It’s Boxing Day. I’ve just finished eating cheese and crackers, the time is almost 17:30 and I’m on my second glass of fizz. I can’t think of a better situation in which to write a catch-up post to mark the end of 2019 on Almost Ginger and bring in 2020.
Some years feel like ‘cranking up’ years. Just like on a rollercoaster where you’re climbing higher and higher for what seems like forever and not much else is happening. Then, you anxiously hang off the edge before plummeting into a year which feels like 30 seconds of adrenaline, fear and ultimately relief. Panicky fun. Like, it’s amazing but you’re scared sh*tless at the same time. I think for most of us, big life changes all happen at full speed in a short space of time. In 2016, I went abroad at least six times (far more than 2015), moved twice, got made redundant and started a new job. Heck, most of this happened in one month.
2019 has very much felt like I’ve been ‘cranking up’ the rollercoaster. I’ve not personally achieved anything huge, but I feel like I’m hanging off the edge. Eagerly and anxiously anticipating the panicky fun of 2020.
I’m very happy being single. I call it being self-partnered – Emma Watson (2019)
Or “I broke up with my boyfriend of four years”
Feels a bit cringey to make this a whole segment of this blog post, but it’s too significant a life event to gloss over. And even better that I can use a 2019 buzz word from fellow single lady Emma Watson who polarised the internet with the term ‘self-partnered’ to describe her single status. In October, my boyfriend and I parted ways. It’s an adjustment but ultimately a positive one. When you know how awful break-ups can be, I feel lucky that we both knew we had no future together and could part amicably.
So, I’m single for the first time in four years! What’s changed? Well, I feel incredibly productive and I have literally been writing blog posts Every. Single. Day. And I’ve been going on lots of long walks which have helped my head feel clearer and my dresses fit better. I just feel completely free to do whatever I want to do.
I also had to open my own Netflix account for the first time ever. Urgh. And I don’t go to the cinema much now because I used to fit in my film trips when I visited my ex in Manchester. So, I don’t want as many new movies as I did. However, I’ve been re-watching lots of my old favourite movies/TV shows. For instance, The Before Trilogy (1995-2013), Call Me By Your Name (2017) and yes, I’m even re-watching Sex and the City. I love being a cliché. And I’m really loving being self-partnered. Now, where did I leave my copy of Eat Pray Love…
The fact I’m trying to speak Polish in Italy is one of the many surprises around here – Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Or “2019 Travels to Poland, Italy, Scotland and, erm, Italy again”
2019 may not have been a landmark year for travel but I can’t look back and not immediately feel happy and grateful for all the experiences I did have. So I don’t really care how much/little I’ve travelled.
In January, I spend a week volunteering via a workaway exchange at a Buddhist centre near where I live in Cumbria, UK. In March, I had a fantastic city break in Wrocław, Poland which cemented the fact I need to see a lot more of Poland. I also finally got to visit Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire for the 1st Hebden Bridge Film Festival, somewhere in the UK I’ve been wanting to visit for ages. And in May, I revisited the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London which was even more incredible than it was in 2012 when I last went.
June was a game-changing month for me as I spent it entirely away from home. Firstly, I attended Traverse, the content creators’ conference, in Trento, Italy. It was such a brilliant weekend. As always, I loved meeting so many new and old friends in the blogging world. I tagged on a few days in Verona and Sirmione on Lake Garda on my trip to Trento, too. Then, I managed to snag press accreditation to the Edinburgh International Film Festival. This was super exciting for me because I’ve never got press accreditation for Almost Ginger before. And Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities (I also got a cheeky new Scotland-related tattoo, too).
Get ready for lots of photos of my face during 2019. You’re welcome.
In September, I hopped on a train to Durham and York in search of Harry Potter filming locations. I also piggybacked my parent’s trip to Palermo, Sicily. Palermo is a fantastic place for a city break and we tried all the amazing street food and took a day trip to the charming coastal city of Cefalù. I’ll be writing a Palermo itinerary soon!
The latter half of the year wasn’t as full-on, but I’ve loved spending time at home. Of course, now I think I’m ready to start being braver and taking more opportunities to travel as often as I can, mostly solo.
There isn’t enough room for me and your ego – Casino Royale (2006)
Or “2019 Successful and Unsuccessful Film Challenges”
As well as the travel and the blogging, I attempted to complete some random film challenges. I set myself challenges every year and usually do horribly, but 2019 was less horrible. I always feel like a terrible film fan: never watching enough classic cinema, not enough world cinema or non-mainstream cinema, etc. etc. so I set myself the most ridiculous goals.
