It’s fair to say that this year, I’ve found it harder to get that elusive work/motherhood/travel balance. As a consequence, I haven’t been so great at planning, or following my own advice from times past when the challenge was new (and I didn’t have a kid or lose 3 hours of my day commuting).
Maybe it’s a good thing every now and then, though. You know, as I adapt and prep for a new year. Because hopefully you’ll see I’m just like you (well, kind of); working, trying to do all the domestic admin that comes with being an adult, waiting for the next pay cheque, and wishing I was on holiday.
Anyway – I didn’t fare badly this year in the end, because when opportunities to do stuff or go places came up, I did try to grab them with both hands, whether big or teeny tiny. And I made it abroad four times (there was a fifth trip on the cards, but that flopped. More later).
Here’s the lowdown:
A GREAT FAMILY FRIENDLY MUSEUM
Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum was an unexpected gem. Set in a beautiful old University of Liverpool building – back in January we took advantage of one of their family Saturdays with free themed crafts for the kids (and a movie if they’re big enough to sit through it). We found the museum super child friendly, from the cafe to the explorer backpacks you can borrow at reception. And if you like your architecture, this building is a beauty not to be missed on a trip to Liverpool.
A NEW GERMAN CITY FOR US – HAMBURG
Next up, we jetted off to the German Hanseatic city of Hamburg. A dynamic and vibrant port city, it felt like it had much in common with Liverpool at times which I really loved. And it’s home, of course, to the absolute gem of a place that is Minaturwunderland. Honestly that place is a hoot and so much fun for every age.
(Read more: Two Days in Hamburg with a Toddler)
We enjoyed a little date night in February, unusual for us to have the opportunity! And not for Valentine’s day, I must point out. I’m not into forced romance (my husband proposed while laughing over spilled home cooked spag bol one random Friday night). But we did get to try a restaurant I’d wanted to take him to since my Spain loving sister introduced me to it. It’s called Lunya in Liverpool and the food is a deliciously authentic mix of Catalan and Spanish . It also has a fab deli attached. They’ve since moved to bigger premises so I guess we need to go again. And if you’re interested, they’re also in Manchester.
LADIES WHO LUNCH
I resurrected an old tradition in March. I took a day off work to take my mum out for lunch to celebrate Mother’s Day. We decided to go for a bit of Italy and tried out Salt House Bacaro in Liverpool city centre. Their speciality is their Venetian style small plates. It was so, so good and an absolute travesty that we couldn’t finish the parmesan fries because we were too full.
(Read more: Finding Venice in a Liverpool Lunchtime)
THE CHEEKY OVERNIGHTER IN MANCHESTER
Later in Spring, Mr Holiday Addict and I overnighted in Manchester, our old hometown. It was nice to have a hotel stay (and a hotel breakfast. God I’m obsessed with hotel breakfasts!). We went out with some of my work friends and honestly just enjoyed being in a city centre we really never spent enough time in when we were actual Manchester residents.
OFF TO SEE A BAND
I also went to a gig for the first time in forever. Moving back to Liverpool has meant catching up with old friends, one of whom has a brother in the band Circa Waves (check them out – they are doing fab things). Anyway, the band were playing Liverpool and thanks to another of my pals, I was lucky enough to get a ticket. It really was a great night. The gig was at Liverpool University and at times I felt old – like when I saw students with their lack of eye bags and wrinkles. But most of the time I felt like the younger me, drinking vodka cokes from plastic cups and being a bit free for a change. I had loads of fun. Too much perhaps. It ended up being a late night that *may* have included a pit stop to a McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home. I am not sorry (well, maybe a bit).
FAMILY FUN AND SPANISH SUN
June meant jetting off again. This time for some sun on the Spanish island of Majorca. It was a mystery why I’d never visited before and we had a great week of family fun on the beach and in the pool. Except for one day when it rained like nothing I’d ever seen before. Yeah, that wasn’t so much fun. But at least we could get CBeebies in our hotel. And sangria for me.
(Read more: Finally Finding the Holiday Magic of Majorca)
CRAFT BEER AND SUNSHINE
Once summer kicked off it was like all the good stuff happened. Holiday Baby went to stay with his grandparents in Glasgow (not on his own, obvs. They took him on the train after a visit) and the mister and I spontaneously hit up Liverpool’s Craft Beer Expo which fortuitously fell on the same weekend. Even more good fortune befell us in the form of that strange phenomenon known as a Great British Heatwave. Honestly, it was as if the stars had aligned. We’ll definitely bookmark the dates for next year, regardless of the weather. It was just such a good day out. But beer in the sun is always a bonus. We carried on exploring the city afterwards and beery old me came over a bit teary old me when we stumbled across this:
That’s our bombed out church. You can find out much more here. The Church and its grounds are home to all sorts of events so I must make a mental note ready for 2018’s edition of #take12trips.
