So long 2015; its been a blast

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It seems fitting that as we move into a new year I take the opportunity to reignite my blog with a refection on the last 12 months. I have to say, I am quite sad to see the back of 2015 – it has filled my life with some fantastic opportunities and amazing memories.

Firstly, I have travelled more than i ever had before. I ended 2014 in Amsterdam, followed by a trip to Egypt a week later where I went diving with sharks on the Brothers Islands.

Then, in March i went to New York with my niece – i love, love, love this city and it was amazing to fly in a helicopter over the bright lights, watch another show on Broadway and finally go ice-skating in central park.

May saw my first experience of Eurovision and boy did I love it. I went my a friend from work, it was an impromptu trip but we managed to squeeze in sightseeing in 2 cities and a night at the Song contest too. We’ve already booked our tickets for Sweden in 2016!

In June I finally went away with the hubby (and another 20 friends) on our annual summer diving holiday to Hurghada, Egypt. I love spending time in this place with the people i now call my friends. We’ve already booked our return summer trip for 2016 too.

There was a short 3 weeks break and i was out of the country again, in July, with a once in a lifetime opportunity to the Maldives. This place was absolute paradise and it was here I got to swim with sharks, turtles and a whole horde of giant manta rays. I was literally speechless for most of the holiday and anyone who knows me, knows this is unheard of!

The next trip was a work related one, and I travelled to Changsha in the Hunan province of China. China is a country that I would never have chosen to visit but the experience really opened my eyes and I really enjoyed finding out about the Chinese culture, meeting staff and students studying at the University there and finding out more about life on the other side of the world to me.

I then travelled to Vegas a week later with another work mate and I have to say, this was one of the highlights of my year. We took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and landed on the side of the Colorado river for a champagne picnic. This was one place on my bucket list but it was somewhere I never expected to want to come back to, but its safe to say that I will be making a return visit one day in the future. There’s still half a strip to explore and even more shopping to be done!

It was really nice to spend Christmas at home this year, after all the travelling, I was definitely looking forward to a rest, but I’ve already got itchy feet and am looking at holidays for the later half of 2016 – I most definitely have the travelling bug!

So, its fair to say that 2015 has taken me far and wide, to places I have never been before and to places I definitely want to visit again. It hasn’t all been bright lights, big cities,  fun and games. There have been days Ive cried and days I’ve been so mad and couldn’t wait for it to end. But I know that I am so lucky to be experiencing the life I have, the opportunities I have been given are not for everyone and I know that.

I didn’t actually manage to stick to any of the goals I set myself in 2015 – I was 2 books short of reading 52 this year, so Im not counting that as a complete fail – but do you know what, I actually don’t care about the goals I haven’t achieved, because I know that I have had one hell of a year with the people I love, doing the things I love, and I am so lucky to be ending the year saying so long 2015; its been a blast.

 

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The one with the bucket list update

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As I am approaching another birthday, I thought it was fitting to evaluate how i am getting on with my bucket list, if for no other reason than to give myself a little kick up the bum to actually do some more of this stuff!

Well, after a quick scan, it is safe to say I have not quite achieved as much as I would have liked to but boy, have I had a good time trying.

Now, I am still yet to make someone laugh so hard a little wee comes out, and although I haven’t set myself a specific goal of doing this (honest) I have decided that I should be funny around my pregnant colleague as my success rate might be slightly higher with her (so I hope!).

I also haven’t yet had champagne and strawberries in a posh place, or took a ride in a hot air balloon. I mean, these are not that far out there as far as lifetime goals go, but I have not yet managed to do it! What i have done is visit Paris and Amsterdam (tick Anne Frank’s house) I have booked a flight to Vegas, a helicopter ride across the Grand Canyon and I’ve travelled along the longest zip wire in Europe.

