I’m a bit late getting to this but my excuse is that I’ve had a busy start to the year – and I’m sticking to it! But when I started to look back at 2018 I did want to capture my trip highlights as I managed to rise to the 12 trips challenge once again and pack quite a lot in.

As mentioned in previous posts the idea of the annual 12 trips challenge is to do at least one trip a month. It can be near or far, a long trip or a day trip, seeing new places or rediscovering somewhere you’ve been meaning to go back to. The point is to make the time to get out, explore the world and enjoy yourself. Here’s my 12 trips of 2018. Hope it inspires you to to take lots of great trips in 2019.

1. January – Liverpool

My previous visits to Liverpool had just been to catch the boat to Ireland when I was a kid, so it was great to finally go and experience the city. I had a great excuse for a trip as my cousin’s daughter was having her 21st birthday party at Malmaison Hotel, a gorgeous place to stay and very close to the docks and the iconic statue of the Fab Four. Needless to say it was cold and rainy in January but still a great place to kick off my 12 trips of the year.

LiverpoolLiverpool

2. February – Chile

Most of my February was spent in one place – Chile. It was a three week trip which was needed because it’s a really long way from England and being a long thin country it takes time to get around. That distance also means variety, so we had five trips in one with each destination offering something very different. A glimpse of each is below, but to see more photos and find out just how much this wonderful South American country has to offer, visit the Chile section of my blog.

SantiagoSantiago is a great capital city with a fabulous mountain backdrop.

ChiloeThere were lots of magical sights to see in the Chiloe archipelago, including these cute little fellas.

Puerto Varas has picture perfect views of two volcanoes, including the snow capped Osorno.

Torres del PaineHiking in Patagonia was a challenging experience I won’t forget, but we did get to see the amazing Torres del Paine.

Santa CruzThe Colchagua wine valley was the perfect place to end our trip and relax and reflect on the good times.

3. March – London’s West End

The return from Chile was pretty harsh as within a few days snow arrived and while it went away for a while it also made a surprise reappearance mid-month. I didn’t let that stop play though and started the month with a trip to the 02 to see Paloma Faith. Then on St Patrick’s Day I ignored the return of the snow and headed to London’s West End to see two shows in a day. We had tickets for the matinee of Beginning, a brilliant two-handed play about the end of a party and the start of a new relationship. But before heading there we went to the TKTS Ticket Booth in Leicester Square and snagged half price seats for the evening performance of musical Kinky Boots. Couldn’t have been more different to the matinee but such a great choice – loved it!

4. April – A taste of Sri Lanka 

I started the month with a return to Sri Lanka, my 2017 holiday destination. Well ok not actually Sri Lanka, but a trip to Hoppers, a Sri Lankan restaurant in London that I’d been wanting to go to ever since my trip a year earlier. It really was like being back there, the food is so authentic and delicious. Of course we had to try the egg hoppers, bringing back memories of eating them for breakfast overlooking Ella Gap. And I ended the month with a trip to Dublin, my home from home where it’s always a treat to see the family and the fair city. This time we discovered foodie treats too at The Bakehouse, a great place to eat right by the Ha’penny Bridge.

5. May – from Hatchlands to Petworth

May was for making the most of my National Trust membership. The first bank holiday saw a return trip to nearby Hatchlands Park to see the beautiful bluebells, while the late bank holiday included a first trip to Petworth House and Park in West Sussex. Such a fabulous house with some stunning paintings and a wonderful garden and deer park. Between those two I also managed a trip to a South Asia festival on London’s Southbank for yet another taste of Sri Lankan cuisine!

6. June – return to Hay

My friend and I were a bit worried that our second visit to the Hay Festival wouldn’t live up to expectations after loving our first trip so much. But it absolutely did and is almost certainly going to be an annual trip now. Day one started with the legend that is Jilly Cooper and ended with a brilliant Imelda May gig. Every day at Hay offers food for the brain and soul and I leave the festival feeling revitalised and inspired. Plus the town itself and surrounding countryside are gorgeous. What more can you ask for from a weekend trip to Wales.

7. July – Provence and the Languedoc

This trip to France was really about one thing and one thing only – the wine! Loved visiting Avignon, seeing the Pope’s Palace and the famous bridge. But doing a wine tour of the Luberon Valley tasting some great Provence roses was the real highlight. Then it was two nights in Montpellier, a great city in for a mini break where colourful modern trams are juxtaposed with  beautiful old buildings. It’s also very close to the tiny Languedoc appellation that produces my favourite white wine, Picpoul de Pinet. Visiting vineyards in the village of Pinet was literally like a pilgrimage and we loved every minute. The month continued in a similar vein when a trip to Manchester included a visit to the Washhouse a speakeasy bar hidden behind a launderette frontage that serves some brilliant quirky cocktails.

Avignon8. August – the culture trips

I’m not sure George Ezra counts as culture but it was nice to start the month with a return trip to Sandown Park for a night of horse racing and music. Mid month saw a visit to Regents Park’s wonderful open air theatre to see the fabulous Little Shop of Horrors. Then it was a trip to the Royal Academy to see this year’s Summer Exhibition, followed by a first time visit to a Wine Car Boot sale just off Haymarket – there weren’t any car boots in sight but there were lots of wines on offer!

9. September – Oh Vienna

The summer’s amazing weather was waning by the time September arrived, but it didn’t dampen my first trip to Proms in the Park hosted by lovely Micheal Ball and headlined by music legend Gladys Knight. Then mid month was our annual girls on tour weekend to this year’s destination of choice, Vienna. What a beautiful city. We had an amazing time staying at the fab 25 Hours Hotel and sampling lots of what the city has to offer. Read more in my post about the trip.

ViennaVienna10. October – the literary trips

This month started with a visit to Wimbledon Bookfest to see the inimitable Graham Norton and hear about his new novel, A Keeper. Mid month I made a return trip to the Jane Austen Museum. My ticket last October gave me free entry for a year so I couldn’t resist getting another visit in under the wire. Then I finished the month with a trip to see the wonderful actress Sally Field talking about her memoir, In Pieces, at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. What a classy lady.

11. November – the return trips

This month saw me revisiting a whole range of places, some that I hadn’t been to for a very long time. I kicked off by continuing the literary theme with a trip to the National Portrait Gallery for an excellent Jane Austen lecture. That was followed by a trip to Chinatown and a restaurant that was a real favourite of mine back in the day. Then was a return trip to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for the Greatest Showman Sing-a-long. So many years since I’d been there but still as much fun. Then it was a return trip to my old stomping ground Clapham for lunch with some friends from even further back in the day. And finally another trip to the 02 to see the fabulous Florence and the Machine. So great to revisit old favourites and make new memories.

12. December – Barcelona

I decided a few years ago to stop complaining that Christmas starts too early and embrace the fact that advent begins on the 1 December. So it was a month packed with lovely trips to see family and friends and enjoy great times. Mulled wine on the Southbank was followed by seeing my cousin’s daughter in a fab play at the Soho Theatre. Then more indulgence of my Jane Austen obsession seeing the improvised play Austentatious and a trip to the stunning St Paul’s Cathedral for a candlelight Christmas carol concert. Then after Christmas it was off to Barcelona to end the year with blue skies and gorgeous sunshine in one of my favourite cities. It was great to revisit the Sagrada Familia and see the progress that’s been made, as well as seeing some of my other favourite Gaudi buildings like La Pedrera, before seeing in the New Year with a fun night at Marmalade.

And that’s a wrap on my 12 trips (plus a few more) of 2018. It’s great to stop and reflect back on the year and now I feel even more inspired to do lots more trips in 2019. Hope you do too!