2016 has been a sad and scary year for the world. With so much happening affecting everyone in just a single year, the ups and downs of my own life of course pale in comparison impacting few people but myself. And yet, I didn't want to let 2016 be defined solely by the political and social unrest that is rippling across the planet. In small but to me impactful ways there have been plenty of personal highlights and changes too that I'd like to stand still by.
2016 was the year I discovered hygge (the Danish concept of living happier, which I aim to apply to 2017), I was briefly addicted to Pokémon GO until a bug in the game wouldn't let me log on any longer, I discovered the wonder that is the Amazon wish list, I rubbed elbows with Ian McKellen at the press night of Show Boat, my Harry Potter fangirl resurfaced with a vengeance, I started watching Booktube religiously, and I moved up in the blogging world with invites to more mainstream West End shows and even a special event at the Harry Potter Studios.
This was the year that has been pretty consumed by work. Not only was I more busy than ever with the day job, I also helped out online with books and theatre things, and the time I spent on my blog was also always growing each month.
For the day job, in 2016 I had my first annual appraisal (I can't believe how quickly time is going, at the end of February I've been there two years already!), which went really well and I feel like I'm really growing in my role. This is completely different from the job I did prior where I was stuck in the same position for 4 years with no rewards or recognition, just an increasing work load as the team grew smaller and I had to do multiple jobs. However, recognition does come at a price and I do work a lot outside of the 'official' working hours to fit everything in even in my current role.
In addition to that, my manager has gone on maternity leave in December and the colleague I worked with directly has also just left, being replaced by a more junior person so a lot more will fall on my plate in 2017. But if it comes with career and personal growth, then it is worth it.
On the blogging front, the reason it became more and more time consuming is because I expanded my focus and I had so many ideas for blog posts I wanted to write!
2016 was the year I changed my blog around with a new look and a much broader topic focus. In 2010/2011 I started out 'blogging' by aggregating my book reviews for the Waterstones reviewers panel and theatre reviews for various websites (with a few years ago the food & beauty reviews I wrote as the editor of Woman's World thrown in), but this past year I made the decision to move towards London lifestyle.
I attended lots of fab blogging events for inspiration and networking, including The Bloggers Festival and The Big Bloggers Expo. And I added some new categories to help shift that focus, including Museum & Art Exhibitions, Literary London, Monthly Favourites and a whole host of travel specific ones (more about those further down). I also added a structure within my posting schedule in recent months with in an average week a travel/event post on Monday, a book post on Wednesday and theatre/event on Friday (subject to change, of course, depending on what events and inspiration come on my path).
My aim for 2017 is to continue the above but especially expand my writing in the travel, beauty and food categories, and work more with bigger brands. Don't worry, my book and theatre posts aren't going anywhere, but I'd like to add more of a regular variety in the new year, and not just the occasional beauty or food feature.
I didn't travel a huge amount in 2016 and so I have made it one of my goals for the new year to do more of this. Rather than having one bigger break my plan is to go on more city getaways over weekends, so I never have very long to wait for the next trip. I already booked my first outing for the year which is Paris for my birthday in early February – less than a month now!
In 2016 I did get to see a few lovely places. I of course visited my family in the Netherlands twice (once in May/June, once for Christmas) and both times I also visited the city of Groningen with my sister (a separate blog post will follow on this).
Additionally I did some travelling within England, with an Easter break to York (York Day 1 / York Day 2 / Castle Howard), a day trip down to Brighton, an outing to Chichester/Bosham Quay, and another day trip to stunning Arundel Castle.
And of course I went to beautiful Canada again as well, exactly 10 years after I lived there! I still have some blogs to write about that (I saw and did SO much in the two weeks I was there), but these are the posts I've written so far:
- The Best Attraction and Areas I visited in Vancouver
- Hiking in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
- Canada Shopping Haul
- The Best Things to See and Do in Edmonton
- Dinosaurs and Hoodoos in Drumheller
To find out my favourite books and theatre shows of the year click on the hyperlinks to read the dedicated blog posts about both. However, there was of course more I loved last year and I wanted to share some quick favourites with you all below.
- Beauty: Bath & Body Works, Burt's Bees lip balm, Nail's Inc gel polish, Pink Parcel, and The Body Shop (especially the Spiced Apple products from the Christmas range ♥ ♥ ♥).
- Exhibitions: Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House & Gardens, Hogwarts in the Snow at the Harry Potter Studios, House of MinaLima, The World Goes Pop at the Tate Modern, and Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Natural History Museum.
- Fashion: ASOS, Bluenotes, Dickins & Jones, Fat Face, House of Fraser, Jewellerybox.co.uk (I've gotten SO addicted to this brand this year), and The Disney X Cath Kidston collaboration.
- Films: America Wild: National Park Adventure in IMAX (my absolute fav), Captain America: Civil War, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Ghostbusters, Me Before You, Moana, and Now You See Me 2.
- Food: Halloumi, hummus, homemade banana cake, homemade cheese pancakes, homemade vegetable soup, Leon Restaurants, TigerTiger, Wahleeah Restaurant, and Wholefoods.
- Television: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Dance Academy, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Legends of Tomorrow, Planet Earth II, That 70s Show, The Big Bang Theory, The Graham Norton Show, The Great British Bake Off, and The Flash.
10 Popular Posts From 2016
Finally, here are ten of my most popular posts of the past year!
- Encore: 40 Years of National Youth Music Theatre at the Adelphi Theatre
- Top 5 Places in London for Pokémon GO
- Interview with Freddie Tapner, Founder and Principal Conductor of the London Musical Theatre Orchestra
- Bookish Gift Guide for the Holidays
- Book review: The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
- Highlights From West End Live 2016
- Scholastic Bloggers Book Fest
- Bloomsbury New Writers' Evening at Foyles
- Pink Parcel July Unboxing
- Me Before You preview screening + Jojo Moyes Q&A
And that's it for my 2016 wrap-up. In short, the year was consumed by work, blogging about books and theatre, and in 2017 I aim to take time for myself by experimenting more with home-cooking, reading books that help me achieve a more relaxed and happier lifestyle, work on a life plan, and by travelling more again.
What are your plans for this brand-new year?