It’s the first morning of 2016, and I’m eating fruit and nursing a head that pounds with the memory of last night. 2015 came to a hurricane close, its final days and weeks spiralling past in a blur as we packed and moved house the day before Christmas Eve, spent Christmas eating and drinking far too much with our families, attended the wedding of one of my best friends in the Lake District, and rang in the New Year with a house party. And breathe.
This was going to be a year of stillness, a pause whilst I worked and saved for the trip that is now a mere 30 days away. But despite the routine of work and a semi permanent home base, it has been anything but a pause. This has been a year in which there has been less travel but no less adventure, a year of learning and growth. I got engaged this year. I set up a business, and began to steer my work into a place that is more creative and more free. I lived in a new city. And I travelled to places both new and old, right here in the UK and further afield.
I woke up in Scotland on the first day of 2015, in a camper van parked by the sea. We drove through lochs and glens under a sky full of storm clouds and sunshine, all the way back down to Yorkshire. Later that month I moved to Manchester, and Rikki and I moved into our little cottage. I grew herbs in the garden and we put photos of our travels up on the walls, and we made it home.
In March I visited Amsterdam for the first time, and spent 3 days wandering along impossibly beautiful canals, every intersection framing a perfect photograph.
In the summer I took Rikki to the Black Forest to celebrate his 30th birthday. We drove through storybook scenery for 4 days, stopping in tiny towns and at mountain lakes, and as usual didn’t book anything but let the road unfold ahead of us.
I attended World Travel Market for the first time in November, spending a week in London catching up with friends, riding the Emirates cable car, and being a tourist with my brother.
And then in November, Rikki took me to Bamburgh, one of my favourite places in the world, and asked me to marry him as we walked by the sea. If I ever imagined this moment, before or after he existed, I couldn’t imagine how perfect it would be – but then of course it was perfect, because he knows me by heart.
And now it’s a whole new year. This is a year in which I will strap on my backpack and head to the airport, and it will be the only thing I need. I will be travelling again, and I know how to do that, but so much will be different this time. I’ve never done the leaving part with someone else by my side. I’m headed to a continent that I’ve never seen before. And I’ve never left with such a long term timeline ahead of me, with plans that include trying to create a life that involves no home base for the next few years. It’s really, really big, and in amongst all the excitement there’s a deep down feeling that makes me want to crawl into bed and sleep, because yet again I’ve set my sights on too much.
I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.
But still – no-one ever learned anything from having it easy it all the time. It’s good to be scared, it means I’m out of my comfort zone, and only good things can come of that. So here’s to 2016 – a year of being afraid and doing it anyway, of chasing big dreams, and of having new adventures. I hope you have a great one.