It’s so easy for people to get emotional and sentimental at this time of year, and I’m genuinely not usually one of them, but 2012 has honestly marked a big change in my life. I try not to put too much pressure on myself at this time of year, as I find that a lot of people expect themselves to completely change their habits and routines on January 1st. My approach to life is more like ‘one step at a time’, and I’ve learnt to not beat myself up if I don’t meet my own expectations. The important thing is that I keep trying, and I keep taking those steps forward. However, I do think it’s important to look back sometimes and evaluate what has gone well and what is best left to experience. So I’d like to share with you my ‘highlights’ of 2012. I used to work for a well-known English/German tour operator that was all about ‘highlights’. As a rep, I encouraged my guests to discover the highlight of their hoiliday, whether that be a great excursion they went on, the perfect sunset over the beach or the barman that served them in the hotel. The example I always used was when I was in the audience for the Ricki Lake Show in New York. I’d been travelling around North East America for a month after working in Brant Lake, NY for the summer, and my travelling partner, Kate, and I were spending a few days in New York City before heading down to Philadelphia and Washington DC before we flew home. We saw a flyer pinned to the noticeboard in our hostel looking for people to join the audience, and we thought it sounded like a laugh. We had the best day, and even ten years on I still love telling people that I was in an episode of Ricki Lake.
I’d like to share with you my highlights of 2012. Here’s what I got up to…
Learning to Lead Climb
This photo was taken when I was a teenager. My brother, a keen climber himself, decided to teach me to climb. What a disaster! I was scared of heights, didn’t trust my brother and, to be honest, I just wasn’t that interested. Fast forward twenty(ish) years, and I decided to give it another go. I’d always been annoyed with myself for not giving climbing my full effort. So, at 29 years old, I decided to give it another go. Three years on, I’m happy to say the perseverance worked. This year I learnt to lead climb, something I’ve wanted to do since I first got back on the wall three years ago.
Completing Cwrs Mynediad
Since I first moved to Wales 14 years ago (oh my gosh, has it really been that long!), it has been my dream to learn Welsh. The oldest language in Europe and one of the oldest in the world, Welsh is difficult to learn, especially when you’re English with a monotone Lancashire accent that doesn’t allow you to roll your r’s. Two years ago last September, I took the plunge and enrolled on Cwrs Mynediad (entry level Welsh for adults). I completed the two-year course in May 2012, and I am so proud of myself. I still study Welsh at home, and obviously I use it everyday to some extent because I live in Wales. I hope to go back to college in the near future to enrol on Silfaen (foundation) and continue my studies. Learning Welsh has not only opened up my world here in Wales (when I first moved here I had to carry a map with me on the bus because I couldn’t even pronounce the names of local towns and villages), it had also introduced me to a whole new set of friends who are incredibly precious to me.
The birth of my niece
I never thought that I would be an aunty. The Church of England and the Church in Wales won’t allow me to be a godmother because I wasn’t baptised, and my brother was adamant that he was never going to have children. I’m happy to say that that has all changed. Although I’m not officially allowed to be a godmother, one of my best friends asked me to take on the responsibility for her two beautiful children. From the day that my godson was born, I made a commitment to him to love him, support him and guide him throughout his life, no matter what the church says about me. The same applied to his sister when she arrived five years later. My brother, the one who was never going to settle down, surprised me by getting married and having children. The third one, my second niece, was born in September 2012. She’s already trying her best to keep up with her older brother and sister, and they want to keep her with them wherever they go. All our family keep trying to decide who she looks like most, but I just tell her that she’s her own person. Just like with all the other children that I am ‘aunty’ to, I’m sure that we are going to have lots of great adventures together.
Having fun with my friends
It might seem quite boring to a lot of people that one of my highlights is spending time with my friends, but I’m always grateful for this time. For six years I worked seasons overseas. During that time I made many great friends, and had crazy and exciting adventures, but I always missed out on what was happening at home. When I moved back to the UK four years ago, one of my ambitions was to catch up with my friends and do the ‘normal’ things that I’d missed out on. Here’s some of the adventures we got up to this year…
I had a great weekend with my friend Charlie (mother of my two beautiful godchildren) in Brighton – veggie heaven!