After losing my sister, my brother recovering from illness, my dad losing a springer spaniel and me getting slapped with a five-figure tax bill, my whole family couldn't wait to say good riddance to 2013.
When 2014 arrived, we all knew it would be a fresh chapter, a chance to punch 2013 in the face, and a chance to do everything my sister would have wanted us to do.
That was my philosophy throughout the year, and I'm sure she's smirking from above about what I got up to in 2014.
So, without further adieu, here's my recap of events, people, travels and memories during 2014, and what I've got in store for 2015.
Much like the New Year of the past 4 years, I spent New Year's Day abroad. In December, the girlfriend and I travelled to Munich, and welcomed in 2014 drinking glühwein (and avoiding the waist high, horizontal fireworks).
On the 2nd January, we took the train to Germany's highest mountain - the Zugspitze - and spent a day skiing on it's snowy slopes.
In a moment of belly laughter, I discovered the mountain opposite the Zugspitze is called 'Wank Mountain'. So, if you've every wondered how much it costs, now you know :)
February started in a similar vein as January, with a group of six of us heading to the Austrian Alps to spend a week skiing in Mayrhofen.
As has been compulsory on ski trips since University, fancy dress was required on most days. It is surprising how many charity shops stock all in one ski suits :)
|It was acceptable in the 80's|
Springtime arrived in no time, and with the warmer weather arriving, I wasted no time in getting up the the Lake District for a weekends walking. The views were pretty spectacular.
March also saw my return to the digital marketing public speaking scene. I had a great reaction after speaking on storytelling and content at DMX Dublin. A big thanks to the DMX team for capturing a less than flattering photo :)
For my birthday this year, my girlfriend bought me tickets to Hawker House night market. This is - without a shadow of a doubt - some of the best food I've ever tasted, so keep an eye out for the return of Street Feast London in 2015.
April arrived in the blink of an eye, and it was full steam ahead with work, and blogging. In the middle of April, lowcostholidays held the Blogger Of The Year awards, and I picked up the 'Best Male' award! It was incredibly humbling, and allowed me to draw a line in the sand as a benchmark for what this blog could achieve in the future. Thanks again to everyone that voted!
Two days later, and Easter arrived. Earlier in the year my best mate and I agreed to do challenging hike to raise money for Meningitis Now, in memory of my sister. We chose 24 Peaks In 24 Hours - one of the most challenging hikes in the UK.
The long Easter weekend presented a great chance for us to train, get a feel for the route, take in some fresh mountain air and start raising some money. I even got naked in the wild for the cause :)
|Wild camping at Grisedale Tarn - Lake District|
The event season arrived in May, and I grabbed my Barbour jacket, flat cap, beer goggles and wellies and headed to the Badminton Horse Trials with my ginger friend Betty.
Closer to home, the bluebells started flowering in the Spring sunshine, so it was a great chance to grab some amazing pictures at Bluebell Wood, near Ivinghoe - a 15 minute drive away from where I live :)
After winning the blogger award in April, I finally managed to use my prize - a hike over the O2 arena in London.
With one hike out of the way, a week later it was time for the big challenge - 24 Peaks in 24 Hours - the toughest hiking challenge I've ever done.
We started at 9pm and trekked through the night. I fell in a bog within the first 2 hours. We saw an amazing sunset and sunrise. We had an awesome support team (thanks girls!), and with a strong motivation and weakening knees, we finally crossed the line in just over 20 hours - leaving 4 hours to spare.
We raised over £2300 for Meningitis Now, which was a great achievement. Thanks to everyone that sponsored us! Not bad going for a distance of 34 miles, and a height gain that equals half of Mount Everest! You can read the full recap here.
At the end of June, I was kindly invited to Wimbledon by Hertz. There's no better chance to dust off the Panama, so I headed to centre court underneath the blazing sun. I saw Andy Murray, watched Novak Djokovic on centre court and asked Stefan Edberg if Roger Federer wears lucky pants. Not a bad way to end June :)
July saw the start of the festival season, and with three festivals in three weeks, my weekends became scarce. Thankfully, the one spare weekend I had was booked up for my family to come and visit, and I got to see my cheeky nephew, Jack :)
We all headed to the CLA Fair at Blenheim Palace, and spent the day milling around the country shops and stands.
