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2019: Behind the highlight reel

Ah, the last week of the year. All you see splashed over your Instagram is 'my best bits of 2019'... or 'the best places I visited this year' (guilty as charged!). It's actually quite nice to have a bit of positivity and I am a nosy sod so I do enjoy seeing people's summaries... to an extent. I have generally had a more happy year than some other recent years, so at the moment I can enjoy these posts. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside seeing the fantastic places people have travelled to, or the new babies or marriages of the year.

However, I haven't always felt happy and settled at this time of year. I don't talk about everything online despite how detailed my Instagram stories are some days, and I generally keep it to myself when I am feeling negative or sad. However I really wanted to write a balanced end-of-year summary. Imagine if everyone talked about exactly how their year went? I have memories of feeling very low and taking other people's Instagram and Facebook posts as evidence that they were happy and I was not. Oh how miserable I have been at times aimlessly scrolling and comparing. 

Now I know that we should view people's social media feeds as the highlights reel they are, and nobody shows their worst bits, but anyone reading this who has had some low points in their life will really know what I mean when I say that it can sometimes be very hard to appreciate other people's achievements. I don't want this to come across as a gloomy post as I've genuinely had a pretty good year in 2019! However if you asked me that question at the end of the year three years or even possibly two years ago you'd have had a very different answer and I will never forget how that felt. Without further ado, here is my real summary of 2019: behind the highlight reel.

January: trying to get over Singapore

As you know if you've read my blog before I spent most of 2018 living in Singapore. We came back in September so by the time it got to January I was still very much trying to find my feet back in the UK and work out if I was going to stay for a while or move abroad again. It was a mixed up time and I had some very low points in January. I think it is a difficult month at times if you love Christmas as much as I do, and I felt a little unsettled at this point. We carried on house-hunting after finding nothing before Christmas... little did we know it would take nearly 9 months to move into one we liked!

February: Copenhagen and Seaham Hall

February was a lovely month. We had a relaxing overnight stay and spa at Seaham Hall for Valentine's weekend which you can read about here. I really recommend it for a spa break, or I'd suggest going for one of their twilight evenings if you're short on time or want to spend a little less. The food is amazing and I love the variety of thermal rooms they have.

I visited my first overseas destination of the year in February: wonderful, beautiful Copenhagen! If you missed my blog post with tips of things to do in this fabulous city you can read it here. I would say this was potentially the best few days of the year as I just fell in love with the city and I would really recommend it for your 2020 travel list.

March: Crufts and Istanbul!

March was another canny month for travel. One of my surprise Christmas presents from my partner was a trip to Birmingham to Crufts which was so much fun! I was desperate for a dog at this point... little did I know some other furry friends would enter my life later in the year. We visited Cadbury World as well. I'd say it was around this time my blogging mojo really slowed down and I am yet to blog about any of these trips other than Copenhagen! Running a blog website sounds fun and it really, genuinely is, but one thing I've struggled with in 2019 is finding time for everything. I've had a few meltdowns this year but I am getting better at prioritising different aspects of my life!

I had a lovely trip to Istanbul in March to visit my dad and other family who live there. I am half Turkish and lived in Istanbul for the first few years of my life, so heading back there really feels like my second or even joint home. The weather was cold but dry (it's not hot all year round!) so I had a lovely time exploring the neighbourhood of Balat with my dad and heading out for a drive in his camper van.

As much as I loved my trip, saying goodbye breaks my heart every time so as usual I had a few days / weeks of feeling quite sad after this trip as I adjusted back to life without my dad close by. I wrote a post about what home means to me which is useful to read if you have homes in different places.

April: House-hunting and Centre Parcs

April was the month we finally viewed the house which we ended up buying! We had seen the same house design back in October and made an offer but got out-bid quite considerably. This had been a  disappointing time as we thought we were going to get it, so to get the same house type but with a nicer garden and for a lower price was amazing. I remember feeling really happy when I took this selfie! It's actually really good to scroll through your own camera roll and see the best bits of your year - I am not always the best at focusing on the positives.

