Starting July with a 50-mile cycle around Lake Geneva in my books is one hell of a way to start a month off!
A fantastic few days away this was. I look back fondly on my trip to Croatia and the trip to Switzerland, perfect days with not a care in the world with the best company. Sadly for a long time that would be the last time I’d see Laura as she headed off to new pastures down south and its when the year started to get a bit crap without my sidekick with me!
But despite the turn for the worse from July onwards, this caption sums life up well.
I brought a new phone in July after dropping mine while trying to take a selfie on the bike in Geneva, oops! The Samsung S9+ is, however, the best phone I’ve owned to date!
I was home for only a few days before I was off on my travels again. This time I was heading to deep South Wales after I was invited by the British Ecological Society to run a workshop on Drone with their A-level course down in Port Talbot. What a totally rewarding and fantastic few days away that was, it was hot and hard work but the kids were lovely, and it really felt like I had made a difference to these kids.
2 days later I was back on my travels south again, this time for pleasure as we headed off to the Royal International Air Tattoo. The biggest airshow in the world and we just so happened to have front row seats!
I still snigger at this. Lolz.
I also finally got around to putting some pictures up in my room of my travels.
While the UK baked in one of the hottest summers on record, with the office empty of people as they were either on a break, in new jobs or were travelling, I was working flat out on the PhD alone. This summer was one long montage of movie themes and hard work.
In between all the hard work was the brutal extraction and complicated extraction at that of my wisdom tooth. I’d been putting up with the pain since April and finally got it sorted but holy fuck it was one of the worst pains having that out that I’ve ever had and that’s coming from someone who’s had multiple operations and 8 leg breaks!
View this post on Instagram
Just got my stitches removed and the surgeon was like "ooooh you're the guy who had the wisdom tooth!! Wow. Come look at the X-ray you were the talk of this place! Normal wisdom teeth have 2 roots but you amazingly have 4 and its like an octopus in there. That tooth is never coming out and in 25 years of doing this i have never seen a wisdom tooth like it! You should be proud!" Not sure i will put that on my palmares but I'm never normal hahah
A summer of editing and writing
Amazing what painkillers and determination will get you.
This picture summed up 2018 at times, just when everything is going well you fall down haha.
View this post on Instagram
Boss when your ankle randomly gives way and you go flying into a forward roll and pull the top of your nail off. I'd cry if it wasn't for that forward roll being executed like a bad ass 😂. Feels like i broke my thumb. I was having a good day up until then… #whyalwaysme #pain
While the PhD was the focus of my last summer as a PhD student, it didn’t stop me taking some time out with my Ginger Zinger to go hiking. I’d wanted to head up to Mau Famau for ages and when Ro called up and wanted to go on an adventure, i knew the place to go!
And I’m always happiest outdoors up a mountain! Where the geographer belongs.
After a month of solid writing and spending my downtime hiking or cycling I was as fit as I’d ever felt.
Which just left more room for many many BBQs on what was fabulous weather for once!
And plenty of time catching up with the best people!
Another day, another conference. This time I headed up to Leeds to present at the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning conference. One of the best conferences I’ve been to and I loved presenting my work there.
Finally, a few days off came. Happy times!
But the days off don’t last long and once again I was on another train heading north, this time to Newcastle for the BERA conference. The biggest conference I could present at as an Education, PhD student. I was nervous but excited!
While my presentation went well, the conference itself was a bit crap! Too most elite for my liking but thank god my friend and office buddy Vic was presenting too at the conference! She made that conference for me 😀
As a life long Newcastle United fan, after being a Mascot for them as a kid, I finally managed to visit my favourite club!
And Vic holds the record for being the only person to get me out to drink in a town centre at 1 a.m. Many have tried but failed!
Back home it was time to relax by going to see the Royal Tattoo but this time in Liverpool. We’ve done the official one on Edinburgh before, but as a treat to my Dad we had a great father-son evening, drinking whiskey, eating steak in Millers & Carter and watching a fabulous show.
October started off pretty well I’d say!
After a hell of a lot of work over the summer burring myself, my first draft of my PhD was finished. This was quite emotional to get to this point. The PhD was nowhere near finished but its a major point in the life of a PhD student, the end which was once so far away was finally starting to come into view. It was time to enjoy the moment before months of editing and rewriting was to come.
While the family were on holiday abroad, I spent the many nights on my own stargazing in the back garden and rewarded with capturing a meteor!
