As I sit at my desk scrolling through my phone’s camera reel, it’s hard to believe that yet another year of memories and experiences (good and bad) have zoomed by. On reflection, I’d say that 2017 has bought with it the most change in my 25 years of existence – a move to a brand-new city, a change of job, gained friendships, lost relationships and an acceptance and processing of my own anxieties. As with any reality (despite what social media tells us) there’s been low periods – but on the flipside, there’s also been a succession of special moments I’ll cherish for many years to come.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the things that have made this year just that little bit more rewarding.
1. Exploring Bristol’s Food Scene
So, the list kicks off with food – just because. One of the things I was most looking forward to when I first moved to Bristol, was it’s commendable, unique and ever-changing foodie scene. Highlights have included; dining poolside at The Lido, trying Escargot at Box-E, savouring Linguini at Pasta Loco, devouring delicious veggie Sunday Roasts at Yurt Lush and The Cauldron, trying new flavours at Souk Kitchen (multiple times) and tucking into Aussie-style Ceres brunches after stretching at Clem Balfour’s Yoga Brunch Club. Just to note, these are just a few of the places I’ve expanded my waistline for – there’s a lot more on my Instagram feed if you’re interested.
2. Embracing Adventures
At the beginning of the year, I told myself that I wanted to explore more of the UK’s hospitality scene – uncovering special places and sharing them with my online community of travel and food lovers. Eight trips later, and I’ve never been prouder to boast about the brilliant treasures this country has to offer. With breath-taking settings, gorgeous interiors, wonderful food and even lovelier hosts – I’ve been incredibly lucky to experience such luxuries for my blog, and hope to continue discovering more throughout 2018. Some significant places to mention; Watergate Bay Hotel, Mount Pleasant Farm, Backwell House, The Painswick, Tracebridge Sourdough, Dorset House, Hay Barton B&B, The Pear Tree Whitley. If any of the hosts from the above are reading this – thank-you tremendously for your kindness.
3. Making New Friendships Where would I be this year if it weren’t for the special friendships I’ve developed and the people that have nurtured me back. Over the last twelve months I’ve realised the importance of support – the form that doesn’t come from a bimonthly text or an Instagram like. To the ladies (and men) that have made me laugh, encouraged me to cry, inspired me, advised me and surprised me – you are all one of a kind, and I count myself extremely lucky to have each an every one of you in my life. Cheers to more Prosecco, bad dancing and giggles in 2018.
4. Discovering the South of France
This may seem slightly random amongst the list of other notables, but for me it’s certainly worth a mention. In September, I took a trip to the South of France (Cannes, Nice, St Tropez) with two brilliant friends of mine – driving up and down the Cote D’azur with baguettes, books and way too much cheese. Not only did I come back with one of the deepest tans I’ve ever had, but a new love for this stunning part of the world. Memorable memoires included; sipping ice-cold Rose from the beaches of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, eating copious amounts of Pain au Chocolate and fromage from the local shops (daily), exploring the markets in Valbonne, embarrassing myself with my (forgotten) secondary school French, exploring the side streets of Cannes and re-igniting my love for sea swimming. La vie est belle!
5. Learning to Accept My Anxiety
Perhaps not something ‘brilliant’ about 2017, but certainly an important aspect of the last few months, has been coming to terms with my anxiety – a strange, frustrating and challenging mental health issue that snuck up on me towards the end of last year (thanks for that). Without going into the depths of why (to be honest, I still don’t know myself), I wanted to reflect on what I’ve learnt from this newfound addition to my daily life. Firstly, I’ve realised it’s completely ok to not feel ok ALL THE TIME – with the support of family, good friends and colleagues, I’ve been fortunate enough to open up and be honest about my feelings instead of holding them in. Your relationships are there to support you, not ignore you. Secondly, I’m not alone – I’ve met many people this year that have surprised me with their similar troubles and woes. Although it’s not a positive thing that others are struggling, it’s helped me put into perspective the scale of this mental health issue – encouraging me to talk more to others, listen and most importantly give compassion. Lastly, my anxiety isn’t something that’s going to go away overnight – so, rather than running away from it, I’m facing it head on. I’ve learnt to understand the triggers, manage the episodes and attempt to prevent any “bad spells”.
So there we have it, my ode to the year of 2017. A year of learning, laughter, loyalty, explorations and food - and I'm feeling especially grateful for it - 2018, I hope you're just as rewarding!