April was my auntie's 50th Birthday so we headed to Centre Parcs which was nice. There were some family politics and some of the weekend was hard but overall we had a nice time celebrating with my auntie (I told you this was a 'behind the highlights reel'!)

I also attended some blog events in April at Inflatanation and Banyan, so I started to get my blogging mojo back a little, but I wouldn't say it has ever come back properly. One of my favourite days in April was seeing the beautiful cherry blossom in Alnwick Garden!

May: Family time and food

In May my mum turned 60 and we went for a really nice weekend away close to home in Sleights which included a trip on the NYMR railway with a three course meal. It was a lovely, relaxing weekend, made even better with having the dog for company. It really made me even more pet broody than ever before, and the fact we were moving into our house later in the month felt so exciting... except we didn't. The house move date kept getting pushed back and it was really frustrating! I started overthinking everything and worrying that it wasn't meant to be. This was a very anxious and low month for me, I just wanted to feel settled!

It was a pretty quiet month as we were trying to save every penny for the house move and when I look at my camera roll it hardly shows anything for May. At this point I'd been working from home far too much and I started to realise that working alone for an extended period is terrible for my mind. If you feel down unexpectedly for a period of time it is worth considering lifestyle factors: I don't think I'd realised how hard it had been and I am so glad I work full-time again now.

June: Exercise, holidays, house move

June was unexpectedly manic! I got a little bit into exercise after I'd been feeling low the month before and this really seemed to help. We also got a house move date for later in the month which was great and made me feel less in limbo.

We had a week off in June packed with sightseeing in Edinburgh, Venice and Malta. I managed to find flights which were dirt cheap if we flew Edinburgh - Venice - Malta - Newcastle so we had a great time seeing different places. I must get round to finally blogging about all three but there are detailed highlights saved on my Instagram if you would like any tips for now. Sadly I still didn't feel too happy. I never know whether to discuss low points as I really don't want to seem ungrateful, but you can fly to the most exotic destination in the world but your state of mind still flies with you... I did feel quite sad in Edinburgh but by the time we got to Venice it was so busy and wonderful that it took my mind off things somewhat.

June ended with the big house move! Looking back I reckon it was one of the most stressful periods of my life and if I'd have been working full time I have no idea how I would have dealt with it all. I think it's only writing it down now that makes me connect the dots and realise why I had a low few weeks / months - we just packed too much in. It was good stress in the end of course as we got our lovely home and we have been enjoying decorating it all to our taste, I really appreciate being able to have my own place.

July: New job and DIY

In July I started my new job which I am so happy with. I want to spend a few sentences talking about this as it has been a really key part of this year for me. Being utterly miserable in a job absolutely sucks and if you are going through that then I feel for you. I previously kept changing jobs within the same career as each time I thought the job wasn't quite right, but after a few years I realised it was the career which wasn't working. 

If you are in this position going into the new year, then I strongly urge you to take some time out whether it's in the house, alone, on a walk, or in a nice coffee shop. Try to think really hard about your values and the aspects you want from a job / career and get it all down on paper. Once you have done that think about career options which might fit into those dream aspects you are looking for, or ask friends and family for their help as they might have suggestions you may have missed. Please try and make a change, just don't stay miserable for years like I did!

Other than settling into my new job, my camera roll is just packed with furniture and DIY pics for July. It was very much a month of getting our new home sorted!

August: More DIY, day trips and sad news

August had some lovely weather and we made the most of it by heading to Druridge Bay for a lovely picnic. We got to enjoy some nice days in the garden and have our first (and last) BBQ as the weather didn't seem to stick around too long.

At the end of August we had booked to go to Greece for a week's all-inclusive package holiday. We were also going to take a boat over to Bodrum to see my dad and we were so excited after a busy few weeks with the new house. Unfortunately due to a family illness we didn't get to go on the holiday and instead had a last minute weekend in the Lakes. This was a really lovely trip, although we were both pretty down about the illness and not getting to go on the holiday. I guess it made me realise that travel doesn't always have to be far away from home and sometimes a local trip can be good to unwind, but it was a really hard and sad month.

