2022 in Review: Nine Countries & Saturn’s Return

Almost Ginger blog owner in Vienna, Austria

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Never has a calendar year given me so much to reflect on. 2022 has, hands down, been the busiest and most notable year of my life (so far!).

I’ve achieved many of my big goals and let slide the ones that mattered less. I travelled more than I’ve ever travelled before, made new friends, and redeemed the slower years of 2020 and 2021.

BUT (there’s always a but), at the moment it’s an uphill battle for me to reflect on how good 2022 treated me right now. Why? Because I’m currently on my 10th day of not leaving the house.

Yes, COVID struck me down for my second festive season in a row. Then, I remained ill for a bit afterwards. And then I felt sorry for myself a wee bit after that. That’s the place where I’m currently hanging out.

Not really ill, but certainly not really ready to peel my body away from the duvet long enough so that we become two separate entities again.

Almost Ginger blog owner in Aarhus, Denmark
Visiting Aarhus in Denmark on my 29th Birthday

But 2023 is coming whether I like it or not. And looking back, 2022 honestly may have been the best year of my life.

Partly because I was blessed not to experience any great tragedies or terrible events outside of my control. Partly because I was blessed to experience wonderful events outside of my control. But partly because I put a lot of effort into making it so bloody wonderful too.


Okay, not a lot happened in January and it was probably the lowest month for me. But you don’t want to peak at the start of the year anyway, right?

Just after I got over my first bout of COVID, the majority of my family was struck down by it. It was tough. More so for them, but also because I’m someone who needs hugs to survive. 

I also struggle with tinnitus in my right ear and the four months leading up to January were probably the worst I’d ever had living with it. An expensive trip to see an audiologist did clear it for a bit, though. That’s something to be thankful for!

As are all the Pedro Almodóvar films I watched this month in anticipation of my big February trip. One of my mini-goals for 2022 was to watch all 22 of the Spanish director’s feature films and I made a very big dent in January!

Books: 7 | Films: 21 | Accommodations: 0 | Nights Away: 0

Pedro Almodóvar Movies and the Cumbrian Coast


I finally ventured on my first overseas trip since September 2019!

I’d applied to spend a week in a small village called Belmonte in the Castilla-La Mancha region just outside of Madrid with a programme called VaughanTown. They run immersive language weeks with native English-speaking volunteers for local Spanish people to gain confidence in their English skills. 

It was awesome and you can read more about it in my VaughanTown Volunteer Review blog post here.

Afterwards, I spent a week on a bit of a workation in Madrid, a new-to-me city. I met up with one of the VaughanTown participants and met an American couple on an LGBTQ+ tapas tour who let me crash their Valentine’s Day plans.

You can read my Madrid itinerary blog post here.

Then, I flew straight to Edinburgh. But something happened to me on that flight that only ever happens in movies and urban myths. I became friends with the person sitting next to me!

My new Mexican friend and I still talk all the time and I hope to see him again soon.

This was exactly the trip I needed after not travelling for so long because all I wanted to do was to meet new people. 

Another mini goal for 2022 was to head back to Edinburgh six times, every other month. So, I started as I meant to go on! From what I recall, I met up with all my pals, went to the Scotch Whisky Experience, and had a lovely time.

Books: 4 | Films: 4 | Accommodations: 5 | Nights Away: 25

Almost Ginger blog owner next to a windmill in Castilla-La Mancha
Volunteering with VaughanTown in Belmonte
Almost Ginger in Madrid, Spain
Exploring Madrid
Almost Ginger with friends
Work & hanging out in Edinburgh


It seems incredible to me that the only trip I took in March 2022 was for less than seven days, but what a trip. Not only was this a trip in collaboration with Jet2 City Breaks, but it was also the first international trip I’d ever taken with my bestie.

We were originally supposed to go to Kraków, Poland in April 2020 with Jet2. Obviously, that didn’t happen. We ended up flying to Reykjavík, Iceland for a long weekend which is an upgrade in my book!

You can read about our entire experience and check out our Iceland itinerary here in my blog post.

Highlights include seeing the Northern Lights and the dreamy pastries at our breakfast buffet. Lowlights include my bestie’s lost luggage and not packing crampons because the ice was slippy and the wind was howling.

