2017’s Memorable Moments

Sometimes, time crawled; mostly, it flew. 2017 is, in the words of The Proclaimers, ‘Over and Done With’ – or rather, it was three days ago, but I’m late to the party with my end-of-year roundup. (I didn’t join the #bestnine2017 Insta-party, but rest assured this post will contain a sufficient number of photos.) 2017 wasn’t without its low moments, but overall I had a darn good year. Life in the Real World (as opposed to Life in the University Bubble) was a steep learning curve, and I learnt a lot of valuable lessons along the way, most of which are summed up in this post. La Grenouille Anglaise has come further than I thought possible, and for that I owe every reader of this blog an enormous thank you.

January | When I flew back to Lyon last January, I landed with a bump: the harsh realisation that I could count my friends in that city on one hand. I struggled with loneliness, and there were times when I really, really, really wanted to pack it all in and come back to England. Life felt like ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ personified. Fortunately, a steady supply of Cadbury’s, some self-care in the form of many trips to the Parc de la Tête d’Or and several afternoons spent exploring Lyon’s traboules soon had me back to my usual self. I learnt to enjoy my own company; that books can solve many problems; and that, sometimes, it pays to put number one first.

1-January
I never failed to find the title in the top corner of this piece funny . . . (Le Nombril du Monde/ The Nostril of the World)

February | Side-splitting teaching moments aside, the highlight of February was my three-day trip to Chamonix. A trip up the Aiguille du Midi had sat on my mental to-visit list for quite some time, and luckily Laurence was game for a snow-filled adventure. Although the clouds rolled in only thirty minutes or so into our visit, the views up until that point were nothing short of spectacular. We also had an absolute blast hiking up Planpraz in knee-deep snow on our final day in the Alps.

1-February
And the prize for View of the Year goes to . . . the Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix!

March | March was a fairly low-key month, one of those that slipped by quickly and left me feeling as though I hadn’t done all that much. However, putting my go-go-go approach in park for a while taught me that staying put isn’t always a bad thing. I saw the blossoms bloom, then tumble from the trees in the breeze. I saw seas of yellow daffodils. I spent time visiting my favourite animals in the nearby (free) zoo. I read books. I explored more of Lyon’s museums. I lived. I laughed. And before I knew it, April had rolled round.

1-March
Beautiful blooms in Lyon

April | If I had to sum April up in a single word, jam-packed springs to mind. I finished classes, explored more of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, showed my family round Lyon and finally made good on my promise to visit Simone in Bamberg. Bavaria exceeded expectations on every front: fairy-tale architecture, streets steeped in history and tasty grub. I also acquired a taste for hiking solo – and I’m so glad I bit the bullet and went for it (on multiple occasions).

1-April
Down by the river

May | Every student – current or past – knows this to be the month of exams, and for the first time in eight years it wasn’t for me. (Hooray!) Instead, I spent a fair amount of time melting in distinctly sweaty-smelling lecture theatres invigilating others’ exams. I made the most of my Carte Jeune Musée, notching up four museum visits in a single month. I also squeezed in another solo hike, got somewhat sunburnt watching a lot of (free) tennis at Open Parc and, for the first time, began to understand why everyone loves Paris.

1-May
A view worth feeling dizzy for

June | My time in the Land of Baguettes was up (and I’m still mourning the croissants, éclairs and other carbs I left behind), but I left satisfied that I had made the most of my time there. I visited the awe-inspiring Palais Idéal, the realisation of a humble postman’s lifelong dream. I returned to the Chartreuse, a gorgeous region of limestone cliffs, dense foliage and winding trails. I had a whale of a time exploring Lyon and Geneva with two friends from home. And, while I may have left Lyon, the city will always remain with me – in my memories, taste buds and photos.

1-June
In awe of ‘le travail d’un seul homme’

July | Saying non to renewing my contract as a lectrice and leaving Lyon meant rolling the dice – and I was chuffed to bits when my gamble paid off and I landed a job in publishing. Alongside house-hunting and completing employment-related paperwork, I had a lovely time at Wimbledon with Mum, spent a few days in Kent and squeezed in a weekend in North Wales. I also turned twenty-three, and marked the day with a hike up Moel Famau and a slab of cake at the summit.

1-July
Home = Hills

August | New job, new city, house pending – that just about sums the month up. (I also owe a huge thank you to my uncle for letting me stay at his until I could pick up the keys for my new abode.) Simone, whom I visited in Bamberg, was in the UK over the summer, so I managed to meet up with her twice, which was lovely. We saw Much Ado About Nothing (the play I studied way back when) at The Globe one evening, and I discovered that standing up in a warm, crowded space for nigh-on three hours makes me rather dizzy. Laurence came down to London for the Bank Holiday, and we spent a day by the sea in Rye, a day exploring London and half a day at the Notting Hill Carnival.

1-August
Revelling in everything British

September | September saw me move to Cambridge, into a lovely (but under-insulated) house with Laurence. I still detest having to dodge the overly-enthusiastic students selling punting tours every time I go into town, but I’ll take the peaceful life in Cambridge over hectic London any day. (Just don’t get me started on the cost of commuting.)

