For me, 2016 has been a year to be proud of. I’m feeling more happy and content than ever, having achieved a great many things this year, and i’m going into this new year with purpose, direction and a clearer sense of what I want my future to look like.
As with every year there have been plenty of dark moments, but way more lighter ones and that’s what I want to focus on. So here’s a breakdown of the best moments, big and small of 2016 for me:
The new year got off to a perfect start with a lovely cold walk in the woods with Magnus and Steve. With January being my birthday month, I celebrated with my friends by going skiing and sno-tubing at my local dry slope for the first time, which was lots of fun. This month we also moved my car Lulu into our garage so that we can fix her, which sadly at the time of writing has still not happened but was so fun to see her on the road again, even if it was via a tow bar! I also photographed a Secret Adventure in London in January, swimming outside at London Fields Lido and then had a campfire the park with some lovely acoustic music. I also FINALLY went to the Harry Potter Studios and drank a Butterbeer, something i’ve wanted to do for a long time. I then photographed some headshots for a friend who is a make-up artist and I witnessed a murmuration up close as hundreds of starlings flew over my head so close I could hear their wings. All in all, a good month.
In February, I joined my local parkrun for the first time and I went mountain biking at Bedgebury Forest for the first time. A month of firsts. I photographed another Secret Adventure in a woodland on the outskirts of London, walking in the dark, listening to stories, finished with a cosy campfire. I also photographed myself and my brothers for a gift for my mum, turning a room in my house into a home studio.
In March I did a lot of running, finally getting fit, as well as some lovely woodland walks with Magnus. I also went to my second Night of Adventure, this time with Steve. We were inspired by the stories of some very brave and funny people. I can’t wait for the next one.
This month I visited Winchester with Steve and family for a lovely weekend away, and watched Brian Fallon play in a tiny church in St. Pancras. Literally nothing but air between us. Also, a snowflake fell on me in London and I was pretty excited about it.
In May I started volunteering for Wild Night Out, photographed my friends band and went on a lovely bike ride, exploring somewhere new. We also celebrated Steve’s birthday with a kayaking trip on the Thames and dinner on a boat with Secret Adventures. My friend Becky came to visit and we went to see Busted in London, we had some lovely walks with Magnus along Botany Bay and the Thames Estuary. I also dipped my toes in the sea on a lunch break one day and ran along the marshlands on the Isle of Sheppey, making the most of working from home in the warmer weather. May was also the month I slept on a train and woke up in Scotland!
Our Scotland trip crossed over into June where we explored Fort William, hiked on Ben Nevis (but didn’t summit) and wild camped with a mountain view. I also took a scenic train journey to Glasgow where I saw Bruce Springsteen play (again!) and then explored Edinburgh, climbing Arthur’s Seat and I ate a battered Mars Bar for the first (and probably last) time. In June I also saw Bruce Springsteen play (AGAIN) at Wembley in London. Towards the end of the month, we celebrated the marriage of two lovely people and went camping in my friends wood with Magnus for the first time. I also photographed a Secret Adventure, canoeing along the River Wye, celebrating the summer solstice with some lovely strangers.
In July we visited Steve’s Auntie and Uncle in La Tranche in France and I tried surfing and body boarding for the first time since I was a child and got a cut on my left eye. We walked through French forests and along golden sand beaches, watching the sunset and the stars. Total bliss. I also did my longest run ever, while on holiday. What an accomplishment! This month me and Steve also celebrated our 3 year anniversary.
In August I visited the Brecon Beacons for the first time and got my Bronze Map Reading Award with Explorers Connect. This was also the month I flew on a plane for the first time on my own, flying to Sweden, ready to spend a month hiking along St. Olavsleden (St. Olavs Way), which was a true dream come true. Here I had so many amazing experiences in August including wild camping by a river in the woods, seeing the Northern Lights properly for the first time, meeting some lovely people and wild swimming in a beautiful clear lake. There are too many amazing moments daily from my time on the trail to mention so read my diaries for more moment from August.
In September I crossed the border into Norway along St. Olavsleden. Again, so many amazing moments every day to write here, but some of the highlights included crossing the beautiful mountains, seeing Reindeer and Moose in the wild and sleeping in the sun by a lake in the mountains. Best of all, we reached Trondheim and was met by Steve after not seeing him for a month and he proposed! I also flew home and saw Magnus for the first time in a month, which was happy/sad for leaving but boy did I miss my dog.
October was for spending time with friends and family and having lovely walks with Magnus. I also went bouldering and rope climbing for the first time and visited Bedgebury Forest and had a go at Go Ape for the first time. I chickened out when I got to the Tarzan Swing, but there’s always another time.
On bonfire night we celebrated Magnus’ 5th birthday with a walk with his sisters and it was this month I relaunched my blog as Pine and Peak! I went on an awesome foraging course in a woodland in Canterbury and joined a meetup group for hiking in my local area. Towards the end of the month I was reunited with Angeliqa in London for a lovely evening meal.
In December I mainly prepared for the festive season but managed to find some time to stay at Tilly’s Wood again with some friends I haven’t seen in a long time and had a wonderful weekend in the cabin. I also had a lovely time visiting Leeds Castle for the first time and enjoying the Christmas markets and a christmassy meal with friends. I spent lots of time with friends and family over the Christmas period and some quality time with Steve and Magnus. We had a lovely Christmas period with chilly frosty walks and lots and lots of food. As I finish this post, December is about to end. I am ending this month and this year with an evening dog walk and spending time with family, seeing in the new year quietly but contently.
As I said at the beginning of this post, it’s not all been rosy. I want to focus on the good but also I feel it’s important not to put a social media/internet rose tinted filter on everything all the time. This year has seen my Mum continue to fight cancer, having a second round of chemotherapy, but doing well. I’ve also lost loved ones such as our lovely family friend Ken and our beloved family pets Selena and Ozzy. I’ve also battled against some pretty crappy periods of anxiety, where it’s threatened to overwhelm me and i’ve had some terribly down days. Also, not forgetting wider events, such as the discourse around Brexit. That was a pretty dark period for a lot of people and certainly highlighted some ugly aspects of society.
Not wanting to put a downer on all the above good things, but just wanted to highlight that even though there is a lot of bad, there is also a lot of good, usually much more good. Everywhere you look, you can find it. Even in the smallest, most insignificant moments and places. So it’s good to look for the good everywhere, especially when you’re constantly having a lot of bad shoved in your face.
Here’s to 2016, let’s make 2017 even better!