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I know many of you read this blog for the travel tips, so perhaps you’ll want to skip this one, but I know I love bloggers’ posts that give an update on their life lately. It’s like a getting a little letter from one of my friends. So I thought it’s about time I write my own letter to you.
This year has been about making a home in Bristol. After almost five years of travelling and um-ing and ah-ing about where to live, it feels good to be putting down roots. I’ve taken that literally and have been busy in the garden, learning about what’s already there and plating new flowers of my own. I used to bemoan trips to the garden centre when I was a child, but now it’s one of my favourite places to be. I just wish the climate was a little better here, so I could plant a bougainvillea to remind me of Mexico. I do, however, have a blueberry plant.
We’ve been slowly making the house our own. When I packed my life into a backpack five years ago, I was delighted by my lack of “stuff”. Now, with a house to fill, that “stuff” is something I love again. I’ve been enjoying making my Pinterest dreams a reality and creating an environment that feels like mine. After years of staying in beautiful hotels and guesthouses, I have a lot of inspiration to draw on. I’ll share a post soon with some of the rooms we’ve created.
And outside of the house, Bristol is also becoming home. So far, it’s all I hoped it would be: a city with enough of the culture and arts of London, but without the frenetic pace. I love that within ten minutes of the city, I can be amid the countryside. Steve and I have joined Borrow my Doggy, and every Tuesday we take a little chihuahua for a walk in a gorgeous estate called Ashton Court. If you watch my Instagram stories you’ll have seen her (I’m obsessed).
My bookclub is also in full swing, made up of friends old and new. And I’ve been trying to put myself out there and make new friends where I can, going to meet-ups and events like yoga brunch club. There’s a beautiful dining event called Yonder where creative people come together to connect and be inspired over a gorgeous dinner. The whole experience is created in collaboration with local artisans, and looks like something straight out of the pages of Kinfolk. It’s things like this that make Bristol so special.
I’m also super lucky that two of my best friends decided to move here not long after us. After years of being away, having them around is a constant treat. Other friends visit from London regularly – we have people staying often. And I also already had a good friend living here, a cousin in Bath, plus Steve’s family and friends, so I’m not short of company. This is one of the key reasons we returned to the UK. While we loved the excitement of being away, the pull of loved ones called us back. We’ll still travel, but we’re happy to have this base.
The other big thing in life lately is babies. We’re still trying, but it’s not a simply journey, partly due to my PCOS. I’m having some treatments done, which means my schedule is somewhat governed by trips to the doctor. The unpredictability of it all means it’s hard to plan things in advance, hence why all our recent trips have been so last-minute. But the good news is that the treatment is working, test results have been good, and hopes are high. We just have to have patience, which hasn’t always been my strong suit.
Work-wise, I’m happier with my current balance than I have been in years. I regularly work for Marie Curie, a charity for people living with a terminal illness. And alongside that I freelance for other charities, travel companies, and small businesses like this bakery in Bristol. Steve and I are working with Expedia again on an exciting new video project (following on from Victoria’s Insider Guide to London). This time we’re collaborating with other bloggers, which has been a lot of fun. I’ll be sharing the first video soon. And as for this blog, I still love writing and sharing pieces of my life and tips from along the way. I’m continually frustrated by the ever-changing social media algorithms (Instagram, I’m looking at you), but I’ve started to make some money from affiliates on the blog, which helps to justify the amount of time I spend on it all. And while I’m not as mega successful as some of my peers, I’m pretty happy with how it’s going. As always, thank you for reading along.
And finally there’s travel. So far this year, we’ve been to Iceland, Lapland, and on a road trip through France, Switzerland and Italy. I’m still writing up the road trip, but it was hands down one of the best trips we’ve ever done. As I said, an unpredictable schedule meant all those trips were last minute, planned just a week or two before we left. While that’s not normally how I do things, the spontaneity has been fun. And being back here in Europe has reminded me just how splendid this continent is. My wish list of places to go grows longer by the day.
On the horizon, we don’t have any firm plans outside of the UK, but Barcelona is calling our name, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be there before too long. Both Steve and I used to live there at different times, plus it’s where we first got together, so it’s firmly in or hearts. We might combine that with another road trip.
And inside the UK, we have lots of little trips planned, including a few festivals that I shared last week. We’ve just been in Wales for the Hay Festival, and next we’re off to Devon because it’s been too long, Liverpool for some filming, to Edinburgh for the Fringe, to Hayling Island with family, to Somerset for Latitude, and it also looks like York, Glasgow and Inverness are on the cards. As you can see, while we now have a home base, we’re not to prone to sitting still!
And I think that’s it from me for now. It’s book club day, so I’m off to make a cake!