So, here we are, at the end of another year. As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back and review where we went, what we did and what we learnt.
2018 was my first full year of being a travel blogger. I started the blog mid 2017 and had a stroke of luck in October 2017 when one of my posts was featured on WordPress Discover. This was a huge boost in confidence and readership and really spurred me on to ‘make something’ of the site.
Early into this year, I decided to think about planning some bucket list holidays for 2019, which would mean a lot of saving up, in turn also meaning that we put a self imposed ban on flights during 2018. Perfect for a travel blogger trying to perfect their skill, don’t you think?!
Thankfully, with a ton of travel experiences and photos under my belt, and the adventures we could have closer to home, this still provided plenty of content for a good year of travel blogging. So let’s have a look at the what we got up to over the year, and I’ll even share a couple of photos that haven’t made it into the blog yet.
Thankfully, our aforementioned travel ban was only limited to flights (which I know is quite limiting). This did give us the opportunity to plan some train travel, and one of the first things planned for January was a trip across to Europe via Eurostar to visit the gorgeous city of Bruges. The city was a delight with it’s beautiful and narrow cobbled streets, stunning architecture and a great selection of beers. It’s an easy city to get to by train, and an easy city to navigate on foot. We’ll definitely be back.
February arrived – a generally gloomy month where we are still waiting for the (official) start of spring. Nature had other ideas though, and after a fairly mild winter up until now, we headed off to Welford Park in Berkshire to see their wonderful woodland display of snowdrops. If you have never heard of Welford Park, it’s a privately owned country house and estate, which you may recognise if you are a fan of the hit TV show The Great British Bake Off – this is where the famous tent is located. The estate is closed for most of the year, but they open for a few weeks early in the year when the snowdrops are in full bloom.
A fairly quiet month in terms of travel for me, thanks to the ‘Beast from the East’ bringing heavy snowfall and sub zero temperatures to the UK. Some of our plans were cancelled, but we did manage a fairly local trip and first time visit Birdworld in Surrey. I enjoyed my day there, it was informative, fun, and more importantly the birds were well cared for and the company carries out a lot of conservation work.
The end of April took me back home to North Wales. Having spent much of my adult life visiting family back home, this trip was more about myself and my partner being tourists in familiar surroundings, where we never really previously had the opportunity to just see the sights. The highlight of the first full day in Llandudno was a climb up the Great Orme headland which provided endless views across the coastline and mountains of Snowdonia in the distance. It really is such a beautiful part of the world, and who knows, you may well be seeing a lot more focus on this area on the blog in the future. Watch this space…
Our North Wales trip crossed over from April into May, where after leaving Llandudno, we spent a few days exploring the coastline of Anglesey, we spent and overnight stay in the Italianate village of Portmeirion and also spent a couple of nights at the Lake Vyrwny Hotel, which provided us with some of the most beautiful sunset views of the year. A magical location.
During these travels, we also visited some of the local waterfalls in the area – Aber Falls and Pistyll Rhaeadr which can be seen in the photo below. This, to date, is my favourite long exposure waterfall shot that I have taken.
June was another fairly quiet month, but we had another trip to Wales – this time to the South of the country. We visited Henrhyd Falls in the Brecon Beacons due to the fact that it was used as a location (entrance to the Bat Cave) for the Batman: The Dark Night Rises movie. Sadly, thanks to some warmer weather the waterfall had almost run dry, so didn’t quite have the dramatic effect that we were looking for. A winter visit needs to be on the cards for sure.
We also visited the Pontsticill Reservoir with it’s beautiful Victorian valve tower. It’s a lovely spot for a walk on a warm summer day.
What can I say about July? My main memories are of one of the hottest summers on record in the UK. Week upon week of clear blue skies and temperatures into the 30’s. I took a trip to visit some friends in Manchester, and spent some time wandering the streets of the city’s Northern Quarter – a vibrant area that’s architecture is not dissimilar to that of a New York City suburb. Combining that with a huge array of striking street art, cool cafes and great vibe, this is one place I absolutely must get back to explore further.
We also spent a day exploring the Cotswolds which included a trip to visit a beautiful lavender field in full bloom as well as visiting some of the picture postcard villages of the area.
The blog was over a year old by August. I had been doing some work in the background changing some things around and developing new ideas. This resulted in a re-brand and face lift of the site which included a fantastic new logo. I worked with a designer on the Fiverr website, who listened to my brief and came up with pretty much the perfect logo for the site. I’m really happy with it, I think it captures the essence of what I am trying to achieve with Shoot from the Trip and I’m hoping that as the blog develops we can work the image into some branded items along the way.
The end of September took us to the North East of England to visit the in-laws and to explore the sights along the beautiful North Yorkshire coastline. One of the highlights was a visit to the beautiful fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay, with it’s winding alleyways, stories of smuggler’s tunnels and fishermen singing sea shanties out on the streets. Perfect.
My favourite month, October is always a packed out affair for me thanks to my slight obsession with Halloween events at theme parks. We spent a weekend at one of the UK’s top theme parks – Alton Towers to attend their Scarefest event, which as usual was superb. We had the opportunity to experience their new attraction for 2018 – The Wicker Man, an excellent wooden roller coaster which is great fun for the whole family and looks amazing, especially at night with it’s fire effects.
We also took our annual pilgrimage to Tulley’s Farm Shocktoberfest event, which as usual was a fantastic evening out and thoroughly recommended.
November kicked off with my first ever visit to WTM London, a huge travel trade show which is held annually at the ExCel centre in the east of the city. It’s an opportunity for bloggers to meet industry professionals, travel trade companies and experience some great seminars. As someone fresh into blogging, it was a fairly daunting experience to start with. I didn’t go in with a plan and the crowds made it fairly difficult to speak to exhibitors without having pre-booked appointments, but I did make a few contacts and hope something will come of that during 2019. It also gave me the opportunity to roam the streets of London and capture a few decent shots of the city.
As the year was coming to a close, we decided to end as we started with another trip on Eurostar to the French city of Lille. A great opportunity to visit the Christmas Market and sample some of the local dishes, amazing desserts and tasty beers, all while taking in the beautiful architecture that the city has to offer. It’s a great city for a long weekend away. I also visited the Bath Christmas Market and Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland events to get me into the festive spirit.
What’s coming next?
So, that was 2018. For all of you that have read the posts (or just looked at the photos), spread the word on social media and generally helped me out, I thank you and hope you stick around to see what’s in store for 2019.
We have that bucket list adventure I spoke of earlier planned for February and it’s going to be epic. I should be able to get some great content for the blog, and thanks to a super gift of a Go-Pro for my birthday, I should be able to bring you some great footage and images that I really wasn’t expecting to capture.
What else is in store? Well, there are going to be some changes to the site behind the scenes as I go self hosted in a couple of weeks. It will give me the opportunity to have more control of the site, be able to analyse my readership and build on that as well as focusing more on SEO. I will be focusing on growing my social media following, which is a tough and lengthy process, let me tell you.
I’m hoping to be able to get a few collaborations under my belt, so I can build a credible media pack. It’s difficult to know where to start, although I have some people helping and advising me. Any advice is much appreciated though – feel free to let me know your stories of brand / travel company collaborations in your early blogging days.
Other than the bucket list trip, there are no other trips set in stone yet. We have some fairly major life events going on next year too, which may dip into my annual leave and finance reserves, but I have a few ideas in my head of the kind of travels I’m hoping for in 2019.
So, all that’s left for me to say in Happy New Year, thanks again for reading and I’ll see you on the other side.