2023: My Year In Numbers

For seven years now I’ve been tracking my year in numbers – measuring the year according to all the things that are *actually* important to me (as opposed to all the things we’re told by the media and society to measure ourselves by).  These metrics are the elements that I value the most in life: time spent with family and friends; love and connections; travel and exploring new places; creativity and the arts; helping others; the wonders of the natural world; and personal challenges/growth.

Last year was a difficult year for many reasons and I didn’t manage to finish writing my 2022 Year In Numbers post – it will only ever exist in draft form.  In all honesty, this year – 2023 – has been more of the same.  However, within the struggles (or despite them, or perhaps even because of them?) there have been many moments of learning, realisations and insights that have led to me feeling like I’m genuinely letting go of things that no longer fit who I’m becoming.   I’ve had to work hard to find the joy in things, and maybe it shouldn’t be such hard work, but I’m kind of proud that I’ve kept on looking for the light even though it’s felt pretty dark for quite a lot of the year.

I always find it fascinating to put this post together at the end of each December.  It’s an interesting process of reflection on the last twelve months and more often than not I’m happily surprised by what the numbers show, whilst simultaneously recognising that they don’t really mean anything at all because I know I’ve done my absolute best throughout the year and that is all that matters.

I’ve switched the categories up a little bit this year – letting go of some and adding some new ones in, but the essence is the same.

Here it is: 2023 as it was for us in numbers…


# Of (Big) Trips Taken: 4

This number has been consistent for several years now.  I’d like it to be higher next year because travel will forever be one of my biggest passions, and at the same time I’m satisfied that we had the same number of adventures this year as we did in 2022, and not less.  It was a slightly different arrangement – this year we had two trips as a family to our happy place in Cornwall, plus I travelled with a friend for the first time in many, many years, as well as having a solo travel experience all on my own.

BUDE (Part 1)

Our first excursion of the year was our annual family holiday to stay at The Beach Haven in Bude in Cornwall during the Easter break in April.  I think it was possibly our tenth stay there?  It really does feel like our home-away-from home.  We had a fun, chilled out week doing all the things we usually do.  There’s a little travel vlog of what we got up to underneath the photos below if you fancy a look.

I take this same photo every single time we visit Bude. Watching them grow up throughout the photographs over the years has been a pretty special project.

Magic light at Summerleaze Beach in Bude



In May I escaped to Paris for three days with my best friend Rachel to celebrate our respective fortieth birthdays – hers was last December and mine was in May.  We were recreating a trip we took together when we were both 21 years old, although things looked a little different this time around – we’re both mums now, me with teenagers, her with toddlers…and she was six months pregnant!

We had an absolutely brilliant time.  We walked our socks off, had multiple coffee-shop stops, did as many of the main sights as we could, went out for dinner and even squeezed in a day trip to the Palace of Versailles (which was incredible).  It’s such a beautiful city, we made lots of memories together and I’d go back and do it all again in a heartbeat.

Exploring pretty Rue Cremieux in Paris


BUDE (Part 2)

The third adventure of the year was another family trip back to Bude again, this time in a working capacity.  The new owners of The Old Bakery, which we’d stayed at once before, invited us back to review the property now that they’ve taken it over and renovated it.  We went to stay during the first week of the summer holidays – it’s always fun to go to a familiar place in a different season because you get to see a whole different side to it.

The accommodation was wonderful (you can read my fully updated review here) and it was a great way for us all to unwind after the intensity of Ella’s GCSEs and the end of the long academic year at school.

Heading back to The Old Bakery after a dip in the sea in Bude



I’ve travelled solo several times in recent years, but always with a specific reason such as attending ClickAway Photography Conferences in Atlanta and Chicago.  This time I wanted to go somewhere with absolutely no agenda or schedule, and no purpose beyond exploring, wandering, getting lost, immersing myself and experiencing everything the place had to offer.

I’ve wanted to go to Lisbon for a long time, so, way back in February whilst my husband was away on his own 3-week-long adventure with his best friend, following the England cricket team around the north island of New Zealand, I booked it in an uncharacteristic flash of spontaneity.

As a result, in September I flew to Portugal and spent five days exploring the unique city of Lisbon and the surrounding areas of Cascais, Belem and Sintra.  It was absolutely incredible and I loved every second of it.  I stayed in a gorgeous AirBnB and was out and about all day every day, pretty much from sunrise to sunset.  I’ve been trying to pick a favourite moment or two to share here, but I can’t – I did so many things, saw so many amazing sights and made so many memories that it’s almost impossible to narrow it down.  Definitely a place I’ll remember forever.

