My Year: 2015 round up
I started blogging as The Travelling Teacher around March, after harbouring a desire to do so for a long time ready with so many ideas for posts from travels past and present. I pressed publish on my first post at the end of that month and soon 2015 became full with travel adventures. One of the reasons I started my blog was to remind myself of how lucky I’ve been to travel to some amazing places and hoped that maybe I would help a few others with their own travel plans. I just need to make sure 2016 can be just as good for The Travelling Teacher with more adventures at home and away, and lots more blog posts!
As my birthday falls in the month straight after Christmas and New Year, everyone is normally a bit cash poor and celebrated out so for my 30th I made sure at least I was going to have a good time by booking me and the other half into the Sanderson Hotel for a weekend in London. We only live a short train ride from the centre but I wanted to make the most of my birthday and be able to enjoy the weekend without having to worry about transport. The other half surprised me with a fantastic meal at Roux Parliament Square and I made full use of the Sanderson by enjoying spa treatments and meeting friends and family in the bar in the evening. Even though we didn’t travel very far I still felt like we’d had a weekend away and enjoyed London as tourists for once. The surprises kept coming and the other half outdid my 30th surprise to him (which was a trip to Rome) with tickets for a trip to Vegas and LA planned for the next half term!
I wasn’t kept waiting too long for my birthday trip to the USA, and of course as it was half term this nicely coincided with us flying on Valentines Day, flying Premium Economy with BA was almost like a romantic date but not quite, at least we had champagne and good films! Our week started in Las Vegas and ended in Los Angeles, I’ve written just two posts on this trip as there is so much to write about what we got up to, it’s a bit overwhelming. As a first timer to Vegas I wanted to do all the classics and the cliches including seeing a Cirque Du Soleil show, seeing the Bellagio fountains and having a bit of gamble on the strip.
Read more here: What to do in Las Vegas
We then went on a road trip to Los Angeles in a hired new Mustang, I’d looked up different stopping points for the route and had some good ideas about how to make the journey as cool as possible but it was actually really nice in the end just being with friends and driving along to awesome music taking in the scenery. We arrived in LA later that evening and once unpacked headed straight for a steak dinner at Maestros, I really need to get my LA post up sharpish as I have so many good restaurant tips!
Interested in a similar road trip? Vegas to LA by car
March saw me finally commit to starting my blog properly, I’d been thinking about it for a while but kept thinking there’s already so many amazing travel blogs out there it’s pointless. But one day in March something changed and I decided I wanted to do it even if only for myself as a creative outlet for my writing and now also my photography hobby. Some of my very first posts are currently the most popular mainly because they tap into the little niche I’ve created of finding affordable travel during the school holidays, take a look at this post on how I use apps and the Internet to find good deals and then this one that looks specifically at getting away on budget during the normally expensive school holidays.
I got to return to one of my favourite cities with some of my favourite people on a girls-baby shower-weekend break to Liverpool in the middle of April. I really like Liverpool, there’s just something about the city with all its bars, shops and cultural heritage that make me always enjoy whatever time I have there. I also got to visit the Friends cafe for a quick coffee which was quite cool, if not a little odd as after watching the show religiously for so many years being sat on the sofa at Central Perk made me have waves of nostalgia.
A busy half-term with a trip to Milan for a relaxed city break and seeing friends who live in the city, we also added on a little side visit to Lake Como so felt like we had two breaks in one. I loved that we could visit the pretty lakeside resorts of Bellagio and Varenna so easily from Milan and this would be one of the main reasons I would return to this area of Italy in the future, it’s quick and simple enough to do in one day but would be a lovely place to spend a bit more time and really explore the areas around Lake Como.
Read more here: Lake Como from Milan
Milan was of course great and a very easy city break to do especially if you like shopping and enjoying the Milanese tradition of an aperitivo with nibbles in the evening, as there’s not a great deal in terms of must do’s like other famous Italian cities it gives you plenty of time to just soak up the atmosphere and really relax into the area without rushing around.
Read more here: What to do in Milan
Once we returned from Milan it was time to spend some time closer to home, I ended up taking my parents on a couple of day trips in and around London. We had a beautiful day in Richmond Park, the sun shone for our walk to see the deer then it was back to Pembroke Lodge to enjoy a little bit of afternoon tea on the terrace, I blogged about a perfect day trip to the Park as it really is an ideal way to spend a Spring or Summer afternoon. We also spent a day at Kew Gardens as shamefully even though I’ve lived in London for over 10 years I’d never visited before, this is somewhere I will definitely be returning to as not only is it practically on my doorstep but big enough to go back and explore some more.
June and July ended up being relatively quiet months in terms of personal adventures as my professional responsibilities took over; I led 2 Duke of Edinburgh expeditions for the students at school which meant I got to revisit the beautiful Surrey Hills and the North Downs area in addition to a number of other weekend trips and end of term showcases.
