As the bells chime tonight, another year will blend into the past and a brand new year is ours yet again. 365 days have flown by so quickly, and again I’ll resolve to be so much more respectful of time and endeavour to do much more in 2018! Some of you will be glad to see the back of 2017 and others, like me this year, who will be sad so see such a great year end.
Whatever 2017 has meant for you, one thing is for sure, that the brink of a New Year brings hope and inspiration. 2018 could be your year. Dream big guys because the only one who limits your life – is you.
Today I look at what 2017 has meant for our family. What did it mean for yours?
January was a double edged sword for our family. We returned, after 10 years, to live in the Alps with our children in tow. After months of planning, lots of stress and wildly high expectations, we arrived to the worst snow conditions in years. Finally after 5 weeks, on Jan 5th, the day the girls started their new Montessori school, snow began to fall and incredulously less than one week later, following a ridiculously minor fall on skis, it was confirmed my ACL ligament was snapped and my tibia fractured. I was out for the season.
A devastating blow for the entire family, not just me. Being left behind on family ski days became a regular feature throughout Feb, March and April which was heartbreaking. A positive mindset and this blog pulled me out of the doldrums and I began to focus on what I could do and set about planning our activities for the rest of the year.
With an ACL out of action, outdoor activities were to remain minimal for several months so in March I insisted on a break away from the mountains and we headed to nearby Milan for a shot of culture and city life. Amid roasting temperatures, tasting gelato and practicing our Italian, we scored a media box at the infamous Scala Opera house to watch a children’s opera and visited Italian’s largest & mind bogglingly impressive science museum. The opulent surroundings of Scala along with the emotional performance sung in Italian, brought us all to tears. If you ever have the chance to visit the Scala folks, do so. Just beautiful. And incredibly tickets for children are a token 1 euro!
The Winter passed in a haze of triumphs of my girls’ skiing (first jump, first parallel, first black run) and I was elated with how quickly children adapt to life in a foreign country. Despite my dismay of being out of action, life in a ski resort, surrounded by jaw dropping scenery and like minded people is still an excellent existence.
April saw several strands of my hamstring being removed in a private french hospital with views of Annecy lake. Re-attached to form my new ACL ligament. Little did I know that surgery was the easy part …..May saw us say farewell to the Alps and return to our home in North Devon.
Re-united with the stunning North Devon coastline was emotional and we all reverted to our beloved beach life and coastal hikes, re-connecting with good friends and settling back into school with gusto.
The highlight of 2017 was the reintegration of our girls into their small rural school after 6 months abroad. After being told my older child wouldn’t catch up on the work she would miss, she proved everyone wrong by scoring 10 out of 10 on a mental maths test on her first day back. Boom! The physio report clarifying the before and after analysis of the impact of regular skiing on my 6 year old’s cerebral palsy condition was a revelation. It surpassed even our expectations and proved beyond a doubt that our parental gut instinct to move to the Alps for the Winter was a game changer for our little girl. This document, in black and white, was two fingers up at the nay sayers, the doubters and those who wondered why we were dragging out girls to a different country so that we could go snowboarding.
In June the island that lingered on the horizon of our home beach became a reality. We finally visited Lundy. A magical island 12 miles off the coast of North Devon owned by the National Trust. A childhood dream of staying in a lighthouse came true and we were reminded of how much wonderful wilderness the UK has. The Landmark Trust properties are a joy to stay in, always with an element of adventure and history. We look forward to discovering some more Landmark Trust dwellings in 2018.
We even squeezed a visit up North to my Yorkshire roots. Can you spot me next to the raging river?
And finally we made it to the Eden Project – definitely a highlight of the year. Why we’d never been before, heaven knows but if you want to teach your kids about our natural world, sustainability and eco values, be sure to include this on your 2018 to visit list.
July was largely organising our upcoming month long trip to Sri Lanka and getting our home ready to be AirBnB’ed again for the 6 week summer holidays. It was our third year of renting out during the school holidays and something that’s worked really well for us as a family. There’s a lot of organising involved but when it pays for 6 weeks of travelling – it’s a no brainer! Read our tips for airbnbing your home here.
August was a dream. 4 weeks in Sri Lanka took us all to a place of new discovery and was our girls’ first foray into Asia. We can’t recommend Sri Lanka enough for any family looking for tropical adventure to a safe, family friendly destination.
You can read our Sri Lanka round up on our guest post on Lets Adventure Together. We can’t wait to travel back to Sri Lanka soon. We certainly got the feeling that it a small country changing fast and now is the time to visit before it’s submits to major tourism.