‘Pink Street’ in Lisbon – so called because the entire floor is painted hot pink – but I preferred the view looking up!

Cascais – a short train ride along the coast from Lisbon. I loved doing little excursions like this.


# Of (Mini/Day) Trips Taken: 18

SOLO: 13

Seven trips to London, two to Surrey, two to Southampton, one to Watford and one to Birmingham.  Of those, six were to visit friends, six were to visit family, and one was just for me.  And five of the thirteen were for artsy things like concerts, exhibitions and galleries.  I’m pretty pleased with that.

I’ve been to a candlelit classical concert in a church; seen the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition entries and winners; experienced David Hockney’s work in a completely new way; immersed myself in a digital tropical rainforest surrounded by butterflies; celebrated a very special 90th birthday; met my five-day-old nephew; and spent time with my stepbrother and his family who were over visiting from Australia – the first time I’ve seen them in thirteen years.

It’s been a good year and I very much want to continue along the same lines in 2024.

The candlelit concert in Birmingham was one of many memorable things I did this year

At the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum with my Mum



Edinburgh: I’ve always wanted to take each of the girls away on a mini-trip for their 16th birthday.  As Ella’s birthday is in December, we decided to delay it a little in the hope of better weather. In the end we decided to tie it in with a university open day up in Edinburgh in October.  We’ve both been wanting to return to the city since we visited in May 2021 as a family.   As it turns out, Autumn was the perfect time to visit.

We caught the train up and tried to see all of the areas we didn’t manage to explore when we were last there: Dean Village; The Vennel; Camera Obscura; and the National Art Gallery.  We didn’t manage to make it into Edinburgh Castle, up Arthur’s Seat or into the National Museum of Scotland though, so they are firmly on our list for next time (yes – we’ll definitely be going back).  We went out for dinner together, sampled the hot chocolate deliciousness of Upland Roast Coffee Hut in The Meadows, and got to hang out with Zoe from My Little Wildlings / My Little Edinburgh for a little while at The Milkman, which was wonderful.

We stayed in a gorgeous little AirBnb – Deidre’s Place (which I can highly recommend if you’re ever looking for somewhere to stay in Edinburgh) and it was just so lovely to spend some proper one-to-one time with Ella – she’s an ace little travel buddy.

A view of Edinburgh Castle from The Vennel

Taking in the art at the National Gallery of Scotland


Birmingham:  Ella and I also had a spontaneous day trip to Birmingham for the university open day being held there in November.  We went thinking we’d be ticking it off the list and discounting it as a possibility for where she might want to go, but actually – we both really loved it and it’s now firmly ON the list.  We liked the campus vibe and the community feel to the accommodation village.



Brighton: We took advantage of a rare Friday inset day and escaped down to Brighton – somewhere I’ve always wanted to go –  for 3 days/2 nights at the end of June/start of July.  Ella’s GCSE exams had finished and her Year 11 prom was the following week, so it felt like a good way to draw the line in between the serious and the fun.  Whilst we were there we went to see the Van Gogh Alive experience, which was well worth it.  We wandered along the promenade in both directions from where we were staying; explored The Lanes; I met up with an Instagram friend who happens to live there (Laura Aziz – go and check her out); and marvelled at all the street art scattered throughout the city.

At the Van Gogh Alive experience in Brighton

Southampton:  The following week we travelled down to Southampton for Sophie’s university graduation ceremony.  We didn’t really know what to expect and it ended up being a really lovely day – we all felt very proud of her as she went up onto the stage to collect her scroll, wearing her cap and gown.  We took some photos in the park once the official event was finished and then all headed out for a late lunch afterwards with Sophie’s mum and stepdad too.

All four girls together at Sophie’s graduation. We’re so proud of her!

Watford: Our ‘big summer day trip’ in August this year was to return to the Warner Bros Studio Tour (aka ‘Harry Potter World’) – a very belated Christmas present for Mimi after the Stranger Things tour we were originally booked on got cancelled.  There were SO many new sections to explore.  We really enjoyed Gringotts Wizard Bank and loved the Herbology greenhouses and scale model of The Burrow too.  It’s such a brilliant day out – even though we’ve been three times before we still discover things we haven’t noticed before on previous visits.

