Twenty sixteen you absolute stinkin’ scoundrel.
For the world it’s been the equivalent of accidentally eating a bogey-flavoured Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean, but for me, well, it’s actually been pretty damn sweet.
I feel, as with every year I’ve been on this planet, that I’ve learned a lot about myself and what makes me feel at my best. It’s been a year of exploring, a year of finally feeling even slightly financially stable, and a year for trying to help others – to put strangers and friends – ahead of myself every once in a while.
It’s been a year of realising that feeling content, feeling happy and good and stable, comes from accepting what you cannot change and finding the little details and moments of beauty in every situation.
So anyway, I thought I’d whip together a list of my fave 2016 highlights. The moments that made me really appreciate the world, my people, and everything I have <3
1. When I arrived at Koh Samui airport after three trains, two planes and twenty-two hours of traveling to my brother and sister holding ‘H. Gale’ signs. Yes, my flights were pricey and yes, traveling there and back on my own really freaked me out on a level that I had no idea it would, but it was so exhilarating. It was our first time abroad together in a decade and I am, so, so glad I decided to join them out there, even if it was for just a week. Exploring the world with people you love really is the best feeling ever <End of soppy, smug paragraph>.
2. Driving through the snow with two of my oldest friends – Tilly and Tyler. We’d been out for dinner and cocktails and Tyler’s boyfriend had come out to pick us up close to midnight and we had a half hour drive home. The snow started to settle and it hadn’t really even been forecast, and it just felt so damn magical. When we made it home we threw a few snowballs and then had mugs of tea whilst watching it continue to come down outside. I’m lucky to have them as friends <3
3. When I went to visit my dementia-suffering nan at her care home, and I started asking her questions about when she first came to England as a teenager. Although she sometimes doesn’t know who I am anymore, she was able to come out with all these details about arriving in the UK that I’d never heard before. I had a quick Google and found an old blog page full of photos from a Polish resettlement camp in Essex which had been formed on an abandoned WW2 airfield by the side of the A12 – a road I drive down nearly every week. And then there, at the bottom of the page, was a list of all the surnames of the families who had lived there – including my nan’s maiden name. Her story continues to inspire and amaze me.
4. When I’d had a shitter of a week because LOL someone stole my bag containing all my blog equipment and LOL it wasn’t insured, and you guys were absolute DIAMONDS. And I decided to go ahead with my blog re-design and re-launch and I felt so empowered, so on it, so like I *could* take over the world. If I could bottle that feeling and start every day with a sip of it, I think I probably would take over the world y’know.
5. Chris’s face when we got home, mildly drunk, from our Valentine’s date night dinner, and tucked under his cushion was a little wrapped present from me. At first he thought I’d just got him a framed little postcard of Manhattan, until he opened up the back of the frame and found a note saying I’d booked us flights and a hotel for later in the year. Currently still waiting for my girlfriend of the year plaque tbh.
6. Having my fertility MOT (full post on it here). I started the year with a PCOS diagnosis and a bit of a fuzzy picture of how easy it would be for me to have babies when the time came, and so I booked an internal ultrasound at a private practice in London to assess the gory details. I don’t have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome after all, and my lady parts seem to be in good working order for a 27-year-old, which is all jolly good. But I’m glad I bit the bullet and went for more tests rather than sitting at home worrying about what could be.
7. My dad saying ‘we were thinking Chinese and a game of Monopoly tonight?’ approximately two minutes after I’d walked through the door last weekend for the first part of Gale Christmas (we’re driving down to Sussex again on Christmas Day for part two). Anyway, BEST. SATURDAY. NIGHT. EVER. Also, spoiler, I won. Hip hip hooray. I don’t get back home often enough, and a goal for next year is to make it back there more than once every few months.
8. Earlier this year when I secured an OMFG YOU WHAT paid campaign that involved me taking a trip to Paris and bringing a mate with me (erm, if you’re sure?). So me and Tilly waded onto 6am trains to catch an early Eurostar and had a divine two days exploring the city – topped off by watching the sun set across the city whilst drinking champagne from the bar in the Montparnasse tower.
9. Finally getting into the black, financially speaking. I’ve been in my overdraft since the week I started university back in 2008 and never really paid it off properly. There’s always been more debt than there’s been savings, until 2016. I paid off my overdraft in full, took a big ol’ whack off my credit card, and started a Help To Buy ISA. It’s been pretty damn sweet to see what happens when you leave London rent behind…
10. Hosting our summer party. It was great because a) we had cocktails, b) we had nachos, c) we had fairy lights and d) we got to bring together some of our favourite people to sit in the garden, play games, share stories and laugh really, really hard. Even though it rained hideously all day, I’m already buzzing to get planning 2017’s summer party. Now who wants to buy me a hot tub, eh?