Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018: A year in review.

And just like that Christmas is over and it's time to look ahead to the next year; cheers to the festive period, and I hope you all had a wonderful break! But before looking ahead to 2019, I always like to reflect on the last 12 months, what I learned, what I did, what I saw, what I achieved. It's all a big learning curve and it's always interesting to look back on years later to see how far you've come and how your life has panned out.

It feels so strange to be sat down writing this post. Usually I feel like the years fly by, but so much has changed since this time last year, that it feels like years have passed and I'm a completely different person. I always love reading these sorts of posts, and I really enjoy writing them too. So get comfy, grab a cup of tea, and let's get stuck in... 

JANUARY

January started as every year does. It was peaceful and calm, and after a busy 2017 I really enjoyed the quiet. I focused on my health and fitness, started running and signed up to the Cardiff Half Marathon, giving myself a good ten months to get to a level where I could complete it comfortably. I actually really loved the quiet weekends in, going for long walks and just easing into 2018, before my 24th birthday approched at the end of the month.

January was also the first month that I started my job as a TV production researcher, and I set up my first shoot in my hometown, which was really nervewracking but sooo fun. The sense of relief when it was completed was insane, and it also meant I got to introduce my colleagues and presenters to the place called home that I love so much.

Turning the big 24 was definitely a highlight. I'm quite lucky that, despite having a January birthday, it's late enough so that people are ready to actually do things again after the festive period. I spent the day getting pampered at a spa with my mum, before some belated celebrations with friends in February. It was actually a pretty nice month; it was chilled, relaxed and with lots of fun things in between providing a perfect balance.


FEBRUARY

Then along came February and my birthday trip to Paris. After some deliberation we decided the French capital would be our destination of choice, and I absolutely fell in love with the city and all it had to offer. Paris is so beautiful. It's a city I had always wanted to visit and I would encourage anyone who hasn't been to book a getaway there if they get the chance.

We mostly spent our time strolling along with no real idea of where we were going, and stumbling across the landmarks on the way. We climbed the Eiffel Tower, visited the Louvre, Notre-Dame and Arc De Triomphe, and ate our way through the city, taking photographs all along the way. It was a really lovely weekend, despite freezing temperatures and a delayed flight home due to snow, and it really made me want to explore and travel more, which I have vowed to do in 2019. I think I underestimated just how easy it is to book a quick European getaway!

The rest of the month was pretty plain sailing. I had my birthday night out with the girls, made heart-shaped pancakes on Pancake Day, enjoyed nights with friends, and looked forward to springtime. I find that the winter seriously drags in February, but it's always nice to see signs of spring as the nights get lighter. 

MARCH

But those signs of spring were short-lived, as in March the Beast from the East hit. Despite the chaos it caused, the snow was truly beautiful. Cardiff looked amazing covered in a white blanket, and it was nice to spend some time copied up inside. Although after day 2 I had cabin fever and by day 4 I was so desperate to get out and about that I would spend most of the day trudging through the snow banks just to get to town and the gym. 

I spent the rest of March gearing up for my first 10km race. I'd been training pretty hard in the gym, pounding on the treadmill at least once a week, trying to get my distance and stamina up. It's pretty amazing what your body can do when you push yourself to the limit, and on the day of the 10km race, I made it around in under an hour, and felt absolutely amazing afterwards. It was the first hurdle to overcome as part of my Half Marathon training, and the fact that I made it around gave me the boost of confidence I needed. 

APRIL

Then came April. I usually love April as the nights get lighter, it's bright and the fresh blooms and blossom trees make even the drearest of streets look pretty. The weather gets warmer, and we finally get over that horrendously long winter period. This April though, was definitely the toughest month of the year for me; it was an emotional rollercoaster and one that I'm really bloody glad I'm at the other end of now. 

The low was that I broke up with someone I'd been with for nearly 6 years and, depsite it being a decision that was a long time coming and definitely the right thing for me, it was still tough. The guilt of being the one to end things was the worst, but I surrounded myself with good friends, and good people, and I am now in a much happier place and know I've made the right choice.  

