After a mostly low key 2017 recovering from my hospital stay, and focusing on working back to some sort of normality whilst learning how to managing my illness, I was determined I was going to get the most out of 2018.
I wanted to do as much as I could, so that when the next inevitable period of enforced housebound-ness / hospital stay happens I won’t feel like i’m wasting my life sat around feeling sorry for myself.
After it was suggested I try and do 52 things in 52 weeks I decided i’d up it to 100. These could be learning new skills, going to sports events, visiting new places, trying new foods or general lifestyle improvements.
I have to say living your life trying to do as many things as possible is certainly hectic, if someone asked me if I fancied dinner I went, if there was a musician I liked playing anywhere remotely local to me, I went.
Even though I had a flare lasting 5 months between May and November, which involved many hospital trips, I only missed two things I had planned on doing, although I had to adapt a few plans to work round the worst days of the illness.
My main goal for the year was to travel, as this is the something my illness makes very difficult when i’m bad, and I had many cancelled plans in 2016/17.
I’ve been to 7 different countries visiting many new cities, including finally doing the 2 trips I missed whilst I was in hospital in 2016 (#closure ☺️).
The West Coast of America and Canada trip was a highlight as i’d wanted to go to San Francisco for a while, and I thought Vancouver was one of the nicest places i’ve ever been.
Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium all had their highlights too, as well as visiting some new places in the UK to see some of my favourite people.
Went to plenty of football matches, (no change there), covering 9 new stadiums, as well as my first rugby match in Dublin, and to watch the athletics in the Olympic Stadium, London.
Watched the Golden State Warriors play Basketball in Oakland, CA, and the Canucks beat the Ducks at Ice Hockey in Vancouver
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Started off the year seeing the newly opened Hamilton in the West End, one of my favourite things I saw all year – if you’ve not seen it, go!
I went to 3 open lectures on subjects ranging from human’s fascination with murder to positivity mindset, attended a conversation with Joanna Lumley, and my first (and possibly last) opera. Ending with Home Alone performed with orchestra and choir at the Albert Hall 3 days before Christmas.
A bumper year for music concerts – a personal highlight being 2nd row for Shania Twain, someone i’d waited 15 years to tour. Similarly getting to see Justin Timberlake again and being as close as you can get, and Craig David in a little club in San Francisco.
Others included Kylie, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Ed Sheehan and Demi Lovato to name a few.
Fitted a few comedy gigs in too… Michael McIntyre warm up show in Oxford and Rhod Gilbert work in progress in a room of about 50 in Banbury, with Dara O’Brian as brilliant as ever.
Having been lucky enough to visit lots of wonderful new places this year I made sure to try local delicacies whenever I could, and to do more alternative activities to the usual tourist traps.
Travelling over the Golden Gate Bridge on the back of a 1950’s fire truck, sailing a catamaran run San Francisco Bay, watching the sunset in Santorini and swimming in the Aegean sea.
Having a baking lesson in Copenhagen to make Danish pastries, learning all about waffles and chocolate, as well as making my own at a workshop in Brussels, buying a pizza oven and learning to make perfect pizza dough from scratch.
Crossing between 2 mountain peaks on a gondola in Whistler, walking the entirety of Stanley Park and getting the train across the Oresund Bridge.
I enrolled for weekly drawing lessons where I had to model for people to draw me for the first (and hopefully only) time, and I finally learnt how to use chopsticks!
Had lots of memorable outings with friends from work, including dinner and cocktails at the top of the Gherkin, lunchtime volleyball matches in the work pool, and watching Harry Potter at the outdoor cinema at Blenheim Palace.
I went to a midnight cinema screenings, foreign films and a surprise screening where no one was told what film was to be shown.
I also bettered my 2017 challenge of 52 books in 52 weeks, by reading 54 books in 2018.
End of the year
2018 definitely feels like a bumper year for packing so much in, and I feel better that i’ve made the most of the 365 days I had in every way I could, but I think I’ll have a bit of a quieter year this year!