In the ‘Wand Room’ at Warner Bros Studio Tour


# Of New National Trust / English Heritage Properties Visited: 0

I feel pretty sad about this number to be honest.  I love a weekend wander around a National Trust property and exploring their gardens – there are so many we haven’t been to yet that are within 1-2 hours of where we live.  I’d really hoped we’d make it to at least one of them.  Must try harder in 2024!


# Of Photos Taken: 3,503

(I’m only counting my ‘big camera’ images here – if I included my phone snaps too the number would be ridiculously high).

155 fewer photos taken/created this year compared to 2022 – it might not seem like I lot, but I felt it deep in my bones and down to my core.  I was definitely conscious of picking up my camera less often to document our ordinary, everyday magic.  I don’t know what it was, I just couldn’t find the joy in it, or summon up the inspiration to seek out or even notice interesting light.  The sparks were there sometimes, but nowhere near as often as usual.  It’s felt…unsettling.

The travel adventures and the photoshoots saved me, otherwise the number would have been far lower.  I’m wondering if perhaps I could choose a project to focus on for next year? Or maybe I simply need to trust that it is what it needs to be right now.  I’m proud of some of the images I did capture though.   I tried to pick my three most favourite photographs from the year and I simply couldn’t narrow it down.

Not my best photograph but one of my favourites because it’s one of the very, very few I have of all three girls together actually facing the camera. Taken at the start of December on an unexpected snow day!


# Of Photoshoots: 2

Half the number of last year BUT they were my very first paid photography work through my new business – Moments In Between Photography – and that means the absolute world to me.

Jo contacted me to ask for two photoshoots – a family shoot and one for her yoga business – Esprit Yoga.  It was an absolute joy working with her on both projects and I feel very honoured that she chose me to capture her.

One of my favourite images from Jo’s family photoshoot

Jo’s yoga branding photoshoot was a much more serene experience! Both shoots were so different from each other, and so much fun to capture in different ways.


# Of Client Therapy And Supervision Sessions: 311

It’s been another busy year work-wise, so I knew this number would be higher than last year’s total of three hundred sessions.  I’ve had the privilege of working with some truly inspiring people who’s resilience, determination and commitment to making changes have been the things that have helped them overcome the challenges they’ve faced and turn their lives around in remarkable ways.  I’ve learnt as much from them as they have from me.

I love my job, I really do.  And I also know that it needs to shift in subtle ways in order to be sustainable – I’ve been working as a therapist for almost 17 years now and the time has come for me to start to adjust what I offer so that a wider range of people can be helped.  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to properly focus on creating that change in 2024.


# Of New Additions To Our Family: 1

I’m an aunty again!  My best friend (who was pregnant whilst we were in Paris together) had her baby in August – a little boy this time.  I now have a nephew!  His name is Theo.  I travelled down to Southampton to meet him when he was just five days old and I had completely forgotten just how tiny they are when they’re brand new.  He is, of course, utterly adorable whilst simultaneously looking like a little old man.  I fell head over heels in love with him immediately and could quite happily have snuggled him forever.

Teeny, tiny, newborn baby toes!


# Of New Cities/Countries Visited: 3

A new category for a new thing I want to document.  When I was little I had a burning ambition to visit every single country in the world before I die.  I’m not so sure I want to do that any more (although it would be a pretty amazing achievement!), but there are certainly still plenty of places – cities (both in the UK and abroad) and countries around the world – that I’d very much like to explore and haven’t been to yet.

This year I visited two new-to-me cities (Brighton and Lisbon) and, as a result of one of those, travelled to one new country (Portugal).

It fascinates me how differently people live in each place I go to, and these trips always re-ignite my passion for travel (not that it every really dies down, it’s just that the logistics of life sometimes interrupt it).  I very much want both the cities and the countries numbers to be higher next year.  I’m already mapping out potential future adventures in my head – who knows which ones I’ll be able to turn into a reality?

Brighton has been on my list of UK cities to visit for such a long time – I finally ticked it off this year!

Lisbon is one of the most unique cities I’ve ever been to – a real juxtaposition of derelict and delapidated old buildings covered in graffiti combined with sensational views across the rooftops, more greenery than I was expecting and the warmth of the people who live here

I’m so glad I explored a little bit of Portugal outside of Lisbon – Belem, Cascais and (in particular) Sintra were wonderful tasters of what the rest of this beautiful country might be like. I’ll be back for sure!