The high, however, was that after so much hard saving, I finally put an offer on a flat and it got accepted! I remember my mum and I had planned a day out to Bristol, and we were sat in a little cafe when I had the phone call to say my offer had been accepted. I had really enjoyed house hunting through March; I had viewed so many properties and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of searching for somewhere I could call home. This flat was definitely the one. I'd loved it from the instant I'd walked in, and having my offer accepted cemented the fact that things were on the up and I had so much to look forward to. 

MAY

May for me felt like freedom. It was the first time in my adult life that I was thinking completely of myself, and selfishly it felt bloody good. I spent the majority of it planning for the big move, working out and getting my running training underway. I went out with friends, saw family, and just focused on what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. It was kind of weird to get used to, but it proved to me that I can get by on my own and that was super reassuring. 

At the end of the month came one of my favourite weekends of the year, as I headed to Radio 1's Biggest Weekend in Swansea with all of my best friends. We'd waited so long for the weekend to arrive; and when it did it was absolutely amazing! The weather was great, the atmosphere was insane, and I'd absolutely love to relive it if I could.

JUNE

In June I jetted off for a week of sun, sea and sangria with my mum in Majorca. The Spanish isle is one of our favourites; it's got everything you need for a chilled week spent soaking up the rays and generally escaping every day life, and it's the fourth time I've visited. We stayed in C'an Picafort which provided the perfect balance of peace and quiet, with hustle and bustle, and the majority of the week was spent by the pool with a book in one hand and an ice cream/cocktail in the other. We also headed out on a boat trip, visited Palma and managed to squeeze in some sight seeing along the way. 

I'd actually expected to get the keys to my flat in June and with the stress of the house, combined with other goings on in my personal life, I was so glad to get away and escape for a little while. There was so much to-ing and fro-ing between myself, the solicitor and the estate agents that I felt like my head would explode, and a week-long escape in the Spanish sunshine suited me just fine.

The rest of the month was spent enjoying the amazing weather we had back in June. I went to an Ed Sheeran concert with my mum, auntie and uncle, and generally just enjoyed exploring Cardiff at summer time with good company, as previously I'd spent so many weekends heading back home to West Wales.

JULY

The beautiful weather continued into July, and I really fell in love with Cardiff Bay and all it has to offer. From food festivals, to summer shows, long sunset walks and my weekly 10km runs, I knew I had made the right choice to purchase a property down here.

It was also time to start packing up my old flat before the big move, which was supposed to be mid-July and ended up being postponed due to missing paperwork and a lack of communication from my solicitor. While the weather was gorgeous, I remember July being so stressful; I was engulfed with the worry of moving home and/or actually ending up with nowhere to live at the end of it. I ended up having to put all my contents into storage as the completion date didn't come through in time and I had to move out of my rented property, and it was all a bit of a nightmare if I'm honest.

But finally on 31st July, I picked up the keys to my new home and officially became a home owner! It was one of my proudest days, and weirdly the sense of relief that I finally had the keys and that everything was okay overshadowed the excitement of moving in. I felt so bloody tired after picking them up, after days of stress and worry. But finally opening that front door, and standing on the balcony in the late evening sunsine and realising that this place was all mine was so worth it.

AUGUST

August was mostly spent making my flat a home. My mum was amazing, and helped organise deliveries and bits of work that needed doing, while I was away with work. I went from sleeping on a mattress on the floor to having a gorgeous, comfy bed, and from eating on a picnic table and chairs, to having a beautiful new dining set and sofa. Moving into the flat was so exciting. I loved making it my own, and many a Friday night was spent waltzing around IKEA. I can honestly say I wouldn't want to enter the Swedish homeware store for another good few months though...

In the midst of moving craziness I also headed to London for some much needed girl time with my friends. It was such a lovely weekend, and we crammed so much into it, from sightseeing to cocktail drining and eating all the carbs possible. I love London so much, but it also made me realise that I'm so happy and settled living in Cardiff. While I did try my hand at life in the Big Smoke, the smaller, friendlier city of Cardiff is definitely home for me.

