Every year I do a lookback on the highlights of the past year, using headings that originate from a long ago linky.
2019 had lots of great memories, I’ll get to them in a moment. Because, for me, forevermore, 2019 will be the year that my dad died. He died in the middle of the year so even the year is divided into “pre-Dad” and “post-Dad”. Events are referred to in my mind as “Dad’s last ___”, punctuated by hospital visits and medical news. Then, a full stop at his funeral service. Or maybe a pause, as we slowly started coming to terms with our new normal as the summer progressed. The milestones that we thought that we would have in 2019 were replaced with this one that changed everything.
When it comes to good memories from 2019, there are so many happy times that deserve to be recalled and recorded in the family history too.
I’m not going to continue the tradition of going through “19 from ‘19” like the old linky, but I’ve been selective and chosen some of my favourite categories to give my recap of the year. Here goes.
Favourite Family Break
We visited Dungarvan in April for a much needed family break. We had such a relaxing time, cycling the Greenway, hanging out in playgrounds, and, well, eating great food. A visit to Mount Congreve on Easter Sunday for their Easter trail was a surprise gem. Read about our stay here.
Cathal made his communion in May, he was very excited and we had a fabulous day at home, with family, friends and a bouncy castle. He was king of the world for that day. He played harp as part of the ceremony and enjoyed every minute of the fuss and the compliments over his self-curated outfit.
My Dad was released from hospital for the day and described it as “one of the great days out” of his life. Four days later we realised how short his time with us might be, four weeks later we said goodbye for the last time, much sooner than expected.
Best Stroke of Luck
In May, that crazy month, I texted in to Todayfm when stuck in traffic on the way to work and ended up doing a quiz on the air, winning my day and then the end of week prize! I got a €1000 One4all voucher (I bought a trampoline for the kids, a kindle paperwhite, biker jacket and Fitbit for myself and have some yet to spend) and a voucher for a weekend in the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore which I’m looking forward to using later this year.
Feck it why not? I discovered long dresses and biker jackets this autumn and embraced them wholeheartedly.
Favourite Blog Moment
I was a finalist in the Best Digital Category in Family Friendly Ireland Awards I’m blogging since 2012 and with things having moved so much with video and influencers etc and only doing this as a side hobby rather than a job it was so nice to be nominated and all, and making it to the finals was the icing on the cake for me. I didn’t get to attend the final as I had work commitments that day but was delighted to have reached that stage and to still feel that my content was relevant to people 9 years on and with so many new bloggers and influencers out there.
Favourite City Break
I had one, so this is pretty easy. My Amsterdam trip with the girls in February was fantastic, it was cultural and relaxing and fun. We forgot we were mammies, the group just got along so well (always a concern when holidaying) and everything worked out great. Read about it here.
Favourite Time Out
In the middle of the crazy, after Dad’s bad news, my sister and I went to see Westlife in Belfast as we weren’t going to be in Dublin when they played there. We visited Dad on the way and he was delighted that we were going together. Life was all hospital visits and random times of being hit with “my dad is dying” thoughts and the getaway was exactly what we needed. We went for pizza next to our hotel, drank a plastic bottle of wine from pint glasses and bopped, had a lovely brunch next morning, did a little hungover shopping and generally took 24 hours well needed hours out.
I’m bad at doing things for myself, but joining the newly founded “Mothers and Others” football team in my local GAA club has given me a social outlet and a fairly good reason to keep fit. I have the greatest laugh with the other women and we’re getting exercise at the same time, it’s good for mind as well as body.
This wasn’t a surprise for me, it was a surprise for the boys, although we were surprised that we booked it too. We brought the boys to George Ezra in Cologne the week after Cathal’s communion. We went to buy concert tickets and they were sold out, but we realised that we could get to Cologne for €40 each round trip so we got a 24 hour break and the concert in too. I’ll definitely look into doing this type of break again with the kids as it worked out so well for us. (I do intend to blog about our Cologne trip too, the Chocolate Museum is worth a visit)
Favourite Family Memory
Our Bella Italia trip, departing three weeks after Dad died gave us much needed relaxation and headspace. The campsite was everything we’d hoped and worked great for our family. We drove around the lake and visited Verona and Venice too. Definitely a holiday to remember!
