Globally speaking, 2016 was an absolute train wreck. Suffice it to say that I had anticipated neither Brexit, nor tangerine Trump’s election, nor the seemingly inordinate death toll of A-, B- and Z-list celebrities. All is not lost, however, for as Albus Dumbledore remarks, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
In light (no pun intended) of this quote, I’m taking a trip down memory lane and presenting you with a (non-exhaustive) series of my favourite moments from this past year.
Poppies: Weeping Window
Back in late 2014, 888,246 blood red ceramic poppies encircled the Tower of London. Tumbling out of a window, they spilled into the moat of London’s most formidable fortress. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red drew thousands of visitors to the UK’s cultural capital. Somewhat inconveniently, I was 500-odd miles away in France on my year abroad. Fortunately, 14-18 NOW took Wave and Weeping Window on tour – and having seen Wave at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in late October 2015, I was over the moon to see Weeping Window at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool at the start of 2016.
A Beatles-fix in Liverpool
The Fab Four have been, are and will always be one of my absolute favourite bands. For all things Beatletastic, look no further than the Magical Mystery Tour – hands down one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in Liverpool.
Lambs, Ducks, Rabbits et al. at Bolton Abbey
It has to be said, hiking the Dales Way without a 20kg+ rucksack on my back was a rather nice change from the multi-day Gold Duke of Edinburgh trek two years prior. Nearby, The Tea Cottage does a smashing slice of cake and a hot chocolate festooned with whipped cream, mini marshmallows and chocolate buttons. Having Bolton Priory to ourselves (no doubt due to the overcast weather) when we arrived was the icing on the cake.
Yorkshire Three Peaks
We may not have completed the trio within the suggested twelve hour time frame, but taking the time to explore the area a little more made our trip all the more enjoyable.
Exploring the Lakes
After a brief weekend in the Lake District in March, Laurence and I felt a need to explore the region a little more. Over the course of five days, we took in Eskdale, Wast Water, Scafell Pike and Yewbarrow – and lived to tell the tale (at one point, the scree slope of Yewbarrow had me questioning if I would).
Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award
Having switched my ceremony from St. James’s Palace to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, I spent a weekend in Edinburgh with my parents to receive my certificate. Whilst the weather was less than desirable, the upside was that I could take two guests. Though my sister was – to put it mildly – rather put out that she wasn’t going, it was nice to have a weekend away with my parents and for them both to be able to attend the ceremony.
Graduating from the University of Leeds
The culmination of four years’ hard work: dozens of essay submissions, many more exams and a year abroad. Leeds was swelteringly hot (I imagine Ede and Ravenscroft had a substantial amount of laundering to do afterwards), the champagne and orange juice flowed freely at the departmental after party and it was, all in all, a lovely farewell to my time at Leeds.
The Pearl of the Orient
I loved every moment of my time in Hong Kong. Kowloon was a warren of markets, side streets and alleyways; Hong Kong Island provided stellar views across Victoria Harbour; the New Territories were oozing with hiking trails and pristine beaches; the islands of Lantau and Lamma provided a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of Central.
The Land of the Rising Sun
Japan blew me away with its breathtaking landscapes, awe-inspiring feats of engineering and delicious cuisine. Of all the places we visited, I particularly loved Kamikōchi, for the phenomenal subalpine views, and Shirakawa-go, for its olde worlde gasshō-zukuri farmhouses.
Post-graduation, I moved to Lyon, France. This stint abroad has been more of an emotional rollercoaster than I could ever have anticipated and it turns out I miss England (and all that goes with it) rather a lot. Living abroad has its ups and downs: namely, trips to Paris and Marseille, hikes in the Rhône-Alpes region and visits from my sister and boyfriend (the former) and bouts of loneliness and general bureaucracy-related frustration (the latter).
On a personal level, 2016 brought me happiness, joy, exasperation, and a wider appreciation of the world around me in (almost) equal measure. Looking forward, I’m sure many of you will have set an arm’s length of New Year’s Resolutions. As for me, since past New Year’s Resolutions have been about as successful as the RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage, I’m skipping out on them this year. Aside from attempting to shed the surplus croissant weight, I am setting a few smaller, more manageable goals for myself instead (e.g. reading at least one new book each month, since I have a tendency to endlessly reread my favourites). Hopefully I’ll be able to keep on top of them – but in the meantime, here’s to 2017!