I can’t believe it’s the beginning of a new decade! The last 10 years seemed to pass so quickly, so I thought I should start documenting my yearly achievements, fails, plans, and intentions. At the end of every December I used to sit and write down a massive plan for the year which … almost never came to live out 100%. I think it’s because thinking that a lot can be done in 12 months makes you over plan.
After a couple of years doing so, I switched to another planning model – setting a couple of main things I want to achieve in a year and breaking them down into quarterly plans. This way I have 90 days to achieve my goal which sounds more doable than thinking I will do it one day sometime in the upcoming year.
Other than goal setting at the end of the year I use the service ‘FutureMe’ where you can send a letter to your future self. I do it on my birthdays, and every year I’m always pleasantly surprised to receive an email from my ‘past self’ with all the things I wished for myself. It sounds a bit ‘woo hoo’ but I’ve read it’s a psychological trick to write goals down in the present tense as they’ve already been achieved. Trust the universe kind of thing.
Anyway, I thought sharing my results and plans would make me a bit more accountable to myself and next year I will be going through this list to tick most if not all the boxes off.
The most important event of 2019 was giving birth to our son Elias in August. He is a very cute little boy and even though it’s super hard to be parents, we enjoy being with him every day. As horrifying as it sounds to give birth, nothing could have prepared me for what came next – breastfeeding, sleepless nights, and giving my full attention 24/7 to the little one.
In the summer I became a British Citizen by naturalization! Five and a half years, endless paperwork and thousands of pounds later, and I finally can stay in the UK permanently. No more visas for me… hopefully!
Another exciting thing that happened in 2019 was the opening of my online print shop on Etsy. Not only I’m super happy to share my photographic prints, but it’s also a good way to diversify my income. There is a lot still to be done but I will come back to this later.
Spring is the most beautiful time of the year in London when many trees are blooming. I planned to be out all the time and to make the most of it in terms of photography but I only had energy to spend a couple of days wandering around Notting Hill capturing beautiful magnolia. To be honest this is my reoccurring fail and I have to think about how to approach it differently in 2020.
I planned to launch a guide on 52 day trips from London by train – one trip per week for the entire year. The pressure was to launch by the 1st of January, and that was the time when I was suffering from morning sickness and was only thinking how to survive every day 🙂 I moved this goal to the end of 2019, but again with no success. I have a list of all the places, I’ve sourced most of the photographs but that’s it…
Another intention was to work on one main project each quarter, but I only managed to complete one of 4 – my online print shop.
2019 at a Glance
When drafting this post I made a list of all the places I visited this year. I wanted to highlight my best and the least favourite trips, but I liked almost all of them.
January started in the remote cottage somewhere in West Scotland. I’ve always dreamed about staying somewhere up in the north of the UK for New Years Eve. In my dreams, there would be lots of snow and we would stay indoors by the fireplace. Unfortunately, it wasn’t snowing, but we saw some frost in the morning. After driving back to London we repacked our bags and flew to Mauritius for a week. I didn’t take my camera with me, and I was intentionally leaving my phone in the hotel room most of the time. It was the first holiday since I can’t even remember where I did absolutely nothing but rest. By the end of January, morning sickness faded out and I felt full of energy again.
I will remember February for chasing snow in England. I was constantly checking the weather forecast till one day the snow was confirmed in the south of Cotswolds. We drove to Bath the night before the snowfall to spend one day capturing snowy magic in English villages.
March was a little stressful because I had to apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK and I was having a 20-week scan to check if the baby was ok. We also did a day and a half trip to Manchester which sounds crazy now because we had so little time to explore the city. I will remember this trip for having to buy a bus ticket for my dog, lol! I launched my Print Shop and found out we were having a baby boy 🙂
Looking back at April I’m wondering how did I have so much energy to do all the traveling. I revisited one of my favorite places in South England – Rye. That was the trip when I finally gave up chasing cloudy weather for my photography and challenged myself to start taking photos in sunny conditions. After that trip, I hopped on a plane to Aberdeenshire to spend a couple of days in the gorgeous hotel The Fife Arms. I had a fantastic time with other Instagrammers there learning about the history of the place and enjoying the Scottish Highlands.
We spent Easter break driving around Dorset, another place I can tick off my bucket list. A combination of really good weather and a bank holiday in the UK means you can’t go anywhere – beaches were packed, as well as all the roads. Overall it was a good trip and we finally visited beautiful Forde Abbey right on time for the tulips. Did I say April was full of travels? The following weekend we flew to Jersey! Despite the wind and rain, it was quite nice and easy to explore the island. Everything was within a 25-minute reach by car and I think we saw most of it.
