2016 in Review & A Look Back in Photos
Spending New Year in Edinburgh for Hogmanay seems so long ago now. Ever since I first started visiting Luke in Edinburgh back in 2011, I always wanted to experience Hogmanay here. This re-cap is cheating a little because technically it was both 2015 and the start of 2016, but in Scotland New Year lasts for three days! We got tickets back in autumn 2015 for the New Year street party on Princes Street in the heart of the city. It felt weird at the time planning New Year for what felt so far away, but things soon came around.
The big night arrived and we all wrapped up warm to battle the fierce cold weather of Edinburgh, although thankfully no snow! Warmed up with the likes of some mulled wine, and tickets at the ready - we were on our way. We danced the night away in the hustle and bustle of the crowds opposite the castle eagerly awaiting New Year and the fireworks. We were by the funk and soul stage and brought in the New Year dancing to Stevie Wonder whilst shouting the words to Auld Lang Syne at the top of our lungs. 2016 was here and we were ready for it.
Following on from some resolutions and promises I made to myself at the end of 2015, 2016 was set to be a year of travel. Our friends had been living in Hong Kong for the past two years and would soon be returning to the UK; leaving us with one last chance to head out there to visit them whilst we still could. We took the plunge and booked a return ticket to Hong Kong, leaving in summer. I've always had a love for travel, and this wasn't going to stop me taking things further. We figured, what's another four hours flight to Tokyo anyway? So like that we booked another flight. We were going to Japan. I ordered some travel books and set out researching all the places I wanted to explore, the countdown was on.
March was a bit of a mixed month. I attended loads of great events in Edinburgh. From Fashion Week to new restaurant openings and launch parties, everything was in full swing. I also celebrated another birthday and enjoyed spending time with friends and family. I ticked another thing off my resolutions list too and dyed my hair for the first time. It made absolutely no difference but hey, I did it all the same!
I was also made redundant from my job. It was a job I had been un-happy with for such a long time, and knew it was a blessing in disguise. But I found it extremely difficult to accept, and couldn't help but tell myself that I wasn't good enough. I hit rock bottom; before the news I was coming home in floods of tears every night, and after the news nothing was any better. I fell into a wall of depression and struggled to confide in anyone. I would barely sleep and struggled to face each day. If I did fall asleep I did so following panic attacks and witnessing my hair falling out in the shower from stress.
Making it through to the other side, I was offered a new job within a matter of weeks. A new job at an agency around the corner from our home, with better hours and better pay. Everything was working out but it took me a long time to still accept that I was good enough. To say it had been a knock to my confidence was an understatement.
April very much brought fresh starts and beginnings. Leaving my old job for good and started in my new role. I came home feeling different than I had for a whole year; relieved, happy even. I slowly began to build my confidence back up and now I can't believe I allowed myself to suffer in silence for so long. Things were most definitely looking up. It was now only eight weeks before we were due to take off on holiday and it couldn't have come at a better time. I was in desperate need of some adventure and relaxation!
May brought loads of great blog events and opportunities, and some which were unfortunately, not so. I've been a blogger for quite some time now, blogging since 2010, and now six years later in 2016, I've seen and experienced my fair share of drama. But an event I went to really got me down. With the dramatic rise in popularity for blogging in recent years, seems some big bloggers rise to stardom and beyond, it very quickly became a dog eat dog industry. Instead of praising fellow bloggers we were disrespecting them, and instead of supporting each other we were looking for reasons to tear each other down.
Unfortunately this had transpired onto the likes of the media and companies too. Companies who feel it's appropriate to use bloggers more as the likes of props. For publicity purposes only, with expectations going through the roof, for little or no reward. Everyone was on the blogging bandwagon and it was destined to crash. At one event in May, it did just that.
We were taken advantage of as bloggers and never before have I felt so used. To know that this has happened to many others before didn't surprise me, it made me sad. I hope that 2017 can be the year we all start supporting each other more and some brands learn better respect to all bloggers and the effort as a online community, for effort we all put in above and beyond.