September is normally Devon’s secret glorious month when tourists are long gone, the water’s warm and sunshine fills our afternoons as the kids come out of school and into the surf. Not this year. Rain, rain and more rain. I mourned the loss of those days. With such a small pocket of time between then and Winter, every sunny day is a gift and sadly September was cloudy and grey. We focused on getting the girls back to school and discussing whether to really return to the Alps for Winter?
The decision was made for us at the end of September by Bo’s orthortic specialist. Once a year Bo sees Tim, a cheerful smiling man, who casts his expert eye over her orthotic splints, to re-cast new ones and to measure her for shoe alterations. On seeing Bo strongly planting her feet both firmly on the carpet, he exclaimed “Carry on doing whatever you’re doing! Her progress is unbelievable”.
We were going back to the Alps!
In October I discovered the wilds of the West coast of Ireland whilst attending my first ever blogging conference. The largest travel blogging conference in the world, TBEX, blew my mind and has taken our blog to the next level. After five nights on the Emerald Isle, I came away with unforgettable images of the ruthless beauty of the Atlantic coast and the incredible warmth of the Irish people. Ireland – we will be back!
October also saw us exploring our local National Park more, Exmoor. The perfect place to visit in Autumn. We also delved deep into Dartmoor National Park to try two new outdoor adventures – llama walking and caving. Both were absolutely incredible experiences.
Llama Walking was one word – joy. Ear to ear smiling, cheek hurting joy. Find it and do it. Simple.
Caving was one of the gnarliest things we’ve done as a family. We each had to confront and check our fear levels to achieve the huge sense of elation that caving brings. I had no idea that 6 year olds can go down caving – I’d always associated caving with flash floods having been brought up in Yorkshire, where flash floods occur frequently. Dartmoor has super safe caves at Pridhamsleigh Caverns and I’d recommend any little daredevils to give it a go. You can read our post about it here. It felt amazing to show our girls a completely different world entirely to the one in which we live.
October also took me on a solo Chamonix trip on an accommodation recce. Full of cold with a lost voice and shivering with the flu I secured our old rustic chalet for the forthcoming year in a absolute corker of a location. How did it fall into our lap? I’m still asking that question. Sometimes lady luck is with you and we feel blessed to have found such a lovely home away from home.
November was an organisational beast of a time, packed with dental appointments, eye checks and haircuts (so expensive in France!). Liaising with estate agents we finally found tenants for our Devon house and amid insurance, chimney sweeps and boiler checks, the cogs of packing up came into full swing as the girls finished school, we packed up our house and said farewell to Devon.
December – With operation farewell Devon under our belts we arrived in Chamonix to record levels of snow and our new, spacious home. From a 2 bed appartment last season to a 4 bedroom chalet with huge garden this year and the best snow since the 90s, AND a nearly ready to go knee, we feel like we’ve won the lottery! This December my girls have had a mighty challenge. By far the biggest of their lives so far. Away from the apron strings of Montessori last season, they started french state school. That’s immersion in french 24/7 or rather 8/4 as french kids have Wednesdays off school in the Winter. Nevertheless, I am in awe of how they have taken it in their stride, how they have had to reach deep into their bellies to find the courage to return everyday understanding little of what is being said to them. That for us is the biggest change this year. Our goal in 2018 is for our girls to become fluent french and they are well on the way to achieving that.
Our little blog has gone from strength to strength in 2017. I want to thank you all for supporting it, for reading our posts, for liking, tweeting, re-sharing our content. We are thrilled to have over 7000 Instagram followers (wow!) and we are loving finding new outdoor experiences to share with you.
We don’t know what 2018 will hold for us. None of us do. We want to keep our health and those who we hold dear. We don’t plan the year ahead and often fly by the seat of our pants on unexpected, spontaneous trips! Little steps. One at a time. If there’s something you don’t like, change it. If there’s somewhere you want to go, book the airfare. We’re hoping to spend some time sailing this summer and to find adventures in the Highlands, oh and discover a new UK island. So many countries are on the list and ICELAND is still beckoning.
Over the next 48 hours we’ll be asking each one of our family what will be important to them in 2018, what goals they want to set and what they want to get out of this next year. Me? As any Mother I want my kids to be happy and I want to (as always) push the limits!
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”
Where are you planning to travel to in 2018? What adventures are you embarking on with your family? We’d love to hear from you.
Happy New Year everyone!