A note to begin: It doesn’t matter if it hasn’t been your best year yet. Not every year is going to be; it’s pretty much impossible to have a constant upwards trajectory.
For me, 2018 has been a difficult year – since moving away from Canada and back to the UK at the end of 2017, the frustrating nature of visas in order to get my boyfriend here too and the financial toll that takes, it’s been a bit of a stagnant one. Minimal travel (on my own terms, I hasten to add – I’ve still been much more fortunate than most) and a lot of waiting and organising, all while in fairly unsatisfying day jobs has been the majority of the year and, honestly, a bummer.
But the last few months have thankfully seen some change and progress: the boyfriend got his visa approved and we’re now living in the UK with our cats we adopted while we lived in Canada (the stress of flying cats across the Atlantic is a whole other blog post!), the day job is looking up and we’re in a position where we can look forward to a more travel-focused 2019. Yay.
Before I go through my 2018: I’m not the most consistent blogger, but I’ve taken the biggest break yet from everything to do with it: no posts on here, no Instagram, no Facebook, basically no connection to the travel blogging world (the only exception was reading a select few favourite blogs every now and again) since September. That’s due to a few reasons and I won’t bore you with the details, but it was definitely necessary and now I’m in a much better place to get back into blogging in a way that feeds me rather than stresses me out.
Ok, now that’s out of the way, this is what happened in 2018.
Visited Quebec City (March)
With the boyfriend still living in Canada at this point, I would go back to visit as frequently as I could (so it goes with long distance!) but we’d always try to explore somewhere new: in March we decided to do a few days in Quebec City. It was cold and snowy, but really beautiful and I loved the cobblestone streets of the walled city and the little places we discovered further out (give me a cat-themed brewery and I’m eternally yours).
Welcomed my niece Amaia into the world (April)
Part of the reason I moved back to the UK was because of my sister and her growing family – I already have a nephew, Finn, who’s nearly 3 now, and in April (on Earth Day!) little Amaia was born, too. Even as the youngest in my family with a complete lack of experience with (or even much enthusiasm for) kids in general, it’s been so lovely to be based closely to watch them grow and see their personalities develop.
Went to Copenhagen (twice) and Stockholm for work (May)
During my stint working at Tourism Queensland (I’m no longer there and now work for Rough Guides) I had the opportunity to travel to Copenhagen and Stockholm – two cities (and the countries of which!) I’ve never visited before. As it tends to go with work travel, I didn’t get to see much of either place, but I managed what added up to a full day walking around Copenhagen, and I really loved it.
Music festivals and gigs (May and June)
It was a decent year for some music – first of all I went to All Points East in Victoria Park in May where I saw Glass Animals, Phoenix, LCD Soundsystem and more. In June I saw Flight of the Conchords and Foo Fighters in the same week – two very different but awesome gigs.
Visited family in Prague (August)
For those not in the know: I’m half Czech (on my mum’s side) and in August we hauled almost the whole family over to Prague to visit our Czech family – with new babies and partners we hadn’t met before, it was about time. We also took the opportunity to get into motion our Czech passports; with all the chaos of Brexit, we wanted to make sure we solidified our Czech citizenship so we’re still members of the European Union. Otherwise, we drank plenty of Czech beer in the sun and did a bit of sightseeing – definitely a mistake in the incredibly humid weather.
Friend dates and weekends
Another reason coming back to the UK has been nice: friends! It’s been great to be able to spend more time with my closest friends from the UK, with brunch dates and nights out and more. With one of my groups of friends from uni, we’re finally all living in the UK again – albeit pretty spread out – so we make sure we visit each other in our various bases every other month. This year, we did Norwich, Manchester and London (where I’m the host, naturally). It was my first time to Manchester and it made me realise how nice and important it is to see more of my own country.
Visited Toronto for the last time (for a while) (August)
I wasn’t sure whether this visit to Toronto in August would be my last for a while (it was around the time we were expecting a visa decision) so I acted as though it was… and of course, it was. It was a bitter-sweet visit, spending time with friends I wasn’t sure when I’d see next and filling my time with very Toronto/Ontario things but knowing how much there still was to do. We returned to my favourite brewery (Bellwoods Brewery) and visited the distillery of my favourite gin (Dillon’s) along with a new little hike outside the city and a couple of other new haunts within it.
Moved into a new flat with the boyfriend (September)
Sure enough, a week after I got back from Canada, we got the confirmation that Alan’s visa application was approved, so we got started on the move – one of my jobs being to secure a flat. Aside from a few hiccups, it went well and I got the keys for our new place in East Dulwich, South London in mid-late September. I’m close to my sister and her family, and not much further from my parents and brother as well. We flew our cats we adopted in Canada over, too, which was incredibly stressful but they were little troopers. And Alan got a job within a few weeks of moving here, so it was all go-go-go and extremely overwhelming for a while.
From September onwards, it was all about just getting the flat properly set up and Alan settled in. Although he missed summer, it feels like a good time for him to have arrived as it means we had the rest of the year to focus on that, and we can start 2019 afresh and looking forward rather than still setting up.
And speaking of 2019, it looks like it’s going to be a good one and much better than the uncertainty and frustration of 2018 (I hope, anyway!). But that’s for another post. ;)
Happy New Year!!