June was an amazing month. Me and Luke packed our bags and put on our out of office email responders and headed for Asia. A first for both of us, we were both excited and apprehensive. Excited about our adventures ahead, and apprehensive over being in somewhere so culturally different to anywhere either of us had ever been before. We were doing a whirlwind trip over the month for three different places. Our first point of call was to Hong Kong, where we would be staying with close friends who had been living out there as teachers for the past two years. As we touched down in Hong Kong I was instantly in love, I knew this was going to be somewhere I would treasure forever.
From Hong Kong we also took a day trip across to Macau, and felt like we were in a miniature version of Portugal for the day. All the way across on the other side of the world! We booked a four day trip to Tokyo. I couldn't believe it, we were going to Japan. Somewhere I had only dreamed about and seen in films, landing in the heart of Tokyo and staying in Shinjuku surrounded by neon lights, nothing felt real. It was incredible and totally un-describable.
I felt inspired after our travels and wanted to share them on The Little Things and make it the best it could be. I gave my blog a total overhaul and re-built my website by myself. As a designer I'm used to working with websites daily, but this was undertaking my own skills and learning to actually build a site. I did it, it's here, and I'm proud of my little space. My followers went up, my engagement doubled, and I was lucky enough to be approached by Blogosphere magazine to be featured in their December issue later in the year.
With a tight turn around from arriving back from our travels, we also celebrated Luke graduating from five years of university and seeing him graduate with a masters degree in engineering my heart was bursting with pride. I was so proud of him and finding myself standing on the spot where I first came to visit him at university in Edinburgh five years ago, made me a little teary too see how far all of our friends had come.
Another year of living in Edinburgh marked another year of celebrating the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I headed to launch parties for the festival with fellow blogging pals, had friends and family visiting almost every weekend. We saw loads of great shows and performances and really enjoyed being part of one of the biggest arts festivals on earth. After years of aiming to go too, me and Luke headed to the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo which exceeded all of my expectations and was a great show!
After undertaking training in classical ballet over a year ago now, I was ready to move up a level. I started with absolutely no experience in an 'absolute beginners' class, then steadily moved up to a standard beginners level. From beginners I was confident in my ability and felt it was time to push myself to the next level. I went onto the ballet intermediate class and immediately felt out of my comfort zone. Although it's great to push yourself out of your comfort zone before, it's ok to accept that sometimes it's not right for you, but at least you tried it.
That was exactly what I took from it, I decided to drop back down to more of a bridge level for ballet improvers to brush up on my technical skills and understanding of classical steps and immediately it was more manageable. I'm pushing on with it and I'm hoping to be back in intermediate next year, onwards and upwards!
By the time October came around I couldn't believe how quickly the year was flying. Me and fellow blogging friends Lauren, Laura and Gillian decided to book a long weekend away for ourselves; in the Scottish countryside to Crieff Hydro. It was everything we needed and more, and totally exceeded our expectations. We stayed in the cozy cabin on site and had some of the best weather of 2016. The sunshine was out every single day and everything was so still and silent around us - it was the perfect place to relax. We enjoyed cooking together in the cabin, watching trash TV in the evenings, drinking wine and singing to early 90s R&B and enjoying a relaxing afternoon in the Victorian Spa on site. It was the perfect way to welcome in autumn.
In November I had another mini blog re-vamp for The Little Things. I spent a long time re-wrriting lots of old content to boost my SEO rankings and keywords; focused on creating new and fresh content, and started to re-evaluate the way I did things. My blog following continued to increased and I gained more amazing opportunities from PR agencies and companies.
I always feel the final month of the year flies by the fastest. Writing this now I can't believe we are at the very end of 2016 and it's been such a whirlwind. I'm currently in Phoenix, Arizona in the USA celebrating Christmas and New Year with family, enjoying a warm Christmas. Something a little different to the usual, it's been a perfect way to both end 2016, and welcome 2017.
This December Luke and I also celebrated being together for seven years; which feels both like a life time together and no time at all. In 2016 we made great progress on reaching half way towards our saving goal for buying a house together. I hope 2017 only brings more achievements and support, together.
In terms of The Little Things, heres to another year of writing; sharing all the little things in life which make me smile. I was also featured in this months Blogosphere magazine, with YouTube superstar Zoella no less on the cover. If that's not something to be proud about being along side then I don't know what is. Goodbye 2016, here's to 2017.