Christmas this year was like one giant heartwarming hug.
The big day saw just my immediate family and I, hanging out in the historic city of Bath: a tranquil break we deeply craved. Staying at our favourite hotel there, The Queensberry, we ate the mother of all meals: Christmas dinner at their renowned restaurant, The Olive Tree, followed by a stroll through the cobbled streets before a much-needed nap and Caesar salad and cheeseboards for all the family, by night.
Just like being at home then, without all the cooking, mess or stress that Christmas often brings. Perfection, basically.
Now let me take you through the day.
Christmas morning saw me change outfits twice as this Christmas cracker style seemed a bit much for the hotel lunch and might well be rocked tonight for NYE.
Then it was present time!
Then it was all about lunch!
With my folks working on Christmas day, we decided a mini break to Birmingham first with Bath as our final Christmas day destination was just what we needed after a whirlwind of a year. We were after a strong dose of inner calm and lots of festive cheer and we certainly found it. I needed to sit back, chill out and eat ALL the food, and boy, did The Queensberry deliver!
Hello room service you complete and utter stud.
..All that time eating and relaxing helped me to rest and fully reflect on 2016. Sometimes you need the calm to catch your breath.
The greatest part of the year has been making memories with my little fam and amazing mates, old and new.
Professionally, it’s been a year of real career highs for me with a book deal and becoming the first blogger in the UK to be signed as a digital ambassador to an airline: Jet2.com & Jet2holidays, along with collabs with Jamie Oliver, James Martin, Red Magazine, featuring in the Sun’s Fabulous magazine, being quoted on the cover of my pal, Natasha Courtenay-Smith‘s must-read bestselling book, The Million Dollar Blog book and being interviewed inside as well as appearances on Good Morning Britain and Sky News. Stand out highlights also include winning the Best of the Best and Best Social Media Awards at BritMums’ Brilliance in Blogging Awards and being managed by Neil Ransome at Insanity and represented as an author by Robyn Drury at Diane Banks Associates.
It was also another year of brilliant collabs with my good friend Jessica Huie MBE and we can’t wait to return to the British Library with an inspiring workshop of Turning Your Passion Into Pounds in March.
I’m so flipping grateful for the opportunities this blog (my window to the world) and millions of hours of hard work have brought. Please know that when you boldly and bravely pursue your dreams, work hard, practice kindness yet take no s****, good things happen.
Personally, 2016 was undoubtedly the year of friendship. Unconditional, unbreakable, laugh until I can’t breath kind of bonds which made life great in 2016, even at times it wasn’t. Shout outs to my oldest, closest mates Carlie and Rebecca for all their love and support this year, my ‘Big Sis’ Maria, my original and best blogging babes Uju of Babes About Town, Mirka of All Baby Advice & Fitness 4 Mamas and Nomita of Your DIY Family and my girl Sharmin of Brand New Cravings who came all the way from Amsterdam to celebrate my birthday, my travel companion and great friend Nicci Topping and Harriet Thorpe who came with me to BritMums and has given me so much of her wisdom and strength this year. Not forgetting my new mates I couldn’t imagine life without either, like Lela London for making me literally cry with laughter every time we meet and my amazing Jason Collier, hair stylist extraordinaire and BFF, along with, many, many other amazing mates I love. You all know who you are.
Speaking of my baes, whilst we were in Brum pre-Bath, I met up with a great mate I’ve made thanks to Honest Mum: PR, blogger (the brilliant Ms Motivator) and all round sparkling diamond or should that be ruby, Lucy Hird, who became a sister to me this year.
Drinking bubbles whilst putting the world to rights and squealing ’till our jaws hurt, kicked off our holidays in style let me tell you!
Soppy I know but when I think of my friends, my real ride or dies, I feel like I’m the luckiest girl alive.
They say you can only count your real mates on one hand but mine span several, people who always have my back, always, tell me when I’m wrong (and right), cry with me in the good times and the bad, make me laugh like a child and mean the flipping world to me. The sisters I never had. There’s been a lot of sad times this year, shadows behind the wide smiles and career goals met..they’re just not out there in the open to protect people’s feelings. Thank goodness for my husband Peter and mates I couldn’t live without, they picked me up and pulled me out of darkness many times this year.
I’ve also learnt the hard way in 2016, that not everyone wants the best for me or even likes me (including those I thought, did), but I’m at peace with that, and now at the grand old 😉 age of 36 feel I know who I am- and let me shout it out- I REALLY LIKE MYSELF (yay!).
I stopped seeking validation from those I don’t know or respect long ago and it feels good, liberating in fact, so please try it for yourselves people, practice it and release yourself from the pressure of needing to be liked by everyone. That’s just not life.
People will always bring their own baggage to you and those who barely know you, will judge you on zero info. Make a promise to yourself that you will do YOU this year and will commit to not worrying what other people think of you. Also, don’t forget to hold your tribe close, the ones that have you in their hearts. Make time for those you love, show gratitude and treat them and yourself with kindness.
Talking of real mates, fittingly, we ended our UK weekly tour in Liverpool, another favourite city with my first ever Mummy friend, Ruth and her beautiful family.
Ruth was my rock when we became first time mums together, just days apart, an incredibly caring friend who is incredibly wise and compassionate (her energy reminds me of the strong women in my family and I loved her on first meet). Ruth helped me feel less alone at a time I was pretty broken after a traumatic birth, back in 2010. I’m not sure she even knows, how much.
I’m so glad we’ve kept in touch after all these years. Now, with our first kids almost 7 (!) we make a point of meeting up at Christmas and this time saw up lap up carbs at Pizza Express, before a freezing but fun time at the Christmas fair at Liverpool 1.
We all left bouncing on air, nourished by the good vibes great friendship (and pizza) brings!
Talking of good vibes, now it’s NYE I want to raise a big glass to my crazy, loveable family and friends, LEGO which kept my kids busy for hours on end and wine on tap. Oh, why does it have to end? Weep!
What a trip. Bath we heart you BIG TIME, thanks for the fresh air and fun times where we could all be our silly selves without the pressures of real life.
This was also the year my sons became best friends, heartmeltingly evident in these photos below.
And would you just look at Bath by night. What a babe.
And what a trip!
2017 we’re now rested and are totes ready for you. The unknown and the meticulously planned. I can’t wait for the exciting projects ahead, a book to continue writing (eek) and maybe even a move down South at some point too. I wonder what else life might bring. A new addition to the family, furry or human perhaps, some more trips around the world? Who knows.
One thing’s for sure, we’re never, ever bored here and our bambinos are healthy and happy.
Life is good and we’re grateful.
Thank you all, you gorgeous lot, for your support and love this year and every year since I started Honest Mum. This sounds like an Oscar speech (cringe) but I really couldn’t have ticked so many career boxes last year without you cheering me on and wanting the best for me.
You guys give me the confidence to be myself.
Here’s to a cracking 2017 for us all.
Happy New Year!!!