Thursday, 4 January 2018

2017 A Year in Review

Rylan and myself at the This Morning StudiosI am convinced as I get older, that time goes more and more quickly. I find that the year starts off slowly enough, full of promise and good intentions, but once we get to the summer holidays, it suddenly speeds up. We try to cram in as much fun and adventure as we can into the holidays, wringing out the last remnants of summer for as long as possible, but once everyone is back at school, Christmas starts creeping in  and then *boom* I'm sitting here writing this post! This is one of the great things about blogging. though, I can look back over the year and remind myself that we did do a lot of fun stuff along the way. This is 2017, our year in review. 


A huge traffic jam caused problems for us in January, during our first Weekend Wanderings post. I started writing these with the best of intentions, but sometimes we didn't do enough during the week to warrant a whole blog post, so I switched to monthly updates. After Lynn died, I didn't feel much like writing at all, and they dried up altogether. Ironic, in a way, since it was her we were driving to see in this post. Maybe I will start something like this again this year, they were such fun to write. It was nice to just write for the sake of writing. 

Car with bonnet up, taken from inside vehicle.


In February I wrote about Burberry's Racism Blunder at the Oscars and how I wondered whether it would have been considered a racist gaffe if the two individuals were white. We also discovered a lovely new picnic spot in Wiltshire, featuring 29 locks in a row. It was quite an impressive sight! The weather was surprisingly mild for February, proving that in this country, if you want to go out for the day, you should just go for it and hope for the best. There's not much a decent Thermos can't put right! 

`Thermos flask on a picnic bench with mugs and a hungry-looking boy.


March is L's birthday and this year we celebrated with a trip to a tiny 10-seater cinema with some of his friends and I shared my ideas for really cheap but impressive-looking party bags. I also enjoyed a trip to the theatre to see a preview of War Horse, which was really exciting. It was here I encountered the angry old man, who made me wonder if we should always give way to the older generation. 

A collection of home-made colourful party bags.


A lot happened in April. We discovered another great little picnic spot, this time in Gloucestershire which had amazing access for disabled people, even a disabled toilet! I thought this was brilliant for a riverside picnic area. We also took a day trip to Weston super Mare on the train, which L loved, being a longtime train enthusiast! We also reviewed the Anki Overdrive and Hatchimal Colleggtibles, and I found some non-chocolate Easter gift ideas, because chocolate isn't always the answer, particularly if you are lactose intolerant. 

A boy at a train station with a train in the background


The highlight of May for me, was the trip I took to London with Jade to meet the presenters of This Morning. They are such a lovely bunch of people and we had a brilliant time. I love London anyway and it was a great excuse to visit the city again, as well as getting to see the ITV studios and meet some lovely people. This Morning popped up again on the blog in the same month when I got cross with Gino d'Campo about his opinions on 'fussy eaters'. It's a divisive subject, but I don't believe all children have a choice about their eating habits. 

A collage of photos from the This Morning studios, featuring Rylan Clark Neal, Eamonn Holmes and Sharon Marshall


After the death of my very close friend Lynn at the start of June, we all suffered from her loss. Grief permeated the whole family, as she had meant so much to all of us. After a long wait for the funeral and a couple of weeks of free fall for me, a fellow blogger gave me an overnight stay at a Travelodge in Swansea so that I could take Jade and L away for the weekend. It turned out to be the hottest weekend of the year, and we had a lovely time. It was nice to be away from the crushing misery that had enveloped us for the previous couple of weeks, even if just for two days. On our return, we were thrown right back into it with the funeral, which was beautiful, yet horribly final. I still can't believe she's gone. Two contrasting pictures for this month. 

A collage featuring Swansea Seafront and Bere Regis church during a balloon release.


In July I went to see Dirty Dancing at the Bristol Hippodrome. It was a good night out and it was nice to spend some time with a good friend of mine, who I don't see socially very often. As the children have got older, I've found I've made less and less time for socialising. I'm sure it's meant to be the other way around. It's not my favourite show that I've seen there, but it was really funny in places and a welcome distraction. Also in July we went to see Spiderman: Homecoming at the cinema. Some of the superhero films aimed at children are a lot less child-friendly than people realise, so I like to produce a Parent's Guide when I can, to make sure parents can make an informed choice if they want to take their child to see it. 

A still from the Dirty Dancing stage show, featuring Johnny, Baby and supporting cast.


