It’s that time of year again. A time to reflect on the past 12 months and make resolutions for the New Year. My year has been a whirlwind of new stuff: I’ve entered unknown territories, tried things for the first time, and discovered new exhibitions and conventions in London.
If there’s anything I’ve learnt from all this, it’s that trying new things opens your mind to other cultures, different ways of thinking, and can be a great source of inspiration. Doing new things that scare you, in particular, can challenge you to confront your fears. Often our fears are based on the unknown or misconceptions, but it can actually turn out to be really exciting if you just take the leap.
Here are some of my highlights…
Learnt to swing on a flying trapeze
I never dreamed I’d be flying around on a trapeze this year. But one of my friends had tried it before and took me with her…so I just went for it. Here’s the post I wrote about the whole terrifying (yet amazing) ordeal at Gorilla Circus.
Learnt to ride a horse
Here’s another thing I’d always been too scared to do. But on a trip to Loch Ness with my friends who’d ridden before, I thought I’d give it a go. I was in safe hands riding ‘Bilbo’ – one of Highland Riding Centre‘s most docile horses. After a quick lesson, we were off on a trek! And once I’d got the hang of it, it was actually quite relaxing riding around in the beautiful Scottish highlands.
Tried mermaid pose
I’ve reached the stage where I don’t need to master every pose to enjoy my yoga practice. Just the simple fact that I’m breathing in the moment, thinking of nothing else, is enough for me. Trying a new asana is just a by-product of turning up to the yoga studio. That’s how mermaid pose happened…
Tried bubble waffles
Also known as egg waffles, this Hong Kong delicacy became one of the top food trends of 2017, with stores popping up all over London. I went for Hatch Waffles in Soho and had them with matcha ice cream, red beans and mochi – very filling but absolutely delicious.
Tried making sushi
I was lucky enough to win an Instagram giveaway for this Clearspring Luxury Japanese Sushi Kit, so I made sure it was put to good use…
This was an eventful one. Our journey there was almost thwarted by Storm Doris – instead of a three-hour train journey, it took us an entire day. But that didn’t stop us from packing in The Beatles Story, Albert Dock, The Cavern Club and creative hub the Bluecoat. We even found matcha lattes at Leaf, snuggled up with cocktails in Cosy Club and danced the night away in Alma De Cuba – a Brazilian club inside an 18th-century church!
A raving recommendation from a friend lead us to splash out on the world-famous Hotel Gellért with its Art Nouveaux style and extravagant spa. Think ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. We spent a fair amount of time bathing in its delicious thermal pools, before soaking in the Széchenyi Baths across town. Out of the water, we also explored the Jewish Quarter, the ‘ruin bar’ Szimpla Kert, and took a boat up the Danube to the picturesque Margaret Island.
Starting in Edinburgh, we ticked off tourist spots like the castle and Diagon House (Harry Potter shop), spent a day enjoying free comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe, and scaled Arthur’s Seat. A few of us then went on a road trip up to Loch Ness; we arrived at nightfall and woke up to a spectacular view of the loch itself. Here we went waterfall chasing, horse riding (see above) and Nessie spotting on the lake. On the last night we even made a camp fire, and I may have taken a dip in the water…
My friend and I popped our Ibiza cherries with a relaxing break in Cala Llonga. The average guest age at our hotel was about 40, but we thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet. The Palladium Hotel Cala Llonga is built into the cove itself, so has a stunning view of the sea at all times. But it wouldn’t be Ibiza without partying, so of course we went to see Kygo play at Ushuaia.
Okay I may have been to Orlando a few times before, but this was the first time with my boyfriend. And so much has changed, it was almost a different place. What with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (truly magical!); the recently built water park, Volcano Bay (awesome); and the new Pandora area in Animal Kingdom (absolutely amazing). Another scary first was driving a hire car – an automatic – on the other side of the road. So weird.
The Truman Brewery on Brick Lane played host to this festival of all things food, fitness and wellbeing. I enjoyed a hilariously fun class from the Boys of Yoga, heard some inspiring talks from the pros and picked up plenty of healthy freebies and matcha goodies.
First ever Comic Con
When I found out that my idol, director and podcaster Kevin Smith, was coming to the UK, I had to get tickets to the London Film and Comic Con. Not only did we get to see him do a live podcast with Scott Mosier, we actually got to meet him!
First cosplay at Comic Con
Having enjoyed the first one so much, we returned dressed in cosplay. I was such a geek about it I planned my costume months in advance…and spent a pretty penny on all the paraphernalia. My favourite part of the day was all the kids waving at me – and the little girl who wanted to take a selfie with me made my day. Thanks again to the guy who turned my cosplay photo into fan art…
On my first ever visit to Kew Gardens, I went for the annual Orchid Festival. This year’s display took inspiration from India, with flowers arranged in the shape of peacocks, elephants and tigers. Oh my!
Art of the Brick – DC Superheroes
Who knew you could make such beautiful comic book art out of Lego? From Aquaman in the bath (or you could say ‘in his element’) to Superman in flight, the exhibits were absolutely bricktacular.
The Fan Museum
This Greenwich attraction was the venue for my friend’s birthday – and what a hidden gem it is. After admiring a range of ornate and imaginative fans, we had a spot of afternoon tea in the Orangery, with its beautifully painted murals.
Adventures in Moominland
This experiential exhibition at Southbank Centre was made even more special by the fact that photography was prohibited. It now exists only in my mind. After literally stepping inside a Moomin story book, our enthusiastic and knowledgable guide took us on an immersive journey through Moominland, punctuated along the way with various original sketches and artefacts.
As a lover of all things Japanese, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the culture at this Barbican exhibition. It was a satisfying combination of perfect diaramas, both miniature and life size. And, as someone who’s in the process of decluttering, I was totally inspired by the minimalism – a carefully placed plant or trinket can be all you need to decorate a space.
New Year’s Resolutions: blog more often and write shorter posts…
Yoga Panther x