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Adios 2022, Bonjour 2023
With 2023 fast-approaching, I’ve decided to do my first ever round-up post. At the end of 2021, I published a piece on the most popular posts on my blog, but I’m yet to do a review of the year. This rambling is partly for me to reflect upon and document my year, and partly for you, especially if you’re a bit nosey.
I’ve opened up about some of my own personal challenges and wins, in what is quite a lengthy and raw post. I don’t know about you, but when the end of the year comes, I like to take stock of how I’ve spent my time, what I’ve achieved, and think about what might be in store for the next. So without further ado, here’s my review of 2022.
8 international flights
3 road trips
15 various accommodations
3 international trains & some UK ones too
1 dose of Covid
6 colds (at least)
A handful of international buses
Various work trips
Countless dog walks
Many precious moments with family & friends
My ongoing struggles with Covid
When I entered 2022, I was still stuck in a rut with a very real fear of infecting my loved ones with Covid. Although my anxiety had somewhat eased by the beginning of the year, I’d struggled with it since the UK lockdowns began. Each moment spent around other people was an exhausting little win, but the anxiety weighed heavy and my freedom was restricted.
At the beginning of the year my partner booked a surprise weekend in Bath for my birthday. We stayed in the most gorgeous little period cottage, which was bursting with charm and quirkiness. This was at a time where I wouldn’t choose to be inside somewhere busy. We did go to a magic show and although it was a mind-blowing performance, I remember mentally battling with the fear of being around other people throughout. So most of the time we spent doing outdoorsy things, despite it being freezing.
I needed to accelerate myself forward. I wasn’t an unsociable and anxious person, and Covid was controlling my life to an unhealthy extent nearly 2 years on. So in February I took drastic action and booked my first international flight since December 2019, to travel around Portugal in May. I knew it would give me no choice but to confront my fears. They say that growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone, and despite being a habitual traveller, the thought of going abroad was overwhelming.
In March, my partner and I headed to Scotland, on what would be the longest road trip we have ever taken together. This trip was a special one, for our anniversary of togetherness and in true Michelle fashion, I was unwell throughout with the most horrendous cold. We split the journey, staying overnight in a cheap hotel near Gretna Green, and continued the next day. Altogether the drive took approximately 14 hours (including some detours en route, to places like the Glenfinnan Viaduct).
We stayed in a beautiful converted croft and spent a week exploring the Scottish Highlands, which are like my second home. My partner practically had a week long private tour, and was chauffeured around scenic roads, beautiful lochs, and pretty places. We mingled with reindeer on a mountain-top at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, visited Eilean Donan Castle, marvelled at waterfalls, and by the time we returned home totalled 2,000 miles of driving.
By the time April came, a road trip to Wales felt like a casual commute compared to the mammoth trip to Scotland in March. My partner and I stayed in a lovely Shepherds Hut on the edge of the Brecon Beacons for 3 nights, and spent the majority of our time chasing waterfalls. We walked the Four Falls Trail and visited the highest waterfall in the Brecon Beacons, Henrhyd Falls. April also gave me the opportunity to bottle feed baby goats with my precious Mum.
First trip abroad since 2019
For the reasons I’ve touched on in this post, May was a massive month for me on a personal level. It saw the arrival of my first international trip since before the pandemic. Fighting the anxiety to get into a confined space with other people to reach Portugal was the first hurdle to overcome, and I did it with flying colours. From this moment in 2022 onwards, my life slowly and steadily started to resemble what it was before Covid – travelling abroad, seeing family without fear and socialising with friends regularly.
We spent 10 days travelling around Portugal, staying in Albufeira, Lisbon and Faro. The trip didn’t come without its challenges, though. We got stranded in Lagos after taking the train there for the day from Albufeira, because the trains suddenly went on strike. We rocked up at the train station in Albufeira for our journey to Lisbon and the trains were on strike (again), so we had to quickly book a bus (and managed to secure the last 2 seats). During the trip, I was lucky enough to partner with Allboat and sample their Benagil Caves and Dolphin Search boat trip, too.
June was a busy month for socialising. My brother got married and I was the Maid of Honour. The wedding was a long time in the making, and it flew past in one fun-filled day. It reminded me why we should make the most of every single moment, because they soon become memories. I did some river paddle boarding with friends, and got knocked off my feet into the river by a rogue tree. We also took a hot-tub staycation with good friends, which was full of food, laughs and country pubs.
July was a more sedate month, consisting of a handful of relaxing beach days.
I finally got Covid
After 2 ½ years of dodging Covid, the inevitable happened and I tested positive. A whirlwind of symptoms and around 10 days of literal self-isolation later, my negative day came and I felt a sense of relief that I’d finally had the dreaded virus. Highlights of the remainder of the month included my second wedding of the year and a local festival.
Poland, Scotland & the beginning of cold after cold
September marked the beginning of a series of colds and coughs. I’m convinced that Covid weakened my immune system (although I have no proof) – I’ve had 5 between September and December alone. September was a busy month for travel, with a surprise 3 day trip to Krakow for my partner’s birthday and a motorhome road trip around Scotland with my family from the end of September into October.
Soon after we returned from Scotland, I was Slovenia bound with my Dad for our bout of travelling together. This trip was third time lucky – we had tried to get to Slovenia twice before in the motorhome but each time we broke down (so this time we decided to fly). We visited Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and Ljubljana. Each opportunity I get to go abroad is precious, but trips with my Dad are extra special and I feel so lucky to have these cherished memories.
The calm before the storm
November was a month of preparations for the craziness December was to bring.
December saw every weekend filled with fun festivities, including a staycation, trip to Wroclaw Christmas Market, gatherings with family and friends, and the big day itself. The busyness of December has meant my posts have fallen by the wayside this month, with me needing to skip my promised fortnightly blogs because there have not been enough hours in the day – I hope to be very much back on track in 2023. I gifted myself the period between Christmas and New Year off work, to rest and recuperate, but in reality it has been far from that.
Reflections on 2022
5 profound thoughts
Life passes by quickly, whether you are present or not. Don’t let life be something that happens to you – jump in the driving seat and be the creator of your own fate.
Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams. What’s the worst that can happen? The regret of not trying something will always weigh heavier than trying and not succeeding.
Time stops for nobody and there are never enough hours in the day. I’ve spent time this year trying to slow time down, but no matter what, it whizzes on by. Each moment is precious, and is a gift that’s not guaranteed.
Don’t conform with societal expectations if it’s not the right fit. Live your life for you (nobody else), doing things in the order that feels right for you (timing is everything), and work on worrying less about what people think.
The peace that a loving family, supportive friends, good health, and personal contentment can bring is priceless.
What’s in store?
I’m not the type of person to have a stringent life plan. I believe that you will always end up where you are meant to be. I’ll continue to gravitate towards the things I feel drawn to.
2023 will bring more travel. I have trips planned with my partner to Nice in France and Manchester to see friends, and my partner has a big birthday this year which we hope to celebrate abroad. Alongside this, there are another handful of big birthdays amongst family and friends.
My priorities are around spending time with loved ones, personal growth and self-care, and seeing, doing, and experiencing as many things as I can to create special memories.
The mantra I want to live by is ‘if it only takes 5 minutes, then do it now’.
I’ll continue to work on ensuring my blog content remains consistent for my lovely readers (thank you to each and every one of you who keep coming back).
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