A couple of days after Christmas, when the presents had been opened, prosecco doused with Edinburgh Gin and the turkey and all it’s leftovers consumed, Chris and I went to Edinburgh. We had run out of time to go to the market as we usually do each year before the 25th, when arguably it is best appreciated. The mulled wine feels seasonal, skating seems necessary and spending a small fortune in Santa Land is totally appropriate. Yet after Christmas the vibe is completely different, almost as if the city itself was contemplating the year, people moved slower, appearing happy and contented rather than jolly and jostling. We didn’t skate, I had a hot toddy rather than a mulled wine and we wandered for pizza, arancini and the best seasoned fries at Civerinos just off the Royal Mile. After the pace of Christmas, it was a little place for reflection, for goals, for ideas, for chats about 2017. We cosied up with Starbucks red cups on the tram back to the car and I had a rather lovely nap as we went back up the M90.
Reflecting on the year seems harder this time around, 2016 marred with political drama, celebrity deaths, terrible news stories and sad moments. I must admit it was hard to remember the good from the bad but feel it is important to do so, lest I let my year melt into everyone else’ determination that it was awful and no good and that 2017 better be bloody brilliant. After some contemplation, after the fireworks and wine and cocktails of New Year, of finally taking down the Christmas decorations and returning to bedsheets which aren’t festive, it feels right to take a chance to reflect and remember, before setting some goals for the next 11 and a bit months.
I began the year with the best intentions to try Veganuary and while I just couldn’t stick to it (I’m blaming lots of leftover roast beef after an epic New Year’s Day dinner), I did discover that cooking without meat was fun and exciting, my shopping bills dramatically decreasing too. Since then, I’ve cut down my meat and dairy consumption to just a couple of times a week, becoming a fan of vegan one pot dishes like black bean chilli and lentil curry which I freeze in individual portions and relish in Sainsbury’s brilliant coconut cheese (the feta is the best of the lot). While my boyfriend may look on in fear at my #avotoast in comparison to his cooked breakfast, I’m enjoying the healthy changes I’ve set out for myself. Luckily my vegan bestie is always ready to show me the amazing things vegetables and tofu can be transformed into, and i also enjoyed 2016 eating my way through vegan chocolate mousse, nachos with vegan queso, warm salads, mince pies and a massive cake her mum made for us. 2017 isn’t the year I turn vegan or vegetarian for that matter, but I plan to continue eating a balanced, happy diet and perhaps encourage my boyfriend to eat some broccoli.
While I am still working on my ambitions to be a #fitgirl considering I still wobble in yoga poses, struggle after a pilates workout and my running abilities fluctuate with the seasons, I did achieve a major fitness goal on Valentine’s Day. My synchronized skating team went to our first competition, a bag of nerves in black and royal blue outfits with no expectations of medals and only hopes of not falling. But we smashed our routine, gaining confidence as the seconds ticked by and skated our way into third place. We were all shocked, but standing on the ice with bronze around our necks was a surreal feeling. This year I just want to improve and keep myself motivated, starting with a 30 day yoga challenge I’m currently two weeks into. I hope when the days get longer I can start running again and perhaps aim for a 5k. It’s a cliche, but exercise does make you happy – why else would i get up at 5am on a Saturday to skate?
I don’t tend to talk about work here too often, but I was proud to tell some amazing stories over the course of the past 12 months and caught myself by surprise at how I managed to tackle some challenging roles. I volunteered to act as a broadcast journalist one evening and managed to conduct interviews on camera. With my new DSLR camera I was able to tell stories in a much more visual way, cheering myself on with pictures of cocktails, bakes and skaters. My biggest challenge was baking all 12 technical challenges from The Great British Bake Off, set to the same time as the bakers and using the same methods laid out for the contestants. It was tough, I’m fairly certain I just lay down on the carpet one afternoon yelling I didn’t want to do it anymore, but I pushed through and got to learn some cool new baking techniques as a result. I also got to work on a new project outside of work, developing recipes for an amazing brand. I hope 2017 brings even more opportunities my way, I’m at my happiest dreaming up new cake and biscuit ideas.
