2016 in review

2016 is quickly drawing to a close and I thought it might be a fun exercise to look back over the year and see what I got up to.

This year I:

woke up early most mornings - I think it's old age, but it sure has its compensations

walked a stretch of the Camino and created a blog about the experience.  It was life-changing.

gained quite a lot of weight 😕

had to let go of some family relationships, it hurts, but when it's time to let go it's time to let go.

put down some roots - it's taken me a long time to feel comfortable in our "new" home, we've been here 3 years now and I can FINALLY say I feel at home.

survived home renovations - what a nightmare!  But we did it and I love our new bathroom.

Read 46 books

said good-bye to my precious Jackie-dog, it nearly broke my heart.  I miss that old lady SO much.

Love you my sweet Jax

said good-bye to my Uncle Ian. It was sad to say good-bye, but I know he is happily reunited with his beloved "Skaapie" at last.

spent many happy hours baby-sitting my darling Issy while her mom did a 6-month locum.

cruised on the Med with my whole family and my sister-from-another-mother, Lisa and her husband Trev - it was a dream come true.

swam in the Mediterranean sea with my precious Issy-boo.... pure bliss!!  Probably the highlight of my year.

Spent a week in Corfu doing this:

there is no better feeling!

discovered that in February 2017 I will be Nana to a baby boy!

Spent some time in the mountains with my lovelies

Found Imps a job in our area, so next year we will be seeing a lot more of him!

Imps and Issy sharing a joke

Did a pretty good job with my word of the year which was "Commit"

Subscribed to Netflix and binge-watched the entire Gilmore Girls from start to finish.

Fell in love with the Heartland series (also on Netflix) 

did lots of walking in the first half of the year, in preparation for our week walking the Camino - planned to continue walking when we got home, but that unfortunately didn't happen.

Although it's had its ups and downs, 2016 has been a good year. 

Looking ahead to 2017

I have spent a large part of the last two days reflecting on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017.  I spent several very happy hours completing  Susannah Conway's "Unravel the year" workbook, something I have done for the last few years and that I find really helpful for getting my focus right for the year ahead.  I also did some planning of my own- I figured out my word for 2017, worked out my goals for the year and generally dug around and decided how I wanted 2017 to look.  I love the feeling of having a focus, and intention for the new year.  I'm really looking forward to putting my plans into action.

My word for 2017 is THRIVE and I'm excited to see how that manifests in 2017.

December Reflections with Susannah Conway

Christmas Traditions

I love having traditions, I believe it gives family-life a rhythm and a comforting sense of familiarity and security.  At Christmas time in particular we have a number of traditions that we do every year:

*Our Christmas tree goes up each year at the beginning of December.  Having said that, this year we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving (even though we have no connection to the USA whatsoever! 😊) and we put our tree up on that day - this worked really well for us and I think it could become a new tradition.  Whenever we travel I make a point of buying Christmas decorations in the places we visit - I love the memories that those decorations bring back as we decorate our tree.

*In mid-December, the girls in the family invite a couple of friends over and we spend a happy morning icing Christmas cookies.

* We visit at least one Christmas Market. This year it was the Shongweni Market.

Issy enjoying the play area at the Shongweni Christmas Market

* We always go to the Carols by Candlelight at our local SPCA.

* Between the 16th and 20th of December we bake our Christmas Cake.

* We take a drive and look at houses decorated with Christmas lights on about the 15th of December (these are few and far between in our country, but the ones that do decorate do a fabulous job of it)

* On Christmas Eve, the off-spring still living at home (that would be Paula!) open their "Christmas Eve present" of pyjamas.

* We read "Twas the night before Christmas" before we head to bed.

* On Christmas morning we get up early and enjoy a cup of tea/coffee with a Christmas Mince Pie as we open presents, with carols playing in the background.

* Our Christmas meal is usually a cold meal as it's generally extremely hot at Christmas time.  We have gammon, chicken and chipolata sausages with a selection of salads and a cold Christmas dessert.

December Reflections with Susannah Conway

5 years ago

December Reflections with Susannah Conway

Best Decision of 2016

I think the best decision we made in 2016 was to do with our trip to Europe.  Initially, we had booked back-to-back cruises on the Celebrity Equinox - the first week would take us from Barcelona to Athens and the second week we'd cruise from Athens to Istanbul.  As the weeks progressed, after we'd made our booking, the situation in Istanbul became more unstable.  We um-ed and ah-ed and eventually decided to cancel the second cruise and instead fly from Athens to Corfu, where we'd spend the week.  It was a tough decision to make because our second cruise included some really lovely stops, but ultimately we felt that our safety was more important.  As it turned out it was the best decision we could have made - we absolutely loved our stay in Corfu.  We rented a wonderful villa (Villa Artemis) a short walk from Barbati Beach and we had the most idyllic, relaxing time ever.  

Soundtrack of 2016

I know some, if not all, of these songs were released in 2015, but these were the songs I really enjoyed singing along to in 2016:


My favourite this year without a doubt was:



Well anyone who knows me would know where I was going to go with today's prompt.... my Issy-boo!  My precious little granddaughter Isabella.... she makes my heart smile every single day.  