In May the weather started looking great and I did 3 solo trips – to Bristol, Bath, and Stratford-upon-Avon. Bristol surprised me to be a really hip and cool place to be and I actually thought that I wouldn’t mind living there for some time. Bath is always gorgeous at any time of the year and that was my second trip to this city. Stratford-upon-Avon turned out to be packed with tourists and I’m glad I’ve finally visited it and can take it off my list now.
In June it became harder to keep the same travel pace after turning 32 weeks pregnant. I didn’t have a massive bump so I thought I would continue exploring the country as much as I could. I only managed to go to Norwich where I realized I really had to slow down a little. The famous Elm Hill was closed due to filming of Christmas movie and that was a little frustrating. Other than that I was surprised that Norwich was such a lovely city. It’s definitely one of the places where I would love to come back.
We had the hottest ever day in July it was the day I had tickets booked to visit the famous Highclere Castle! It was about 37 degrees, our Fiat 500 didn’t have an A/C and I was 37 weeks pregnant. On top of that Loki started really passing out and I had to keep him wet and cool by spraying water all over him on the back seat. We wouldn’t have taken him with us on this trip if we were not going further south to take a ferry to Isle of Wight that day. Luckily it was much cooler by the coast and Loki got back to normal quickly. We spent the whole trip on the deck to cool down after that exhausting heat wave.
August the 7th was a big day for us because that’s when I gave birth to our baby. I ended up being induced one week before my due date, but that’s a story for another time… Later in the month we had our families visiting, and we spent most of the time at home. I also couldn’t say no to one interesting work project and by the end of the month we were already driving to North Wales.
In September I ticked a couple of more boxes off my UK bucket list by visiting long dreamed about places in Wales. We spent a week there and it was the last big trip of 2019. Since then things slowed down in terms of traveling.
We did a quick work trip to Northampton in October. It was raining cats and dogs and I had to do outdoor photography for a client. It was challenging but I’m pleased with the result. It was also a good opportunity to explore a county I haven’t been to before.
November was a month of guests again and I tried to fit in photographing Autumn in London. That was probably our last Autumn in the city and I didn’t want to miss that opportunity. My mum stayed with us to help with the baby for 2 weeks which was so in time! I had time to shoot a couple of campaigns, and finally had a little bit of rest.
December felt like a massive hangover and I tried to take it easy and relax as much as I could. I’m not sure if I succeeded in this though. We spent Christmas and New Year Eve at home, cooking lots of food, walking in the park and playing Nintendo lol.
My intentions for 2020
I’m not saying goals only because that puts too much pressure on me and then I feel guilty of not reaching them. The reality is I only have a couple of hours a day now to get things done and no days off at all. Having this in mind I still want to plan things but be flexible as much as possible.
1. Print shop. I plan to spend more time on my shop – adding new prints, exploring different paper options and looking for professional print labs in different countries. I also want to find time shooting specifically for the shop and London prints will be my main priority.
2. Experiment with editing. I want to focus more on learning about colours and editing this year, this is something I have been postponing for quite some time now.
3. Try a new photography genre. I shoot mainly travel-related content, but I would love to try myself in something new, whether it’s interiors, food or even portraits.
4. Shoot with one prime lens. I’ve been thinking to buy another lens that will be not as massive as my current Sony GM 24-70mm one. I think shooting with a ‘nifty fifty’ 50 mm is a really good idea.
5. Post my past travels on the blog. I’ve collected quite a collection of photos from my trips that I haven’t shared yet and not traveling actively this year means I will (or should) have more time to share them as blog posts. In fact, I have some drafts already prepared. It’s time to get back to blogging!
6. London bucket list. As I mentioned earlier we are planning to leave the city so I plan to visit places and do things I’ve always wanted to but didn’t have time in the last 5.5 years of living here.
7. Leave London! This is a bit sad but we would like to live in a house with a big garden and that means moving out of this expensive city…
8. Learn to drive on my own. I’ve only been driving with someone else sitting next to me and I want to finally be brave enough to do it on my own.
9. Live more sustainably. Find the ways to produce less waste, reuse old stuff, eat a vegetarian diet and be overall mindful and minimalistic about consumption. We’ve already started using reusable nappies and baby wipes most of the time and buying less plastic. I think there is more to do in this area!
I also have a couple of personal things as well as financial plans I want to achieve this year but as I said I also want to try to take it easy and not to exhaust myself. I hope to tick off most of my list in a year.