Highlights of 2019

2019 required some serious work. I made some big changes to my life, moved around a bit (what's new), and tried to find my own sense of self.

Running

I put a lot of time and energy into running this year. I joined MRC Brighton, my perfect combination of interests: running and beer. It's a great group and I've made so many new friends through it.

Through MRC I also met Dan, and signed up to the awesome 25km Great Breweries Marathon in Belgium, which would be the furthest I've ever run. I found that training for long distance was actually bringing my short distance times down too! I was breaking Parkrun PBs regularly, and in July I broke the 20 minute barrier! I am vey chuffed to achieve this goal. Dan and I surpassed our own expectations for the Belgian 25km, running it in under 2 hours.

Galvanised by this achievement, I signed up to a remembrance day half marathon in November and ran it at a similar pace to finish in 01:36:42, 11th fastest!

Skiing

I continued to learn to ski, this 3rd trip being a stag do. I could handle red runs pretty well by the end of the trip, and I even went down a black run as a taster. By go down, I pretty much rolled, slid, and fel down the whole of the slope. I'm not even exaggerating.

Once you get past the whole how-do-I-not-die part of skiing, it's a wonderful journey through nature. The scenery is always stunning and the forest lined runs can be peaceful.

These photos were taken 0.5 seconds apart.

Germany and Switzerland cycle trip

Rosalie and I went on a fantastic cycle trip around the Black Forest in Germany, which danced alongside the borders with France and Switzerland. We flew into Zurich which meant I had a chance to show her around some of my favourite spots in Zurich, which is mostly the river Limmat.

From there we traveled to Basel, rented bikes, and spent a week doing a loop that included Freiburg, Mount Feldburg, Lake Titesee, and The Rhine Falls. It was a fun adventure, we could decide how far we cycled every day and stopped when we felt tired and found a nearby campsite. We camped every day apart from once when we got completely soaked.

Four weddings

2019 was a busy year for weddings! I was very proud to have the role of usher for Neville and Bex's wedding. I recorded of Steve and Zeynep's wedding. Charlotte and Rob's wedding in Aberdeen was very memorable, it was an amazing location and it was great experience together with a lot of old friends. Kate and Kelvin's wedding was equally memorable, including a wedding dance on the sea front with a busking band.

Big project win at Convivio

We made a big step forward in the success of Convivio and won a big new project! The budget was big enough to support us growing, and we began hiring! We got to work with some great freelancers too!

Stress management course

This year I struggled, and I definitely expected that I'd need to take good care of myself. There were some prolonged periods of the year where I was going to bed exhausted, sleeping for a decent amount of time, and waking up feeling exhausted. I took a blood test with no clear explanation, and my GP recommended it was likely stress. That wasn't completely surprising.

On their recommendation I got in touch with the Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Service, which is available to anyone in the Brighton and Hove area. They spent one hour on the phone with me understand my needs before recommending services that they provide.

Sea swimming and free diving

I got into outdoors/wild swimming in a big way. I've found it to be very restorative and calming. I love floating on my back looking up at the sky with only the sea filling my ears. I really enjoyed scuba diving in 2018 and just wanted to keep getting in the water as a hobby. I joined iSwim in Brighton which was amazing. It's a great and supportive crowd, perfect for someone who is apprehensive about winter sea swimming.

I also wanted to get into free diving. The idea of being able to do something like scuba diving (it is actually very different obviously) but without any equipment is very appealing to me. I went to a few taster sessions with NoTanx Brighton and soon after I signed up to the foundation course, which is required to continue to practice safely.

I need to write a separate post about this because I loved it! Led by Marcus who runs NoTanx, the one-day course mapped out a holistic approach to free diving. I don't usually use the word holistic if I can avoid it, but it's a great description of the topics covered in this course. I was expecting it to mainly focus breathing techniques but it also covered swimming technique, meditation, and relaxation. We even did some yoga!

Even if you're not interested in freediving as a hobby, I highly recommend looking into this course.

The Swimmer event

Maybe my favourite event of the year: a half-marathon through London, stopping off at various outdoor swimming pools and lidos along the way, in December! A group of maybe 30 of us met at 7:30am near Hampstead Heath, ran to the ponds, then to Parliament Hill, Hyde Park, and finishing at Brockwell Lido. The temperature of the water was 6C apart from The Serpentine which was about 3C! It was impossible to stay in longer than 30 seconds or so. Some of the people who joined us hadn't done any outdoor swimming over winter and still managed to dip in! Amazing.

It was a well-natured and enthusiastic crowd. I can't wait to join them again.

I bought a campervan

This was possibly my best decision of all time. I bought a VW Campervan that was almost 20 years old. I've never owned a vehicle before and I've definitely never spent this much money on one thing. I wanted to get back into housesitting after a year hiatus, and it just seemed to make sense. I didn't realise how just much I would rely on it in 2020...

I wanted a van that I could potentially work from if I needed too, and I found this one with rotating driver and passenger seats that turn to face a central table. One solar panel and a few modifications later and it was ready for off-grid adventures in 2020!

Christmas in Vienna

Somehow I convinced my family to spend Christmas in Austria and what a great idea that turned out to be! We hit some great bars and restaurants, christmas markets, museums, the ferris wheel, and a classic cinema: Burg Kino. We also hit the opera as it was a dream of my mum's. It was a fun experience but not my thing.

South-East Asia trip

Then I flew from Vienna to Ho Chi Minh City and met up with Rosalie! She was travelling a loop from Bangkok to Laos, to Vietnam, Cambodia, and then back to Thailand. I didn't have a lot of time in Vietnam, but we ate some great pho, saw the Mekong Delta, and found some decent craft beer.

For the new year we traveled to Kampot, Cambodia. We found a great hostel on the river called Arcadia, full of hammock, water inflatables, dogs and ping pong. It was a lovely way to end the year together.