This year has been an incredible one, I’ve done less travelling than usual due to being on maternity leave but having Emily has made it the loveliest year for me and being able to take her on adventures around the world even better. I thought I’d look back on the travels and adventures of 2016 and reflect on the differences with a mini adventurer in tow!
January started off with a trip to Iceland, being 6 months pregnant this was our ‘babymoon’ and the last time I planned to fly before my due date in April. Matt and I spent four days in the Arctic Circle, what an amazing place! We stayed at Loft Hostel in the centre of Reykjavík and explored a lot on foot, the views of the city from the top of the church, Hallgrimskirkja were one of my highlights here. We were lucky enough to see the northern lights on a super jeep tour, drinking hot chocolate while watching the aurora borealis dance across the night sky was an amazing experience. A trip to the south coast included a stop at Reynisfjara, the black sand beach near Vik, seeing waterfalls such as Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s largest and Eyjafjallajökull the volcano that erupted in 2010. My favourite sight on the south coast was walking along the base of a glacier, hearing it crack as it moved and taking photos of the ice blue formations was incredible. On a tour of the Golden Circle we walked between fault lines at Þingvellir National Park, watched the mighty Strokkur geyser explode every few minutes and took photos of Gullfoss waterfall in the freezing cold! The day was rounded up perfectly with a trip to the Secret Lagoon; the Blue Lagoon was closed during our trip so this was the next best thing. Unfortunately I couldn’t go into the hot pool as I was pregnant but Matt loved floating around in the steamy water.
In February, Matt and I went to London for a few nights for a wedding and explored Islington, Shoreditch and the market at Spitalfields. Having lived in London for three years while I was at university it was nice to go back and visit areas I had not been to before. We tried out some really great restaurants and cafes and ate a lot of good food!
April saw the arrival of Emily Louise Dunkinson weighing 6lb 1oz and since then it’s been a whirlwind eight months! Matt and I have always said that we would carry on travelling with a baby but were a little apprehensive about how this would pan out. Once we’d got our heads around the extra packing (who knew someone so small could need so much) we were good to go!
We started off with a road trip to Cornwall in August; I had a surf and yoga day planned with professional surfer Corinne Evans in Newquay. It was the first time I had surfed since being pregnant, it was so nice to get back on a board and meet some like-minded ladies. Three nights in Cornwall meant there was time for lots of beach walks and relaxing too and Emily at four months old seemed to love her first trip away.
In September we went to Italy for two weeks to explore the southern region of Puglia. This was Emily’s first flight and it took a while to get my head round all the palaver of what liquids we could take through airport security and how she would be on the flight. Thankfully she was such a good girl and slept a lot, leaving Mum and Dad time for a celebratory G & T! Puglia was beautiful; we stayed in a traditional trullo building and visited some gorgeous towns, swam in the turquoise Mediterranean, strolled around cobbled streets full of white washed buildings and enjoyed spending time with Emily and her grandparents. Eating and drinking was high on the agenda here too, with freshly picked figs and almonds from the trullo gardens and Aperol to be sipped by the pool it was a very indulgent two weeks!
During October and November we spent some time in America. Visiting family in California was so nice and Emily got to meet her cousins for the first time. Being in America for Halloween was fantastic, fancy dress and trick or treating in a neighbourhood that pulls all the stops out was an awesome experience! Matt, Emily and I also went on a road trip to Sequoia National Park. The 7 hours drive was well worth it as our rustic cabin high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 6,500 feet was very welcoming. Stargazing, taking photos of giant trees, hiking with some incredible views, driving through a tree, watching the sunset behind the mountains and climbing the 400 steps to the top of Moro Rock are just some of the adventures we had there, all with Emily strapped to our backs! Back on the coast we watch surfers at Swamis, enjoyed brunch in Encinitas and visited Temecula for wine tasting and lunch. I was blown away with how well Emily coped with jetlag, she seemed to do better than me and she was so good on the long flights.
As any parent is aware it takes time to adjust to looking after a tiny human and it has been hard to keep up with writing on my blog along with my freelance work at the same time as being a Mum. I’ll often put Emily down for a nap with grand plans of getting some work done and a blog post, then I’ll hang some washing up, make a cuppa, sit down, feel all like ‘yeah I’ve got this being a Mum and writing thing nailed’ jot down a paragraph and then Emily will wake up! I’m not complaining as I am completely in love with her, I think it’s just something I’m still learning to get used to. So my new years resolution is to stop beating myself up about it!
I’m writing this today from Somerset, Matt, Emily and I are staying in a cosy cottage near Cheddar and will be seeing in the new year sat in front of the log burner in the lounge with a bottle of champagne. Travel plans for 2017 are already in motion with the first being a trip to France we’re going with friends by ferry from Portsmouth to Caen. We are staying in a lovely apartment in the fishing village of Port-en-Bessin-Huppain overlooking the seafront near Normandy which is famous for the D-Day Landings. I’ll be going back to work too, which right now seems like a terrifying prospect but at the same time I’m really look forward to flying again and visiting some new destinations, Peru, Costa Rica and Cape Town are just a few of the new routes I’ll be exploring when I return. As cabin crew I think I’ve never really got used to the idea of being ‘grounded’. Having said that I have got used to being in a ‘normal’ routine at home now so it will be interesting to see how I get on with weekly jetlag and 3am starts! But I’m sure surfing in Barbados, shopping in Orlando and a whole nights sleep all to myself will help me get through it! There will be at least one longhaul adventure for the three of us too, Matt and I are currently mulling over some options so watch this space.
Cheers to new adventures in 2017 and Happy New Year to you all!