Books: 6 | Films: 8 | Accommodations: 2 | Nights Away: 6

Almost Ginger in Reykjavík, Iceland
Exploring Iceland


After spending my 2020 and 2021 birthdays in full UK lockdowns (and telling this to absolutely anyone who would listen), I was determined to do something a little special for my 29th birthday in 2022.

April began with my bi-monthly trip to Edinburgh to see friends. Then, I hopped on a flight to Copenhagen, Denmark. I absolutely loved Copenhagen. I’m particularly pleased I was brave enough to book a cycling tour by myself when I hadn’t ridden a bike since 2014.

Read more about my trip in my Copenhagen Itinerary here as well as my day trip to Malmö, Sweden.

For my actual birthday, I hopped on a bus to Aarhus to spend the day with my Wee Danish Pal whom I met whilst volunteering at a hostel in Edinburgh. She went above and beyond for me and made up for all my previous underwhelming birthdays.

You can read more about my birthday in my Aarhus itinerary post.

When I returned home, I celebrated milestones with two of my favourite ladies: my mum’s 60th birthday and my bestie’s wedding!

My bestie also asked me to be her Best Woman, a witness, and to make a speech which will go down as one of the highlights of my life. And I know I’m biased, but it was an awesome wedding.

Books: 7 | Films: 7 | Accommodations: 4 | Nights Away: 11

Almost Ginger blog owner in Nyhavn, Copenhagen in Denmark
Almost Ginger in Malmö, Sweden
Day trip to Malmö
Almost Ginger with friend in Aarhus, Denmark
Hanging with Ellen in Aarhus
Almost Ginger blog owner attending a wedding
My Bestie’s Wedding
Almost Ginger blog owner's family
My Mum’s Birthday


Literally the day after my best friend’s wedding, I flew to Vancouver, Canada with another friend to embark upon an epic road trip. We rented an RV and drove to Jasper National Park, Calgary, Banff National Park, and back to Vancouver over almost two weeks.

It was, by far, the most expensive trip I’ve ever taken and it was so worth it. You can read all about our Canadian RV road trip here. 

There were so many highlights, but seeing Cole Sprouse in Vancouver was the cherry on top. Lowlights include fannying around with my camera and missing the two bears my friend spotted at the side of the highway.

When I returned from Canada, I finished a Professional Lightroom Certificate from The Photography Institute. If you don’t know what Adobe Lightroom is, it’s a photo editing software.

I’m self-employed, so it’s really important I motivate myself to keep learning new skills. I also think it’s specifically important to continue earning certifications so that potential clients/future employers will recognise those skills too.

Books: 6 | Films: 5 | Accommodations: 8 | Nights Away: 13

Almost Ginger blog owner in Banff National Park, Canada
Chasing lakes in Banff National Park, Canada


June was the first month since January that I didn’t leave the country. But I didn’t stop travelling! I had plans for almost every weekend.

My first trip was to Oxford to catch up with my best friend from university, which is always a lovely trip. We carve out the time to catch up at least once a year no matter how busy we are.

We ate great food and went punting on the River Cherwell. I had just enough time to explore all the Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford too.

Read my Harry Potter Oxford locations guide here.

Then, my Wee Danish Pal came to England! We met up in Manchester, my former hometown of six years. I showed her around all of my favourite spots including where I went to university and we met up with some of my old pals.

I travelled straight from Manchester to the Peak District where I spent a weekend with my parents. They’re so supportive of my blog and my passion for scouting filming locations so we visited a ton of locations from movies in this area.

Some include Chatsworth House from Pride & Prejudice (2005), Hardwick Hall from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) and lots from The Princess Bride (1987) and Jane Eyre (2011).

And not long afterwards, I headed back up to Edinburgh for Pride. Because of the pandemic, this is the first time I’ve been able to attend a Pride festival since coming out as LGBTQ+ in 2020. I’m not sure I’ll attend them every year but I’m very pleased I made my first one.

I also completed my only cross-stitch this month.

