Well, 2017. What can I say? “Good riddance” sums it up I think. Globally, the wheels have seemingly fallen off of politics, and natural disasters have seen people lose their belongings, their homes and, heartbreakingly, their lives. It’s not been a fantastic year for humanity as a whole, with a definite feeling that there may be a regression as certain elements of society appear to be devolving in front of our eyes. Add to that the fact that a reality TV star with an Twitter-happy thumb is going tit-for-tat over threats of nuclear war with another world power and, all in all, I can definitely say 2017 leaves something to be desired on a worldwide scale.
Personally, closer to home, 2017 has been the single worst year of my life. It all began for me on the 9th January when my GP told me he thought I had Cancer, and continued unabated bringing stress and sadness for the remainder of the year. I had grand plans for 2017 and set myself a list of goals, but, honestly, it all went out the window as I found myself sinking into depression and concentrating on getting through each day without falling apart.
Thankfully, now, I feel much better than I did and I think I’m pretty much out of the woods when it comes to the depression, but 2017 has certainly been a year I won’t forget. It’s not all bad though – I’m a big believer in silver linings, and the shining light around the edge of this year has been that it’s served me up a lot of lessons. I’ve learnt a lot and am seeing the world through very different eyes; something I’ll touch on in another post in the next few days.
But for the absolute shit show that it was, there were some redeeming features in 2017 as I shared a lot of happy moments with people I love and that’s what today’s post is going to focus on. I’ve said goodbye to 2017 and with it all the pain and sadness too; today is all about the happy moments.
In January my sister-in-law celebrated her hen weekend in Brighton. We hired a big house, ate good food and wandered around town, popping into ChoccyWoccyDooDah which is somewhere I had always wanted to visit and it didn’t disappoint!
I know I said I was going to focus on the good points, but in January I found out I had Cancer and had the first procedure to remove it. I lost earnings for wages deducted by my employer for the time I needed off to recover from the operation, but despite the obvious stresses and strains of that period of time, there was so much good too. I was absolutely spoilt by friends, family and Ben, with so many messages of care and surprise gifts in the post. It was definitely something that kept my head above the metaphorical water at that point, as I felt so loved; something of an alien feeling to me as I constantly worry people don’t like me. One thing I will always be grateful to Cancer for is that it showed me who really cares about me and who my true friends are.
In February my brother and his wife got married and it was one of the best days of the whole year. My brother means the absolute world to me and to see him marry the person who makes him so happy made my heart swell with happiness and pride. It was the perfect day from start to finish and I had an absolute blast.
One of my best friends, Rachael, asked me to hold a gender reveal party for her earlier this year. I was the only person that knew whether she was having a boy or a girl (the scan had been sealed in an envelope so neither her or her partner knew either!) and I had to arrange a whole party whilst keeping the biggest secret I’ve ever been entrusted with!
Just a few weeks after the gender reveal was Sian’s hen weekend which I had been planning for a whole year! I went full Monica Geller with this and had various spreadsheets keeping track of different elements of the weekend and, thankfully, it went really well. I hired a farmhouse and we had a cocktail making session, life drawing, a spa session with treatments, a private chef and, despite it being March, it was warm enough for us to lay around the swimming pool on one of the days! It was my first time meeting the other girls there but they were all so easy going and we got on brilliantly, so it made for a very fun weekend with lots of bubbles, games and laughter.
As always, after the hen weekend comes the wedding and it was such a good day! I was Maid Of Honour and had to do a speech which I was really nervous about but in the end it went well – except I sobbed pretty much the whole way through it! Mortifying! As we were going on holiday the next morning and had an early flight we had to leave at about 10.30pm, so our last views were of everybody partying on the dancefloor and my best friend absolutely glowing with happiness. Perfect!
The early morning flight we had was for a very special trip as two of our closest friends got married in Lake Garda, Italy. We hired a villa between 7 of us as it was cheaper than us all getting hotel rooms and it was stunning – pool table, numerous bathrooms, a gym and a swimming pool. Cheaper than staying in a hotel, we couldn’t believe it! The wedding itself was incredible being in an ancient castle and a perfect combination of both Indian and English traditions in keeping with the bride and groom’s family heritage. We danced, we ate, we drank, we watched fireworks after sunset… it was absolutely beautiful from start to finish and a memory I will never forget. It also solidified our feelings that we will get married abroad, as and when it happens.