For those of you who follow my Instagram stories will all recall this night well haha
October brought death in the family that hit me the hardest this year. Great Uncle Peter I absolutely idolised. I was and still am to know he’s no longer with us. When the family asked me to say a few words at his funeral, I wanted to, but I was aware of how much responsibility that was, to sum up, someone’s life who meant so much to you. Weirdly, that’s my proudest moment of 2018. Delivering that Eulogy which was my trademark sincere but full of humour style, what he would have wanted, getting a lot of laughs at a funeral is something not everyone does every day that’s for sure. Seeing the family proud and that I summed him up to a T really helped me and I’m glad I could do him proud one last time. I miss you, Pete.
I didn’t have too much time to process the funeral as I was straight on a flight to Norway for my final international conference as a PhD student.
Bergen was a truly fantastic place to visit for the ISSOTL conference a bit of time for solo travelling.
One of my favourite memories of this year was sitting in this coffee shop, with my cold hands wrapped around the cup, watching the people of Bergen pass the windows as coffee house music floated around me. It was the best coffee shop I’ve ever gone into. I had just stepped off a 3-hour Norwegian Fjord cruise, despite being layered up I was frozen to the bone. I spent 2 hours warming up, chatting to the locals and going through the hundreds of pictures of what was an amazing few hours in the Fjords.
And the Fjord, wow. They were stunning.
Bergen is surrounded by mountains, and every night I was there I took the lone hike through the forest up the mountain for a nighttime hike. I was rewarded with stunning clear skies and amazing stars.
Bergen is just as stunning at night as it is in the day.
That was it, my last two presentations as a PhD student was officially over. I’d presented in different countries and at two major international conferences. Hundreds of miles away from home at the top of a mountain I reflected on the journey on a such a cold but clear night. The following is one of my favourite pictures of 2018. Where the adventure will lead next, I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out.
You’d be mad after a week of hiking and travelling to come home and go straight back out hiking, but that’s exactly what I did!
October started with a £100 win, and it ended with one too, boom!
And the Pumpkin of the year…
Autumn had arrived, I hate Autumn, and I hate winter, but I love it for the colours and photography.
Remembrance Sunday help a poignant and special meaning this year.
View this post on Instagram
Remembrance Sunday is always a poignant time for me. Our family have served across all the forces through time and a long line of Merchant Navy sailors. For me, the RAF has always had a special place in my heart and while dusty, my hat sits ontop of my wardrobe as a constant reminder. Today, i give thanks to all those who have served and sacrificed and those who continue to do so. Today is also an emotional day as we scatter our beloved late Great Uncle Peter's ashes #lestweforget x
As with the lows in life, there are often the highs too. I was on my travel again to the Midlands to see my best friend from Uni, Han get married to Dan. A couple I had shipped for so long and was so happy to see get married! And what a wedding!! It was amazing, and it was great to catch up with the old housemates, and they’re witness to a very rare thing, me dancing!!
This sums up editing a PhD thesis.
Again, when you’re about to give up its often the moment that you make a breakthrough to carry on. I got my first ever academic citation from my paper I wrote last year! Aaaaaaaahhh!!!
What better way to start December than having our yearly jaunt around Liverpool Christmas market with Ro!
The next day I took Em out for her Birthday meal in Millers & Carters. Can you get a better present than steak?
Of course, Meryseyrail where still being Merseryrail so I had no choice but to drink coffee and go Christmas shopping.
We finally got a new kitchen!
Which meant our Xmas celebrations were way off kilter and at the last minute we managed to get out tree up. Phew.
But to me, the best gift for Christmas was being reunited with this one for a little while before she headed back off for new adventures and more hard work!
Who knows what 2019 will bring? For me, I should finish my PhD and become Dr Cliffe. I plan on going travelling to new countries, continue to photograph everything in sight, value and cherish the moments I have with those that I love and hold dear whether they’re near or far. I don’t know what job I’ll have or where I’ll end up or what 2019 will be like. This year can be topped, but as I look back, there has been a lot of highs and some crushing lows. The hardest thing for me in the second half of the year was adjusting to work-life alone again. Laura heading off, Katie and Rosie moving to different countries and Vic travelling over summer meant a lonely summer slaving away on the PhD. I realised how much I’d come to rely on their company and humour each day. They made 2017 for me, and the adventures we’d shared in the first half of 2018 meant everything. 2019, I head out alone again on this road, but while they’re not here next to me, they come on this journey in my heart, and whatever we do in 2019, I’m sure it will be worth it, we’ll get there!
So no matter what your goals are or your aspirations for 2019, remember with the right attitude and hard work you can achieve it. I wish you, my followers and readers, a 2019 that is better than 2018 and I hope its a fantastic year for you. As always, you’ll see my 2019 on here, the good and bad. Who’s ready for another year of adventure hey?
Until next year,