Books: 6 | Films: 4 | Accommodations: 5 | Nights Away: 14

Almost Ginger blog owner in New College, University of Oxford in England
Exploring Oxford
Almost Ginger blog owner with pals in a Manchester pub, England
Hanging out in Manchester
Almost Ginger blog owner on Stanage Edge, Derbyshire
Channelling my inner Elizabeth Bennett in the Peaks
Almost Ginger blog owner attending Edinburgh Pride
Edinburgh Pride


I did f*ck all in July! Well, I worked a lot and read many books but I stayed at home.

Even looking back over my calendar, there is absolutely nothing on it. So I couldn’t tell you what I did except sit at my laptop and presumably enjoy my early morning walks in the light, warm weather.

Books: 11 | Films: 9 | Accommodations: 1 | Nights Away: 2

Almost Ginger blog owner's 2022 books


Of course, I couldn’t continue doing sweet eff all for too long because it was time for my bi-monthly trip to Edinburgh, wasn’t it? And anyone who has visited Edinburgh during the month of August knows that it is the month of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. I worked for a venue company there in 2013 for a summer during university and returned as an audience member in 2015 and 2017. It was lovely to go back to the festival for the first time in five years.

I stayed at my friend’s flat and we watched seven shows together. I also watched famous drag queen Jinkx Monsoon’s show by myself. I’m very indebted to him for letting me stay because there’s no way I’d pay accommodation prices in Edinburgh during the Fringe!

Is anyone a long-time reader and remembers when I walked Hadrian’s Wall Path in Northern England with a pal in September 2021? The same pal and I decided to embark on another multi-day hike again called St Cuthbert’s Way.

This is a 62.5-mile hike from Melrose in the Scottish Borders to Lindisfarne, which is an island off the coast of Northumberland, England. It was really tough at times (we experienced every type of weather) but thinking about walking across the sand to the Holy Island brings an instant smile to my face.

You can read my St Cuthbert’s Way Guide blog post here.

Books: 10 | Films: 8 | Accommodations: 6 | Nights Away: 12

Almost Ginger at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Edinburgh Fringe
Almost Ginger blog owner walking St Cuthbert's Way
On the border of Scotland and England on St Cuthbert’s Way


I wasn’t at home for long before I jetted off on a three-week backpacking trip in Central Europe. I spent one week in Budapest, Hungary, five days in Vienna, Austria, one week in Brno, Czech Republic and two days in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Why these four places? Well, the Traverse creators conference was in Brno and the other three places were very easy to travel between by bus. It was such a fun wee solo trip. I made some fantastic new blogging friends in Brno and a New Yorker friend when I was in Budapest.

I’ve not published any blog posts about any of the four places yet (bad blogger!) but I’ve edited all of the photos so I will soon.

I returned to the UK just in time to celebrate my dad’s 60th and my littlest nephew’s 1st birthdays, which are both on the same date.

Again, I wasn’t at home long before venturing on another trip. How did I find time to work this year?! I joined my parents on a road trip around Dumfries & Galloway and up to Ayrshire in southwest Scotland. We loosely followed the South West Coastal 300 route.

We booked this trip so we could attend the Wigtown Book Festival and I could visit as many filming locations from The Wicker Man (1973) as possible. Unfortunately, a bad storm derailed some of our plans but we still made the most of it.

Books: 7 | Films: 2 | Accommodations: 7 | Nights Away: 23

Almost Ginger in Budapest, Hungary
Almost Ginger in Vienna, Austria
Almost Ginger blog owner in Brno, Czech Republic
Almost Ginger blog owner in Bratislava, Slovakia
Almost Ginger blog owner on the south coast of Scotland, UK
South Coast of Scotland


As you can imagine, spending a lot of time travelling not only means I was spending a lot of money, but I wasn’t making much either! I spent most of my October working, photo editing, and reading.

But it was also time for another trip to Edinburgh to see my pals. I’m really pleased I stuck to this goal because I can get lonely really easily. These trips meant I could keep up the friendships I’d made and not go stir-crazy at home.

I only spent one week in Edinburgh, but I hopped on a train up to Dundee for a day trip to see one of my old uni friends who had just moved up there.