In the end, I managed to watch all 24 James Bond films and I managed to watch #52FilmsByWomen. The latter challenge is a movement where you watch 52 films directed by a woman each year. The aim is to be more aware of diversity in the film industry, both on and off-screen. I actually smashed that one this year, I’ve watched 135 and counting.
I also wanted to watch every single Agnès Varda film (I watched two) and every single Pedro Almodóvar film (he’s my favourite director and I watched six this year). Watching every single Netflix original film directed by a woman was also on the list but JUST when I thought I had almost finished, I discovered about 20 other films I hadn’t counted. So I sacked that goal off.
I think I will try and watch every single Pedro Almodóvar film in 2020. But I’m not pressuring myself next year AT ALL when it comes to film. I need to focus my energy elsewhere and I want to concentrate on watching movies that have filming locations I’m going to visit.
Money’s only something you need in case you don’t die tomorrow – Wall Street (1987)
Or “Very Tentative Travel Plans for 2020”
I’m very excited about my very tentative plans for 2020. They’re still very up in the air because I only have one trip confirmed. And I may not end up doing half of what I’ve got planned here, but I hope I’m still travelling as much or doing just as exciting things.
In February/March, I hope (you’ll be seeing this word a lot) to spend some time in Scotland. Hopefully on a workaway exchange at a hostel. I’d like to visit more filming locations in Scotland in general, especially the Outlander filming locations.
And in April, I have one confirmed trip! I’m going on a city break to Kraków in Poland with Jet2 (which means it’s my first ever overseas trip with a brand!) and my friend Ellie is coming with. I really can’t wait to plan this trip, it’s going to be so much fun.
More tentatively, I plan to go back to Cannes Film Festival in May on a ‘Three Days in Cannes’ pass. I attended Cannes Film Festival in 2017 with the Cinephile pass. But I really want to try out the ‘Three Days’ pass before I’m too old to apply. I’d really love to take the train down and hit up Paris and Lyon for a couple of days on the way. And maybe head to Monaco for a day, just to experience it. But that’s a big ‘we’ll see.’
And even more tentatively, in June, I want to visit Madrid for a language exchange. Then maybe tag that onto revisiting another workaway exchange in Andalucía that I did in 2017. And apply for accreditation for the Venice Film Festival in September. Maybe. Hopefully.
Isn’t that what you want too, Jo, to be a famous writer?
Yes, but it sounds so crass when she says it – Little Women (2019)
Or “Blogging and Freelance writing in 2020”
Yes, I’m still attempting to make Almost Ginger my full-time gig. I reached 24,000 pageviews in August but the Google algorithm changes in September/October hit me hard and it’s much lower than that right now. But, I’ve recently invested in Keysearch and SEO courses from Make Traffic Happen in the Black Friday sale and I’m completely committing to my blog in 2020. I don’t know if I’m really determined or really deluded. But I still feel like 2020 is the year I make money from Almost Ginger. ‘Watch this space’ and stuff.
I have had lots of strokes of luck, freelance-writing wise this year. In the middle of November, I was super fortunate to be handed a long term freelance writing contract for a bigger travel blog writing two articles a week. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but consistent and guaranteed freelance writing work (that is enjoyable AND interesting) is incredibly hard to find. It’s given me a confidence lift (not to mention a bank balance lift) and I also bought this travel writing course from Superstar Blogging in the Black Friday sale to keep improving my writing skills.
Thank you, thank you! Thank you very much! – The Fall (2006)
Or “Thank you”
This post has been extremely ‘me me me’ but I’ve already prattled on for 2,000 words. So I’ll end it by saying a brief thank you. Thank you for reading this blog post, and for any other blog post in 2019. Thank you for following me on social media (@almostgingr) even though I post very sporadically, I so appreciate it. I’m not a blogger without readers and I’m so, so grateful to those who keep coming back. If you ever want me to write a post about a specific topic, let me know! If I can do it justice, I’ll write it.
A big thanks to my parents for continuing to believe in me and still letting me live with them while I chase my dream of becoming location independent. I’m sure we all thought it would happen sooner, so I’m really grateful. And to my sister Natalie for giving me a nephew. That was a super kind of her. He’s spot-on, as kids go. I mean, I’m sure she enjoys having him too and she didn’t birth him just so I could be an Auntie, but still. What a lovely thing to do.
Thanks to anyone who has left me a nice comment or said something nice. Really, even if 2020 isn’t the year I think it’s going to be, I’d at least want to still be this content about life in exactly one year’s time. I hope to still be meeting amazing, friendly people both in real life and online. I’ve never had so many friends before since starting this blog and that makes me more contented than travel and films.
I wish you all the best for 2020 and a happy new year!