offer. One thing you won’t do is go home hungry. There’s a special focus on Brazilian street food this year to celebrate the Olympic host’s cuisine, including traditional Brazilian BBQ, it’ll be good to reminisce about being back in Rio.

Artisan Producers Market

There are a number of Great Taste Award winners setting up stalls with plenty to shop and sample from, each being hailed as a producer of ‘Exquisite, Outstanding and Simply Delicious’ food and drink. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet artisan producers from the local area and across the country, learn their story and stock up on award winning produce.

New Vintage Tea Room and Cake, Bake & Tasting Theatre

A beautifully decorated new Vintage Tea Room offers visitors Afternoon Tea with a selection of cakes, scones with clotted cream and jam, and finger sandwiches served on china from a tea trolley by vintage styled tea ladies and gentlemen. YES!

Baking extraordinaire Charlotte White, master chocolatier Fiona Sciolti and top local cake-makers will be working their magic on the Cake & Bake stage, inspiring us all to reach for our whisks and spatulas and create show-stopping cakes and delicious summer bakes. There’s even going to be a Chocolate, Cake and Bake Village!?!

 

 

Into the Jungle

Take a trip into the depths of the jungle this summer with a trip to the Vietnamese Street Food stand, where those with a taste for the exotic can indulge in insects, including grasshoppers, caterpillars, mealworms, beetles, scorpions, locusts and ants. Yup you read it right.

For those brave enough, there’s a daily Bush Tucker Trial on the Challenge Stage, where you can compete against other people by eating jungle insects, the contestant eating the biggest and the most will be crowned champion.

Childrens Cookery School

The Olympic theme continues into the Childrens Cookery School, where little foodies can decorate their very own gold medal with coloured icing, glitter and edible ribbon.  Pizza and cupcake making classes also allow kids to explore their taste buds and learn basic cookery skills to practice at home. I wonder if they’ll let us big kids have a go…

Chilli-Eating Challenge

The famous Chilli-Eating Challenge is also coming back, a popular spectacle. Inviting spice lovers to beat an eye-watering 16 million scoville record set by Shahina Waseem last year. Participants start at the low end of the chilli spectrum by eating bell peppers, but things quickly get a lot hotter with Habanero, Scotch and Carolina Reaper (world’s hottest chilli) chillies being added to the menu. Those still standing are then inflicted to pure chilli extract, increasing in strength, until a winner is crowned. I’ll go and watch but I seriously doubt I could stomach taking part!

Live Music and Pop-Up Bars

As it’s set in Tatton Park,  theres plenty of space for a picnic on the grass to soak in the atmosphere with live music from award-winning local bands at the Unsigned Music Awards Stage.

Sounds good right? (Tickets are still available here if you fancy it!)

If you haven’t got your tickets yet, keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for the chance to enter to WIN 2 TICKETS for the day of your choice…

 

 

Road Trip

Mo and I decided this year we wanted to embark on a Microadventure. I can’t take the credit for this one, Mo came up with a perfect route and we’re looking at finalising our itinerary any time now. I’m not going to say where yet, I’m not going to say when… but we’ve been thinking and planning  this for some time and I can’t wait for us to get on the road!

 

road trip coming soon

 

FriendsFest

If you saw my piece last week on the emotions I feel when fasting, you’ll have maybe picked up on the fact that I am, like many others, a massive Friends fan. I could watch them all day, every day and have done for years and years. My sister and I can laugh out loud at the jokes, even before they’ve said them, they just don’t get old. SO when I heard that FriendsFest was coming up North at Harewood House in Leeds (after selling out in minutes last time it was in London) I jumped at the chance of getting tickets.

Who wouldn’t want to hang out in Monica’s apartment and sing smelly cat karaoke?!?! IT’S GOING TO BE EPIC!!!

 

 

Big Cat Photography Experience

Two of our dearest friends surprised me with the most PERFECT gift for my 30th. Not only was I not expecting a gift of any kind, but not one this perfectly suited to me. It involves photography and big cats – two of my greatest loves! With my calendar being pretty jam packed (and the wait list for this thing is huuuuuge) I have finally booked a place at Woburn Safari Park to fine tune my photography skills.

