2019 has proved to be a very busy year – and unsurprisingly my blog writing has been the main thing to have been neglected. Not because of a lack of things to write about, but due to a need to prioritise my time. As much as I love to tap away, it’s had to sit on the back burner for a while! So in true end-of-year fashion, here’s my roundup, and a look at what’s to come. But it’s also a chance to acknowledge the people, opportunities and changes in my life.
At the start of the year I decided to enrol in a distance learning programme, studying for a Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketers. Having got into my career with no marketing qualifications, it was a personal choice to put in the time and support what I’ve learnt on the job with a tangible qualification.
What I didn’t realise, or rather wildly underestimated, was just how much work would be required. Studying without physical classes or lecturer support whilst working full time was exhausting – to get home after 12 hours and have to study for a further 2 took a lot of self-discipline and sacrifice. I had to quickly realign my expectations regarding the marks I was likely to get and instead just take pride in the assignments I was creating.
What normally takes around a year I managed to complete in 9 months, and my final results will be released in February 2020 with a formal graduation in November. It’s been a long slog, but I’m extremely proud of what I’ve achieved, proving to myself that I still have the capacity to study hard, whilst also reaffirming that I am fully capable of my job.
This year has proved my most active yet. Continuing my swimming, I also downloaded the Couch to 5k running app to try and get myself moving in a different way. I’ve never enjoyed running, always finding it painful and unpleasant to say the least. The app however was fantastic, with Jo Whiley’s calming voice in my ear encouraging me with every step. Starting in March I managed to get going, but then had an unexpected 2 month break after spraining my ankle in Australia. But by September, I wasn’t just running 5k, I was enjoying it, feeling powerful and fast and breaking all barriers I’d put up in my own mind. I highly recommend the app to anyone wanting to get into running – I went from barely managing to jog for 2 minutes to running 6.5k with relative ease, within 6 months.
Alongside this, I signed up for more swim events, with the last one of the year giving me a phenomenal 1mile personal best, hitting my target of a sub-40minute time. Combining all this cardio with weights at the gym, I became the leanest and strongest I’ve ever been.
As the year’s wound to an end some of that commitment has slipped slightly, but with a triathlon coming up in June (and probably another being booked shortly…) I’m determined to continue this motivation. With new road bikes in the shed, both Simon and I are looking at 2020 as the chance to keep improving, finding those PBs and training hard together.
Somewhat unexpectedly, 2019 featured a lot of holidays. We’re not normally such jet-setters, but it was an amazing opportunity to explore places we’ve never been before, as well as return to old favourites.
In the spring we went to Turkey, renowned for turquoise seas, incredible food and stunning mountains. It was such a brilliant holiday with incredible climbing getting us back into the groove, and a chance to experience a new culture. Despite post-holiday illness marring the end of the trip, I would still go back in a heartbeat (just maybe avoiding the salad)…
Just a few weeks later, we went on probably the most adventurous trip of our relationship, flying to Australia for two weeks. It was predominantly to visit my sister, brother-in-law and niece who’ve been on the Gold Coast for several years, but it was also a chance to experience a country we never thought we’d see.
Spending a few days in Brisbane to acclimatise, we went to the phenomenal Australia Zoo, a stunning tribute to Steve Irwin but also an incredible haven for so many animals. A great day, if very hot!
Seeing my sister and her family in the new home they’ve made for themselves was so lovely, meeting their friends and experiencing the laid back, Ozzie lifestyle they’ve embraced. We ended the trip with four days on Fraser Island, the world’s biggest sand island. Travelling around in a massive 4-wheel drive, swimming in the rainwater lakes and roaming the jungle was unforgettable.
To end the year, we returned to Sicily in October, four years after we first explored the small but gorgeous town of San Vito Lo Capo. It felt like coming home as soon as we touched down in Palermo. The heat, the smells, the scenery – it’s certainly got a place in our hearts. Spending a week climbing its cliffs and diving into the crystal clear sea every day gave us a much-needed chance to relax and unwind.
Over the last 12 months, Simon and I have both achieved a lot professionally, with Simon consistently being one of if not the top UK biller in his company, and me really finding a job that I absolutely love where my opinion is respected, my knowledge utilised, and I get to work with an amazing team of people.
2020 is going to be no less successful, with things to strive for professionally, physically and personally as we continue to embrace the life we’ve made for ourselves. This year we’ve met a whole host of new friends in our village, and it’s so nice to feel fully connected and integrated into the community here.
I’m looking forward to new adventures, plenty of challenges, and opportunities to become better in all aspects. Whilst I can’t ignore the turbulent year it’s been in the wider world, I am nonetheless grateful for the things I’ve been able to do and uncover. Here’s to another year.