Books: 10 | Films: 1 | Accommodations: 4 | Nights Away: 8

Almost Ginger blog owner in Dundee, Scotland


November was the busiest, best-earning work month I’ve ever had! I earned almost twice as much as I ever did in a full-time salaried job. Unsurprisingly, I did not do anything of note and was chained to my laptop for the entire month.

(Unless binging several seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race counts…?)

Being self-employed can be quite the rollercoaster, but the pros far outweigh the cons right now.

One extra special thing did happen in November… My sister (mother to my two cheeky nephews) got engaged! 

Books: 14 | Films: 3 | Accommodations: 0 | Nights Away: 0

Sunrises in Cumbria
Who knew Novembers on the Cumbrian coast were so beautiful?!


I already knew that I’d get burned out if I didn’t have something social to look forward to in December, so I booked a few days in Glasgow and then a few more days in Edinburgh for my sixth and final visit. I met up with a few friends in both cities and found a really good balance between work and exploring.

Often, the scales tip too far in one direction! But I did a really good job both working hard and playing hard on this trip.

I saw some stand-up shows, went to the cinema, and read in cafes. Watching season five of The Crown influenced me to finally pay a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia too.

Unfortunately, the day I returned from Edinburgh, I tested positive for COVID. I had to cancel most of my plans to meet up with friends and family and just concentrate on looking after myself.

Books: 16 | Films: 17 | Accommodations: 4 | Nights Away: 12

St Mungo's Mural in Glasgow
St Mungo’s Mural in Glasgow
Edinburgh Calton Hill Sunrise in winter
Edinburgh sunrise from Calton Hill
Total Figures Books: 104 | Films: 89 | Accommodations: 46 | Nights Away: 126

2022 Goals – How Did I Do?

In 2022, I achieved my goal of watching every Pedro Almodóvar film. I read twice as many books as intended (two per week!). I also spent over one-third of the year travelling.

However, I realise I’ve mostly talked about my highlights in this post. It wasn’t all um bongo juice and pixie dust. Especially in autumn, things were looking a bit dicey job-wise when one of my main income streams dried up. Don’t worry, I gained new clients.

And there were definitely a lot of goals I didn’t achieve (like any of my savings goals, for example! No prizes why not…). I also didn’t complete six cross-stitches or watch many films. And I only completed one photography course, not two.

But I did achieve one goal that I didn’t bother to make because I didn’t think it would be possible in 2022.

While I was in Edinburgh in June, the Mediavine ad network accepted my blog (this very website) onto their platform!

This is quite a huge deal for any blogger who wants to make an income from their website. They only take websites with over 50,000 sessions per month (around 60,000 pageviews) because their commission is one of the highest.

I can’t stress how much I did not expect this to happen in 2022! I specifically took my focus away from this blog. But the universe had other plans, and I even managed to clock in 70,000+ pageviews in August.

Intentions for 2023

Since I only published 15 posts in 2022, you can expect much more from me at Almost Ginger in 2023 as I attempt to keep growing. This will include more blog posts but also a wee redesign/overhaul and a lot of updating. 

I really don’t want to set any big goals in 2023. But, here are some ideas/plans that I have for next year at the moment:

  • Read 52 books
  • Watch 185 films
  • Move to a city
  • Finish The Artist’s Way 12-week course
  • Complete one embroidery (that isn’t cross-stitch!)
  • Travel to Switzerland on a ski trip
  • Travel around Northern Italy for my 30th birthday
  • Travel to the US to see my friends in Baltimore & NYC
  • Earn at least minimum wage from ads on my blog
  • Finish creating an outline for a novel
  • See more places around the UK (maybe Northern Ireland?!)
  • Burn more scented candles

Happy New Year 2023, everyone! I sincerely hope that you had a fantastic 2022 as well. Sending you warm fuzzies, big hugs, and cold beers (metaphorical, of course). 

2 thoughts on “2022 in Review: Nine Countries & Saturn’s Return

  1. Jessica Manzo says:

    Super behind but just caught up on this. So glad you had such an adventurous and fulfilling year! Very excited about a particular plan on your list for 2023 😉

    • Rebecca says:

      Haha I absolutely love your comments on my end-of-year blog posts Jess that you will unfortunately have to keep coming back even if you are months and months late 🙂 Thank you, and I cannot wait for that particular plan either! 😀 😀

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