Welcome to part 2 of what I learned in 2018. I didn’t mean for this to be in two parts but part one was pushing 3000 words so it was time to split it up before people started reading and feel asleep. If you missed Part One, click here
- The world stopped for a while when the news broke that Kate, a mum of two, a daughter, a dear friend, had died. The blogging world was shaken to its core that one of our greatest personalities could have died suddenly, leaving us all with so many questions and a massive void. I learned that I need to have meet up with people more often, not just talk to them online. I need to take more photos of them and spend time with them too.
- Which was exactly what we did when we found out that a friend who lives just down the road at home was also staying in Menorca when we were. We hung out and had a laugh. It was fabulous.
- I also learned that Menorca is a truly beautiful island, often overlooked for bigger neighbours. But we embraced our week as James Villas ambassadors and learned all we could about this little place in the Med.
- I learned to drink Menorcan gin and eat tapas for lunch and vowed I would do it at home. I didn’t, of course. I also learned to love football, didn’t we all? Didn’t we fall in love with our country a bit more too as we all came together to cheer our boys on? It was a truly sad day when we crashed out of the Euros.
- I did vow to keep Kate’s spirit alive by posing in a swimming costume and posting it on Instagram. I learned that the outpouring of love for the fact I had done that was overwhelming.
- I also learned that my headaches might be hormonal. I might be menopausal and this might be why I have felt so awful for years. It was a massive turning point for me.
- Following Kate’s passing away last month, many of us went to her funeral and learned things about Kate’s childhood that made us all howl with laughter.
- We learned to be more wit wit woo. To get Kate’s voice in our heads. To get her mantra tattooed on our wrist. Okay it might have only been me that did that last one but it is a daily reminder to just do it.
- Which meant I kept posting pictures of me on the internet. I bought THE M&S jumpsuit that people were raving about, and wore it to Kate’s funeral (getting pooed on by a seagull in the process which taught me to always keep wet wipes in my handbag).
- Mr B and I celebrated ten years of marriage. We learned that we need to make time for each other as this year has drained us both and tested our resilience completely. By sneaking off to a local hotel for the weekend we got to read the papers, watch private jets landing and taking off, drink Champagne and just pause for 24 hours.
- I also learned that you are never too old for a birthday party with all your friends and family.
- Or indeed to have a gin bar in your garden, built by Jonnie (with the help of pallets from Shane). I am keeping it up until my 50th next August.
- With the knowledge my headaches might be hormonal I plucked up the courage to stand up to my GP and ask for HRT. To argue my case and to spell out to them what they had missed. That by reading Liz Earle’s “A Good Menopause” book I had joined up the dots. I am not there with stopping the headaches but I have the courage to keep looking for answers and questioning the professionals.
- I learned you can get a chimney in the back of a Mini. Good to know
- Learning that healing isn’t linear was a game changer too. We can all have good days and bad days and that is okay.
- I learned to take more photos of people. Starting with my mum in law. For no reason other than the sun was shining.
- Ellie got her tattoo of a pigeon as a permanent reminder of GG (she hated them so this is an in joke) and I learned that we all heal and remember people in different ways. Caity got a tattoo of a bear on her wrist as her reminder and it made me smile to think that my girls and I all have tattoos as reminders of people we have loved and lost.
- Another big thing we learned this year was that deciding at 12pm to go to France for the day is not a great idea. Especially as you book the return ferry forgetting that you lose an hour with the time difference, leaving you with only 90 minutes in France. Still, plenty of time to buy wine, cheese and croissants.
- I learned that Henley Literary Festival is going from strength to strength and is something that needs to feature in my calendar a lot more. We always have so much fun when we go to events there, it is only up the road and it is a great chance to hear some amazing people speak. This year it was Emma Freud chatting to Jack Monroe, such a brilliant evening.
- We said goodbye to GG and learned how strong our family is. How my uncle flew in from the US to be here for my mum and how our family might be small but my god we are mighty.
- I learned this was the year of “candid”. It was the word of our holiday in Barbados and meant we all got some lovely photos of each other.
- I wore a jumpsuit I thought was a bargain when I saw it online. When it arrived I hated it and thought it looked awful on but packed it for our holiday anyway. On our last night I made myself wear it since I had paid the grand sum of £15 on it, capturing one of my favourite photos of myself taken all year.
- I learned to be an idiot if it meant we might get a good photo. I got down on my knees in a flower bed to get a photo of myself next to a stone buddha and learned it makes people smile when I share things like this.
- I also learned that I would never be the great photographer I would love to be. But I can capture a great sunset when I have had a Pina colada or two.
- Talking of taking photos to share on line when I am being an idiot…. I thought if the leg in the air shot was good enough for Posh, it was good enough for me. Thereby learning that I need to be an idiot more often.
- I learned that hot flushes are a pain in the arse. They happen relentlessly. Though they do mean I haven’t been cold since January.
- Being an adult this year has been hard. Really hard. It really has just been about being tired ALL the time. So we had to learn to not feel guilty when we had an afternoon nap, had to cancel something, had a lie in, or an early night. We had to do whatever we could to keep our batteries recharged as we clocked up the miles on the motorway.
- I learned to be spontaneous on an afternoon in London. To not check what was happening, or to plan. To just wander and I found myself right at the front of the Regent Street Christmas light switch on. Surrounded by thousands of tourists who had probably travelled especially it made me appreciate just how lucky I am to have this on my doorstep or to be able to just stumble upon something so magical.
- I learned to push myself out of my comfort zone and attend an event with people I had never met. I had the most amazing day at at the Lido in Reading learning about “my brand” and what I can do to be out there more online next year.
- When my mum said we could all go to granny’s house and take something to remember her by there was only one thing I wanted, her cookery books. I learned that maybe my love of cooking had come from her and that maybe I should start writing my favourite recipes down. Though I can’t imagine my kids ever wanting to recreate my things when I am not around anymore but I can wish, right?
- I learned how to fill a skip! I have never filled a skip before and I think you will agree we did a damn good job.
- Sometimes you need to just get in the car and go and play in an amusement park at the beach. Mr B and I did this this month. With lunch and a large gin beforehand it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon when life had really just got a bit much.
- As much as I want to know about horses, I discovered that I know nothing other than how to back losers. But a day out at Ascot a few days before Christmas is always good fun and is now something we have vowed to do every year.
- I learned that life is too short to go out in shoes that hurt your feet. Sod that. I went out for New Years Eve wearing my slippers.
- Who knew that if you were a vegan you had to pay attention to your cosmetics and your candles? I had no idea at all. But loved learning about vegan cosmetics and more importantly candles, when I was asked to review some vegan candles. How could I have not known that?!
- I also learned that I can still surprise my husband. He thought I was at home when I called him at 9am one morning, though he was surprised to hear I was on the hands free in my car because he knew I had spent the weekend driving around London. “Where are you going now?” “I am coming to see you” I replied. I was ten miles away from his parents house, where he had been for a few days. But knowing there was an important meeting that afternoon I had got up at 5am to make sure I could be there to offer support and a shepherds pie.
I learned this year that of the 72 things I learned, nothing is more important than family.
That family is everything and that mine mean the world to me. That everything else is incidental.
Here’s to 2019 and more time as a family.