SUMMER IN STOCKHOLM
Then in July, we bobbed off on a weekend to Stockholm which has been on my travel wishlist since the dawn of time. It didn’t disappoint at all and was one of the most family orientated cities we’ve visited. It wasn’t cheap, but we expected that. And we had a fabulous time. More to come. (Yes, I know. Four months later and I still haven’t finished the post…)
THE MUMS’ MINI BREAK
Next up was August which is my birthday month and always my favourite time of the year. I refuse to work on my birthday since I was always off school and I’m lucky to have spent loads of them on holiday. This year was no exception! But first off, one of my best friends and I had a mums’ night off and booked ourselves into a fancy schmancy hotel in Liverpool on a Sunday night dinner bed and breakfast deal. In fairness, we didn’t do much besides wander round town and the Albert Dock, eat too much, drink (not too much, actually) and watch totally crap telly in our room. It was like 24 hours of the good old days when we shared a house. A perfect little mini break.
THE BIG HOLIDAY TO GREECE
Then came my two weeks of the heaven that is Greece. This years island? Zakynthos. I loved it. I’d picked the beach town of Tsilivi because of its reputation as being really family friendly. Truth is, it was everyone friendly. And although clearly a bit of a tourist town, home cooked food and a bit of history and culture are never hard to find in Greece. Have I mentioned we’re already booked for next year? Yep – loved it so much I’m repeating. It’s a holiday with extended family and the town just suited us all so well for a real break. I am planning a full post, along with details of what it’s like to spend the island’s feast day of their patron saint – St. Denis, in the capital, Zakynthos Town. Spoiler: it’s AMAZING.
RANDOM MIDWEEK NIGHT ON THE TOWN
Things went quiet for a bit post summer. But the mister and I did find ourselves once more child free for a couple of days. We had planned on visiting Valancia, but extra household expenses meant it just wasnt the right time to be throwing money at a trip, so we stayed home instead. We weren’t going to go out at all. I imagined box sets in my pj’s and hundreds of hours of sleep, but randomly, after an afternoon nap (on a Monday, no less) we just went for it. It was a get ready in 15 mins to catch the next train into town job and we found ourselves feasting on burgers at Almost Famous over Brooklyn Beers before dancing (DANCING?!) to a live band on Mathew Street. On a MONDAY!. Who knew?
I seriously liked the midweek Mathew Street vibe. There are new places I’ve not seen before and it’s certainly upped its game in the live music stakes – which it should have done ages ago. That’s why most tourists visit the street that have birth to the Beatles after all. Anyway. Good times. It all felt a bit city-break-at-home. And I heartily recommend Sgt Peppers for a drink and a singalong.
A LITTLE CHRISTMAS KICK OFF
As Autumn drew in, I started drawing up plans for Christmas. Namely, Christmas markets. The timing of school hols meant that a jaunt to Europe was off the cards, but last year we had a fabulous day enjoying Liverpool, and its transformation into #onemagicalcity promised to be bigger and better in 2017. I did make it to the market on St George’s plateau on the day it opened with a friend, and I hoped to head back to Manchester as we haven’t been to the markets there since the days pre-baby.
But unfortunately, my health took a knock. Nothing serious, but I’ve been really quite poorly and I’m still off work. I’ve done nothing in December besides feel sorry for myself (and lose weight, which is virtually unheard of in the month of eating, drinking and being merry – but that’s 3 throat infections, a chest infection and a back spasm for you). I’m on the mend now, so all being well I’ll march into 2018 with a spring in my step!
Anyway, to sum up the year, I make that a total of 13 trips in the end! I’ll take that since December was a write off.
Now, you’ll probably notice that much of my fun was had locally this year. I can honestly say it’s been lovely to get to know Liverpool again after so long living in Manchester. It’s changed so much – all of it for the better. And it’s taken me right back to what #take12trips was all about in the first place – finding time to escape from the worries of home, work, or these days, whatever Donald Trump has been tweeting about.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a few hours, a few days or a few weeks away. It’s just about doing something instead of nothing. And it’s a philosophy I’m going to take with me into 2018. Are you up for it, too?