My favourite photo of me taken this year is this one – taken by my mam in August after a heavy rain shower sent Laoise and I running home from the beach. We arrived in soaking and laughing our heads off.
Laoise turned 6, Ciaran turned 11, Cathal turned 9
We marked Dad’s 70th in September with a family meal without him. We were 14 years married in September and marked 23 years as a couple in October.
Favourite Days Out
Ask the kids this one and they always say Clara Lara, the funpark in Co. Wicklow. However, this year I think the boys would choose the Waterford Greenway. They loved the freedom of cycling on the greenway and asked if they could do it again the following day.
I always love our February midterm day out in Dublin, this year we went on the Viking Splash Tour and then visited the National Museum in Kildare St and saw the Ardagh Chalice.
Where the Crawdads Sing (affiliate link) was definitely my favourite read this year. Beautifully written but not a difficult to read. a great story with suspense too. I really enjoyed The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah too.
Most Popular Blog Post
My hotel rooms for bigger families blog post, published in March has been viewed over 30,000 times! It really struck a chord. I love writing and researching something that ends up being used as a resource by so many people.
My Favourite Blog Post
I always prefer the personal ones as sometimes when I write them they just help me get my head straight. I still re-read this post of my own to help process my feelings. This one that I wrote after Dad died does that.
Firsts This Year
Firsts come in all shapes and sizes, memories are good and bad. This year’s memorable firsts were my first time in Holland, first time in Germany, first loss of a parent, first time meeting my new nephew. We’ve had so many first things without Dad that it’s important to think of other happier firsts too.
Some numbers from my blog in 2019
This year the blog had a whopping 183,840 views, its most ever. I published 27 posts (29 last year).
The busiest day was March 19th 2019 which had 5,496 Views.
Most grown platform
My hotels post set my Facebook page alight and I gained nearly 5000 followers this year!
Most Popular Post
Travel has taken over!
Hotels in Ireland for families with 3 or more kids had 31,659 views, way more than any other post. It’s a hit!
Easy Chicken and Broccoli Recipe was the next most popular post, it features every year
and the next most popular post was Self Catering Accommodation in Hotel Grounds
I didn’t post a single new recipe on Bumbles of Rice this last year. Partly because I don’t really develop recipes myself much any more so I’m making other people’s food and enjoying it. I love when the family embrace a new recipe and we’ve had a few successes in that department this year.
I really enjoyed making and eating Karen Coakley’s jambons and Lili Forberg’s sweet and sour chicken. We made our staples, the food that we love, like Sausage, butterbean and leek casserole and pavlovas, chocolate biscuit cakes and salads and I shared lots of lunches and dinners over on Instagram and we used our slowcooker loads and slowcooker bacon (with no cabbage) was a favourite.
What I’ve learned in 2019
Family is everything. Families are what help you get through. They’re the people you cry to and with, the people who understand why things are complicated without needing backstory because they were there. We’re huggers now.
Blog wise, I like to travel and I like to write about it.
Plans for 2020
As I always say I don’t plan a whole lot blog wise, it’s a hobby and I let it go organically. Concentrating more on travel this year has been enjoyable and popular too and I will continue that, but I will still sprinkle in some everyday life and food posts. I’ve stepped away from recipes a lot over the past few years as I concentrate simply on keeping people fed.
I have two trips planned this year that I will blog, we’re invited to a hotel that I featured in my popular hotel blogpost in a few weeks (they noticed how many referrals that they were receiving from the post and contacted us to offer!) and we will be working with a tour operator on our family holiday. More about both these things very soon!
Thanks for reading, and for listening to me on other social media platforms. It’s lovely to have people following who have been here for years. I love hearing when you follow tips or recommendations that I share so keep sharing and letting me know.