In August we were in full summer holiday mode and looking forward to a camping holiday at Forest Glade Holiday Park. The park was a bit of a last minute choice, but we were so glad we went. It was perfect for us, with beautiful forest surroundings to explore and wonderful food too. We had the obligatory one day and night of rain and storms, but we were close enough to home that we could drive back to dry everything and get a good night's sleep. It is such a great park I would love to go back, although I might splash out on a caravan next time! We also went back to the Bristol Hippodrome to see Sister Act, which was really good, although I was a little disappointed that they changed the songs. 

The picnic area at Forest Glade Holiday Park with caravans beyond.


September was really hectic for a short while and then deathly quiet, as L started secondary school and Jade went off to university. L did us all proud as he forged a new path in a bigger school with children he mostly didn't know. He doesn't find new situations easy, but he put his bravest foot forward and walked into the unknown like a superhero. All the preparations we had made during the previous few months finally paid off, and with a car fully laden with supplies, we saw Jade off on her new adventure. I had Jade young, just 18, and I have never known an adult life without her by my side, so it wasn't easy to leave her there, but I took huge comfort from the immense pride I feel for how amazing she is and how far she has come. I know I'm biased, but she is the most considerate, resourceful, intelligent and thoughtful lady you could ever meet and I couldn't be prouder of how she has overcome so much to achieve everything she has set out to. 

Brother and sister sitting on a shingled shoreline


In October, we visited our local wildlife park, The Wild Place Project, to review their Halloween Spectacular event. Wild Place is owned by Bristol Zoo, but it's smaller and more intimate. Built into the countryside, the park incorporates different forest walks between the enclosures. There is a lot to discover as you follow the different paths and we've always loved the natural environment and the emphasis on learning through play. I was particularly excited about this visit, because it was the first time I had seen the giraffes since they arrived and who doesn't love giraffes? 
A giraffe enjoying lunch from a feeder at The Wild Place Project


November was very mild weather-wise, so I finally got to grips with finishing the garden. I had some vouchers left over from my birthday, so I set about creating a memorial for Lynn. I had wanted a lemon tree, as her nickname was Lemon, but the boffins at the garden centre were fairly confident it would die, so instead I bought a huge Chrysanthemum, festooned in bright yellow flowers. We placed it next to a bench we had recently bought and on the other side, a little cherub. I am so pleased with it, and I think she would be too. The gnomes are guarding it for her. Also this month another racism row blew up, this time involving children's dressing up costumes, so I had a little rant about that. 

A memorial bench, flanked by a large yellow Chrysanthemum and a stone cherub.


And that brings us to the end of the year. I cut back a lot on posting in December. I just felt that I needed a break and to spend some time with my family. Jade has been home for her first long break since starting university and it was lovely to have the two of them back together to just do normal family stuff again. However, one unexpected happening did cause me to write a blog post I was not prepared for. I won a competition to take L to Finnish Lapland for an adventure holiday in March! It came as a total shock and, since it was during term time, it did leave me asking What Would You Do? The answer, of course, was a resounding 'of course you have to go!' and we are currently sorting out passports and warm clothes for the trip! I hope you've had a wonderful year and have lots to look forward to in 2018. I'd love to know if you had a favourite post from us, or if there's anything you would like to see more of on the blog this year. 

A happy new year poster, featuring a fox in the Scandinavian style.



  1. I am sorry about the loss of your best friend :-( That obviously has had a huge impact on your year and life, although I loved hearing about the lovely things that did happen for you in 2017

  2. What a mostly wonderful year you have had...So many adventures and lots of fun!
    I'm so jealous you got to meet Rylan! I love him.
    Wishing you all the best for 2018 x

  3. Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I hope 2018 brings you every happiness.

  4. How loved how this was a mix of your personal life and your blog posts for the year :) I wish you a happy new year 2018!

  5. Some big ups and downs for you in 2017, so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

  6. Oh wow, I would love to meet the This Morning presenters, I bet they were lots of fun. Looks like you had lots of fun trips this year

  7. I'm sorry for your loss of Lynn, but it's lovely you've made a nice spot in your garden got her. Love the bright yellow flowers

  8. It sounds like you have had a jam packed year with some great highs and terrible lows. Meeting the This Morning presenters must have been amazing. I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your best friend. So tragic when they are young like that. I hope you have a very happy 2018

  9. I'm so sorry you lost a friend, it sounds like it took it's toll on all of you. It was lovely to read about some of your highlights too. I love that you went on This Morning

  10. So sorry for your loss! It’s great to see your highlights and the joy you experienced from many of them. Good morning America must have been a blast:)


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