Well- writing this year’s summary was certainly interesting! I’m an eternal optimist, and while many of us are glad to see the back-end of 2020, I’m going to shake things up by saying I’m grateful for this tumultuous year.
When things are difficult, if we slow down and listen, we will learn, heal and grow. We don’t experience growth when everything is easy. My greatest lessons have come from heartbreaks and sadness.
2020 certainly was a mixed bag. I got married, went back on anti-depressants, started a new business, got a dog, and travelled home to New Zealand to see my Dad who had spent the majority of the year kicking cancer’s ass.
Read on for my full 2020 summary!
>> Read my 2018 and 2019 travel summaries here
I’m sure we can all relate that 2020 didn’t go quite as well as we planned. However, nothing is a failure if you learn something from it. Here are the things that didn’t go quite so well for me in 2020, but also taught me some valuable lessons.
Cancelled trips and plans
I had big plans for travel in 2020. I was planning on visiting the Isle of Arran, the Outer Hebrides, England and ride the Jacobite train from Fort William to Mallaig. We had tickets to see Taylor Swift and Pearl Jam in London, two of my favourite artists, however, due to Covid19 these concerts were [sensibly] cancelled.
We ended up doing something even better with the money [keep reading to see what we did instead!]. I learned to make the most of my local surroundings, ticking off bucket list items that were closer to home, and ended up having some epic adventures!
Quitting my job to blog full time and then losing 80% of my income
Well, that about says it. Financially, 2020 was terrfying for me. Because I’m not a UK citizen and I’m self-employed, I couldn’t access any financial assistance from the governement, so I had to knuckle down and work hard to be able to pay my bills.
Because so many of my readers had to cancel their trips to Scotland this year, I ended up creating a Scotland subscription box and an awesome Scotland community called Secrets of Scotland, where I create exclusive content and share my favourite hidden gems in Scotland.
‘Pivot’ was the word for entrepreneurs this year!
My Dad was diagnosed with cancer
By far the most shitty thing to happen this year was hearing my Dad was diagnosed with Stage III bladder and prostate cancer, and being stuck on the other side of the world while he was undergoing chemo and radiation [and massive surgery]. He handled everything like a champion, and in November he finished his treatment.
In a weird way, cancer actually made my family stronger. Personally, it made me appreciate what I have even more and taught me to prioritise the good people in my life. I learned that the darkest moments can teach you the greatest lessons, and not to take life too seriously.
Struggling with depression
I wrote a blog post about my decision to go back on antidepressants this year after fighting depression and anxiety.
It was the best decision I made this year- getting out of bed every day doesn’t feel like climbing a mountain, and now I have the energy to do all the normal things that depression makes it impossible to do.
I learned it’s really important to prioritise your mental health above all else, and to tell people if I’m feeling depressed. Even when you feel like hiding yourself away, just being around good people, whether that be meeting up for a coffee, or taking the dog a walk, is uplifting. Some days you have to force yourself to socialise- but just do it. Even if you’ve spent the past few days crying, can’t be assed to put on make-up or you don’t want your bad mood to rub off on someone else. It’s difficult, but trust me- being around others really helps.
The Haggis said I’m back to my old, happy, positive self- and it’s great to be back!
The Magical Moments of 2020
I feel like 2020 hit pause on travel for me…until I started writing this blog post! I actually ended up doing quite a lot of travel, and ticked several things off my Scotland bucket list. I even squeezed in a few international trips!
There were also some other very special moments that happened this year…
Spending Hogmanay in rural Perthshire
We kicked off 2020 in Dunkeld; we rented an amazing farmhouse with a group of friends and had a fantastic time. The property we stayed in is no longer taking bookings, however, there are plenty of similar accommodation options in the area. We explored standing stones, a stone circle, and walked The Hermitage.
Rural Perthshire is one of my favourite places to escape to in autumn and winter in Scotland- there are lots of quiet nature walks, castle ruins and historic sites!
I got married
Without a doubt getting married to my best friend was the highlight of 2020. We had a winter wedding in January at MacDonald Houstoun House where Mary Queen of Scots once visited.
The Haggis proposed to me in the woods near our house [one of my favourite places] and we planned our wedding in just 10 weeks. It’s such a cliche, but it really was one of the best days of my life.
Blog posts about our wedding:
Winter break in Prague, Czech Republic
At the end of January, the Haggis and I spent 4 nights in Prague to celebrate his birthday!