It’s almost a cliche to say you want to travel more when January 1 rolls around, but I really did step outwith my comfort zone in 2016. In May I travelled alone to Spain to meet my family where my parents had embarked on a sort of mini gap year, meeting them in Malaga as we travelled into the mountains for a few days a short distance from Nerja. I rode a horse for the first time in about 15 years along a steep rocky track and while my heart was in my mouth for most of the ride, it was one of the best experiences of my life. We ate gorgeous tapas, drank strawberry gin and I filmed my first travel video during our stay.
In July, Chris and I travelled to Rome for a week of pasta, wine and sightseeing. I’d made it my mission to learn at least a few phrases in Italian and can’t recommend the Coffee Break podcasts highly enough. I was able to order drinks, ask for menus and the bill and tried to not look so bloody touristy. I wrote three posts about our trip and cut a second travel video together of our holiday to look back on. We were barely home when we went to the Edinburgh Fringe to see Louis C.K as Chris’ birthday present and enjoyed fat steaks at Chop House, a pirate-themed comedy singing duo and an awkward experience of accidentally sitting too near the front row whilst slightly tipsy at a stand up show. We rounded of our year of travel with a trip to London to watch Book of Mormon, take in the sights, eat some epic and instagrammable brunches and sip mulled wine as a Frank Sinatra tribute act sang at Winter Wonderland. I really hope we can take more short trips in 2017 and finally make to to New York – it’s been on my wishlist for years. I’d also add Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Stockholm and another sneaky trip to Paris on my 2017 must-visit list too.
I guess my final highlights of the past year have been simply just spending more time with the people I love and cherish most. After buying our first car together, I was able to just hop in and head home whenever I wanted and as a result, made more wonderful memories with my friends. Hungover heads going for coffee in the picturesque surroundings of Pillars organic cafe, cuddles with my friend’s dogs, aforementioned vegan feasts and plenty of cocktails all made possible by a little car that has served us well. One of my oldest friends had her hen party in Glasgow and it was so nice for our little group of four to be reunited for cocktail making, dancing and karaoke. Although technically a nice thing that happened this year rather than last, I got to see her walk down the aisle to marry her best friend and was slightly taken aback by how emotional it all was. I guess we’re all growing but I hope we never grow apart, because that would be criminal. Were still the same four girls who loved watermelon Bacardi Breezers and ate Doritos and dip, gossiping into the night as teenagers.
Making time to see family has been much easier and I’ve spent many a Saturday afternoon pootling down the A90 to see my parents, along to Speyside to see my grandparents or even just a few miles down the road for a visit to C’s family. We’ve enjoyed takeaways and birthday cakes, glasses of prosecco and coffees and even went to witness tractor pulling for one of the most bizarre Father’s Days I can remember. I saw family from Australia and went for an amazing afternoon tea for my Mammy’s birthday. There were dinners, cocktail dates and a great gig in Aberdeen,
As for C and I, apart from our travels, we also enjoyed many a date night to the cinema, twisting Chris’ arm to let me see Me Before You then returning the favour by falling asleep during Rogue One. We enjoyed beers with friends, Sunday afternoon naps on the sofa, ice creams at the park, petting the local pups at all the dog cafes in town and generally just enjoying what comes our way. We’ve some exciting plans lined up for 2017 already and I can’t wait for them to begin.
So what else is on the cards for the next few months? I’ve drawn up a few goals, mostly encased in bits and pieces of this post, but largely they focus on improving and learning with this blog, feeling fitter, stronger and healthier, travelling more, taking on some new challenges and reading a few more books, burning more candles and taking the time to switch off properly. I’m hoping this year will be a good one, my fingers are crossed.