I did manage to squeeze in a trip to my homeland, the Yorkshire Dales to see my parents for a weekend. Going up North always feels like a bit of adventure as it takes about the same amount of time to get there as it does to fly to Turkey. During our whirlwind visit we were able to drive out to Malham in the heart of the Dales for a little walk around, part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed on the Limestone Pavement at Malham so it’s become even more of a tourist attraction in recent years.
The month I had been waiting for, counting down the school days until and all the saving up for was finally here! We started August with a trip to Marrakech to celebrate our first Wedding Anniversary, spending the day riding camels and quad bikes in the desert was fairly untraditional but we loved it!
Read more here: What to do in Marrakech
We did get some time for romance and enjoyed a lovely evening at the Comptoir Darna restaurant, Marrakech has become one of my favourite cities and somewhere I want to return to if only for the shopping and the spas. We enlisted the help of a brilliant tour guide and would really recommend him to anyone else going to Marrakech for the first time, as you won’t want to get too lost in the medina.
Read more here: Marrakech Medina
After getting back from Marrakech we just had enough time to wash clothes, buy some new ones and get ready for our once in a life-time safari holiday. We’d waited almost 2 years for our safari and had been saving since before we got married so I was more than a little bit excited, landing on the air-strip in the middle of the Game Reserve is probably the standout moment of the year for me. The flight into the Selous Reserve was stunning despite my fear of small planes, I’ve even dedicated a whole post to it but of course the safari itself was amazing and something I will remember for the rest of my life.
Read more here: Flying into the Selous Game Reserve
As a huge lover of wildlife nothing quite compares to seeing such beautiful animals in the wild and so close up, I was so moved when I saw our first elephant on safari I did shed a tear. We were so lucky to see everything we did and the Selous was a great place in which to safari.
Read more here: Safari in the Selous
After an incredible safari it was onto a week of Indian Ocean bliss on the island of Zanzibar, we plan most of our beach holidays with scuba diving in mind and this getaway was no exception as we had a remarkable 3 days worth of diving at some of the most crowd free dive sites we have ever experienced.
Read more here: Scuba diving in Zanzibar
The rest of the time was spent soaking up some Vitamin D, relaxing and exploring the rest of the Island. Highlights were the beach in front of our lodge, the Rock and Upendo restaurants and Stone Town, somewhere we didn’t expect to like very much but both fell very much in love with.
Read more here: What to do in Zanzibar
Back to reality with a bang, September is always dedicated to school as it’s the start of the new academic year leaving me very little time to do anything else other than focus solely on school work.
With the busy Autumn term in full swing I nearly forgot that I had a trip to Iceland to prepare for, l did make sure I had enough warm clothes and invested in a new down coat which was a god-send as Iceland really is the land of fire and ice.
I visited Iceland as part of an organised tour so was escorted around and didn’t really have to give any thought to planning or organisation of the trip which for me was tough but welcomed, I do love trip planning but it was nice to just sit back and let it all happen for once.
I had the best few days and did all the must sees in Iceland; Blue Lagoon – tick, Golden Circle Tour – tick, waterfalls -tick, Glacier – tick, Reykjavik – tick, but and it’s a big but, I didn’t see the Northern Lights! So Iceland remains on the Wanderlust list for another year as I really want to the other half to see how incredible Iceland is but also in the hope we may catch the lights next time!
Read more here: What to do in Iceland
Having had a very basic blog interface since April and since I’d proved to the other half that not only would I keep up with my ‘hobby’ but had also shown my interest in design and coding I opted for a new paid for template and enlisted the help of an illustrator to design a proper logo and banner for the blog. It’s still work in progress and I keep fiddling about with the look of the site and posts but for now am very happy with the changes I have made so far.
2015 has drawn to a wonderful close, we’ve just said goodbye to my Parents and Sister who’ve been staying with us over the festive period as it was the first time we’ve hosted and cooked for everyone. Surprisingly everything went well including doing the whole Christmas dinner in our tiny and rather temperamental oven. Before we all started feasting on turkey and pigs in blankets, we also gorged ourselves on chocolate, waffles and beer in Bruges. Having visited Bruges before I knew it was somewhere my parents would love, so we planned a break and invited them and my father-in-law along, it was a fantastically festive weekend and one I will be sharing more about here in a future post.
On to 2016…
So that was 2015, not as much travel as some but to others and to me it’s a great deal. I feel extremely privileged and grateful to be able to travel as much as I do and lucky to work at something that’s not just a career but a vocation that enables me to indulge in my other passion from time to time.
Many thanks for reading, I hope everyone else had a brilliant 2015 and if yours wasn’t that great then lets toast to an even better 2016.