I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but I swear the years are going by faster and faster – didn’t I just publish my five-year anniversary post? But somehow six years have passed since I first put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) and started sharing my travel stories and photos On the Luce. The last six years have been way more exciting then I’d ever have imagined, and it’s because of my amazing readers and their comments and messages that I’m still here still doing this, and I can’t thank you enough. So here are my highlights of year six – on the blog and on the road – and a preview what I’ve got planned for year seven.
My six top posts
Snowdonia road trip – is this Wales’ most scenic drive? – A surprise choice for this year’s most popular post, this was inspired by a spur-of-the-moment road trip through Snowdonia last autumn. After a weekend of non-stop cloud and rain, I woke up to perfect sunshine… just in time to go home. So rather than heading straight back we took the long route back via the most amazing landscape of lakes and mountains.
9 reasons to love the Isles of Lewis and Harris – Another UK gem I discovered this year is about as far north as you can get, right up in the Outer Hebrides. But it’s so worth the journey. Luskentyre beach is like something straight out of the Caribbean and the islands are full of history, culture, art and fabulous local food (and even better gin). When the sun’s shining there aren’t many better places to be.
How to visit the Seychelles on a budget – From one stunning beach location to another (slightly warmer) one. The Seychelles was a bit of an unexpected destination for me, but I couldn’t resist a free stopover en route to South Africa. I was a bit worried that it’d be a Maldives-style budget-buster, but it turns out you can visit this patch of paradise without blowing the budget (just steer clear of the tropical cocktails).
Clueless about RVing? The first-timer’s guide to Canada by motorhome – I love writing these first-timer’s posts (not least as it reassures me I’m not the only one with stupid questions!) This one was about RVing in Canada, one of my favourite trips of 2016 but one with a bit of a learning curve. So this post is for anyone who fancies a motorhome adventure but is clueless about grey water, shore lines and pull throughs.
Visiting Madrid on a budget – these budget city posts always feature in each year’s most popular posts round-ups, and this time it’s Madrid’s turn. Madrid was a surprise destination for last year – literally as I didn’t know where I was going until I got to the airport thanks to Surprise Trips. But despite crazy temperatures I had a great (and inexpensive) weekend of tapas, sangria, palaces and parks.
Alternative things to do in Edinburgh – Before last year I’d only visited Edinburgh once, but with my sister living up there now I’ve got a great excuse to keep going back. And the more I get to see Edinburgh the more I like it – and especially getting to explore some of the city’s lesser-known sides. From underground streets and a mini Wild West street to riverside walks and boat trips, there’s plenty to uncover.
My six top places
Prince Edward Island, Canada – I’ve been lucky enough to visit Canada for the last couple of years, so when I got asked back again I jumped at it, even though I’d never heard of my destination. But it turns out Prince Edward Island has to be one of the friendliest places I’ve visited. There were lighthouses, lobster, Anne of Green Gables and even an oyster and country music club night – not what I was expecting!
Edinburgh – Having my sister living in Edinburgh now means I’ve got the perfect excuse to visit a lot (and free accommodation to go with it!). So I’ve been working my way through all the city’s sights (and all of its cocktails bars) for the last year and next I’ll be using it as a base to explore more of Scotland.
Cinque Terre – Every blogger’s Instagram/Pinterest dream destination, it turns out that the Cinque Terre really does look just as stunning as it does in all the pictures. Yes it can be crazy busy and there are some serious hills you have to climb to get those views, but it’s more than worth it – so look out for lots of Cinque Terre posts coming soon (I just have 500 more photos like this to sort my way through first…).
Cape Town – A safari had been on my wishlist forever, and much as I loved seeing zebras, giraffes and lions in the wild, one of the highlights of my trip to South Africa was the five days we spent in Cape Town before that. It has to have one of the most beautiful settings of any city I’ve been to, surrounded by amazing beaches (penguins included), wineries and mountains – and it’s incredibly good value too.
Colmar, France – Another one I’ve not written about yet, Colmar is a real fairytale city at the heart of France’s Alsace region. Take a bit of Strasbourg, a bit of Venice and a few pages from a Grimm storybook and mix them up and you’ve got Colmar with its flower-decked bridges, canals and half-timbered pastel buildings. Just maybe avoid the 36-degree week we were there if you don’t want to melt away.
Cotswolds Log House – You don’t have to go very far from home to get away from everything… in my case it only took the 21 miles to Log House Holidays in the Cotswolds. This patch of the Canadian lakes (actually found just outside Cirencester) was one of my most relaxing trips of the year. Lake walks, sunset hot tubs, marshmallows on the campfire – it felt like a million miles from any stress (and I will be back).
Six goals for year seven
Visit my 50th country – I know there’s a contingent of travellers who look down on people who count how many countries they’ve visited. But I love a good list and find it helps to push me to keep exploring new places, rather than just keep on revisiting my old favourites. So one of my ’40 before 40′ targets was to visit 50 countries, and with just a year left to go now I have three still to visit within the next 12 months.
(Finally) publish my ebook – I’m embarrassed that my European rail travel itineraries ebook has now been on my ‘to do next year’ anniversary list for the last two years! It keeps growing and growing, but I am determined that I’ll finally stop tinkering with it and actually release it this year. I’ve set the publication date for January 2018 so I have something to aim for (so do give me grief if it doesn’t appear!).
Go solo – Years back I travelled around Australia and New Zealand on my own, but it’s been a while and somewhere along the way, through illness and lack of practice, I well and truly lost my solo travel confidence. But travelling around Prince Edward Island in June I found myself getting used to the freedom and flexibility of going it alone – and I even enjoyed it. So look out for more solo trips coming up.
Get to know my local area – Despite living on the edge of the gorgeous Cotswolds, I’ve seen shamefully little of the area. There are people who live halfway across the world who know my local area better than I do. So this year I’m determined to get out there and see more of what’s right on my doorstep.
Share the Pinterest love – To talk blogging for a minute, Pinterest has been a huge game-changer for On the Luce. I can so easily lose hours scrolling through Pinterest and creating pretty pins for my articles. But it brings in more traffic to my site than anything else but Google. There are a lot of bloggers who don’t know where to start though, so I’m pulling my Pinterest skills together into a course to share the love (and as I clearly need a bit of public accountability – as you can see above – this will be launching in October!).
Tick a dream trip off the wishlist – As I mentioned, I have a significant birthday coming up next year (yep one of those scary ones with a ‘0’ at the end). So what better excuse to tick off one of those big, expensive, dream trips that have been lurking on my travel wishlist for way too long. Maybe Belize, or Namibia, or Burma, or Japan – or all of them (it’s totally reasonable to have a birthday year right?).
Thanks again to everyone for reading and fingers crossed for a great seventh year!
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