The one thing that is concerning me though, is Cliff Richard’s autograph. I mean, I am going to his 70th Anniversary concert with my mother next week – so I’m hoping to just casually bump into him outside the Royal Albert Hall, and be like, “yo, Cliff, give us your signature, mate” – but if this plan fails, i am massively running out of time – i mean he is 70 and hes parading around that stage like an 18 year old, he’s a high risk case for pulling a muscle.

On a more serious note though, I actually have just over 3 years left to achieve the rest of my list and when i wrote it i genuinely had no idea of how fast time goes. Like, it literally zooms by and before you know it, its over. So, I am going to make sure that I enjoy every single second of it. Life is precious and way to short.

So, if you’re reading this now, Go, make that list, set some goals and have the best time ever achieving them.

I might not be quite where I had planned in terms of number of ticks yet, but boy I am having fun working my way through them!

The one with the lemonade

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So, I have wrote and re-wrote this post a million times over this last week or so and have yet to press the dreaded publish button. I have been agonising over how to articulate what I am trying to say, but today I’ve decided to go it and press the publish button. Normally most of my stories have some sort of comedy value, and if a post doesn’t flow after the first few attempts then I normally scrap it, or keep it in my drafts until I can get my creative juices flowing again. But this post is something that I really want to share and it’s a bit more from the heart.

What I have been struggling with is this; I want to share this story but I’m not too sure of the best way of doing it. One the one hand, if I keep it vague, it might resonate with more people and it also protects my friend who I want to talk about a little, as I’m not sure how much she would want me to share. However, if I’m too vague, no one will have to foggiest what I am talking about let alone trying to say.

So, I’m going to try and do something in the middle of the two. Please bear with me, I can assure you there is a point to this! I also just want to say that I am not talking about mental health issues or depression, or saying that people who are suffering should just get on with it. I am literally just talking about my bad day and how i managed to make myself feel better and if this can help someone else, then I am glad I shared.

The last few weeks have been, well, not all singing and dancing and full of roses. Everybody’s lives have ups and downs, but, I guess, if I’m completely honest, I have never really struggled to get what I want in life. Yes, of course things don’t always go my way, and I’m not saying it always come easy, but I’ve never really not got what I’ve wanted in some form or other. These last few weeks have been quite trying and there has been a lot going on. To be truthful, it got me down quite a bit when things didn’t quite work out how I wanted them. (I actually burst into tears in my office which was a little embarrassing to say the least). I ended up getting my eyelash extension but back on as I was fed up of having panda eyes. (Any excuse, eh!)

Anyway, I was speaking to a friend who asked me how things were going and I was rambling on about how I don’t know what to do with my life and maybe I should open up my cupcake café after all and when I came up for breath and asked her how things were, she announced that she had some really bad news that week. I couldn’t believe how wrapped up in my own world I had been and that I hadn’t even thought to ask how things were with her first. Now, this friend has experience more than her fair share of heartbreak over the last few months and I have never heard her complain once. She is literally so positive and thoughtful for everyone else. She is my inspiration.

It really shocked me back into reality and gave me a huge dose of perspective. I know that when you have a bad day, there is always someone who has had a worse day, and of course, it is all relative. Your bad day is important to you at that moment and you should all be allowed to be happy or sad or whatever emotion you have at any time. But oh my days, life really does give some people lemons, and you can either become bitter, or, I guess, in the case of my friend, get on with it and make lemonade.

I have taken this attitude of stamping all over the lemons I had, and I have made some pretty sweet lemonade. And do you know what, I feel so much better for it. Life is way too precious and short for letting things get to you, (although I know this is hard, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying for one minute that people can’t be unhappy or angry or hurt or anything like that) but what I am saying is this; If you are having a bad day and you are in a place where you can use your lemons to make lemonade, then give it a go, as you might find it is a far more refreshing taste than the one you had in your life before. It certainly worked for me.

A Thursday Thought: I QUIT

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So, this week has been one hell of a week. Not all bad, of course, there are many people who are having a much worse week than I am. I know that. I always try to keep perspective, but sometimes, well, it is hard.

