2018 for me has been like a year of letting the dust settle. I jumped into my new life as an adventurer throwing everything at the wall to see what would work and if this really could become my reality.
While I always felt like I was swimming against the tide, never able to let one of the finely balanced juggling balls drop, the last 6 months I’ve felt a shift. I have the experience behind me now to know what works. And to feel comfortable knowing that everything will be fine no matter what goes wrong.
Now I get a steady stream of emails, opportunities and brands wanting to work with me or Love Her Wild. I feel comfortable in who I am and what I represent and confident to say no, even if the offer is so sweet and my instinctive reaction is FOMO.
That’s a long way from the insecurity I felt when writing my review last year.
12 Highlights of 2018
It has been another year full of adventure and travel, with the Kicking the States expedition being the main feature of 2018. It was the biggest expedition I’d ever done and was absolutely INCREDIBLE!!
Including Kicking the States, I’ve been on 4 big expeditions (Norway Arctic Expedition, crossing the Jordan Desert and climbing Stok Kangri) this year and 1 small one (London Bridge Challenge). I’ve visited 11 countries (UK, France, Norway, Belgium, Portugal, Azores, Canada, USA, Mexico, Israel and Palestine) and led 2 adventures (The Woods Expedition, The Negev Expedition).
And here were my best bits…
#1 Sleeping in a snow hole
Right after Christmas in the UK with family (which was a disaster….everyone got sick apart from me!), I headed straight to the Pyrenees for a winter skills week. This was the first time I’d ever been out in winter….like seriously, I don’t think I’d ever been in proper snow before.
I was mostly looking forward to building a snow hole. Everyone bailed on spending the night in theirs but I just had to do it. I’d never actual wild camped alone before so this was a pretty full on introduction.
Read the full experience and what it was like sleeping in a snow hole.
#2 Snow everywhere and the Northern Lights
The winter skills week was really just preparation to get me ready for this mad Arctic Expedition which I had put together with 4 other women from the Love Her Wild community.
It was a phenomenal experience. Both brutal and beautiful. I can’t watch this film without getting a bit teary.
#3 Hiking all the London Bridges
I was feeling a bit lost when Gil spent 3 months away. So I ended up back in the place that will always feel like home – London!
I’d had this idea about trying to cross all the London Thames Bridges in a weekend. Turns out it’s possible to do it in a day! This was the first challenge I’d done on my own. While I decided I prefer company, I really loved doing a backyard adventure. Next year I’ll be doing a lot more!
#4 Did I really organise that?
I put together the first Love Her Wild Weekend. A mini-festival/retreat for women in the Love Her Wild community to meet others, get inspired and to have a fun camping weekend away.
Over 60 women came. We heard stories that made us cry and laugh. Stretched in the sun, carved spoons and made new friendships for life. It was everything I could’ve hoped it would be and more. THIS is what I always hoped Love Her Wild would be.
There is no greater feeling as an event organiser than when you can’t get people to leave at the end because they’ve had such a good time!
Next year I’ll be running 2 Love Her Wild Weekends. Get your ticket before they sell out!
#5 Surviving in the Woods
I put out an advert asking women to apply to take part in the Woods Expedition and over 150 applied! Adventures are so often about going the fastest and furthest. But we can challenge ourselves in the outdoors in other ways.
It wasn’t easy picking the final team of 10. We all headed to a remote section of woodland (with permission!) and spent 5 days surviving with just basic gear – no tents, no roll mats and barely any food. You can read the full story here.
We had a really special last night around the fire where we said what we’d learnt. It reminded me how much of a difference I can make in the lives of others just by sharing my passion for adventure.
#6 Are we really doing this
Gil and I flew to Vancouver with our boxed up kick-scooters and nerves in our stomachs. Ahead of us was a (very) uncertain 1,750mile journey all the way to Mexico. Were we really going to do this?
It felt very strange setting off in Vancouver and I was worried about a lot. Was I fit enough, where would we sleep each night, was this even legal? But soon I settled into the grove of the expedition and just enjoyed that wave of realisation that came over once in a while….I WAS really doing this!
Read my 5 Takeaways from Kicking the States.
