Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 A Year in Review

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018.

I wanted to start the year off by recapping on what happened in my world during 2017.   It was certainly a very eventful year.

I was determined to make 2017 a good year after the upset 2016 brought me.  I continued with my monthly lists as well as my 30 before 30 and 40 before 40 lists and generally threw caution to the wind in order to make the most of life and grab any opportunity I could.


Considering January is usually a month that many find quiet and depressing after the madness that is December, it was actually a pretty good and busy month for me.
I started the month off in Yorkshire with a beautiful walk at Roseberry Topping.  Back home, we saw a sprinkling of snow here in Essex, although it didn't stick around for very long.  I discovered a new love for Everyman cinemas with two visits within one week to see Live by Night and LaLaLand.  A day out to Maldon walking along the promenade.  Dinner at Bills.  A bloggers event at Homesense, Chelmsford.  An afternoon in London with a friend visiting the Sky Gardens. Getting my reading mojo back and picking up a book after a few months sat on the bedside table.  And a walk around the castle grounds in Colchester.


The shortest month in the year but by no means the quietest.
A day in Southend with a walk along the pier, I can't actually ever recall having done this before.  Getting a new ear piercing, I'd had the itch for a new tattoo or piercing since getting my last tattoo in September 2016, but I was sensible and went for a third piercing in my left ear.  An afternoon was spent exploring Battlesbridge Antique Centre, I was good and didn't buy anything.  And the month saw lots of pretty flowers around the flat and time for crocheting squares for my blanket.


Spring sunshine arrived in all it's glory in March.  I ate lunch in the local park near work for the first time this year.  Enjoyed a day exploring Dedham and Flatford to celebrate my mum's birthday.  I rode the slide on the Arcelor Orbital in Stratford, wow that thing was fast.  March also saw the arrival of Holly into my world, she is such a cutie and a real character, it's hard to imagine life without her now.  The first cream tea of the year as devoured at Paycockes House in Coggeshall and the walking boots were dusted off whilst admiring the spring blooms during a long walk 


The month started off in the best way, a weeks holiday in Tenerife, lots of sun and sea was just what the doctor ordered.  On return back to Blighty a day trip to Duxford finished off with a quick visit to Cambridge to wander round the beautiful colleges.  Celebrating my Nan's 80th Birthday with the most incredible birthday cake.  A walk around a local orchard to admire the pretty blossom.  A few visits to Hanningfield Reservoir, walking amongst the bluebells, truly breath taking.  And receiving my caterpillars in the post ready to watch them grow into butterflies.


A wet start to May but another good one finally meeting the lovely Brook from Red Head Reverie, we have been communicating for years now so to finally chat face to face while she visited London was amazing.  Drives out in the countryside including visits to Grinstead Church and the 2 churches in Willingale, plus the station at Ongar.  Walks along the river in Chelmsford close to where I live.  Cocktails sipped on the rooftop of Selfridges at their Roofdeck Bar & Restaurant.  A walk alone in the rain, I had no idea how liberating that would feel.  Watching my caterpillars grow into butterflies was a great experience and setting them free was so lovely.  A visit to a steam fair in Maldon and going on the rides made me feel like a big kid again    


I decided to take part in The Wildlife Trust's '30 Day's Wild' this month, it encouraged me to walk more and appreciate what is around me.  Picnics were had in the park and bike rides in the countryside were enjoyed.  I travelled alone to Stoke on Trent to visit the Emma Bridgewater Factory, somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time, it was well worth the wait I loved it.  An afternoon in Dedham, hiring a rowing boat.  And a day out with a good friend and her little girl at soft play.


My birthday month and what a month it was.  I had great fun doing a cake smash photo shoot.  Dinner on the Epping and Ongar railway.  Visiting the Harry Potter Studios.  A spa day at Lifehouse spa with Mum.  A posh birthday dinner at Cote in Chelmsford.  Dinner at Bills with the girls from work.  A trip to Blackpool riding on The Big One and standing at the top of the Blackpool Tower.  Camping in the Lake District and exploring the countryside.  A day in London with a good friend eating ice cream from Milk Train and going to Alice Underground.  Arriving at my parents house expecting to be going out for dinner only to discover they had planned a surprise party for me with all my friends and family there.  Honestly the best month in a long time, made me feel so loved and spoilt.