I also had time to hop along to an amazing Italian street food pop up event in Shorditch, sponsored by Birra Moretti. Keep an eye out for more pop ups in London during 2015!
The following week saw the introduction of the now infamous 'penis tent'. Some of my friends work in an outdoors shop, so when I asked to borrow a tent for the weekend, I should have known that they would do something to the tent.
I unfolded the main tent. on the outside - in permanent black marker - was drawn a large penis, with the words 'ride me' on the side.
At the end of July, I noticed a blogger competition on the Wanderlust website. The competition was to win the chance to become a blogger ambassador for Papua New Guinea tourism. All I had to do was enter my details, and say why I loved travel blogging. The winner of each month (July - November) won either a GoPro or an iPad Mini, and goes into the hat to be crowned the Blogger Ambassador in December. I won the July competition, and won myself a GoPro! :)
Two weeks later, and one of the biggest travel blogging events of the year arrived: Blogstock. The first ever blogging festival saw some of the biggest and best travel bloggers head to the Hertfordshire countryside to share travel tales, tips and learn new ideas and skills. It was a great couple of days, and I would strongly recommend signing up for 2015 if you want to improve your travel blogging performance :)
After leaving Blogstock on the Sunday morning, I headed home, dropped off one bag, picked up another, and headed to my second home - Perranporth, in Cornwall.
2014 was my 20th year in Perran, and was a great week of sun, surfing and catching up with my family.
National Burger Day arrived on the 27th August, and this year we headed to Bread Street Kitchen, to try their short rib beef burgers. It was no Trolls Pantry, but it was a tasty burger.
To finish off August, and for the third year running, I headed to the Great Dorset Steam Fair. An eclectic mix of people from all backgrounds gather on some farmland, for three days of machinery, cider, fairground rides, real-ale, and to pick up a bargain or two.
This year, I picked up a second-hand lawnmower from a questionable gentleman wearing a vest...
September was a quiet month, and needed to be, given the exploits and adventures every month since April. I managed to attend a stag do in Hamburg, and a friends wedding, as well as playing Uncle to Rufus the sprocker spaniel :)
Never one to have two quiet months in a row, October was explosion of activity. At the start of October, I found out that there was a Guinness World Record attempt for rum tasting, in London. Not being one to miss out on such an opportunity, I headed into London, and came back as a Guinness World Record Holder!
If that wasn't enough celebration, I finally bought a house!! The best part of being 30 minutes from London is that we get a great amount of outdoor space :)
October was also the month I was fortunate enough to be invited on a trip to Zimbabwe, by the Zimbabwe Tourist Authority. I travelled all around the country, writing blog posts, and filming videos using the GoPro I won in July.
It was an incredible trip, and one that saw me finally become comfortable filming myself using a selfie stick :)
November was a month for hard graft. Plenty of long days for 8MS, and sewing up the Zimbabwe posts and videos in my spare time.
November was the biggest month of the year for marketing events too, and the Festival Of Marketing in the middle of the month saw me speak at the same venue as Sir Bradley Wiggins. Quite the honour!
November didn't leave much time for many activities, but we did manage to fit in a Michelin-starred tasting day at Ascot on Bonfire Night :)
The hard work carried on into December, but as Christmas loomed into view, the festive dinners and drinks commenced, with Christmas jumpers and mulled wine a plenty.
I headed to Edinburgh for our work Christmas party, and attended a 'frat party' dressed as a varsity letterman. Quite the throwback to my UNCW days :)
Then, to finish the year, came some of the best news of 2014. Remember the Papua New Guinea competition I entered in July? I won, and was drawn as the Blogger Ambassador for 2015!!
WHAT DOES 2015 HAVE IN STORE?
For the first time in a long time, New Year will be a quiet affair. The travel commences soon enough though, as I try to tick off more countries and cities that I've never previously visited.
At the end of January I'll be heading to Budapest, then in February I'll be skiing in Mayrhofen again, followed by a long weekend in Reykjavik, Iceland. Iceland has been on my 'to-do' list for a few years, so it will be great to finally visit.
I'll hopefully be heading to Papua New Guinea in May or June, and then I'll be walking some of the South West Coast path for a stag do in July.
September sees me take on Best Man duties at what will be an awesome local wedding, and then the year should end on a quiet note.
So there's plenty of stories, videos and blog posts to come!
I hope you've had a good 2014, and I wish you all the best for 2015! :)