#7 Getting to be a VIP for a bit
A few times on Kicking the States I was able to pretend I was an absolute celeb. We got bumped up to the penthouse suite in Marriott San Fransisco, were on a number of TV channels and got invited to join all sorts of fun activities along the way.
Without a doubt, my favourite moment was being given VIP passes to Universal Studios. We got a photoshoot on the red carpet and queue jumping tickets for the day. Thank you Universal for the best day out ever!!
#8 Rescuing a puppy
There were loads of moments in America where we seemed to be at the right (or wrong time) at EXACTLY that moment. Like camping just metres from a redwood tree the night it decides to fall (we were told this was really rare). Or pausing outside a house the second the burglars decide to do their quick exit (eek!). Or just at the exact moment, we were kick-scooting down an empty road in the middle of nowhere, and an abandoned puppy crosses right in front of us.
If we’d been a minute later we wouldn’t have seen him. We named the little pup Bubba Peach (after Peach road where we found him) and with the help of that night’s host got him into a shelter. He was really unwell and I was sure he wouldn’t make it.
But Bubba Peach is now a happily adopted puppy. It makes me so happy to see this photo of him all healthy and perky.
#9 My biggest award
I literally couldn’t believe it when San Miguel contacted me to say I’d made this year’s rich list (partly because I was actually staying in San Miguel, California and couldn’t understand the connection).
Seriously though. This is epic!
#10 Back in the Negev desert
Exactly 2 years after completing my first big adventure hiking the length of Israel, I was back in the same desert. This time leading a team of (bloody amazing) women who had come from a community which I’d founded.
This was the first expedition that I’d organised and led entirely by myself. I really loved doing it and it left me with so much confidence that I don’t need to always rely on the safety net of others.
#11 Getting another tattoo
I’ve been spending the start of the winter months in Israel with my in-laws who I haven’t seen in forever. It’s been such a lovely visit. I’ve really appreciated being able to see them so much and having a base for a short while.
This is now my 7th visit to Israel (since bumping into my Israel husband while travelling all those years ago) still I’m finding new places to explore. I hiked to Masada in sunrise and visited the West Bank. I even discovered the oldest tattoo business in the world. I was in such good spirits at the time having just completed the Negev expedition…..so naturally, I got a spontaneous Tattoo!!
Running a community isn’t always easy and I made a lot of sacrifices to get Love Her Wild to where it is today. While it will always remain my main focus, I’ve started to allow myself more time to invest in things that are for me. Because the nature of being a community leader is that you are always putting other people first!
Blogging really is my first love and I find it the most relaxing and enjoyable thing. So I’ve started to include blogging into my daily routine, finding time to write a blog before opening my emails in the morning (usually sat in a coffee shop). I’ve loved it!! I’ll definitely be keeping this up. I’ve started to share more of my travel stories and advice. And next year want to focus on backyard adventuring and conservation. I can’t wait.
What didn’t go well
Of course, not everything went so well this year….
Being apart from Gil
I hated the 3 months spent apart from Gil. The nature of our work is that we do often spend lots of time away from each other (and that’s fine because when we don’t we are with each other 24/7). This was allowing him to achieve a lifelong dream, but we both agreed it was too long and we had a rocky settling in period when we had to get used to being in each others company again.
The Jordan Expedition
I was excited about this expedition but so much didn’t go to plan (Travel day, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4/5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9 and Day 10.). It taught me a lot about setting expectations from the beginning, standing up for myself and also what is my comfort level when it comes to sponsorship and the content I’m happy to put out there.
Not giving myself enough recovery time
I had a month following Kicking the States to rest in London and get back into full-time work before going on a Love Her Wild trip to India. It just wasn’t enough time. I was ill almost the entire time which then affected my India trip.
A spat on Twitter
I always try to stay genuinely open to debates but some of the responses from my adventure peers on a topics I raised on Twitter made me really angry….I felt they were dismissive and had misunderstood my point. This bothered me far more than it should. Learning to use social media in a healthy way is still very much an ongoing battle for me.
Thanks for reading! I look forward to sharing my 2019 plans and goals soon. Please do take a minute to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I share all my advice and tips for free but if you’d like to support me you can do so via Ko-fi or Patreon.