# Of New Experiences: 40

Like most people, as I’ve got older I’ve realised that I’m guilty of having fallen into an agreeable and ‘safe’ rhythm with my life and I find myself forgetting to step out of my comfort zone often enough.  But outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens, so I consciously try and make it a priority to say yes to experiencing new things whenever I can.  Of course, it’s not always as easy (or as within my control!) as that, but I think it’s an important attitude to try and pass on to my girls.

I started off the new year by testing positive for Covid (1) on 1st January, after successfully avoiding it for almost three years.  What a way to begin 2023!  It was certainly a new experience – I haven’t felt that ill for a very long time.  It led to having to do my first ever online food shop (2) as Neil and Lola both tested positive too and we didn’t want to risk sending the other two girls to the supermarket in case they unintentionally passed it on.  Once everyone was fully recovered, I took Ella to the hairdressers for a belated birthday present – she wanted to have her hair coloured (3).

February was a busy month.  I had my first ever tarot card reading (4) thanks to a voucher gifted to me by a client of mine.  It was such an interesting experience – it was incredibly accurate (and I was very careful not to give away any information whatsoever, or try and ‘make things fit’ – it really was scarily spot on).  I’ve paid for a couple more readings since and each time they’ve blown me away.  If you’re interested, this is the lady I’ve been seeing:  Ciara Mulkerrins – Born To Be Coaching.  I watched Lola perform in her very first high school performance : We Will Rock You (5).  She had three different roles to play and it made my heart so happy to see her enjoying herself so much.   The following week Neil travelled to New Zealand for the rest of the month to follow the England cricket team on tour, meaning I was solo parenting for the longest stretch of time in the seventeen years I’ve been a mum (6).  Whilst he was away I got my first temporary tattoo (7) – I already have two real ones but I wanted to try out a possible design for my next one.  I also managed to convince the girls’ grandad to babysit so I could spontaneously go out for the evening to Birmingham to see my first ever candlelit concert (8).  It was absolutely wonderful – the music of Ludovico Einaudi performed by a female pianist. I got really quite emotional whilst I was there.

March saw me realise two long-held dreams: my first ever paid family photoshoot (9) with my new business Moments In Between Photography; and FINALLY being accepted into the ClickPro community (10).  I can’t even begin to explain what an achievement both of those felt like – I’ve been working towards them for years.  In April, during our annual holiday in Bude in Cornwall, I snuck out early one morning whilst everyone was  still sleeping and watched the sunrise there (11) for the first time ever (and I’ve been visiting for over thirty years!).  It was pretty special.  As was the next new experience – taking all three girls to their very first ‘big venue’ gig (12).  We went to see Dermot Kennedy at Birmingham Resorts World Arena and it was phenomenal – everything I hoped it would be and more.  There were moments throughout the concert that will stay with me forever.

Me, a self portrait documenting being ill with Covid on the first day of the new year

Sunrise over the sea in Bude. The view behind me was equally spectacular!

The summer months were a bit of a whirlwind of big events!  I turned forty years old in May (13) and one of my birthday gift experiences was to do Go-Ape (14) which was brilliant fun (and more than a little bit challenging).  I’m so proud that I managed to complete the course.  Neil and I went to see an Olly Murs gig that had been booked since last year – we’ve seen him a couple of times before (Neil has a bit of a man-crush on him) but it was the first time I’ve ever seen Scouting For Girls (15) – his support act, who I happen to have loved for years and years – perform live!  A few days later I travelled to Paris with my best friend to celebrate our respective birthdays, and we saw the Eiffel Tower doing it’s ‘sparkly thing’ (16), which is a new addition to it’s mesmerising night-time display since the last time I was there nineteen years ago.  I also stepped inside Sacre Coeur (17) for the first time, having only seen it from the outside before.  We went out for dinner and I tried a gallette (18) – a savoury French pancake – for the first time.  I’m pleased to report that it was absolutely delicious.  May also saw Ella sit the first half of her GCSE exams (19) – the first of the girls to do so.

June was all about the shows.  Mimi went to see a London West End musical (20) – Hamilton – for the first time and absolutely loved it.  She and Ella also saw one of their favourite YouTubers (21) – TommyInnit – live on stage up in Manchester.  My main birthday gift from Neil was tickets to see The Goo Goo Dolls (22) live in Birmingham which was an absolute dream come true because I have loved their music since my college days.  It was such an awesome gig!  It was my first time standing (23) instead of having seats and it definitely added to the experience.  I loved every second of it and it was one of the highlights of my year for sure.  I’ll never forget it.

