A little over a year ago I did a few of those things that I always put off.
I looked at my life and asked myself some of the tough questions.
And I checked my finances.
One of the questions I asked myself was, ‘what makes me happy..?’
And aside from the obvious, like family, friends, loved ones, dancing and health, I noticed that my list of ‘happy needs’ wasn’t actually very long.
- Sunshine on my skin.
- Splashing in the sea.
- Long walks.
- Nature’s beauty.
I’m a simple soul it seems.
So I took a long hard look at my finances. At every direct debit, standing order, incidental, accidental and temperamental spending habit of mine.
And I systematically cancelled every non-essential item.
I got rid of the TV, and I cancelled the TV licence and Sky subscription. And not for one day since I did it have I missed having a TV.
We stopped using the central heating. Full stop. We have a log burner, and my man chops and brings home the wood, from trees that fell naturally over the years in the spinney near where he works. The long, beautiful evenings spent together on the rug in front of the fire might be one of the reasons we haven’t missed having a TV…
We stopped eating out as much. And instead enjoy fine dining, by candlelight in the privacy and comfort of our own home. We only buy what we are going to eat, fresh that day and if there is anything left over it is used the next day. We try to be very aware of what we waste. And I stopped eating meat.
The money saved from making these small changes has enabled us to make good on our New Year resolution – to take just a few days each month to seek out some sea, some sunshine and some sunsets.
We started the year in Whitby. For the first time in many years I took New Year’s Eve off of work and we spent it in a random pub taking part (badly) in a pub quiz and winning cheap tatt in a raffle!
On New Year’s day we plodged in Robin Hoods Bay – brrrrr! We got told off by the owner of a coffee shop for daring to sit outside while we waited for her to open. We explored Whitby, climbed lots of steps and were rewarded by being able to see a Christmas Tree exhibition and we stayed out on the harbour walls in the wind, until way after dark. We walked cobbled streets bathed in moonlight and we planned our next adventure.
And our quest to plodge in the sea somewhere at least once in every month continued.
In February we plodged in Worthing. And tied it in with a surprise lunch visit to see my foster-Granma on her 85th Birthday.
In March we tied our plodging in with a dance weekender on the east coast.
And in April we managed a very last minute plodge just before midnight on the eve of May in Bournemouth.
In May we did our first plodge on foreign shores. And began a bit of a love affair with the Algarve. June was a Big Birthday for my man. And so we ticked off something from his Bucket List by visiting the Devils Bridge waterfall in Aberystwyth, Welsh Wales. We plodged in a crystal clear mountain stream while we walked a fabulous route in and around the Parsons Bridge. I also remember fine champagne being involved, and the worst fish and chips I have ever had the misfortune to endure.
In June we also went back to Portugal and plodged in the sea at Porto. We spent some long, lazy days in a beach-side reggae bar, enjoying good music and lots of Sangria from the comfort of our beach bean bags.
July saw us back on home shores for our plodging. Hunstanton in July was very chilly!
In August I plodged in the beautiful clear waters of Ullswater in the Lake District and then through hideous sludge, silt and slime to get to Blakeney Point. Where we almost died. (Maybe a slight exaggeration for the getting stranded situation, but it most definitely was an adventure) It was under the big night sky at Blakeney that Dino saw his first shooting star.
September saw us back in Portugal for some Birthday plodging in Albufeira.
October was a mass plodge of dancers at 6am after a full night of dancing in Bournemouth.
In November we went slightly further afield to Lanzarote, where we enjoyed a very special few days with my Mummy Wendy. Sunsets, volcanoes, honey rum and mighty fine company were the highlights.
And in December we plodged in Swanage, on a moonlit beach on Christmas day. After exploring Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, Corfe Castle and Old Harry Rocks. We enjoyed champagne on the beach sold by a happy man in a pink blazer with a cowboy sidekick. And we very nearly had soap on toast for Christmas dinner.
Aside from plodging we had a whole host of other adventures. We went on squirrel safaris and deer stalking. We climbed mountains, peaks and hills.
We saw Stomp in London and my boy in Panto in Peterborough and Paul Weller in Leeds.
We got lost on more than one occasion and revelled in the adventure. We Tick Tock Unlocked and failed to unlock. We collected ‘firsts’ as trophies and treasured them all.
We saw a canal boat Christmas light parade, bought cheese from a cheese boat, drank Prosecco at will and champagne whenever the whim took us.
We visited Brownsea Island red squirrel hunting after sleeping in the car on the seafront and then walked the Devils Punchbowl.
We visited Ireland, the Lake District, the Peak District and Wales.
We slept in a fort in the middle of the Solent and hot-tubbed under the stars, sipping champagne on a cold December night.
We drove through many nights to catch early morning flights and dashed back from airports to make it back in time for dancing.
I have also been blessed with fabulous friends, who have been very up for adventure! So I got to climb mountains, cross lakes, dip my toes in tarns in the Lake District with Tor, explore the Peak District with my Minion, explore Offa’s Dyke with Billy and Myra, climb Snowdon with my eldest daughter and the conquer The Old Man of Coniston for the second time with Niari – taking along our men for their first mountain walk.
Of course there was a lot of dancing involved in the year.
We spent precious time with friends and family.
We loved passionately, laughed heartily, cried occasionally, hugged long and strong and lived fully.
This was my 2015 in brief.
In 2016 the adventure continues…