I’m sure you’ve seen a great many blogs summing up 2015 or looking ahead to 2016 so I’ll try and keep mine short(ish) and interesting(ish). 2015 was an incredible year and in many ways, a bit of a rollercoaster!
Last February saw us visit Loch Lomond and then the stunning Isle of Skye.
It was one of the best trips I’ve ever done and I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year now. We’re going to head back at the first available opportunity.
In April we were lucky enough to head to Prague, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would definitely go back; if only for the goulash and black beer!
Work Highlights (and more travel!)
There’s nothing better for me than when work and travel collide and that’s what happened in May/June of 2015 when we packed up the car and headed off to France & Belgium to film a coach-load of people.
Although WWI has never interested me historically as much as WWII, by working with my partner and being immersed in the First World War in order to make documentaries means I’ve absorbed quite a bit. Although it sounds cliché, being on the Somme and visiting the many cemeteries and sites of historical importance was a moving experience.
There’s something about row upon row of identical gravestones, lined up along quiet, rural farmland that shifts your perspective. This was our first time visiting the WWI sites and our first cemetery was Ovillers, where at around 8am in the morning, the mist had just lifted and the morning was quiet and still – we were the only two people around.
I also got to see and learn about things I’d not given much thought to, prior to the trip. Things like how the graves are taken care of:
The cemeteries are immaculate and it’s down to guys like these above who do an amazing job of cutting grass, killing weeds, planting flowers, cleaning graves, re-engraving graves and even taking them out and replacing them entirely when they look tired.
It always sounds inappropriate to me to say it was a ‘brilliant’ experience, but it was and one I would definitely repeat… maybe even this year.
The C Word
No not that! Cancer. Someone I consider one of my closest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, at the ripe old age of 30. Although she never tired of hearing how young she was to have this awful disease, I can’t imagine the conflicting emotions she must have been going through when she heard The C Word.
I’m not usually one to share my own personal stories, let alone someone else’s, but as Lisa has openly shared her experience, I asked her permission to share it with you too and she kindly agreed.
When I first read Lisa’s post on Facebook that she had cancer, my heart sank, I felt sick and most of all I thought about what a shit friend I’d been. We met at uni after picking pretty much picked identical modules and for 3 years were inseparable. She moved away and as time has a habit of doing, we drifted. We stayed in touch, commented on each other’s Facebook posts now and again but hadn’t seen each other in almost 10 years.
When I read the post, I got in touch, we started a dialogue again and I followed her journey navigating that bitch of an illness we call Cancer. It sounds trite and patronising to call someone brave but it is honestly the first word that comes to mind when I think of Lisa and how she handled her treatment. Each step was followed with a blog post, filled with positivity, honesty and the dark humour that I remember so well. Lose your hair? F*ck it, buy some funky wigs and wish your new year’s resolution hadn’t been to wear more hats. Honestly, I’ve laughed more than I’ve cried at her blog/posts and that is an incredible achievement when you consider the subject matter.
I whole-heartedly recommend her blog, Bowled a Googly where she’s documented her treatment:
And where she’ll continue to document her recovery and adventures on the other side of The C Word.
We have plans to meet up again this year and I can’t wait because I know we will pick up where we left off all those years ago.
You might remember back in August, we got Fitbits. I/we wanted an incentive to do more and even though I was sceptical about whether I’d actually chase numbers, I bought us Fitbits. I’m surprised at the difference it’s made. It’s been 5 months now and I am SO much more active than I was. Regularly we’re doing brisk, 4 mile walks, including this morning, in the damp and cold. So far, there have been no excuses and after 5 months I’m a little more confident in saying this is not a fad, we have made a significant change in our lives and I’m very happy about it.
When the weather is good, we’ve done bike rides too, the biggest of these was an epic 27 mile ride around Kielder Park.
As you might notice from the first two pictures, I fell off… 7 miles before the end. After a small cry and some self pity, I got back on and wobbled my way to the finish. No way was I cycling 20 miles and giving up 7 from the end! I’m really pleased we finished it as it felt like a massive achievement when it was done and the bruises healed… eventually.
2015 was a fantastic year on the whole. For 2016 I’ve decided to try one new thing each month (t’other half is roped in as well) so we’re thinking of stuff we’ve not done before and as we do each one, I’ll document it and blog about it. We have some ideas floating around at the minute, everything from skydiving to home brew! If you have any ideas for us then let me know as we’re going to finalise the list later this month.
Looking forward to sharing our 2016 adventures with you.