July saw us travel south for our first ever family visit to Brighton (24), where we took the girls to their first immersive art exhibition (25) – the Van Gogh Experience.  It travels all over the country and is well worth a visit if you get the chance, we all thought it was wonderful.  We also went to an upside-down house (26) which was an…*interesting* experience.  A couple of days after getting home, Ella attended her Year 11 prom (27) which was a brand new experience for all of us.  A friend drove us there in his Porsche 911 (28), which felt very extravagant (and was super fun!).  She looked absolutely beautiful in her prom dress and had a brilliant night with her friends.  The other special occasion we attended was Sophie’s university graduation ceremony (29) in Southampton.  Neither Neil nor I went to uni, so it was the first time we’d experienced a graduation.  I can’t even begin to describe how proud we are of Sophie – she successfully achieved her degree during the covid pandemic by working incredibly hard and adjusting to all the challenges that period of time threw at her.

August brought with it GCSE results day for the first of our girls (30).  Ella was very nervous in the lead up to the day, having remained quite calm throughout the actual exam period.  Of course she did absolutely brilliantly and we think she’s amazing.  I was also lucky enough to get to go and see The Lion King musical in Birmingham, with a cheeky little backstage tour of the orchestra pit (31), thanks to a very kind and generous client of mine.  The entire production was insanely good – I was mesmerised the whole way through and loved every second of it.

Me on my 40th birthday!

Ella on the evening of her Year 11 prom

The final few months of the year were a little quieter, although we still managed to pack in a fair few new things.  In September Ella started studying her A Levels at college (32) and, once she was settled in, I headed off on a five day solo adventure to Lisbon (33), which was also my first time visiting Portugal (34).  I had a wonderful time exploring the city and the surrounding areas – it’s a very unique place.  I couldn’t leave without sampling a traditional pasteis de nata (35) and it was every bit as good as everyone said it would be.  My tastebuds exploded in the very best of ways.

October saw Ella and Mimi going to see 5 Seconds Of Summer play live (36) in Manchester, which they both said was their favourite memory from the whole year.  I  had my first experience (in the whole of my forty years of living in and/or traveling to & from London!) of using the London Overground system (37) and Ella and I attended our first ever university open day (38) in Edinburgh, which was certainly an experience.  We’ll be having a few more uni visits over the next twelve months, I think.  We caught the train up to Scotland (39) instead of driving.  And finally, in November I had the pleasure of spending the day with a good friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen for years – we hung out at her house, wandered around an area of London I’d not been to before and strolled through Kenwood House park (40).  December was mostly focused on making it through to the end of the ridiculously long school term, and there was no time for adventures or new things. We made it though!

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal, was one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited.

Dean Village in Edinburgh – of course we had to do a little bit of exploring as well as visiting the uni!

It seems quite appropriate that in the year I tuned forty years old, I had forty brand new experiences.  Some were planned, some were spontaneous, some were unexpected and some simply happened. On the whole, they were all good things.  I’m grateful for every single one of them and genuinely wouldn’t change a thing. I’m already looking forward to what new things I’ll be experiencing in 2024.


# Of Books Read: 26

My goal is always to read one book a month as a minimum.  Last year I aimed for 22 books in 2022 and didn’t quite manage to hit my target (although I did finish 17 in total, which I was pretty pleased with).  This year I finally achieved my goal – and exceeded it, actually – reading a total of 26 books throughout 2023.  Some I read in less than a week, some I dipped in and out of as the mood took me, and some took me over a month to finish.

Here’s the full list of all of the books I read in 2023:

  • Chain Of Gold / Chain Of Iron / Chain Of Thorns, all by Cassandra Clare
  • Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
  • Maybe Someday / Maybe Now / Ugly Love / All Your Perfects / It Starts With Us / Without Merit / November 9, all by Colleen Hoover
  • Maps Of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer
  • Pocket Travel Guidebooks to Paris / Lisbon / Edinburgh, all by Lonely Planet
  • The Signature Of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Lost Storyteller by Amanda Block
  • Nine Perfect Strangers / Apples Never Fall, both by Liane Moriarty
  • Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
  • Little Wing by Freya North
  • Once Upon A Broken Heart / The Ballad Of Never After, both by Stephanie Garber
  • Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday
  • The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  • You Be Mother by Meg Mason