Nothing is more precious to me than the fact that we live so close to one another and that I can be an integral part of her life.

December Reflections with Susannah Conway

Biggest Lesson from 2016

I think the biggest lesson that 2016 taught me is that it's okay to let go and just keep plodding.

I like to plan things down to the finest detail - not allowing for any surprises, not allowing for the unexpected, being assured of success at all times.  The walk we did on the Camino gave me a whole lot of perspective on all of that.

Yes I planned our walk down to the finest detail and I have no regrets about that, but life threw us a bunch of curve balls too and I learnt to shrug my shoulders and keep plodding.  I realised that I actually can't control the universe (who knew?! 😏) and the best I can do is plan, hope for the best, and keep working towards my goal, one step at a time.

Ultimately it all works out, I might pick up some bumps and bruises and learn a lot of important lessons on the way, but it's all part of the experience.

Best Day of 2016

I think my favourite day of this year was Sunday 19 June, the day we started our week-long walk on the Camino Frances in Spain.  We were so excited to finally start the walk we had been planning for many months.  The feeling of anticipation and excitement as we left our hotel was amazing and then the sense of achievement when we made it to Uterga and knew that we had managed the climb up and down the Alto del Perdon (that had been worrying me a lot in the preceding weeks!)  It was all just amazing, an incredible day and a wonderful experience.

I wrote about our day on my Camino blog here.

December Reflections with Susannah Conway

December Reflections: Day 7 "5 things about me"

5 Things about me:

I love to travel - particularly to the countries around the Med

Paula and me at Santa Margherita, Italy
Swimming with Issy in Amalfi, Italy

I am crazy about animals, especially dogs and donkeys.

Paula and me at the Donkey Sanctury, Corfu

I am semi-vegetarian, I don't eat any red meat, but I do eat poultry, fish and dairy products

I would love to live in Corfu.

Corfu, Greece

Nothing means more to me than my family.

Me, Aunt Wendy, Issy, Paula and Roxy

December Reflections with Susannah Conway

December Reflections: Day 6 "In the Air"

The fact that I was the person who took this photo is nothing short of miraculous.  I have been battling a fear of flying for a number of years now (remember this blog post!😁) and, I hesitate to say it, but it seems I might finally have turned a corner.  I wouldn't say  I am completely comfortable and at ease in an aircraft, but I seem to have overcome the sweating, white-knuckled, fixed-gaze state that I used to be in every time I flew.  Yay me!

Having said that, shortly after taking this photo, on the approach into Corfu, I did think my final day on earth had come - no-one warned me that the landing strip at Corfu airport extends almost into the sea.  It literally felt like we were landing in the ocean.  Have a look here to see how crazy it is:

Best book of 2016

This year I only read a couple of books that could even remotely be considered quality literature - "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway (frankly I can't say I loved it) and "My Family and Other Animals" by Gerald Durrell (a fun read).  I chose those two books because we were visiting Pamplona and Corfu during the year.

Other than that I've read a lot of fluff... chick lit....  My favourite reads this year have been the Fool's Gold series by Susan Mallery  and the Ribbon Ridge series by Darcy Burke

December Reflections by Susannah Conway

December Reflections: Day 4 "Circles"

I took this photo yesterday afternoon - my aunt, Wendy, is spending a couple of days with us and I managed to capture this moment of her on the veranda with Rox and Issy.  Wendy is the sole surviving member of her generation in our family, so we are trying to make as many memories with her as we can.  The circle of life..... family circles.... there is a pattern there!

Fave photo of 2016

Well make that "Fave photos", there was no way I could narrow it down to 1!

All 5 photos were taken in Corfu - all, except the family photo, were taken in Barbati.  My soul feels SO at home in Corfu.  I would live there if I could.

Susannah Conway - December Reflections 

December Reflections: Day 2 "Light"

One of my favourite Camino photos - this was taken early on the 24 June 2016, as we walked from Los Arcos to Viana.

December Reflections: Day 1 "On the Table"

Roses from Grant and a little festive cheer to go with them - that's happy.

December Reflections

So looking forward to joining in with December Reflections hosted by the awesome Susannah Conway.

Feeling a bit.......meh......

It's been a grim week.  For deeply personal reasons I despise August.  This August was even worse than usual because I am coming down from the "being in Europe"-high.  I hate the post-travel blues.  Not only is it so depressing because the holiday is over, but to make matters worse I don't have the travel-planning to take my mind off things.

Oh well, this too shall pass.  In the meantime, it's Friday - so I am going to spend the afternoon with a good book, and the evening with a glass of wine and a take-away curry.  Yay me!

I'm a terrible blogger

I confess, it's true, I'm a terrible blogger.  AWOL more than on the blog!  Oh well, stuff happens, life happens and the blog gets neglected.

One of the reasons I have been away from the blog for so long is that I was planning this amazing vacation and then actually being on said vacation.  The vacation included just over a week walking on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  It was utter bliss.  I loved, loved, LOVED it.  If you'd like to read all about it, pop over to the blog I created here.