My 2016, a cracking year!

by Dr Anthony D. Cliffe

2016 has been a nightmare for many people this year, especially if you were a celebrity over 40 and if you were foreign after that Brexit vote well…things haven’t been great. 2016 in a wider sense has had a lot of, to put it mildly, a lot of messed up things. Brexit (still livid about it, yes I am a remoaner and proud!), Trump but we all knew that was going to happen, Syria, Refugees, Honey G, the list is kinda’ endless. For me on the other hand it has been a fantastic year, where the only major downside to 2016 was discovering I’m now lactose intolerant. Considering I used to eat cheese for breakfast, Lunch and Tea that disappointment was on par with my love life. Still even with that downer came a silver lining, I’ve lost 1.5 stone this year!

Seriously though, this year has been a brilliant year and that’s for a few reasons. The main reason is this year has been a year for me and most importantly, a year that has been by in large drama free. That is certainly an extremely rare thing over the past few years. It’s almost why I haven’t written many blogs this year, there hasn’t been any drama to write about! 2016 has felt like a brand new chapter and moving forward into a new phase of my life which is leaving stuff behind and branching out and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. This year has felt like the final culmination of the long rebuild post 2013 disaster year. I am currently at the happiest I have been since 2011/12, I’m completely satisfied with where I am in life at the moment and who I am and where I am going. That seed was sewn in 2015 and 2016 has done nothing but build upon that. It has been a turbulent few years with love life, friend’s life, leaving places, starting work that it was never going to be straight forward, or easy, but 2016 has been not just fun but an adventure and a truly fun one at that.

It’s been a lucky year, opportunities opened up at the right time, I won loads of scratch cards this year, the works euro sweepstake, the Grand National for the 8th year in a row (it’s a gift!) and £600 from a £5 bet on the day before the national and to being upgraded to business class on my flight home from Canada! It’s been a fun year with new adventures and trying new things, from the simple as using chopsticks for the first time and trying new and different cuisines. To visiting a new countries and presenting at my first ever international conference. I take away so many positive memories from this year.

I’ve made new friends this year, haven’t really lost any either which is a good thing. Old friendships have been cemented and deepend, new ones have grown and flourished, and it’s been great to reconnect and strengthen ties with family members overseas.

I’ve been on some brilliant trips this year from Ireland to Amsterdam but Canada stands out as the highlight. What a brilliant adventure that was with a solo trip halfway across the world to visit family. Everything was so good about that trip. There are a few stand out moments I take away from that. The first is landing and then being given a tour of the A380 by my cousin’s husband in Toronto. What an experience that was! Not many people can say they arrive in Canada and get a police escort through immigration and then a private tour of an Emirates A380 just after it’s landed. Thank you once again Dave!

My solo trip around Toronto Islands was wonderful, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit. It’s a stunning set of islands but my highlight was bushwhacking and then a clearing opened up onto a deserted beach which appeared with a lone picnic table, azure blue waters and sky, sun beating down and the stunning backdrop of Toronto Skyline. That was a surreal and serine moment of 2016.


Visiting Niagara Falls is always an experience and it never ceases to amaze me. However as beautiful and an experience the scenery was in Canada, that trip was all about the family. Meeting new family members for the first time, cementing and enhancing old family relations it was brilliant. Spending a week reconnecting with my cousin in Edmonton was truly the highlight of the year. We were always close as kids but growing up for one reason or another we weren’t as close anymore. This trip was just like old times and I’m so glad he invited me out there and I’m so glad I went. What an awesome week that was, with his kind and funny family. It was a real eye opener to see someone who moved there from Ireland a few years ago really make their mark there, with a beautiful partner and two wonderful kids. I couldn’t help that week but see myself in that position in a few years. They truly are living the life and I was incredibly jealous of them! I was absolutely gutted to leave Canada after two weeks but I will be back!


2016 has been the fittest year for me, I’ve cycled more than I ever have before covering 1825 miles, over 29,000 feet of climbing and smashing PB’s left, right and centre. I only managed 800 in 2015 so this season has been great. I feel I’m at the fittest I’ve ever been, becoming lactose intolerant in the summer as much as it sucked to not eat cheese anymore, It made me eat healthier and I’m 1.5 stone lighter at the end of 2016 than I was when it started.

There has been ending this year, the most notable one was a change in career and ending six years at my second home at the University of Chester. It was very sad to leave because I have so much history in that place. Who I am today was forged in the six years there. I loved my studies their and loved my time as staff their even more. My fellow colleagues where outstanding and a real family and it does suck that I don’t get to talk to them every day but it is great that we all still keep in touch.


If you’re going to leave a place, you might as well go out on a high and that’s something that I did. Winning the University of Chester’s 2016 outstanding academic support staff award was a true honour. I never in a million years thought I’d be nominated, let alone win it. That means so much to me because it’s voted for by students, so for them to give back my hard work in helping them is truly rewarding. I helped the department win their first ever gold NUS green impact awards and I presented at my first international conference in Amsterdam. From the back of that I’m now a Co-editor of a international journal! I know, its crazy at my age! I loved Amsterdam so much that I’m going back next year with my partner in crime Emma. I cannot wait!

But as one door closed the other opened and that was the PhD which although only three months in I am fully enjoying it! I’ve done so much work already that I’ve been fast-tracked on the PhD which means I can finish in 2 years instead of the usual 3. Not many people get that opportunity. I also passed my 3 I’s programme and became an associate fellow of the higher education academy, meaning I get even more letters after my name! The PhD and the people in my office are no doubt going to be a central plot point for 2017 and I can’t wait because it’s going to be awesome!

Another year passes and 2016 was another year single. It shouldn’t surprise me anymore, I have accepted that I’ll probably be single for ever now. But that’s cool, I hope to be a rich cool bachelor one day. 2016 was again devoid of pretty much any interest from any women at all. The one who did eventually ended up with another guy, again why am I surprised? Yet I’ve said this plenty of times in blogs I am completely happy single, for the first time in four years I am open again to the idea of relationships but she’d have to be pretty special to enhance was is already a really rewarding single life. Will the woman I’ve been waiting for eventually appear in 2017? Unlikely, let’s be honest but we never really know. Still waiting on my Amy Adams lookalike, ginger haired, cyclist avgeek pilot to come along…I can dream.

It’s been a pleasure to share this journey with you and I hope 2017 tops this year. All about the PhD next year and hopefully I’ll finally get around to driving and passing my test (I know I’ve said that since like 2010 but I am actually serious this year), I will finally get my pilots license this year too, all be it an UAV one but it is a CAA pilots licence so I will have eventually in some form ticked off a life goal. Few new countries to visit next year which is exciting and 2017 promises to be exciting and rewarding, I’m sure of it.

I entered 2016 with a new positive attitude and outlook on life and on myself and its payed off. Life will always throw you curve balls and things might not always go your way but if you stay positive, stay kind and help people through stuff then good things will come to you. I wish all my followers a brilliant 2017, I hope it’s fantastic and I hope my 2017 is a special one. I look forward to sharing 2017 with you as always through these blogs. May you continue to enjoy them and I hope once again, you have a truly wonderful year!