It’s a somewhat eclectic mix of genres, as usual: 21 fiction books (some bestsellers, some YA, a few lesser-known titles and authors); three travel books, one non-fiction; and a memoir.  I quite like that I read a range of writing, and I’d like to expand on that and read an even wider variety in 2024.  I’ve never read any of the classics, so perhaps they’ll be on my list of books read this time next year…

My top three in 2023 were, somewhat unexpectedly: ‘Maps Of Our Spectacular Bodies’ (which has stayed with me long after I finished it – the concept and structure of the story was so unique); ‘The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes’ (an excellent addition to the Hunger Games series and I am now desperate to see the film!); and ‘You Be Mother’ which was beautifully & poignantly written and touched me deeply in ways I still can’t quite explain.

I’ve set the goal of reading 24 books in 2024 and I’m already curious to find out what they might be.

All 26 of the books I read in 2023

# Of Live Music Gigs: 5

One more than last year, which makes me happy.  Interestingly, they were all in first half of the year!  In February I went to a candlelit classical concert on my own in Birmingham (which was absolutely magical), and then in March Neil and I saw Ed Sheeran play live in Manchester ahead of the release of his new album ‘Subtract’.  Both of these were spontaneous decisions and very much NOT planned in advance.  It definitely gave both events a different vibe as there was less build-up and anticipation – they felt more…in the moment?  I’m not sure how to describe it, it was just different (in a good way).

In April, thanks to a very random connection I made with someone on a flight home from Chicago in 2022, we were lucky enough to be offered Guest Passes for front row seats at Dermot Kennedy’s ‘Sonder’ tour gig in Birmingham!  All five of us went and this felt really special to me – not only was it the girls’ first big arena concert, and the first time we’d ever been to something like this as a family, it was such an exclusive experience to have been gifted that it heightened everything for me.  There are moments from this gig that I will never, ever forget.

In May Neil and I went to see Olly Murs (a delayed birthday present for Neil from Sophie) and Scouting For Girls were supporting him.  It was really good fun and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  And finally, in June, as part of my 40th birthday present from Neil, we went to see The Goo Goo Dolls live in Birmingham!  I’ve loved their music since I was at college 23 years ago, so to finally get to see them perform in person was a bit of a dream come true, especially at a relatively small venue.  It was such an awesome experience – one that will stay with me forever.

(Neil also took the girls to see 5 Seconds Of Summer – 5SOS – in Manchester in October, but as I didn’t go to the gig I’m not counting it here!).

Seeing The Goo Goo Dolls perform live was a dream come true for me


# Of Sunrises And Sunsets Watched: 171

Exactly 100 fewer than last year, which makes me feel a little sad.  I look for it every single morning and evening (if circumstances allow) and I’ll always take a quick snap, even if it’s only on my phone.  To have seen and documented so many less makes me wonder if there simply haven’t been as many?  And why?  I will never, ever regret taking a pause to watch the sky transform – hopefully next year this number will increase again.

Sunset over the sea in Bude in Cornwall

Sunrise from Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Lisbon


# Of ‘Likes’ On Instagram Photos: 3,200

According to the ‘Top Nine’ app, I received 3,200 likes over 67 posts (an average of 48 likes per photo) on Instagram. Four hundred fewer likes, and 16 less images shared in total compared to last year, although the average number of likes increased by five per photo.  Almost exactly half the number of likes I received in 2021, two years ago.  I know perfectly well that the numbers don’t matter in the slightest – I just find it interesting how much it changes from year to year.

I’ve definitely been less active on Instagram this year – I’ve not had the headspace to be able to engage or connect with people as much as I want to.  That’s something I really want to work on going forwards into next year, because, out of all the different social media platforms, Instagram is my favourite by far.  I find it uplifting and inspiring and encouraging with a wonderful sense of community.

I find it fascinating to see which images people liked the most out of all the ones I shared.  Some of them were my favourites too!  Interestingly, eight out of my top nine images this year have me in them, which I wasn’t expecting at all!  I only started taking self-portraits relatively recently, kind of as my own personal form of therapy, so for them to be so well received is quite heartwarming – thank you.  There are some significant moments in this grid too – my 40th birthday, the 20 year anniversary of the year I spent travelling around Australia, a brave new haircut, getting covid, and of course, some mirrors and pretty light thrown in for good measure.