September: First ever solo and press trip

September was exciting as I got invited on my first ever press trip, which would be my first proper solo holiday as well! You can read all about my trip to Aberdeenshire here, and my honest thoughts on my first solo travel experience in my 30's here

I was really worried about this trip as I just didn't know how my mind would behave being all alone for a long weekend, but turns out I honestly had the best time! It felt massively liberating getting out of my comfort zone. You can read more in the post but I definitely plan to do more solo trips in the future. Doing a press trip is hard though. I found it pretty draining and stressful trying to get the best content I could, but I think the pictures turned out quite well.

October: Birthdays and Fur Babies

October was an absolutely brilliant month (reading this back, this year was a rollercoaster)! It was both mine and my partner's birthdays which we celebrated with lots of food and drink. We would have got away for one or both of our birthdays (they are three days apart) but we didn't, for a VERY VERY good reason. We adopted this beautiful pair of fur babies!

Now Instagram gets a bad rep' sometimes, and I agree that it has its problems whether you are using it for social reasons or your business. However, it is thanks to that platform that the previous owner of this gorgeous pair of British Shorthairs got in touch with me to see if I knew anyone who would be interested in adopting them. Within about two days of speaking to her we were round to see them and they came home with us a few days later! 

They mean so much to me and they have settled in well. Since we got them, I can say hand on heart I haven't had any miserable days like I had previously in the year. They have absolutely changed my life. I must say I never saw myself being a cat lady but I am fully embracing it. A dog is still on the cards, but probably in a few years once I am a bit less desperate to travel everywhere.

November: Eating my way round Newcastle

As we didn't want to leave the cats alone very much in their first few weeks at home, November became a very lethargic month of eating lots of good lunches in town and spending evenings and weekends cuddling the cats. By this point I don't think I had exercised at all since June and writing this now on December 30th I think it has actually been 6 months since I did any running or workouts! 

I feel like people only ever share those gym selfies when they are working out once in a blue moon, and don't always discuss the reality of longer periods doing absolutely nothing. I do feel a bit 'ugh' and I am hoping that I can start off the new year with a bit less cheese and a bit more running as it's very good for my mind!

December: Festive fun and Prague

December was a really busy month for work, but that aside I had the loveliest month of festive fun. It was technically the last day of November, but making my own wreath with my mum was a huge highlight of Christmas. I had lots of good food and drink in December and tried to do my shopping and wrapping for people slowly which was nice and relaxed.

Later in the month we headed off to Prague for a long weekend which I will be blogging about very soon. Prague was great and we continued the theme of eating and drinking everything in sight! Reality check though: it was extre-e-e-mely busy, so please bear this in mind if you plant to visit next December. Hopefully my Instagram stories showed the reality - you can check the story highlight out here if you missed it.

Heading into 2020

I am ending the year (and the decade!) sitting on the plane to Istanbul to see my family. It feels like the right place to end this decade and start the new year. I am so excited as I have never had a new year's eve in Istanbul before.

Before I wrote this post my memories of 2019 were quite mixed with some low points clearly stuck in my mind but actually it was an excellent year overall. Some great destinations visited, probably the most calories I have eaten in a year ever (with no guilt at all), and most importantly my family are well and happy. And by family I am including the newest furry members too, of course. I am still unable to start a family which is my biggest heartache, but in this next decade I should be getting a kidney transplant and starting a family, or adopting a baby if not, so I am trying to stay positive on that front. Here's to achieving my ONE AND ONLY goal for 2020: HAPPINESS!


  1. Such a filled year! I loved seeing all your posts about Prague on Instagram I still can't wait to go. Sorry to hear about your sad news, the thing I want most in the world is to be a mother I suffer from PCOS making it incredibly difficult for me so I do understand. Fingers crossed for 2020, hope you have an abundance of happiness!

    Shelly's Passport

    1. Thanks for this Michelle, I am glad you enjoyed the Prague pictures. Thanks so much, same to you! Melis x


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