Visiting Europe in the colder months is one of my favourite things to do in winter. We warmed ourselves with mulled wine as we wandered the beautiful streets, visited Prague Castle [the biggest castle in the world], and indulged in Trdelník [chimney cake].
Blog posts about Prague:
Visted Budapest, Hungary
The Haggis and I spent 4 days in Budapest with Jet2 City Breaks [gifted]. We stayed at the Hilton Budapest, and woke up to the most wonderful view of the Hungarian Parliament Building every morning!
We soaked in thermal baths, ate traditional food and explored Gellért Hill Cave, an underground church which is connected to a series of underground tunnels under Budapest!
We were super lucky to squeeze this trip in because just 1 week later, Covid19 reached UK shores and went into lockdown a few weeks later.
Blog posts about Budapest:
We got a puppy!
After our summer concerts we cancelled and we were stuck at home due to multiple lockdowns, we decided to extend our family.
We fell in love as soon as we laid eyes on wee Angus, our red fox labrador. He joined us on several adventures this year- a trip to Anstruther, Killin, the Scottish Borders, and some local walks close to home.
He is the most bonnie boy, with so much character! He sleeps in the most hilarious positions and loves a cuddle- especially if he’s allowed on the bed.
Wild Camping in the Scottish Borders
As soon as lockdown restrictions eased in summer, I went wild camping with a group of friends near Dryburgh in the Scottish Borders. We were blessed with wonderful weather, and Angus joined us for his first camping trip.
Visiting the Isle of May
In August I took a day trip to the Isle of May to write a travel guide and film a vlog for Secrets of Scotland. In the summer, the Isle of May is home to thousands of seabirds, including puffins!
When restrictions were eased in summer, Tom from Photo Walk Scotland invited me on a day tour of Glasgow. It was my first time using public transport since Covid and exploring a city- which was eerily quiet!
I had a fantastic time, and Tom took me to some of his off-beat places I’ve not visited in Glasgow before. His tour helped me realise I actually prefer Glasgow to Edinburgh!
Blog posts about Glasgow:
Hiking to The Lost Valley in Glencoe
Another adventure I went on for Secrets of Scotland included hiking to The Lost Valley in Glen Coe, and spending a weekend in gorgeous Argyll and Bute.
I ticked off several castles off my bucket list, including Castle Stalker and Kilchurn Castle, and we spent the night in North Connel.
Having an autumn break in Killin
In October we booked a much needed 3-night break in Killin.
Killin is super dog-friendly, and wee Angus joined us. We ate at every single pub in the village, hiked Sron A’ Chlachain, visited the Falls of Dochart, and explored the most beautiful castle ruin I’ve seen in Scotland- Finlarig Castle.
Watch the video from our trip below and a wee history lesson!
Blog posts about Killin:
A day trip to the Scottish Borders
In November, I explored three of my favourite hidden gems in the Scottish Borders: Peebles Kirk, the Rhymer’s Stone and Kelso Abbey.
These places all have a really interesting
You can watch the vlog of my adventure if you’re a Secrets of Scotland member.
A day trip to Linlithgow
For my final Scotland trip of 2020, I visited Linlithgow, which is a 20-minute drive from my house. Linlithgow is the birthplace of James V and Mary Queen of Scots. It’s such an enchanting town- and if I could live anywhere in Scotland, it would be there!
The vlog of my trip is available to watch for Secrets of Scotland members.
Visiting New Zealand
As I type this, we are currently in New Zealand! It’s a miracle we made it here- travelling across the other side of the globe is no easy task in 2020, but I’m so relieved that we can spend a few weeks with my family and friends and travel the land of the long white cloud that I called home for 27 years.
We made the decision to do everything possible to visit New Zealand for Christmas to spend it with my Dad. This Christmas is going to be very special indeed, and I’m glad that we will be able to end 2020 on the best note.
We also have an epic South Island and North Island road trip planned- I’ll be sharing this on my blog in 2021.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020? Did you manage to travel, or did you stay at home?
Wednesday 16th of December 2020
Your blog made me rethink 2020 and like you I have done more travelling than I thought. I have really enjoyed seeing parts of Scotland I have not visited before such as Annandale in Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute and even managing a section of the CapeWrath Trail from Fort William to Morvich. I have also spent a lot of time walking in the Pentlands this year and discovering what a wonderful place this is to have on your doorstep