Bye bye 2019: the highlights

It seems like only yesterday since the Millennium but another decade ends and 2020 begins. The past ten years have taken me from a long career in public relations to writing for publication in my third act. I’ve joined a new demographic (age really is just a number!). Like most people, there have been ups and a few downs. I’ve learned a lot and it’s true that retaining your curiosity is the foundation to a life well lived, including health and happiness.

Summer opening at Buckingham Palace.

2019 has been a good year. I feel very fortunate to have had some remarkable experiences in stunning locations, met many interesting and generous people, and shared much laughter (so important in a complex world) as well as the occasional bottle or two of good wine, and many memorable meals.

Freelance work of any kind takes determination and perserverence and sometimes it’s not possible to picture the end result clearly. Writing is a solo activity and you need faith in your abilities, and in other people. So thank you to all those who have supported me along the way this year; the editors, fellow writers, local tour guides, PR professionals and more. It was a pleasure meeting you all, both virtually and in reality, and working with you.

I’ve travelled in the pouring rain in Piedmonte, thick fog in the Italian Alps and scorching temperatures in high summer in the South of France. The Yorkshire Dales in autumn are in a class of their own.

Redeveloping the Arras region. The stunning Louvre Lens gallery; exhibits; and an old mining building with a new life purpose community theatre.

The Louvre Lens Museum in the pas De Calais is part of a strategy to regenerate the former mining region of Arras. It’s good to feel your visit supports the local community directly.

Stand out food experiences have included picnicking in the gardens at a stunning French wine chateau; in the grounds of a former 19th century chapel; and amongst the pines, high above one of the most beautiful, and deserted, beaches in the Languedoc. As well as multi-course tasting menus by Michelin star chefs and simple dishes at a mountain lodge in Northwest Italy, there were the fresh oysters at a lagoon-side ‘tasting counter’. The most remarkable experience was the biggest gourmet buffet ever at Les Grands Buffets which felt rather self indulgent. But I do love my food! English and international wines – too many to mention – have been buttery, smooth, fruity, spicy, bubbly and rich in tannins.

Touring the Languedoc wine region. A practically empty beach in high summer!

What Is Your Travel Resolution for 2020? Travel journalists share their aims for the coming year… Travel Begins At 40

Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi and Les Grands Buffets

L to R: Le Midi Canal; the walls of Carcassone; dining at Les Grand Buffets.

Château l’Hospitalet one of the stunning Gérard Bertrand estates in the Languedoc where you can stay overnight and enjoy fine dining, the pool, an art gallery and, of course, fine wines.

Fresh oysters at Le Domaine Tarbouriech, the South of France.

Mas Neuf, Vignobles Jean Jean in the Languedoc.

Visiting the Piedmonte region, autumn mists in the Italian Alps

A press trip to Northwest Italy included a visit to Principato di Lucedio where the historic Abbey of Lucedio dates back to 1123. The Compass Hall at the Basilica of San Gaudenzio offers panoramic views. This trip was as a guest of Visit Piemonte, thank you!

Hotel review visits in the UK included the beautiful country-style Tewkesbury Park in the Cotswolds.

Travel has come under the spotlight in recent years but it’s important to remember that tourism in England generated £106 billion a year and employed over 2 million people in 2018 [Source: Visit England]. I’ve travelled more by train this year and enjoyed the break from driving on busy roads. Exploring more of the UK is on my travel list for 2020.

The Italian Ricetto di Ghemme castle (below) was a highlight. If you visit book a tour with Rovellotti wines, a local family who have owned property in the fortifications for generations.

Lunch at L’Atelier Marc Meurin, by the Michelin star chef, at Louvre Lens, guest of @Pas_De_Calais

Dressing up at the @phaseeight SS2020 preview in London; the naming ceremony for Saga UK’s new luxury boutique cruise ship The Spirit of Discovery and Jules Holland live on board ship.

Yorkshire in the autumn: review trip staying at Gisborough Hall and exploring Whitby and the ruins of Gisborough Priory.

A new decade

It’s not until you look back that you realise just how much you have achieved, in a decade or in just 12 months. Life’s a journey, let’s make the most of it in 2020. Thank you for reading and a very Happy New Year!

One of the things I enjoy about blogging and social media is the opportunity to take a peek into other people’s backyards. Wherever you are based in the world, what were your highlights in 2019? Please say hello and share in the comments below.

The World Travel Market 2019

Again, a big thank you to all my hosts and I look forward to working with you again in 2020.

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