It’s been another busy year for me. On the travel front, I’ve ticked off some bucket list items and discovered (or re-discovered) a few new things. And, apart from travel, there’s been a house move and a new family member – an eventful time!

We began the year with a visit to the Roman city of Bath, where my daughter and her family are now living since they returned from New Zealand last year. As you will see as you read on, this beautiful city has played an important part in my life this year…

Prior Park, Bath
The beautiful landscape gardens of Prior Park, Bath

February saw a return visit to Gibraltar, somewhere I last visited in 1974. As you might expect, it was somewhat changed, but in fact it was a little like visiting a new place, as reclaimed land meant there are some bits of Gibraltar that didn’t actually exist in 1974. And you couldn’t walk across the border to Spain then either.

Of course, revisiting after such a long time meant I experienced the place completely differently. One thing that hasn’t changed is the macaque monkeys – don’t let them grab hold of your bag!

Macaque monkey, Gibraltar
Hold onto your bag when the macaque monkeys are around!

And at the end of February I was back in Bath for a very exciting event – the birth of my second granddaughter.

In March I was in London, walking a bit more of the Thames Path, a long distance hiking trail that follows the course of the River Thames. We have been gradually walking the path through London over a number of years, and now we had reached Teddington Lock, the point at which The Thames ceases to be tidal. Although we were still not very far from central London the river had become more rural by now, and we saw houseboats and pleasure craft.

Teddington Lock
The Thames at Teddington Lock – it feels much more rural than in central London

April saw the first of my “bucket list” trips – a visit to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It’s amazing that I’ve never been here before as it has lots of my favourite things – history (including several Roman sites), countryside and Greek food… It was in Cyprus that I started to discover wine tourism – something that I hope to do much more of in the future.

Wine in Cyprus
Cyprus was a great place to try a spot of wine tourism

In May I was in Rotterdam for the Traverse bloggers’ conference. It was many years since I had been in The Netherlands and this was my first visit to Rotterdam. I was very pleasantly surprised by the city and its art and architecture.

Cube Houses, Rotterdam
The amazing Cube Houses in Rotterdam

Another bucket list trip in June, this time to Greenland. I can confidently say that this was one of the most astonishing trips of my life. Not just because of the natural wonders – including icebergs and the midnight sun – but also because of the sheer size and isolation of the place. This is the twelfth largest country in the world but its tiny population (just over 50,000 people) live in a handful of coastal settlements with no roads linking them. Access between towns is by boat or plane, or you can travel overland by dog sledge in the winter…

Ilulissat, Greenland
Remote hiking paths just outside Ilulissat

I was at another blogging conference in July – this time it was TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) in Ostrava in the Czech Republic. After spending time in Ostrava, with its amazing post-industrial architecture, I explored East Bohemia. I found it hard to believe that one country could have so many castles and amazing medieval cities…

Novy Jicin, Czech Republic
Novy Jicin, one of many medieval towns in the Czech Republic

Closer to home we spent August touring round Scotland. I managed two small bucket trip items here – we went to the island of Lewis, home of the famous Callanish standing stones, and then walked along part of the remains of the Roman Antonine Wall (not as spectacular as Hadrian’s Wall, and not much to see apart from the earthworks, but interesting nonetheless).

Callanish Stone Circle
Callanish Stone Circle – this is the largest of several stone circles on the Isle of Lewis

I was back at TBEX in September (it might be seen as rather greedy to go to three blogging conferences in one year, but I always find them invaluable in terms of learning and networking, to say nothing of being very enjoyable…) This time it was in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State. I did a bit more wine tourism, spent three days in the vibrant city of Rochester and also took the opportunity to explore the neighbouring state of Pennsylvania.

Erie Canal, Rochester, New York
One more for the bucket list – I got to go through a lock on the Erie Canal

Back in Bath in October we spent a sunny autumn Sunday afternoon in the nearby village of Stanton Drew, home to the third largest complex of prehistoric stone circles in England. The Great Circle alone has 26 upright stones, and others are scattered about, suggesting it was once a much larger and more important site.

Stanton Drew stone circle, Somerset
The beautiful surroundings of the Stanton Drew stone circle

November saw the annual trip to London for World Travel Market, a massive gathering of travel professionals from just about every country in the world. I took the opportunity for a bit more walking of the Thames Path, and spent the week in an apartment in Dolphin Square, an early 20th century complex of flats and gardens that once housed the rich and the famous. The celebrities may have moved on but it was still a great place to stay.

Dolphin Square, London
In the gardens of Dolphin Square

In some ways December was the biggest month of the year, because we finally sold our house. This was a mega-downsize and we are now back in Bath, where we will be for the next twelve months at least. So not much time for travelling this month, although we did manage a very short break in Ludlow…

Ludlow, Shropshire
The medieval centre of Ludlow

As for 2019, I hope I’ll be exploring my new surroundings more thoroughly, and I’m already booked for the TBEX North America conference in Montana. But who knows what else the new year will bring? Have you made your travel plans for 2019? Do let me know in the comments below.

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