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December 20, 2019

2019: A year in reflection

WOW! What a year 2019 has been! My world has changed dramatically in the past 12 months. From becoming a family of four, to moving to China, to becoming a stay at home (blogger) mum, my life could not be more different than it was in 2018. Here's what 2019 had in store for me…

Happy new year in South Africa!

We welcomed in the new year in style, as always. New Years eve was spent at 30,000ft on our way home from South Africa! The flight was cheaper, I was heavily pregnant and couldn't drink and we hate NYE parties anyway, so why not? I would happily skip auld lang syne in return for a saving of a few hundred Pounds on my flight!

To see where I get cheap flights and my other methods of getting the best travel deals check out my post on the best websites to book your travel.
See our adventures in South Africa in this video!

Hello maternity leave!

February saw the end of my career as a University Lecturer at Bucks New University. After five good years, it was time to put the books to one side and focus on being mummy. Once my maternity leave ends in early 2020, I will not be returning to work.
See my pregnancy story in this 9 month time lapse video

We only have 18 short years with our children. I know that the days might be long sometimes (and seriously, they really are- I've had to contend with colds, sicknesses bugs, vaccinations and teething this week!!), but the years are short.

I can't believe that my baby girl is almost three already! It's scary how quickly they grow and I don't want to miss out on anything because I am at work. From now on, my children are my life focus.

Now we are a family of four…

March will always be a special (and expensive!) month in our house. My two daughters and my husband all have their birthdays in March.

March 2019 was particularly special because it was when I gave birth to our precious baby girl, Saya. She has brought so much joy to our lives- there is no greater gift than a baby!

Baby's first flight!

At three months old we took baby Saya on her first flight to Spain to visit Grandad. She was a little star and she had a wonderful time chilling in the sun. She even had her first swimming lesson while we were away!

TEFL Tourism publication

It has taken a long time, but my book was finally put on book store shelves in June 2019. I can't believe that I first started writing this when I was pregnant with Isla, over three years ago!

Learn more about my new book in this video

You can see (or buy!) the finished version of my book here- TEFL Tourism: Principles, Commodification and the Sustainability of Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Packing up and moving to China!

At the end of July 2019 we packed up all of our things and moved half way across the world to China!

Extortionate childcare costs in the UK, the political mess of BREXIT and our never-ending desire to see more of the world led us to seek employment opportunities overseas.

In August 2019 my husband started working for the prestigious Wellington College, Hangzhou as Director of Performance. You can read more about why we decided to move to China here and how we have settled into life in Hangzhou here.

Isla starting big girl (nursery) school

At the end of August 2019 Isla joined the nursery at Wellington College (Huili). She looks ADORABLE in her uniform and she LOVES big girl school!

Technically it is a nursery, not a primary school (she is only 2!), but it is geared more towards education than daycare, which is different to the UK. Isla is absolutely thriving at the school- she can already speak some Mandarin, she is practicing her reading, sports skills and phonics, and her social skills and confidence have improved tenfold! We are really happy with the school.

Travels around Zhejiang Province

Because of the big move to China this year, we were not able to do out usual big summer adventure. Instead, we spent every weekend exploring Hangzhou and Zhejiang Province.

We visited a Tea Plantation, many Chinese temples, the famous West Lake, 1000 islets at Qiandao Lake and the water town of Wuzhen. We explored the city malls, play areas and restaurants. It was great fun and there is still so much more to see!

Visiting Seoul, the DMZ and Jeju Island

One of the benefits of living in China is our close proximity to so many amazing travel destinations!

In October we travelled to South Korea. Philip's mum joined us for this adventure too. We had a wonderful time visiting the DMZ and North Korea, exploring Seoul and doing a road trip around Jeju Island, known as the Hawaii of South Korea! You can read more about our adventures in my post about Jeju with kids.
See our adventures in South Korea in this video

Flying solo

In November I travelled alone with the children to the UK. My first flight solo with the kids was a big success and Isla was a great big sister by helping me to take care of Saya- it's funny how toddlers can be so grown up when they need to be!

We had a lovely time with my family in the UK and Isla and Saya loved all of the attention they got from their nanny, four aunties and uncle!

Moving up the rankings

As many of you will know, it is my dream to be a successful blogger. I started working in this domain in 2018 and I am really pleased to say that the blog has grown considerably this year!

The blog got a new look at the beginning of the year. I took a couple of courses to improve my SEO practice. I reached 10,000 followers on Instagram. I have more than doubled my traffic since 2018 and I have been asked to feature in two TV documentaries recently!

Whilst the blog still isn't providing me with enough money to be able to give up work, my current trajectory is that it will provide a full time income by the end of 2020. I might not earn as much money as I did whilst working as a University Lecturer just yet, but having the ability to be home with my baby girls every single day is worth every penny that I might be missing out on…

Some of my top performing posts this year are:

I now have extensive travel guides and posts on:

And there is much more content to come in 2020…!

I have been publishing 5 posts per week between 1000-10,000 words each, so I have been VERY busy! Blogging isn't easy, but I love it!

Returning to my special place: Bali

This year we are taking Isla and Saya to Bali for Christmas and New Year. We will be visiting Ubud, Sanur and Gili Air.

Bali, and especially Gili Air, are places that have held a special place in my heart since my backpacking trip of 2011. I am super excited to be able to share these special places with Philip and the girls. Isla will LOVE the monkeys, Saya will love hiking through the jungle to waterfalls and Philip will love snorkelling on Gili Air. And me? I will love staying in the private villas with their own pools that I have booked on Airbnb, which are a BIG step up from where I stayed in my backpacking days!

Beautiful Bali…

What's in store for 2020?

So what's in store for 2020? Well, I'm not entirely sure yet! We will be visiting Singapore and Malaysia for Chinese New Year and then we will be back in the UK for a couple of weeks in March. Vietnam is on the cards for Easter. But after that? The world is our oyster…

Thanks for following our travels and for supporting me in my strive to become a successful blogger! Happy new year!

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