I’m already curious to see what next year’s grid will look like.  If you aren’t yet following me on Instagram and would like to, you can find me here:  https://www.instagram.com/picturetakermemorymaker

My ‘Top Nine’ images on Instagram in 2023


# Of Cinema Trips: 4

I LOVE going to the cinema and losing myself in a good film, so to have only been four times this year was a little bit disappointing, especially as they were all kids films!  We saw ‘Matilda The Musical’ as a family back in January as part of Lola’s (belated, due to having Covid) birthday celebrations and I thought it was excellent – really well made, brilliant acting, and lots of fun.  I took all three of the girls to see ‘Puss In Boots’ during February half term whilst Neil was away on his trip to New Zealand, and then Ella, Lola and I watched the live action ‘The Little Mermaid’ whilst Mimi saw Hamilton on stage in London with Neil for her birthday in May.  Finally, all five of us went to see Barbie at The Rebel Cinema in Bude whilst we were there in July.  I have to be honest, despite it’s rave reviews, I really didn’t enjoy it very much.

Between them, everyone else managed various cinema visits to see ‘Super Mario Bros’; ‘Taylor Swift Eras Tour’ (I couldn’t go because I had Covid…again!); ‘Trolls Band Together’; and ‘The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes’ (which I reeeeeally wanted to see!).

We also snuggled on the sofa together to watch ‘Little Women’ one evening in October.  It’s Ella’s favourite movie and she’s been desperate for me to watch it with her for ages.  I thoroughly enjoyed it – I love slow storylines and character driven films – so it was a really lovely way to bond.

Next year I’m hoping for more cinema visits and more movie nights at home too.


# Of Items Ticked Off My ’40 Things Before I’m 40′ List: 3

This year marked the end of my decade long ’40 Things Before I’m 40′ project as I hit the milestone birthday and turned forty years old in May.  I didn’t manage to tick everything off – there were too many ‘big’ things left on the list for me to be able to finish them all in time – but I did complete three more (much better than the measly 1 I managed last year!).  Not *quite* by my actual birthday but they all happened during the year in which I turned forty (and all of them were booked before my birthday) so in my eyes it definitely still counts.

#38 GO-APE:  Neil organised for me to do Go-Ape at Cannock Chase as a birthday surprise.  I honestly had no idea what he was planning, so it was completely unexpected.  I loved it!  It was very challenging in places (I’m fine with heights but I do not like ‘edges’, so standing on the tiny platforms around the trees and then launching myself off them on the zip wires was, quite frankly, terrifying).  I’m proud of myself for completing the whole course though – it was a total thrill and adrenaline rush.  I’d definitely do it again.

Neil and I at the end of the Go-Ape course in Cannock

#15 A LONG WEEKEND IN PARIS:  As previously mentioned, I headed to Paris for a long weekend with my best friend and we had a wonderful time making new memories together.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris – last time I was here I was 21 years old!

#20 TRAVEL SOLO:  I’ve travelled solo many times before, but always with a specific purpose in mind – to attend a retreat or a conference for example. ‘Travel solo’ was on my list because I wanted to travel with no agenda, to just go somewhere and immerse myself, to soak up every experience I possibly could, to be surprised and delighted, to get lost and be challenged, and to have some space to do what I wanted when I wanted to do it.  Visiting Lisbon in September was exactly what I wanted and needed, and I loved every second of it.

Sunset over the rooftops in Lisbon – my trip there was a pretty magical (and defining) experience for me

And now… I’m going to start compiling a ’50 Things Before I’m 50′ list!


Looking Forwards To 2024

And that’s it!  My 2023 in numbers.  It’s been another extraordinary year in many ways.  We’ve done a lot, faced plenty of challenges, made some good memories and I think we’ve all changed immeasurably in both big and subtle ways.  And, at the same time, so much has somehow stayed the same.  There has been a great deal of learning for all of us and I’ve done my absolute best to embrace it and make the most of it even amidst the uncertainty and constant change.

We don’t have many plans in place for 2024 yet – it’s a pretty blank new sheet of paper right now.  I’m hopeful that when we reach the end of 2024 and I write another post like this I’ll be able to record that I’ve read more books, taken more photos, spent more time with friends and family, taken more trips, had many more new experiences and that I’ve ticked some things off of my (still to be written!) ’50 Things Before I’m 50′ list!

Let’s hope it’s going to be a good year 🙂

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