SEPTEMBER

I had been so looking forward to September as it was finally time to head on a trip of a lifetime to Canada to visit my dad. It had been on the cards for a year or two, and it felt pretty surreal to be jetting over there after what seemed like months of waiting. I can safely say, those 10 days I spent in Canada were some of my absolute happiest. 

My dad lives and works in Calgary so I don't get to see him that often, and it was really lovely to get to see the city in which he spends most of his time. My auntie and uncle also live there so we got to visit family, I got to see two of my childhood friends who were working there too, and the love for travel I had ignited in Paris was truly fulfilled. I was in my element. 

The highlight for me had to be the roadtrip we took from Calgary, through Banff and Kootenay National Parks, for a little mountain getaway. It was incredible. The photos really don't do it justice, but staying in a chalet in the mountains, breathing in the fresh air, exploring all the beautiful waterfalls and lakes; words really can't describe how amazing it was. 

OCTOBER

Then came October, the month I had been gearing towards since the start of the year and the day of the Half Marathon. I had been training for months, really focusing on upping my distance, and even forgoing nights out and changing my lifestyle in order to put my training first. The gutting thing was, after a 10 mile training run just two weeks before the big day, I pulled tendons in my foot, and I was left barely being able to walk.

I felt so low and was truly gutted as I really thought I'd have to pull out. It was touch and go right up to the day of the race, but thankfully I made it around the 13 mile route in 2 hours and 15 minutes and I fulfilled my goal of running all the way. It was the most amazing feeling, with an electric atmosphere, and finally ticking off a goal I'd had for over two years. I loved it and I'm definitely planning to run again next year. (Needless to say my foot was in agony afterwards and I've only just plucked up the courage to run again!)

NOVEMBER

November, and indeed most of October, was crazy busy with work. In fact, it was a pretty tough month with lots going on at home too, and it was quite challenging personally. But it was a month of learning. I learned that there is more to life than stressing about work, that you should be kind to everyone because you never know what someone could be going through, and most importantly how lucky I am to have good friends, a fabulous family, and a certain someone who makes me pretty bloody happy too. 

DECEMBER

And then came December and the lead up to the festive period. I'm not really a huge Christmas lover. I find Christmas Day quite an awkward, weird sort of day to be honest, but I did enjoy getting into the festive spirit in Cardiff this year. I visited the Christmas markets, went to festive fairs, enjoyed several Christmas parties, and also went to watch "A Christmas Carol" the week before the big day, which was really lovely. 

I went away for the festive period this year, and as I write this I am sat in my chalet in the woods at Center Parcs Longleat Forest, and what a wonderfully relaxing time I've had. It's been lovely to escape the stresses of every day life and to spend time with my family, after what's been a pretty crazy, whirlwind of a year!

So all in all, 2018 can be described as just that: an absolute whirlwind. There have been amazing highs, and tough lows. I've worked hard, and I've enjoyed harder. I've said goodbyes and have welcomed others into my life with open arms, and I can honestly say that this year has been a year of discovering myself. It hasn't been the easiest, but I've come to the other side feeling fiercely independent, knowing my worth, realising that life is short and that I should enjoy every minute, and most importantly, feeling seriously grateful for the people that I am surrounded by. 

Lots of love. xoxo

8 comments:

  1. WOW your year sounds like a rollercoaster, but a really positive one in the end!

    Fingers crossed 2019 is even better for both of us.

    xoxo
    Jess
    The Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

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  2. I loved reading this Jessie - sounds like you've had an incredible year full of accomplishments! Here's hoping 2019 is just as brilliant for you x

    Lucy | www.lucy-cole.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Lucy! I just read your post too and loved it :) have a great 2019! xx

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  3. Wonderful post. So proud to see how much you're achieving, Jess! You are a real inspiration to me and you deserve so much success. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2019. Xx

    EVE - haiaeve.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks so much Eve you truly lovely lady! Have a wonderful New Year :) xx

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  4. Here is hoping that 2019 is even better than the last!

    Danielle xx
    http://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Danielle - and Happy new Year to you too! :) xx

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