We are in uncharted territory these days, no doubt. The freedom and happiness of little joys such as a squashy sofa in a coffee shop or the bubbling excitement of an upcoming trip, came to a sudden standstill from 23rd March 2020.
This blog post is a yearly post where I try to write about my top experiences of 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 . It’s a great way of reflecting and appreciating the last twelve months. It’s a gentle reminder of how the best things are not the objects we accrue, but the moments. Let’s always remember the travel memories, our families and how a brief pause in a busy life is a good time to reflect on the things we love.
1) Work – 3 Years in Tailor-made
7th January 2020 marked 6 years at Exodus. I feel lucky to have found a company that has formed the foundations of so much in my life. It is year 3 of my role as a Tailor-made Consultant. Tailormade has been through thick and thin, but always with the best team by my side.
2) The Avenue of Volcanoes
Rising up to over 2,000m, the Volcano Route on La Palma can arguably be described as one of the best day walks in the world. We walked past sky high cones, crusted lava fields and deep craters along the 18km path on 26 March 2019.
3) 4 month Sabbatical
After reaching my 5 year anniversary at Exodus, Alex and I went in pursuit of our passion for travel. We requested a sabbatical and were luckily provided with the opportunity to take 4 months unpaid leave. We travelled by camper-van to over 10 countries in 5,000 miles. I’d describe the 4 months from 13 May to 23 September 2019 as one of the happiest periods of my life.
4) Cycling Hadrian’s Wall
With a beautifully warm 4-Day Easter Bank Holiday, Sarah and I cycled 189km on Hadrian’s Wall. Climbing over 4,400ft on our bikes, we cycled past Priorys’, Castles and crumbing sections of the Wall in April 2019.
5) Canoe 63km of the Dordogne
Alex and I paddled 63km from Montignac to Tremolat. The Perigord region in France is infamous for ancient caves, the sensuous taste of foie gras and truffles and the unspoilt beauty of the river valleys.
6) Cycling Spain’s Green Coast
We arrived into Spain early June 2019 with our camper van. Following in the footsteps of Alice and Oli, we cycled 260km from Santander to Gijon. Characterised by mild summer weather, historic towns and empty beaches, the bike ride was made memorable by the incredible food scene.
7) Mountain Karting in Switzerland
I’d seen videos of Grindelwald First and I knew it was something I really wanted to do, mountain karting from nearly 2,000m with a snowy mountain backdrop seemed almost too good to be true. We drifted downhill pass the craggy white fingers of the Swiss Alps from Schreckfeld, 1990m down to Bort, 1,530m.
8) Trekking Tour du Mont Blanc
In July 2019, Alex and I trekked half the Tour du Mont Blanc from Les Houches to Courmayeur. We crossed an international border by foot, traversed beneath huge glaciers, and meandered through beautiful alpine meadows and picture-book villages. We had 10kg camping rucksacks which made it pretty hard-going, you can read the story here.
9) Paddle-boarding the Italian Lakes
Set amongst the foothills of the Alps, Italy has over 1,500 lakes mostly concentrated in Northern Italy. We drove into Italy on 28th July 2019 (peak travel period!) and made a plan to avoid the bustling crowds of Lake Como, instead we opted for a visit to Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore and Lake di Annone. We swam, went paddle-boarding and enjoyed the best ice-cream in the world.
10) Winning a Sailing trip to Croatia with Topdeck
I remember the feeling of speaking on the phone whilst smiling so hard that I thought my mouth would drop off my face. Through a video-making competition, we won x2 spaces on the Adriatic Sunset Cruise from 24th to 31st August 2020 with Topdeck. The gullet travelled from Dubrovnik to Split where we went wine tasting, swimming and Island hopping.
11) Buggy Safari in Korcula
From the quaint island of Korcula, we rode through forest, olive groves and vineyards on a mountain buggy! The excursion finished on a family estate where we were presented with a feast of local produce such as walnut cake, candied oranges and home-made bread with virgin olive oil.
12) Caminata Del Rey in Spain
Previously known one as one of the most dangerous footpaths in the world, the Caminata Del Rey was re-modelled and walk-ways were replaced. In July 2019, Alex, Prince, Pinny and secured last minute permits and walked the 5km along boardwalks which overlooked reservoirs, mountains, gorges and valleys.
13) Weekend Break in Cirencester
Alex and I used a Hotels.com reward night to go to Cirencester! Cirencester is a market town in Gloucestershire, England, 80 miles west of London. We had gourmet fish and chips, explored historic sites, and stayed at a quaint river-side pub.
14) Walking the Cotswold Way
Sarah and I embarked on a winter walk of the Cotswold Way! Hiking through the land of honey-coloured stone, we went through picturesque villages and saw long distance views in Nov 2019. The walk was a wonderful reminder of the kindness of strangers.
15) Kate’s Sardinian Wedding
A beautiful celebration of love in sunny Sardinia with bubbly bride Kate and marvellous Marcelo! It was a weekend with an extravagant wedding feast, emotional speeches, walking and some wild swimming.
16) Home stay in Chiang Mai
We had a 2D/1N adventure package with 8Adventures! We quad-biked to the top of a mountain, jungle trekked the way back and went white water rafting the next day.
17) Caving in Khao Sok National Park
Pam and I embarked on a jungle trek, then followed the watercourse of Nam Talu Cave by headtorch. Calcareous rock formations, spiders and fish where all surprise inhabitants in the cave.
18) Becoming an Auntie
Oliver was born on 12th December 2019. The first grandchild to my Mum and Dad and one of the most beautiful family memories we’ve ever had.
19) Alex Bear
2019 marks over 4 years with Mr Burgess. I love him more with each passing day :).
With a rocky start to 2020, lets regard this moment as a time to reflect what we love.