After what felt like the longest 9 months but also flew past in the blink of an eye, Rocco was born. I wrote a whole post dedicated to him (read that here) so I won’t say too much in this one, but what I will say is that I love that little boy as if he was my own family.
We visited Langar Hall for a weekend with friends and it was great fun. We stayed in a little wooden cabin in the grounds, ate some incredible food, drank cocktails, looked at classic cars (there happened to be a show on while we were there) and played croquet. It was a really laid back weekend with a lot of laughter. I can wholeheartedly recommend it as a venue, it’s beautiful and the staff are faultless. It’s a real home from home.
Ben took me to The Gilbert Scott for my birthday again this year for dinner and drinks. They make one of the best Old Fashioneds in London (my favourite cocktail) and the St Pancras International building, which its within, is mindblowingly stunning. It’s one of my goals in life to spend a night there in one of their rooms. I might have to add that to my Bucket List…
I reunited with my childhood best friend to spend a happy evening on Hastings Pier watching Boyzone live in concert. We were both obsessed with them when we were kids and spent much of our childhood dancing around our bedrooms to their songs, so when I saw they were doing a reunion tour I was straight on the phone to her to ask her to come with me! It was a brilliant night and we stayed in a fantastic little AirBnB flat which was right on the seafront. I lived my childhood dream that night and it was everything I hoped it would be and more!
I dyed my hair red and despite being slightly terrified that I might hate it, thankfully, I really like it and I will definitely be keeping it for a while yet before I revert back to my natural shade again.
I went on my first blogger trip abroad with a weekend in Amsterdam thanks to Clink Hostels. I was really nervous about going but I had a brilliant time, saw lots of sights and found out pretty swiftly why so many people are in love with this incredible city! I definitely plan to go back at some point as there’s so much more I want to do out there, it’s such a treasure trove of activities, history, food and drink that I’m sure you could visit a dozen times and still not even have scratched the surface of what it has to offer!
October saw a few days spent at Bishops Castle Barn with Ben, my brother and his wife. We had such a relaxing time, playing games, watching films, cooking, eating, drinking and I only ventured outside once – I was too busy being in my warm little cocoon of cosiness indoors and making the most of the downtime!
I ticked something off of my 33 Before 33 list and got another tattoo. This was a real turning point for me in the healing process of this year and I am so glad I got it done. I wrote a post all about what it means which you can read here.
I won a competition to spend a night at The Savoy in London and it was INCREDIBLE. I’ll be writing a blog post all about it soon, it’s something I definitely want to share as it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I want to capture that memory for me to read back for years to come. I still can’t quite believe it actually happened, it was beyond words which is why I haven’t written about it yet, but I will, soon.
Christmas this year was the first that Ben and I have spent together at home. We had my Dad round for the day and had a really nice, chilled one. I cooked dinner, we ate dessert my Dad had made, then we watched a film, before crashing out for the evening with a glass of wine in hand.
So, there we have it, 2017. A year I want to forget in so many ways but that I think is important to remember for everything it taught me and all the good times it brought me.
I would normally, at this point in the year, write a post setting goals for the 12 months ahead before, without fail, completing absolutely none of them. (I’m flakey, what can I say?) However, this year I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m implementing small changes, planning adventures and taking each day as it comes. I’m going to spend more quality time with the people I care about, more time exploring new places, I’m going to streamline my life by clearing cupboards and donating the contents to charity, plus I’m finally going to unsubscribe from the trillions of random mailing lists I seem to be signed up to so that my email inbox is less trash and more treasure. Little moments, small joys, every day wins.
Before I go, leaving these as the last words on A Penny For Them in 2017, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you that takes the time to read what I write, follow me on social media, and to be part of my world. I am so grateful for you all.
I hope 2017 has been kind to you and 2018 is everything you dream it to be.
Happy New Year!