It’s been, well, maybe eight years since the last time I was behind a lens with a lion on the other side so I am definitely counting down the days… (Thank you again S & D and mini Z)

 

 

& the list goes on…

There’s anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, lots of beautiful new babies to visit and we’ve still got our annual-bi-annual friends weekend to look forward to! Needless to say I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of all this excitement. Today will be a day of rest at home, to organise and get ready for the chaos that is likely to descend starting this week. First up my darling sisters birthday & Eid – when I’ll be launching a fab giveaway!

 

So I’m pushing back all that negativity post-Brexit (although that sh*t still burns) and I’m going to concentrate on bringing back some joy into everyday living. Let the good times roll!

 

Have you got any exciting plans coming up soon? Share them in the comments below, and let’s all get excited for one another! 

 

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I know what you’re thinking.

Don’t worry, I am fully aware that we are one and a half months into 2016 and that the ‘New Year’ has passed us by.

The Guardian reckons that by now, 66% of people have already given up on their resolutions, with the number much higher for those of you based out in the US.

It’s for that reason, instead of writing a list of ‘resolutions’, I’ve always preferred to choose a platform I am much more familiar with and create a year-long ‘to-do list.’

It’s never too late in the day to make one either. Just set a date, write a list and *poof* all sorted. I’ve kept these sorts of lists ever since my 21st birthday, so I thought I’d share a few tips on how I make it work:

Write it down

It may sound like I’m stating the obvious but this is a pretty crucial point. Once you’ve got a list sorted, physically write it down on a piece of paper and ideally pin it up where you can see it every day.

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Share it with friends and family

I love sharing my list with the people I love. You’ll find that people will see things on there that interest them too and want to help or join in. Knowing other people are wanting to get involved is a great motivational tool.

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Be realistic

Being realistic does not mean playing it safe. It simply means if you want to stick on your list a trip to Antarctica which will cost you in excess of £2,000, but you know you would need to save for years to get that much money is not realistic (it’s not impossible mind!).

Challenge yourself

Following on from being realistic, don’t be too easy on yourself either. Giving yourself a year, means you can set yourself some serious challenges.

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Make it personal

I always include a number of personal achievement goals, ones that will mean nothing to others but will help me feel like I’m bettering myself.

Enjoy! 🙂

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If you need some inspiration…

As usual there were some great blog posts released at the start of January with lots of inspiring ideas:

Conde Nast Traveler: 8 New Years Travel Resolutions

This list is more like a list of mantras rather than things to do, but it’s a good piece to get you motivated.

The Travel Hack: New Years Resolutions

A great collection of personal goals from the travel hack team.

Rough Guides: 10 New Years Resolutions to make in 2016

I LOVED this one, a few of these definitely made it onto mine.

 

And for those of you who are curious to see what I’ve got mapped out here’s mine:

My year long 2016 to-do list

1. Digital detox day
2. Learn a new skill
3. Finish photography course
4. Launch new business
5. Become fit and healthy
6. Hit 30 park runs
7. Clock in 50 hours volunteer work
8. Discover a new place in the UK
9. Watch a spectacular sunrise
10. Microadventure
11. New postcard buddy
12. Produce a new art piece
13. Blackpool
14. See something new every month #12trips
15. Family trip
16. Girls day out
17. Become more environmentally responsible
18. Stay somewhere unusual
19. Create a video
20. Create a buzzfeed article
21. Watch a movie outdoors
22. Raise money for a charitable cause
23. Go on at least one Wainwright walk
24. Achieve my blog goals
25. Cook/bake at least one new thing every month
26. Say happy birthday to every single one of my friends
27. Write an article for print
28. Have a professional manicure
29. Go to an event abroad
30. Smile and give thanks everyday

 

Are you still keeping up with your New Year’s Resolutions? Any tips on how you make sure to keep them? Feel free to share your own lists in the comments to help inspire others!

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