So, I’ve decided 2 things.

  1. I am going to rebel and post my Thursday Thought on a Wednesday; because I can.
  2. I am going to QUIT.

I am the most stubborn person I know though, so quitting for me is very hard. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever quit anything. Well, I quit Morris Dancing when I was 15 but I’m not sure that counts!

I don’t really know what I’m quitting though. I’d say work but, most of the time I really like my job and I need it to keep on fulfilling my New Year’s Resolution (see as much of the world as possible) – it’s like one of the few resolutions I have actually managed to keep.

I could quit the gym, but I need that in order to be able to cycle from London to Paris next year.

I’d say I’d quit spending money, as at least that would be good for me, but to be honest, I need to be realistic!

So I think what I will quit is worrying. Life really is too short to spend so much time being unhappy or worrying about things that, often we can’t even control. Yet we still worry, fret and try to change what we can. And what’s the point. What will be will be, there are plenty of people who don’t have a family, a house or even a job. In many ways I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

So, world, do you hear me, for the first ‘proper’ time in my life – I QUIT, I quit worrying and stressing and fretting. Now stubbornness, don’t you dare let me down. I have said I quit and I will be dammed if anyone tries to stop me!

A Thursday Thought: Why I am going to Make a Wish come true

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The Timehop app told me yesterday that this time last year I posted on my Facebook page that it was 10 days until I left for Africa and started my adventure of a lifetime, climbing Kilimanjaro. This sparked 2 thoughts:

1. I really need to finish writing about it, as I still haven’t updated my blog about summit night.
2. I really need to start thinking about my next adventure.

A few people I know have taken on cycling challenges this year and I have to admit, they have really inspired me. I bought a bike a few months ago for the triathlon I signed up for, but since February I have been plagued with ear infections, so I can no longer take part.

So I have decided that next year I am going to take on a cycling challenge for the Make A Wish Foundation UK.

Why? Well, because life is short. Too short. I want to make sure that the time I have on this Earth is well spent, I want to live life to the full. Not everyone gets the chance to do this. This is why I have picked the Make a Wish Foundation UK – as it is a fantastic charity that grants wishes for children in the UK from the age of 3-17 who are fighting life threatening conditions. Life is what you make it, I want to make what life these children have extra special by contributing to the cause and making their wish come true.

Not that long ago I bought a thing to hang on the wall in our house that said; “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain.” Well, I definitely need to get out there and learn how to dance fast, as pretty soon its going to chuck it down, and if I cant dance in the rain, how on earth am I going to cycle!

I’m sure that over the next couple of months my training is going to amuse the majority of people I know, so to ensure no-one misses out on the lol’s, I will add a new section to my site and keep everyone in the loop.

Wish me luck – I think I’m going to need it!

For anyone who want to donate a £1 or 2, you can visit my JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/DanielleBarnard

Thank you! 🙂

For better; for worse?

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This weekend I went jet skiing for the first time in 2014 and I have to admit, I totally forgot how much i enjoyed it. There is nothing better than whizzing across the sea, feeling the wind in your hair and being miles away (well sometimes just a few hundred meters, but its enough!) from the rest of the world and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

It was last summer when my husband text me saying “wife, I’ve bought you a jetski!” Not your everyday text – but still a pleasant one all the same. As you can imagine I was eager to get out on the water. Having only ever been on a jetski once in my life before, of course I insisted I was a pro and jumped on without hesitation. (Although Steve did insist on giving me a full on watercraft instructor course before hand, typically of him!)

Surprisingly, I actually managed to glide around the bay we were skiing on quite successfully, I even managed to do it without falling off! Steve was the proud husband taking photos and videos of his skillful wife, until of course, the inevitable happened… CRASH, BANG, WIFE…

The only thing i could say that evening was, well husband; love of my life, apple of my eye… we did say for better or for worse. Looks like you’re stuck with me! 🙂