Weather wise a bit of an odd month, it literally went from one extreme to another with a fair few rainy days thrown in for good measure.  The colder days were spent with cosy evenings reading with the candles lit.  Hotter days were spent walking along the riverbanks with the sun beating down.  A visit to my Grandad's bench was enjoyed with my Nan.  A lovely day out visiting Bourne Mill in Colchester.  An evening was spent exploring the corn maze by torch light.  And I booked my flights for America in October.


A really busy month at work so a somewhat quieter month socially but I still managed to squeeze in a fair bit.  I moved back to my childhood home with my parents.  The first Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte was had (and second and third and fourth, I'm sure you get the idea). A second visit to Cambridge, this time a full day to explore the colleges and wander the streets.  An afternoon in Lavenham, Suffolk, such a pretty part of the world and oh so quaint.  Preparations for Autumn began with decorations being brought out and some autumn baking, making and tasting my vey first pumpkin pie which was amazing even if I do say so myself.  An afternoon trip to Layer Marney Tower, gorgeous grounds but a spooky building, not sure I'll be rushing back haha.  And a pit stop at Norpar Barns to check out this year's Halloween barn and selection of pumpkins.


One of my favourite months of the year and a very busy one in 2017.  A visit to the pumpkin patch, a tradition I really love.  Knitting my very first chunky knit blanket using my hands and arms in place of needles.  Trying my hand at clay pigeon shooting, I'm certainly no pro but it was good fun.   Going to the Burnham on Crouch Carnival, something I haven't done for many years.  Playtime and cuddles with my favourite little lady.  Dinner at a friends first home was lovely and of course we made cocktails.  Flying out to America to spend time with my long term blogging  friend Brook was obviously the highlight and one of the greatest experiences.  Going to my first American Football game, experiencing tailgating and spending Halloween trick or treating in Iowa.  After meeting up with Brook face to face for the first time in May, I seriously had no idea then that I would be staying at her place later in the year and spending over a whole week with her, honestly so thankful for this memory.


An incredible start to the month in America, sadly having to say goodbye to the boys, then setting off for a girls trip to Chicago, exploring the city and taking in all the sights.  A tearful goodbye to Brook, but heading back home to the UK in time for Firework Night and going to the local display which was brilliant (I've not been to this display since I was a kid).  After watching some sports in the States I was keen to see what was happening near me and so my first ice hockey game was attended. A literary dinner with Giovanna Fletcher, such a lovely lady and so down to earth (a potential new bestie in the making perhaps).  Bratwurst was enjoyed at a German Christmas market in a neighbouring town.  Christmas light switch ons were witnessed and the festive spirit was well and truly kicked off including a baking session with chocolate gingerbread men.

Attended my second ice hockey game.  Sipped on the most gorgeous clementine hot chocolate from Hotel Chocolat. Wandered the streets of London to take in all the Christmas lights and decorations.  Witnessed the first proper snow we have had here in Essex for the past 6 or so years.  Endless Christmas films were watched including 2 drive in movies and Bad mom's at the Everyman.  Christmas jumpers were embraced.  Garden centre Christmas displays were explored.  Festive afternoon tea followed by cocktails with my work colleagues was devoured.  Dinner out with friends.  A spontaneous trip to Norwich, exploring a new city and admiring all the lights.  Christmas Eve dinner  out with family as sadly we were not all going to be together on Christmas day, and then Christmas day itself, a much quieter one than usual.  A second trip to London this time to see the English National Ballets Nutcracker which was just beautiful.

I think it is safe to say that 2017 was a pretty good year for me, mind you it wasn't hard following on from 2016.  It still had it's downs but the up's thankfully outweighed these this year.  I feel as though I have grown a lot this past year, I have been really selfish and focussed on myself and what I want.  It may sound bad but I know that it is what I have needed to do and I intend to do the very same in 2018.  I know 2018 will have it's struggles but I'm ready for them, so let's see what this year has to offer.

~ Gem x