2019 review: my top 10 experiences

I really can’t believe it’s the last day of 2019. Back in January, I really hoped that I could fill the year with lots of experiences and I certainly seem to have done that. Here are my 10 favourite memories from this year (not in any particular order) and I hope sharing these may encourage you think what 10 things you’d like to do in 2020.

1. Went on a Scottish road trip

Earlier this year, I travelled from the south of England up to Scotland and spent a week cramming as much as possible into my time. Amongst other things, I stumbled across the most aptly named café in Glasgow, reached John O’Groats (the most northerly inhabited part of mainland UK), played the bagpipes, drove through the Highlands, went on a whale watching trip and took a cable car up a mountain….. what a week!

2. Discovered the Eurostar and Eurotunnel

Having never travelled on either before 2019, I’ve made four trips across the English Channel with day trips to Paris, Brussels and Le Touquet as well as a two day trip to EuroDisney. I live in the south-east of England which makes mainland Europe within easy reach. A day trip to Amsterdam is next on my list but I was watching a programme yesterday where a couple spent just over £40 each to go from London to Düsseldorf by coach and I thought that sounded fun!

3. Joined the police for a night shift

This was genuinely one of the most interesting nights of my life. Many police forces in the UK offer this when you can join the officers for a Friday or Saturday night shift and see the reality of the job. There was no just sitting in the police car waiting to be updated about what they have seen on the various jobs. I was there with my observer jacket going to people’s homes, pubs and other places and being right in the midst of the action. Can’t recommend this highly enough.

4. Had lunch at the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth

The reason this features in my top 10 is that it was completely spontaneous. Being a carer, I benefit hugely from respite and making the most of the time and freedom to do my own thing. I woke up that morning, saw it was a very hot day, knew I could have time away from home and thought I’d head down to Portsmouth to do some shopping. As I was driving, I remembered about the Spinnaker Tower and thought I’d head up to the observation deck. But when I got there, I found out there’s a café (quite a posh little café!) and, although they were almost full, they were happy to fit in one extra person. In fact, I didn’t do any shopping that day and lunch was extremely reasonable so it turned out to be a very cheap day out.

5. Did an off road driving experience

I knew that I was going to miss my daughter heading off to Edinburgh University in September so I booked this experience so that I would have something to look forward to. I absolutely love driving but spending an hour negotiating challenging terrain really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I loved it.

6. Went to the Chelsea Flower Show

It’s a bit posh, isn’t it! Having watched the BBC broadcast from the show every year, I thought it was high time I explored it for myself and it was a great experience. The gardens are far smaller than they appear on TV but there’s lots to explore as well as lots of gin and champagne bars. The ultra posh restaurant served me food I hadn’t even heard of. Would I go again? No, probably not. My first visit had the wow factor but I think it’s a one-off for me.

7. Finally attended Shocktober Fest

I finally made it to Europe’s biggest shock festival for Halloween despite it being just a 10 minute drive from my home in Sussex. It was the most incredible experience with hundreds of people dressed up as zombies and other characters, and 10 visitor attractions such as walking through the cottage when people with chainsaws jump out in front of you. As well as an incredible number of street food venues, this is the most amazing night out and I’m definitely taking hubby next year

8. Walked through the tunnel at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium and met the cast of Fame

Back in the spring, I headed up to Liverpool for a few days. Having always supported Liverpool F.C., going on a tour around Anfield was a real treat, especially walking through the tunnel and checking out areas usually open to just the players and staff. And then, in the city centre, I met the cast of 1980s TV programme Fame where I had dinner with the cast, attended a party and saw a charity fundraiser concert from the front row of the arena. Doris, Danny, Bruno……and so many more….what a fabulous opportunity.

9. Saw a film at London’s Backyard Cinema

In November, I went to the most spectacular cinema where I had to make way through a cottage and a fiery ball pit even before I sat down on a huge bean bag chair in a marquee to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary. I cannot only recommend it enough if you’re after an immersive experience.

10. Enjoyed London’s Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf is my favourite part of London with underground shopping malls and glitzy skyscrapers filling the business area of London. Back in January, it hosted a spectacular arts festival which was completely free and, despite it being freezing cold, there was so much to explore all over the area. But it’s also a great place in the summer when you can sit outside eating breakfast next to you the water. Another place to take hubby.

And now it’s time to look ahead to 2020. What I’ve now learnt to do is that when I write a list of things I’d love to receive for my birthday or Christmas, I include entrance tickets to various places or gift vouchers for travel companies which makes my exploits cheaper. In a few days time, I will share with you 3 things I already have planned.

I sincerely wish that 2020 is a good year for you all. And even if you have circumstances that can make things challenging, I hope you get the opportunity to carve out some fantastic memories on the brighter days

xx

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