1-September
Not my new home . . .

October | Laurence and I kicked off October in the Cinque Terre, and by golly it lived up to the hype (helped largely by the fact there weren’t so many tourists in the cooler autumn months). Shoulder season is the way to go! Back in the UK, I caught up with my cousins at the Ely Apple Festival . . . and Laurence and I then went to the Cambridge Apple Festival the very next day! I had a ridiculous amount of fun in the apple peeling competition, and managed to produce a metre-long length of peel. (It doesn’t sound like much written down, but it took a lot of concentration!)

1-October
Sunny days and scoops of gelato in the Cinque Terre

November | Why hello, Bonfire Night. Oh, how I missed you last year! Mum and Dad visited in early November, bringing with them a boot-ful of my cooking utensils, blankets and other essentials. We wrapped up warm and enjoyed the fireworks on Jesus Green with my auntie, uncle and cousins. (I was pleased to see my council tax materialising in the form of a twenty minute display of multi-coloured fizzing fireworks.) Later in the month, Laurence and I revisited Leeds – and I made no secret of the fact that I had an absolute ball. We also popped over to Ely for the Christmas Gift and Food Fair, which I didn’t get round to blogging about but highly recommend visiting.

1-November
The only night of the year when I’ll voluntarily stand out in the cold

December | Before I knew it, December had arrived and with it an open invitation to consume chocolate with breakfast, a smattering of snow and many, many mince pies. I had not one but two Christmas dinners (five if you count repeats with the leftovers) in Cambridge and Chester, and a wonderful couple of weeks catching up with family and friends up north. Seeing the baby orangutan, not-so-little bear cub and an utterly adorable sengi at Chester Zoo was a definite highlight.

1-December
Isn’t this the cutest little creature, ever?

Bonne année, one and all – and here’s to a fantastic and fruitful 2018!

15 thoughts on “2017’s Memorable Moments

    1. Thanks, Bola! I was chuffed to bits when I was offered the new job (and five months down the line I’m still loving it, always a good sign). Hope Annemasse is treating you well 🙂

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  1. I love the month by month reflection! I tend to mentally organize my years by academic years, but somehow reframing the time really highlights the amount of adventures you can get up to in one year! Was the Much Ado you saw at the Globe the Mexican themed one?? I heard some great reviews of it!! Wish I could’ve seen it; one of my fave plays 🙂

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    1. I also did that throughout school, uni and up to mid-2017 when I was working in Lyon, but somehow a calendar year gives me a better sense of how much I’ve got up to! Yes, it was – it was absolutely fantastic!! (I wouldn’t even call myself a Shakespeare fan, but who can say no to £5 entertainment in London?) I studied Much Ado About Nothing for GCSE, so it was nice to see it performed live all these years later 🙂

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  2. Happy new year! This was a nice reflection piece. As someone who’s been in the “real world” for some time, it gets easier! There are lots of nice things about being done with university (no exams! money!) and it sounds like you had a great first year. Good luck in 2018!

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    1. Happy New Year to you too! Hope 2018’s off to a good start for you 🙂 Thanks for your words of encouragement – it’s a relief to hear it gets easier. I guess it’s always the initial adjustment that’s the hardest part. No exams is a definite plus to the 9-5!

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    1. It was such a good year – definitely one of the better ones, and I feel like I’m making headway on some longer-term goals, which is good 🙂 I love this season, but it does make me feel like a bit of a mole, waking up in the dark, coming home in the dark! Likewise looking forward to reading about your adventures. Happy New Year, Dana!

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  3. Oh my goodness this sounds like such a wonderful year! So many adventures and really making a life for yourself 🙂 I’d love to hear more about your daily life in Cambridge/London as I’m sure it’s very different from what you’ve shared about Lyon! Congrats on all your accomplishments and best wishes for the year to come ❤

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    1. 2017 was such a whirlwind of a year – I can’t believe how fast it went! I’m hoping to get a few posts on Cambridge/London up in the not too distant future 🙂 Commuting by train has been an entirely different (and much less pleasant) experience to walking to work in Lyon, but fortunately there are still plenty of positives to life in the UK. Hope law school’s treating you well, and all the best for 2018!

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  4. Sounds like a jam-pack year you had! Living in two different countries is certainly a lot in terms of getting adjusted (and readjusted) to the cultures and jobs. Glad you managed to get through the tough months of January and February…from experience, they’re always the lowest points of the year. You did a lot of traveling, which is admirable. Hope your current job back at home is enjoyable, and happy new year!

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    1. It sure was, though strangely it didn’t feel anywhere near as hectic as it looks written down! I agree, January and February can be tough months to get through after all the excitement of Christmas and New Year. I’ve got a few things to look forward to over the next couple of months, so that should keep me going! I’ve been in awe of how much travelling you’ve fitted into your break between semesters. I’m really enjoying my job, thanks! Happy New Year 🙂

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